Jane West was born in London
in 1758, and moved to Desborough as a child.
When she married local farmer, Thomas West, at the age of 24, she moved into
Little Bowden Manor House. She remained there until her death in 1852.
At a time when few women received any education, Jane wrote prolifically.
Her novels consisted mostly of wry comment and humorous instruction. They
included an elderly spinster character called Prudentia Homespun, whom Jane
created to narrate them. The novel A Gossips Story has been credited as
anticipating the style of Jane Austin.
Although she wrote numerous plays, they were never performed in her
Jane was a fervent housewife who believed that home life should take
precedence over her writing. In addition to her household, she managed a
dairy. By all accounts she was a woman of great character. At the age of 93,
she took the rector of Little Bowden to the Ecclesiastical Court for
removing her family pew. Jane won, and the rector had to reinstate the pew.
Jane outlived her husband and all three of her sons. The family are buried
in St Nicholas churchyard.
She describes herself thus:
You said. The author was a
Self taught, and married to a farmer;
Who wrote all kinds of verse with ease,
made pies and puddings, frocks and cheese
Her situation, tho' obscure,
Was not contemptible or poor.
Her conversation spoke a mind,
Studious to please, but unrefin'd
Miscellaneous Poems 1791 .