"Dr. Johnson has said that the chief glory of a country arises from its authors. But then that is only as they are oracles of wisdom; unless they teach virtue, they are more worthy of a halter than of the laurel.""Happiness is a sunbeam which may pass through a thousand bosoms without losing a particle of its original ray; nay, when it strikes on a kindred heart, like the converged light on a mirror, it reflects itself with redoubled brightness. It is not perfected till it is shared.""I never yet heard man or woman much abused that I was not inclined to think the better of them, and to transfer the suspicion or dislike to the one who found pleasure in pointing out the defects of another.""Imparting knowledge is only lighting other men's candles at our lamp without depriving ourselves of any flame.""People do not always understand the motives of sublime conduct, and when they are astonished they are very apt to think they ought to be alarmed. The truth is none are fit judges of greatness but those who are capable of it.""The best manner of avenging ourselves is by not resembling him who has injured us.""The mob is a sort of bear; while your ring is through its nose, it will even dance under your cudgel; but should the ring slip, and you lose your hold, the brute will turn and rend you."
Jane Porter was an avid reader. Said to rise at four in the morning in order to read and write, she read the whole of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene while still a child. Tall and beautiful as she grew up, her grave and preoccupied air earned her the nickname 'La Penseroso', possibly a reference recalling the poem Il Penseroso by John Milton, meaning 'a brooding or melancholy person or personality'.
After her father's death, her family moved to Edinburgh, where Walter Scott was a regular visitor. Some time afterward the family moved to London, where the sisters became acquainted with a number of literary women: Elizabeth Inchbald, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Hannah More, Elizabeth Hamilton, and Mrs De Crespigny.
Her novel Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803) is one of the earliest examples of the historical novel, and it went through a dozen editions. Based on eye-witness accounts from Polish refugees of the doomed independence struggle of the 1790s, the book was praised by the great Polish patriot Kosciusko. The Scottish Chiefs (1810) a novel about William Wallace, was also a success (the French version was banned by Napoleon), and it has remained popular with Scottish children. She wrote a number of novels, as well as two plays, which were less successful. Jane also contributed to various periodicals.
A romance, Sir Edward Seaward's Diary (1831), purporting to be a record of actual circumstances, and edited by Jane, was written by her brother, Dr. William Ogilvie Porter, as letters in the University of Durham Porter archives show.
Jane and Anna Maria Porter, who both lived in London and Surrey later on, were sisters of Sir Robert Ker Porter, the historical painter.