Anna Brownell Murphy was born in Dublin, the eldest of five daughters, and moved with her family to England in 1798. Skilled at linguistics, at age 16 she found work as a governess in an aristocratic family. Her first major work, The Diary of an Ennuyée, a fictitious account of her earlier travels in Italy, was published in 1825; that same year, she married Robert Simpson Jameson, a lawyer. The marriage was unhappy, and the couple separated for long periods, but Anna Brownell Jameson accompanied her husband to Canada in 1836. She returned to England, and later became a supporter of women's suffrage, and helped found the Society for the Promotion of Employment for Women and the feminist periodical The Englishwoman’s Journal. Anna Brownell Jameson was a close friend of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Ottilie von Goethe, and Lady Byron. Literary critics have begun to consider her one of the foremost women of letters of early Victorian England.