Jane Webb (1807-1858) was the child of manufacturing businessman Thomas Webb, Esq. and his wife. After her mother's death in 1819, she traveled in Europe with her father for a year. Although a wealthy businessman, he lost his fortune after their return to England. She was only 17 when her father died in 1824. She was quoted after her father's death and the realization that she was penniless: "…on the winding up of his affairs that it would be necessary to do something for my support. I had written a strange, wild novel, called The Mummy, in which I had laid the scene in the twenty-second century, and attempted to predict the state of improvement to which this country might possibly arrive."
She had been writing since age 12 and published her first book of poems Prose and Verse in 1826. It was only a year later that she anonymously published The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century. The Mummy drew many favorable reviews. It was originally published as a three volume set, a common practice that allowed readers to easily carry a small volume, rather than a large unwieldy book.
Loudon's story "The Grotto of Akteleg. A Hungarian Legend" was included in The Forgotten Gothic: Short Stories from British Literary Annuals 1823-1831 (2012). The original story, published in 1828, was credited to "Author of 'The Mummy.'" She also wrote the novel, Stories of a Bride (1829).
The Mummy was reviewed in The Gardeners Magazine in 1829. Her descriptions of the inventions caught the attention of Scottish horticulturalist, landscape designer and writer John C. Loudon. He asked a friend to invite the author to lunch, thinking that Wells was a man. They met in 1830. She said, “It may easily be supposed that he was surprised to find the author of the book a woman; but I believe that from that evening he formed an attachment to me, and, in fact, we were married on the 14th of the following September.”
John Loudon's death in 1843 left her and their daughter nearly penniless, due to the debt incurred by the cost of illustrations in his work. She continued writing her garden books and began covering the first English horticultural shows as a journalist. Though her work as a garden writer was an enormous influence in the gardening world, she died in poverty at age 59.
John's and Jane's work also influenced their only child, Agnes Loudon, who authored several children's stories and books. Her first story "The Lost Gloves, or We Shall See. A Story for Little Girls" was published in 1845, when she was only 12 or 13. She also contributed most of the stories in Tales for Young People (1846) and Tales of School Life (1850).
Amazon: Jane Loudon search
The Mummy (2017 edition)
The Forgotten Gothic: Short Stories from British Literary Annuals 1823-1831 (2012)
Read Jane Webb Loudon's books on the Gutenberg Project: The Mummy and Entertaining Naturalist
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