Join Devoney Looser and JASNA-NJ LIVE AND IN PERSON at the Plainsboro Library

Explore the tumultuous lives of Jane and Anna Maria Porter with JASNA-NJ and the Plainsboro Public Library on March 25th at 2pm when we host Devoney Looser, the author of Sister Novelists: The Trailblazing Porter Sisters, Who Paved the Way for Austen and the Brontës!

Haven’t heard of Jane and Anna Maria Porter? During the early 19th century, they published 26 novels, and their fame during their lifetime far exceeded that of Austen’s. Their historical fiction was particularly *influential* (coughs) on Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, as detailed in this excerpt from Looser’s book here.

So why do some popular authors quickly fade in the public memory, while other authors’ reputations improve after death? These (and many other) interesting questions will no doubt come up during the talk and discussion.

Copies of Sister Novelists will be on sale for a discounted price of $24. (We will be able to accept cash, check, or PayPal.) Prof. Looser will be available to do a signing after her lecture. Please email the region at to register.

Members of the NJ region are invited to join us for a bite to eat with Prof. Looser after the event. Space is limited, so please RSVP by Thursday evening (3/23) by emailing

About Sister Novelists:
Before the Brontë sisters picked up their pens, or Jane Austen’s heroines Elizabeth and Jane Bennet became household names, the literary world was celebrating a different pair of sisters: Jane and Anna Maria Porter. The Porters-exact contemporaries of Jane Austen-were brilliant, attractive, self-made single women of polite reputation who between them published 26 books and achieved global fame. They socialized among the rich and famous, tried to hide their family’s considerable debt, and fell dramatically in and out of love. Their moving letters to each other confess every detail. Because the celebrity sisters expected their renown to live on, they preserved their papers, and the secrets they contained, for any biographers to come.

But history hasn’t been kind to the Porters. Credit for their literary invention was given to their childhood friend, Sir Walter Scott, who never publicly acknowledged the sisters’ works as his inspiration. With Scott’s more prolific publication and even greater fame, the Porter sisters gradually fell from the pinnacle of celebrity to eventual obscurity. Now, Professor Devoney Looser, a Guggenheim fellow in English Literature, sets out to re-introduce the world to the authors who cleared the way for Austen, Mary Shelley, and the Brontë sisters. Capturing the Porter sisters’ incredible rise, from when Anna Maria published her first book at age 14 in 1793, through to Jane’s fall from the pinnacle of fame in the Victorian era, and then to the auctioning off for a pittance of the family’s massive archive, Sister Novelists is a groundbreaking and enthralling biography of two pioneering geniuses in historical fiction.
About Devoney Looser:
Devoney Looser is Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University and the author or editor of nine books on literature by women, including The Making of Jane Austen. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Salon, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly, and she’s had the pleasure of talking about Austen on CNN. Looser, who has played roller derby as Stone Cold Jane Austen, is a Guggenheim Fellow and a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and two sons.

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