Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bowdler, Jane

BOWDLER, JANE (1743–1784), author, born 14 Feb. 1743 at Ashley, near Bath, was the eldest daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Stuart Bowdler, and thus sister of John the elder [q. v.], and of Thomas the elder, the editor of Shakespeare [q. v.] Throughout her life she suffered from ill-health. In 1759 she had a severe attack of small-pox, and from 1771 till her death was a confirmed invalid. She died in the spring of 1784. In her later years she wrote many poems and essays, and a selection was published at Bath for the benefit of the local hospital in 1786 under the title of 'Poems and Essays by a Lady, lately deceased.' This volume became extraordinarily popular. The verse is very poor, and the prose treats, without any striking originality, such subjects as sensibility, politeness, candour, and the pleasures of religion. Nevertheless, sixteen editions (with the author's name on the title-page) were published at Bath in rapid succession between 1787 and 1830. Other editions appeared at Dublin, in London, and in New York, where the first American edition (from the tenth Bath edition) appeared in 1811. A few of Miss Bowdler's pieces, not previously printed, appear in Thomas Bowdler's 'Memoir of John Bowdler,' 1824.

[T. Bowdler's Memoir of John Bowdler the elder, 1824, 93-104.]

S. L.