Foreign invasion of Bath? Quelle Horreur!

The lovely city of Bath, England, might be the most regular character in Jane Austen’s novels. Much romantic intrigue occurs there in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. A clergyman finds a wife there in Emma. The bad boys in the other three novels head in that direction—one known to have seduced…
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Retracing Themes in Austen’s Life and Works

My blogs over the last two years have covered a wide expanse of territory: Jane Austen’s fiction; her speech patterns; her looks; her romantic life, both real and possible; the close biological relationships of people involved in courtships; the effect of the war on her life and that of her…
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Jane Austen and the Casualties of War

Jane Austen had two brothers who served in the navy, Frank and Charles, and two who served in the militia, Edward and Henry. Father George Austen and brother James, as clergymen, were discouraged from bearing arms but recruited soldiers and militiamen from the local population. It was the women in…
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A Dance to Time: When Wellington Became a Janeite

The “Long War,” as it was known in the day, raged between England and France during almost all of Jane Austen’s adulthood. Two of her brothers served in the Navy, and the others served in or supported the Militia. England’s problem from the start was that it had no effective…
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A Modest Proposal: Might the Spinster Have Married?

As reported in last month’s blog about Jane Austen’s romantic attachments, biographers dutifully recount the story of Jane’s acceptance/rejection of a proposal by Harris Bigg-Wither, a young, brash man six years her junior, on Thursday-Friday, 2-3 December 1802. The story goes that Jane and Cassandra journeyed to Manydown, the Bigg-Wither…
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Miss Austen—No Politician, She

In this, the 200th anniversary year of Jane Austen’s death, we learn that white supremacists are co-opting the English author in support of a racial dictatorship, shocked opponents are claiming that true readers are “rational, compassionate, liberal-minded people,” and conservatives are chiding Janeites for assuming that great literature can be…
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Austen in Australia

I spent the week in Australia, giving presentations on the history and work of Jane Austen. The lectures took me to Sydney, where I spoke at the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, and at a local library; and at the Austen societies in Newcastle and…
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Fight Against Slavery Carried on Beyond Austen’s Life

Slavery was one of the most contentious issues of Jane Austen’s time. Some scholars claim that she ignored the issue or even accepted the legitimacy of the practice. Others claim that her novel Mansfield Park serves as an anti-slavery tract. For certain, Austen would have tackled the complex issue in a…
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