Wolverhampton BTW

Catherine Sinclair

Sinclair, Catherine, 1800—1864

by Benjamin Colbert

Catherine Sinclair was born at Edinburgh on 17 April 1800, the daughter of Sir John Sinclair, first baronet (1754-1835; ODNB), first president of the board of agriculture, and Lady Diana MacDonald (1769-1845). Her siblings included two half-sisters from her father’s first marriage and three brothers (including Sir George Sinclair, second baronet [1790-1868; ODNB]). She was educated at home and at 14 became her father’s secretary, writing from dictation to his international correspondents.

In 1829 she published a gothic horror story in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine and a novel, Charlie Seymour, followed in 1832. After her father’s death in 1835 she published more frequently. Her silver fork novel of fashionable life Modern Accomplishments (1836) was quickly followed by a sequel, Modern Society (1837). Sinclair then turned to travel writing with Hill and Valley, or, Hours in England and Wales (1838), followed by Scotland and the Scotch (1840) and Shetland and the Shetlanders (1840).

Sinclair continued to publish novels for adults and stories for children into the 1860s. She also occupied herself with charity and philanthropic work, including the Sinclair Cooking Depot providing food for the poor. She died at Kensington vicarage, London, on 6 August 1864.


Mitchell, Charlotte. 'Sinclair, Catherine (1800–1864), novelist and children's writer'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sept. 2004. Oxford University Press. Web. 27 Jan. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/25612


Title Published
Hill and Valley, or Hours in England and Wales 1838
Scotland and the Scotch 1840
Shetland and the Shetlanders 1840

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