British engraver, poet, and novelist Jane Taylor was born in London to Ann Martin Taylor and Isaac Taylor, an engraver, painter, and minister.
Taylor frequently collaborated with her sister Ann, and the two were some of the earliest known children’s poets. A few of their poems, including “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” (first published as “The Star”), later became nursery rhymes. The pair’s publications include Original Poems for Infant Minds (1804), Rhymes for the Nursery (1806), Limed Twigs to Catch Young Birds (1808), City Scenes; or, A Peep into London: for good children (1809), Hymns for Infant Minds (1810), Original Hymns for Sunday School (1812), and The Linnet’s Life: Twelve Poems (1822).
Their revision and expansion of an 18th-century book of humorous children’s verse was published as Signor Topsy-Turvy’s Wonderful Magic Lantern, or, The world turned upside down (1810), and the sisters also contributed significantly to The Associate Minstrels (1810), a book of children’s poetry.
Following her sister’s marriage, Jane moved with her brother Isaac to his home in Devon, where she composed her first solo work, the children’s novel Display: A Tale for Young People (1815), as well as the satire Essays in Rhyme on Morals and Manners (1816). She maintained her focus on children’s literature and, beginning in 1816, was a regular contributor to Youth’s Magazine.
Taylor’s work was widely reviewed and translated during her lifetime, and poet Robert Browning acknowledged her influence on his work. Contemporary critic Stuart Curran noted, “Taylor’s capacity to reveal the inner life as a thing is, it could be asserted, unrivaled in English literature before Dickens.”