Mary Brunton, née Balfour, was born into a British military family on the island of Burray in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. Her mother provided her early education, and she learned music, Italian, and French. In 1798, she married the Rev. Alexander Brunton, a Church of Scotland minister, against her mother's wishes. They moved to Edinburgh, where her husband later became a Professor of Oriental Languages at the University of Edinburgh. Mary Brunton started writing her first novel, Self-Control, in 1809 and it was published in 1811. It was widely read -- Jane Austen mentioned it three times in her letters -- and went into several editions before being translated into French in 1829. Mary published one further novel called Discipline in 1814. The Bruntons spent some time in London in 1815 and Mary began to learn Gaelic. After 20 years of childless marriage, Mary Brunton became pregnant at the age of nearly 40, and died shortly after giving birth to a stillborn baby. She had been working on a series of stories, of which one, Emmeline, about the unhappy lot of a divorcée, was finished enough at her death for her husband to include it in a 1819 memorial volume, along with a memoir of her life and extracts from her travel diary. The Works of Mary Brunton appeared in 1820 and further editions of her two complete novels were published in 1832, 1837, and 1852.