William Hill Brown (1765-1793) was an American poet, dramatist and novelist who anonymously published "The Power of Sympathy", considered to be the first American novel. The son of a prominent clockmaker, Brown received his education at a Boston boy's school. His literary spark and encouragement came from his step-aunt, Catherine Byles. While living in Boston, Brown lived directly across the street from a famous Boston family, the Anthorp-Mortons, who became the center of a local scandal in 1788. Frances Anthorp committed suicide after she was discovered to be having an affair with her brother-in-law, Perez Morton. "The Power of Sympathy", based on this infamous Boston scandal, follows a sentimental writing style developed by Samuel Richardson. This epistolary novel about tragic, incestuous love began a flood of other sentimental novels from its popularity. Because it has the distinction of being the first book-length work written and issued in America, the novel has received critical attention since its publication.