Joanna Baillie, a Scottish poet, born at Both well, Lanarkshire, in 1702, died at Hamp-stead, near London, Feb. 23, 1851. Her father, a Presbyterian clergyman, who afterward became professor of divinity in Glasgow university, gave her a sound education. When her brother, Dr. Matthew Baillie, commenced practice in London, she and her sister Agnes removed to that city and took up their residence at Hampstead, where they lived for over 60 years. In 1798, at the age of 36, Miss Baillie published the 1st volume of her "Plays on the Passions," and successive volumes appeared in 1802, 1812, and 1836. Each of these plays was intended to illustrate the effect of a single ruling passion on life and character. A volume of miscellaneous plays appeared in 1804; it contained a Highland tragedy called "The Family Legend," which Scott (who made her acquaintance in 1806) caused to be represented at the Edinburgh theatre early in 1810, with a prologue by himself and an epilogue by Henry Mackenzie. "De Montfort" ran for 11 nights at Covent Garden theatre, Mrs. Siddons and John Kemble playing the leading parts. At a later period Kean produced this play, but it failed.
Her plays "Henriquez" and "The Separation" were also brought out in London. She also wrote two plays published separately, called "The Martyr" and "The Bride." Her dramas were written rather for the closet than the stage, and, though greatly admired by the most competent critics, had but moderate success when acted. Besides ballads, fugitive pieces, occasional poems, and songs (many of them in the Scottish dialect, and humorous), Miss Baillie published metrical legends of exalted characters, and a prose dissertation called "A View of the General Tenor of the New Testament regarding the Nature and Dignity of Jesus Christ." Miss Baillie was greatly esteemed by two generations of scholars. Her poetical works were collected and published in 1851.