The Female Prose Writers of America: With Portraits, Biographical Notices, and Specimens of their Writings/Mary J. Windle

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Although distinguished for her statesmen and warriors, the “diamond State” of Delaware has produced but few sons or daughters who have attained to eminence or achieved fame in the literary arena. This is an anomaly by no means easy of explanation, since there are few portions of our Union better educated, and no one which appreciates more highly literary distinction than the upper portion of Delaware.

The young lady, however, whose name stands at the head of this slight memoir, bids fair to introduce her native State to worthy companionship in the world of letters with some of her hitherto more highly favoured sisters.

Mary Jane Windle was born at Wilmington, February 16th, 1825, of respectable parents, but had the misfortune to lose her father when in early infancy. Being thus deprived of an affectionate husband, the mother of Miss Windle, with an interesting and helpless family, was thrown upon the world, dependent entirely upon her individual exertions for support. The subject of our sketch early evinced a fondness for letters, and in spite of ill health and the difficulties of her position, made herself well acquainted with modern polite literature. Of a romantic, confiding disposition, great sweetness of temper, and refinement of manner, Miss Windle has attached to herself “troops of friends,” who have watched with interest her progress in public favour.

Miss Windle’s literary career was commenced, as is usually the case in this country, by contributions to the public press. Her communications, both prose and poetical, attracted attention at once, and indicated the author to be one of no common or ordinary mind. As her powers expanded and became more developed, her writings likewise increased in variety and beauty of incident, until at length she drew to herself the favourable notice of a generous publisher, who transferred her talents to the pages of one of those splendid monthly periodicals which so peculiarly distinguish the present literature of the country.

Here, among the very élite of our writers, Miss Windle took a prominent stand, and proved herself capable of competing with the best of them. So marked was the public approbation—so great the desire to possess the interesting stories which monthly flowed from her graceful pen, that she was prevailed upon to reprint in book form a selection of her longer sketches.

The volume appeared during the year 1850, and an edition of several thousand copies was so soon disposed of, that another and larger edition is now in press.

Miss Windle’s merits as a writer are great and varied. Purity of taste, much command of language, and fascinating descriptive powers, characterize her productions.

Feminine grace and modesty are likewise leading features; and no one can lay down even the slightest of her sketches without the full conviction that it could only proceed from the pen of a refined and accomplished lady.

Though naturally of feeble constitution, and almost a martyr to ill health, Miss Windle, in attending to literary pursuits, by no means neglects her duties to that society of which she is at once a member and an ornament.

Possessed, in addition to her other accomplishments, of fine conversational ability, she renders her associations not only agreeable, but most useful; and it is to be strongly desired, that she may be spared to her friends long enough to fulfil the promise of a career so brilliantly commenced.