Once again, it’s time to play “If I Were a Rich Janeite.” (Cue klezmer music.) The British auctioneer Bonhams has announced that, later this fall, it will offer a first edition of Pride and Prejudice for sale. Bonhams estimates that the three-volume set -- in original bindings, a big plus for collectors – will fetch £15,000-20,000 (about $19,300-25,740). But Austen items have a history of selling for far more than initial estimates: In 2008, the copy of Emma that Austen prese
Jane Austen’s characters and situations feel so real to us that it’s easy to overlook the fact that many of her stories are set in entirely fictitious places. Highbury, Meryton, Kellynch: all completely made up, despite efforts to “prove” that Sanditon is actually the southeast English town of Hastings, or that Darcy’s estate at Pemberley is based on this or that real-life stately home.
Austen creates this illusion of realism in part by sending characters who live in fiction
Thirty-sixth in an occasional series of excerpts from Jane Austen's letters. The young Jane Austen was a voracious reader. We know this because her earliest works, the Juvenilia, are clever satires of everything she read – the overwrought melodramas with their impossibly handsome heroes and swooning heroines, the partisan histories masquerading as objective fact, the plays stuffed with prosy, circuitous dialogue. Even the short letter the 20-year-old Austen wrote exactly 222
Fifteen years ago, Silicon Valley gazillionaire and Janeite Sandy Lerner opened Chawton House, a research library dedicated to the proposition that Jane Austen wasn’t early English history’s only interesting female writer. A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking she was, given how little we hear, even now, about all the women who were scribbling away before and during Austen’s lifetime. What’s to blame for this historical amnesia – and for the lack of visibility, rem
The death last week of Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul prompted the customary chorus of praise for his writing, as well as the rather less customary chorus of agreement that, all told, he was a pretty awful human being—abusive to women, unkind to colleagues, arrogant about his own achievements, and sometimes racist in his views. For Janeites, it was all rather familiar: Seven years ago, Naipaul—who was born into an Indian family in Trinidad but spent his adult life in
Name the ten most important vegetables! Quick now! Does broccoli outrank kale? How about carrots vs. turnips? Yes, yes, I know they’re all terribly good for your health and all that, but which is the most important?
This ridiculous exercise came to mind last week as I perused the BBC History Magazine’s mystifying list of “100 Women Who Changed the World” – a list on which Jane Austen comes in at #13, well behind Marie Curie (#1) and Margaret Thatcher (#6) but ahead of Prince
Jane Austen’s paternal aunt Philadelphia Austen Hancock (1730-92) is one of the most fascinating and understudied characters in the extended Austen clan. Like her younger brother, the Rev. George Austen, father of our beloved novelist, Philadelphia was orphaned in early childhood; unlike him, she had no male patron interested in sponsoring her education and smoothing her path to respectable middle-class status. Instead, she was apprenticed to a milliner at fifteen, and seven
Thanks to her four reproductively prolific brothers – James, Edward, Frank, and Charles produced an impressive total of thirty-three sons and daughters, all but five of whom lived into adulthood – the never-married Jane Austen has many, many collateral descendants. Some of these nieces, nephews and many-times-great iterations thereof have capitalized on their Austen connections. Frank’s daughter Catherine Hubback was the first person to publish Jane Austen fanfic – a completi
With their film adaptations and their fanfics and their Austen societies, residents of the Indian subcontinent seem to love Jane Austen just as much as do those of us in the Anglo-American-Australian axis. So perhaps it is unsurprising that their websites should end up misquoting her just as much as ours do. Yes, children, it is time once again for our favorite sport, Spot the Spurious Austen Quote -- now in a new international edition! Last month, not one but two Indian news