Baillie, Joanna

POET, PLAYWRIGHT, RELIGIOUS WRITER (SCOTLAND)
BORN 11 Sep 1762, Bothwell (near Glasgow), Lanarkshire - DIED 23 Feb 1851, Hampstead
GRAVE LOCATION London: St. John-at-Hampstead, Old Churchyard, Church Row, Hampstead (railed tomb to the left of the churchyard entrance)

Joanna Baillie's father was Rev. James Baillie, a Professor of Divinity in Glasgow during the last years of his life. Her mother was Dorothea Hunter, a sisters of the physicians John and William Hunter. She attended a boarding school in Glasgow and her talents for writing, drawing, music and mathematics were discovered.

After Dr. William Hunter died in London in 1783, he left his house to her brother Matthew Baillie and the family moved to London. Her aunt Ann Huner introduced her in literary circles and she met Fanny Burney, Elizabeth Montagu and others. She started writing poetry and drama herself.

In 1802 she moved With her sister to Hampstead, where she lived at Bolton House, Windmill Hill for the rest of her live. They both decided not to marry and entertained friendships with many distinguished people. Lucy Aiken became a close friend and Sir Walter Scott visited them frequently.

She published 'metrical legends' and 'fugitive verses'. Some of her plays were produced at Drury Lane ("The Family Legend" in 1815 and "De Montfort" in 1821), but in later years they seemed to be forgotten.

Because she was always good to the poor they called her Lady Bountiful. She wanted her collected works to be published in one volume and this happened shortly before she died in 1851. In 1864 Lucy Aiken was buried in the tomb next to hers at St. John-at-Hampstead in London.

Related persons
• was visited by Byron, George Noel Gordon

Sources
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
• Todd, Janet (ed.), Dictionary of British Woman Writers, Routledge, London, 1989
• Browning, D.C. (editor), Dictionary of Literary biography, Dent, London, 1958
• Wade, Christopher, Hampstead Parish Church Tomb Trail 1, The Old Churchyard, Camden History Society, London, 1986

Images

The grave of Joanna Baillie at St. John-at-Hampstead, London.
Picture by Androom (13 Aug 1997)

 


Baily, Edward Hodges

Published: 11 Jan 2008
Last update: 14 Jul 2012