ANNA MARIA PORTER was the daughter of an Irish officer, who died soon after her birth, leaving a widow and several children, with but a small patrimony for their support. Mrs. Porter took her family to Scotland soon after, and there, with her only and elder sister, Jane, and their brother, Sir Rober Ker Porter, she received the rudiments of her education. Sir Walter Scott, when a student at college, was intimate with the family, and, we are told, "was very fond of either teasing the little female student when very gravely engaged with her book, or more often fondling her on his knees, and telling her stories of witches and warlocks, till both forgot their former playful merriment in the marvellous interest of the tale." Mrs. Porter removed to Ireland, and subsequently to London, chiefly with a view to the education of her children.
Anna Maria became an authoress at the age of twelve. Her first work as called "Artless Tales," and was published in 1793. "Don Sebastian, or the House of the Braganza," is considered her best novel. Some of her others are, "The Lake of Killarney," "A Sailor's Friendship and a Soldier's Love," "The Hungarian Brothers," "Ballad Romances, and other Poems," "The Recluse of Norway," "The Knight of St. John," "Roche Blanche," and "Honour O'Hara." Miss Porter died at Bristol, while on a visit to her brother, Dr. Porter, on the 21st of June, 1832, aged fifty-two.
The number of her novels is really astonishing, more than fifty volumes were the product of her pen. In all her works, Miss Anna Maria Porter portrays the domestic affections, and the charms of benevolence and virtue, with that warmth and earnestness which interests the feelings; but in "Don Sebastian" we have an interesting plot, and characters finely discriminated and drawn. The author has, therefore, shown a higher order of genius in this novel than in her others, because she has displayed more constructive power.