Jane Austen: Writing at the Speed of Thought

“In composition she was equally rapid and correct.” This is what Jane Austen’s brother Henry had to say about Jane’s writing style in the “Biographical Notice” at the front of the combined Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.  The short biography in the December 1817 publication informed readers that the author, to…
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Sifting Through Austen’s Elusive Allusions

Excellent researchers have divined many, many references and allusions that Jane Austen makes in her novels and letters. In his various editions of her works, R. W. Chapman lists literary mentions along with real people and places. Deirdre Le Faye’s editions of Austen’s letters include actors, artists, writers, books, poems,…
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Christmas Presents for Austen Lovers

December is a joyous month for Janeites. The month includes Jane Austen’s birthday on Dec. 16 and of course Christmas on Dec. 25. Many Austen groups have December celebrations that partake of the holiday spirit. I was fortunate to speak at a December tea in Boise and a dinner in…
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Commemorating 40 Years, and 400

Today’s blog provides a capsule of the recent Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, in Williamsburg, VA. The week involved history, pageantry, and good manners—and that was outside the conference halls. It was the 40th anniversary of the founding of JASNA, and the 400th commemoration…
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Survey of Janeites, Thoughts on the Results

In 2008, the Jane Austen Society of North America took a survey of its membership about Austen’s characters. I’ve come across the results several times. I thought I’d recap them here and offer a few thoughts of my own. Fully one-third of Janeites read three or more of Austen’s books…
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Does Henry Tilney Speak of a Modern Riot?

Last month, this blog covered the confusing conversation between Catherine Morland and Eleanor Tilney in Northanger Abbey, when Catherine is talking about the horrors of a new Gothic novel but Eleanor thinks she’s describing rioters about to descend upon Bath. Henry Tilney sees what’s happening but eggs on the confusion….
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London Run Riot: The Overt Politics of Austen’s Gothic Romp

During Jane Austen’s life and beyond, England was beset with constant internal strife—labor protests, political riots, and military mutinies. These came as the result of falling wages–caused by increasing mill automation–high-priced food, and the harsh conditions and poor pay of military life. From the mid-1790s through the end of Austen’s…
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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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