Janet Schaw entry: Overview screen.
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Janet Schaw, whose fluent and polished style suggests that she was well accustomed to writing, was a late-eighteenth-century Scotswoman who left a single text: a letter-form journal of travels. With some relations she sailed from Scotland to the Caribbean (where they acquired some months' experience of the slave-based economy of Antigua), then to North Carolina in what was soon to become the United States of America, then home again via an extended visit to Lisbon in Portugal. Schaw is a sharp-eyed observer, intelligent, opinionated, and conservative or reactionary.
About 1737 JS was born at Lauriston, which is now part of Edinburgh. Although her family is well-documented, her precise birth and death dates have not so far been found, but she seems to have been a younger sibling. Bibliographic Citation link.
25 October 1774 - 20 December 1775 With these dates JS headed the individual travel letters which she copied and kept in the form of a journal. The last letter seems to take her narrative into the new year, 1776, and another letter which she promised but did not transcribe would have taken her into February 1776. Bibliographic Citation link.
After 1776 JS transcribed her letters from her Caribbean, American, and Portuguese journey as "Travels in the West Indies and South [sic] Carolina". It seems that the manuscript circulated widely; three copies are known today. Bibliographic Citation link.
Early 1801 JS must have died early in this year, since her will was proved at London on 14 March. Bibliographic Citation link.
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