Blogging from A-Z April 2018 Challenge

J is for Frances Jacson


Frances Margaretta Jacson (born 13 October 1754 at Bebington, Cheshire, died 17 June 1842 at Somersal Herbert, Derbyshire) was an English novelist whose work shows a strong moral purpose. Jacson’s first novel, Plain Sense (1795) was immediately popular and followed by a second, Disobedience (1797). These and her subsequent novels appeared anonymously.

Things by their Right Names (1812) was followed by Rhoda. A Novel (1816), for which she turned to one of the foremost London novel publishers. It is considered the more accomplished of the two. This second pair of novels were wrongly ascribed to the Scottish writer Mary Brunton; in fact, Jacson’s authorship was not suggested until 1823. There were further false attributions to Alethea Lewis in the early twentieth century.

Despite the financial motives behind her writing activity, Jacson never abandoned her moral purpose, so that her novels are didactic, all featuring a heroine in relatively high society. Through them she shows strong creative insight, especially into burgeoning relationships and marriage. In most cases, her heroines discern flaws in the perceptions of themselves and others. There is much irony in the portrayal of several minor characters. Rhoda was preferred to Jane Austen’s Emma by Maria Edgeworth, from whom the Jacson sisters received a social call in 1818. It was also recommended by Sydney Smith. Isabella (1823) was written in a calmer period of Jacson’s life. The French translation, Isabelle Hastings, by Madame Collet in 1823, was wrongly ascribed to William Godwin. Even Jacson’s diaries, kept from 1829 until her death, were thought for a time to be her brother’s.

Jacson, Frances. Plain sense: a novel. Gale ECCO Press, 2010.

Jacson, Frances. Disobedience: a novel. Gale ECCO Press, 2010.

Jacson, Frances. Rhoda: a novel. Gale NCCO Press, 2017.