Rooted in political controversy, gender warfare, violence, and revolution, Jane Porter’s The Scottish Chiefs is the epic story of William Wallace’s struggle for Scottish independence from English rule. After the cruel death of his wife at the hands of the English, Wallace embarks on a patriotic crusade to free Scotland, gathering around himself loyal followers of both sexes, drawn from across Scottish society. Using the cross-dressing motifs of romance, Porter demonstrates that women have a crucial role to play in the drama of national identity, either as temptresses or national heroines. The Scottish Chiefs is a landmark in the development of the historical novel, and explores vital questions of patriotism, civic duty, heroism, and the role of women.
This Broadview edition offers a critical introduction and important historical contexts for the novel in the form of reviews, excerpts from Porter’s prefaces, and other contemporary accounts of William Wallace.
“Fiona Price’s edition of Jane Porter’s The Scottish Chiefs (1810) confirms its place as a key work in the development of the Romantic novel. In her wide-ranging introduction Price not only explores the novel’s reputation as an influential precursor to Walter Scott’s historical romances, but also establishes its topical force as an eloquent intervention on masculinity, heroism, and patriotism written at the height of the war against Napoleon. Price’s authoritative account of the author’s life and literary network is a valuable contribution to the history of women’s writing. The appendices, highlighting Porter’s editorial supplements, the critical controversy surrounding the novel, and other versions of the legend of William Wallace, provide fascinating insights into print culture and the workings of historical memory.” — Emma Clery, Southampton University