The great man and women's historical fiction: Jane Porter and Sir Sidney Smith

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This essay investigates the ways in which Jane Porter (bap. 1776-1850) drew on the life and writings of war hero Sir Sidney Smith in her innovative historical novel Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803). In the first part of this essay, the author examines the rhetoric of military heroism employed in Porter's Thaddeus, demonstrating her developing notions of Smith's importance as a model for the era's Great Man. The author shows that Porter's high regard for Smith's military and personal merits was not based merely on knowledge gleaned from the popular press, but on her personal acquaintance with Smith and his family. The Porters connection to Smith did not end in 1803, as the author describes in the second part of the essay, documenting through unpublished letters Porter's lifelong and apparently unrequited love for Smith. The author argues that Smith heavily influenced the ways in which Porter conceived of the interrelations of domestic and military registers in her groundbreaking historical fiction, shaping her understandings of men, women, authorship and heroism in wartime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-314
Number of pages22
JournalWomen's Writing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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