Frances Browne was a well-renowned Irish novelist and poet, most famously known for her short children’s stories.
She was born on January 16, 1816, and died at the age of 63 on August 21, 1879. Her most famous work was “Granny’s Wonderful Chair,” which was published in 1856. Her poems earned her the name “The Blind Poetess of Ulster.”
Five Facts About Frances Browne
She composed her first poem at the age of seven, her own version of The Lord’s Prayer.
She lost her sight and became blind when she was only 18 months due to a smallpox attack.
She first learned through her brothers and sisters as they spoke aloud and later memorized what they said by heart.
Her work, “Granny’s Wonderful Chair,” is still in print today. In addition, it has been translated into several different languages.
Her longest poem was “The Star of Atteghei,” and its contents were related to the Circassian war.
Frances Browne’s Most Famous Quote
“Let not the earth, with its varied temptations, enchain thee. Seek Him who alone can life’s pilgrimage bless!”
Frances Browne Biography
Frances’s Family Background
Frances was born in Stranorlar, County Donegal, Ireland. She was born the seventh child in a family of twelve. When she was only 18 months old, she lost her sight and became completely blind due to an outbreak of smallpox. She never regained her sight.
Not much is known about her educational background apart from how she learned through her family.
As a young child, her brothers and sisters would read aloud to her, and she would later memorize everything by heart. In addition, she was said to persuade her siblings to read to her by offering to do their house chores instead.
Her first poems were published in 1841 in the London Athenaeum and the Irish Penny Journal. The lyric “Songs of Our Land” was one of the poems included in the Irish Penny Journal. In 1844, she published a complete volume of her poems, with a second volume published three years later in 1847.
The provincial newspapers reprinted her poems until she became widely known as “The Blind Poetess of Ulster.” She later made her first contribution to the Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal in 1845, where she remained a contributor for the next 25 years.
Her story, “The Lost New Year’s Gift,” was the first one to be published in a highly popular journal. It was a story about a poor dressmaker, and it demonstrated her excellent storytelling skills.
She also published several of her works, primarily short stories, in magazines aimed at vast female audiences. Some of the pieces she published were “Ladies Companion,” “The Botheration of Ballymore,” and “Mrs. Sloper’s Swan.”
She later moved to London, where she wrote her first novel, “My Share of the World,” and her most famous work to date, “Granny’s Wonderful Chair.” The latter was a collection of rich and imaginative fairytales that solidified her reputation as a fantastic author.
In 1856, she published her third volume of poetry entitled “Pictures and Songs of Home.” However, unlike the first two volumes, the third installment was geared towards a younger audience.
It included beautiful and imaginative illustrations paired with vivid descriptions that better represented her childhood in County Donegal and its countryside aspect.
In 1847, she moved from Donegal to Edinburgh with one of her sisters, who would aid Frances with her work by acting as her secretary and reader. There, Frances built a solid ground for herself in literary circles.
It was also in Edinburgh where she wrote many of her essays, reviews, poems, and stories. Later on, she moved to London and frequently wrote periodicals for the Religious Tract Society, The Sunday at Home, and The Leisure Hour.
In the “Leisure Hour 1776,” she wrote a tale about the American War and independence, which appeared in the centenary event later in 1876. This piece described many of the revolutionary events through a beautifully illustrated love story.
Her last poem published on The Sunday at Home was “The Children’s Day,” which was published in 1879.
Frances’s story is an inspiration to all. She defied the odds by being one of the best during her time as a poet, novelist, and outstanding storyteller. Her life serves as an inspiration to all who believe that having a disability means no growth or the end of life.
She was the perfect example that demonstrated the saying “disability doesn’t mean no ability.”
In fact, some of the most notable figures in the literary world saw it fit to analyze her work and recommend it to readers everywhere.
These included figures like Raymond Blair, who examined her short stories in “Frances Browne and the Legends of Ulster.” He also edited an anthology of her works, including her essays, poems, and short stories.
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