Brunton, Mary

BORN 1 Nov 1778, Burray, Orkney Islands - DIED 19 Dec 1818, Edinburgh: 35 Albany Street
BIRTH NAME Balfour, Mary
GRAVE LOCATION Edinburgh: Canongate Churchyard, Royal Mile (midway along the western boundary wall)

Mary Balfour was the daughter of the army officer Colonel Thomas Balfour of Elwick. Her mother Frances Ligier was a daughter of colonel Francis Ligonier. (1693-1746). She was taught music, Italian and French by her mother. In 1798 she fell in love with Reverend Alexander Brunton (1772-1854), who was the teacher of her brothers on the island of Burray. After her family didn't approve of their relationship she eloped with him in a rowboat. They entered into a happy marriage and later they moved to Edinburgh, where he was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages..

In 1809 she wrote her first novel "Self-Control". It was published in 1811 and she dedicated it to Joanna Baillie. Chatlotte Barrett, the mother of the writer Julia Maitland, liked it, but Jane Austen had her reservations. Her second and last novel "Discipline" was published in 1814. At the time of her death in 1818 she was working on "Emmeline" and her widower published it in 1819 as part of a memorial volume, "Emmeline, with some other pieces". In 1820 "The Works of Mary Brunton" was published.

• Husband: Brunton, Alexander (1798-1818)

Related persons
• corresponded with Baillie, Joanna


The grave of Mary Brunton at Canongate Churchyard, Edinburgh.
Picture by Androom (04 Nov 2019)


• Stephen, Leslie [Sir], Sidney Lee [Sir] [Editors], The Dictionary of National Biography, From the Earliest Times to 1900, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1960
Mary Brunton - Wikipedia
Mary Brunton | National Library of Scotland

Bubat, Eva

Published: 13 Mar 2024
Last update: 16 Mar 2024