Sunday 12 January 2014

The Canadian Adventures of Frances Brooke

Frances Moore Brooke (Claypole, Lincolnshire, England, 12th January 1724 – Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England, 23rd January 1789)

Frances Brooke by Catherine Read, 1771
Frances Brooke by Catherine Read, 1771

Frances Moore was born to Reverend Thomas Moore and Mary Knowles in Lincolnshire and from an early age showed a precocious intelligence and enthusiasm for writing.

Whilst in her early twenties she moved to London and embarked on a career as a poet and writer where, under the pseudonym of Mary Singleton, Spinster, she edited thirty-seven issues of the weekly magazine, Old Maid, throughout 1755 and 1756.

Frances retired Old Maid when she married Reverend Dr John Brooke in 1756; the year after their wedding he departed for Canada to take a role as military chaplain and Frances stayed in England. In the six years in which the couple were apart she wrote and published her first novel, The History of Lady Julia Mandeville, as well as translating novels from French for publication in England. She finally sailed for Canada to join Brooke in 1764 in the company of her sister and remained in Quebec for five years before returning to England with her husband, where she was welcomed back into the literary circles she had previously occupied.

Frances published her second novel, The History of Emily Montague, in 1769. It was the first novel to be set in Canada and examined the life and world of the residents of Quebec. She was noted for the rich characterisation of her works and the sensitive exploration of the cultural clashes between the English visitors and their Canadian hosts, examining the world through the eyes of a series of central female characters.

In retirement Frances and her husband lived with their clergyman son, John; the couple died within two days of one another in 1789, with Frances leaving behind a rich collection of writings through which future generations can once again understand the experience of the English in Canada.


York Regency Society said...

Emily Montague was also the first novel written in North America & gives us not only insight into the experience of the English here, but also into their interactions with the French. An interesting and entertaining book.

Catherine Curzon said...

Thank you!