About Anne Grant (1755-1838)

Anne Grant spent her married life living at Laggan. When her husband died, Anne was left with eight children to support and no income.

Forced to tread a line between a ladylike disinterest in commerce and her desperate need for money, she raised subscriptions and published her books while maintaining her position and reputation amongst society. The books sold well, giving the poor family enough money not only to survive but to move to Edinburgh. Anne set up a girls' school and hosted some of the city's eminent Enlightenment figures, including Walter Scott.

Life at Laggan

From her own experience living at Laggan, at the foot of the Monadhliath mountains, Anne depicted the hills as a barrier and an awful but sublime landscape, and the local people as noble and heroic. Her books and poetry altered how city society viewed the people living in remote Highland areas.

'You will think I am talking very solemnly about travelling the 25 miles between here and Laggan … This district is divided from ours by an immense mountain called Corryarrick. That barrier is impassable in the depth of winter, as the top of it is above the region of clouds; and the sudden descent on the other side peculiarly dangerous, not only from deep snows concealing the unbeaten track of the road, but from whirlwinds and eddies that drive the snow into heaps; besides an evil spirit which the country people devoutly believe to have dwelt there time out of mind.

'… I am beginning to be on the spur homeward; snow is now beginning to fall; but though I should "ride on clouds and skies" I must get home immediately.

Quote from 'Letters from the mountains: being the real correspondence of a lady, between the years 1773 and 1803', Anne Grant, 1804.

Publication

Anne was the first female Scottish author to publish prose. A prolific correspondent, her letters formed the basis for several of her books. Perhaps worried about the private nature of her letters she published anonymously as 'a Lady'. In subsequent books she was simply 'the author of Letters from the mountains'.

She self published Poems on various subjects in 1803, followed by 'Letters from the mountains …' in 1806. Following Anne's death, her only surviving child published a memoir and more of her letters.

Edinburgh and the Enlightenment

In 1810, Anne moved to Edinburgh with her children and established a school for young women. She was a prominent figure in Edinburgh literary circles, hosting a number of Enlightenment figures including Sir Walter Scott.

In 1825, she was granted a Civil Pension for her services to literature — a rare distinction for women at the time.

 

Anne Grant