Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Franklin, Eleanor Anne

FRANKLIN, ELEANOR ANNE (1797?–1825), poetess, first wife of John (afterwards Sir John) Franklin [q. v.], was daughter of William Porden, an architect of some eminence, and one of a line of architects. She early developed a taste for poetry and art, and while still a girl published ‘The Veils, or the Triumph of Constancy, a poem in 6 Books’ (8vo, 1815). A short poem on the Arctic expedition (8vo, 1818), and a visit to the Trent, then just come home, brought her the acquaintance of John Franklin. The acquaintance was renewed on Franklin's return from his first journey through Arctic America, and on 19 Aug. 1823 she became his wife. She had previously published another and more ambitious work, ‘Cœur=de Lion, an Epic poem in 16 cantos’ (2 vols. 8vo, 1822). On her marriage there was, we are told, a distinct understanding that she would ‘never, under any circumstances, seek to turn her husband aside from the duty he owed to his country and his profession’ (A Brave Man, p. 18), a promise that she held even to the death. On 3 June 1824 she gave birth to a daughter; she seems never to have recovered her health, fell into a decline, and died on 22 Feb. 1825, six days after her husband had left England on his second journey through North America. Mrs. Franklin's poetry obtained in its day a certain social success, but it has none of the elements of vitality, and is now quite forgotten. Her versification is, however, smooth, and shows a delicate and cultivated mind. During her girlhood and short married life she gathered round her a pleasant society of men distinguished in art, literature, or science, and her correspondence not infrequently occurs in the memoirs of that time. She was always keen in the pursuit of knowledge and bright in conversation, but was qualified to retort one day at the Royal Institution, when she heard some one suggest that ‘the young ladies had far better stay at home and make a pudding,’ ‘We did that before we came out.’ A portrait is in the possession of the Gell family.

[A Brave Man and his Belongings (by one of Mrs. Franklin's nieces: printed for private circulation in 1874); Gent. Mag. 1825, i. 470–1.]

J. K. L.