Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kennedy, Grace

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KENNEDY, GRACE (1782–1825), author of ‘Father Clement’ and other religious tales, born at Pinmore, Ayrshire, in 1782, was fourth daughter of Robert Kennedy, esq., of that place, and Robina, daughter of John Vans Agnew, esq., of Barnbarrow, Galloway. At an early age she removed with her parents to the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. She was religiously brought up by an eminently pious mother, and being of a very retiring disposition, she took no share in the ordinary amusements of society. But her cheerful temper and her intellectual attainments made her a delightful companion among intimate friends. She showed an active interest for many years in the education of children, and after enjoying uninterrupted good health till 1824, died unmarried at Edinburgh on 28 Feb. 1825.

Her tales were all published anonymously. The first was a little work intended for the young, called ‘The Decision,’ Edinburgh, 1821. In 1822 appeared ‘Profession is not Principle’ (2nd edit. 1823, 8th edit. 1855), and ‘Jessy Allan, the Lame Girl’ (12th edit. 1853). In 1823 she published ‘Anna Ross, the Orphan of Waterloo’ (10th edit. 1852), and ‘Father Clement, a Roman Catholic Story.’ The latter is the book by which she is best known. It is a controversial tale, but it was written with an evident wish to state fairly the doctrines and practices of the Roman catholic church, even while the authoress strongly disapproved of them. It reached a twelfth edition in 1858, and was translated into several European languages. A tale called ‘Father Oswald’ was intended as a reply to it; and a somewhat flippant and offensive ‘Answer to Father Clement,’ by an unknown writer called ‘Timoleon,’ London, 1848, corrects some mistakes. In 1824 were issued ‘Andrew Campbell's Visit to his Irish Cousins,’ and ‘Dunallan,’ the writer's longest tale, written before any of the others (2nd edit. 1825). ‘Philip Colville, a Covenanter's Story,’ left unfinished at her death, was published posthumously. It attempts to give a somewhat more impartial idea of the Scottish covenanters than had been given by Sir Walter Scott in ‘Old Mortality.’ A collected edition of Miss Kennedy's works was issued at Edinburgh in 1827, in 6 vols. 12mo, and was reprinted at Brussels, 1836. A German translation of her ‘Sämmtliche Werke’ appeared at Bielefeld in 1844, 2 vols. 8vo.

[Short Account, prefixed to collected works, Edinb. 1827.]

W. A. G.