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Short biography
Jane Loudon, née Webb, was born into a wealthy English manufacturing family. Following the death of her mother in 1819, she traveled in Europe with her father, learning several languages. Soon after their return to England, her father’s business failed and he lost his fortune. He died penniless, leaving Jane alone to support herself at age 17. She published her first book, Prose and Verse, in 1826. Her pioneering science fiction tale, The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, was published anonymously a year later. She was probably inspired by the fashion for Egyptian antiquities set off by the Napoleonic wars in Egypt, and by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818). Her book received favorable reviews and attracted the attention of John Claudius Loudon, a Scottish botanist, garden designer, and author 20 years her senior. They married in 1830 and had a daughter, Agnes, who became a children's author. Jane began writing a series of popular and influential works on botany and gardening, including The Ladies' Companion to the Flower Garden (4 volumes, 1840-44); Gardening for Ladies (1840) and Botany for Ladies (1842). After the death of her husband, she turned to journalism, covering the first horticultural shows in England. In 1849, she was invited to edit a new journal for women, The Ladies’ Companion at Home and Abroad. The magazine was highly successful at first, but after a decline in sales after two years, she was asked to resign as editor. She died at age 51 in 1858. See her biography, Lady with Green Fingers, by Bea Howe.
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