Durham, Edinburgh, Coleraine, London, Surrey, Bristol, and Beyond
Jane Porter (1775-1850) was likely born in Durham, England, although a longstanding rumor had her secretly born in her father's native Ireland. Anna Maria Porter (1778-1832) was probably born in Salisbury, England. Their father, an army surgeon, died when they were very young, leaving their widowed mother in financial distress. The sisters grew up in their mother's hometown of Durham and then in Edinburgh, before moving briefly to northern Ireland. From there, they relocated to London's Covent Garden, where they changed lodgings frequently. In early adulthood, the newly famous sisters left London to economize, renting homes in Thames Ditton, Long Ditton, and Esher in Surrey, twenty miles outside London. The sisters would spend months of the year traveling across England visiting friends, often one at a time, to escape the family's dilapidated cottage. In later life, Jane visited Paris and St. Petersburg with her brother Robert. Both sisters were eventually buried in Bristol, the city in which another brother, William, had long made his home. This extra illustration gallery includes images of the many places associated with the Porters.
St. Oswald's Church, Durham, is where Jane and Anna Maria's father and maternal grandparents were buried.
The Porter sisters moved to Surrey in 1804 and eventually to a home (no longer standing) near this area of the ferry landing in Long Ditton.
King's Bench Prison, Southwark--a place Jane visited--is described in ch. 13.
Benham House, Newbury, Berkshire, was the country home of the Margravine of Anspach. Maria stayed there several months, as is described in ch. 14.
This is a modern-day photo of the cottage the Porter women rented in Esher in the 1820s. (Photo by Devoney Looser)
Coughton Court, home of Sir Charles Throckmorton, a family friend with whom Jane stayed in the 1830s, is described in ch. 23.
The Admiralty, St. Petersburg, one of the places Jane visited in Russia in 1841-42, as described in ch. 24.
Surgeon's Square, Edinburgh, is where the Porter sisters spent early years of their life, as their mother ran a boarding house.
Lesbury, Northumberland, is the village where Jane Porter stayed with Percival Stockdale in 1804-5, a story told in ch. 10.
Castle Rushen Gaol, Isle of Man, is a place that features in a Porter family crisis in ch. 15.
A later view of Benham House, described in ch. 14.
A later view of Coughton Court, as described in ch. 23.
This is a 2011 view of the site where William Ogilvie Porter's home once stood in Bristol's Portland Square. (Photo by Devoney Looser)
St. Paul's Church, Portland Square, final resting place of Jane and Maria, an image included in the book. It's reproduced here in a color-tinted version.
Jane and Maria often stayed as guests in the apartments of their friends Mrs. Anne Boscawen and Miss Eliza Tickell at St. James Palace, London.
Lesbury Church, where Percival Stockdale was vicar, is described in ch. 10.
Brandenburgh House, Hammersmith, was London home of the Margravine of Anspach. Maria stayed there as a long-term guest, as described in ch. 14.
The Porters' neighbor Lady Sullivan's villa, a place described in ch. 18.
Shirley House, home of the socialite Mrs. Skinner, who set aside a regular room for otherwise homeless Jane to stay in in the 1830s, as described in ch.23.
Memorial tablet to the Porter family in the Bristol Cathedral, as included in the book, but provided here in color. (Photo by Devoney Looser)