This year marks the Jane Austen bi-centennary. Here, we look at what the latest crop of Austenalia tells us about her.
The celebrated author, who died on July 18, 1817 at the age of 41, completed six novels (two published posthumously) and remains more popular today than she was in her lifetime. Not a year goes by without several new examinations, theories and analysis of her work. To say nothing of the adaptations!
We look at what the latest crop of Austenalia tells us about her.
1. Austen was obsessed with real estate
"My work is so small, my canvas just a little bit of ivory, two inches wide, in which I paint with such a fine brush," Austen wrote to her sister. But while the ostensible scope of her domestic novels seems narrow, she treats the country house as microcosm. Behaviour behind closed doors and in private spaces had a personal resonance for the author, not least because of her own family's precarious and often peripatetic living arrangements.
As British historian and popular TV presenter Lucy Worsley details in her new book Jane Austen At Home (Hodder & Stoughton), the search for a home is an idea that's central to her fiction. It offers an original and entertaining—but also poignant—biography of Austen through the places she lived, because the question of living weighed heavily on her. The death of her father forced her into a makeshift life in rented lodgings," Worsley writes, as Austen was shunted between the relatives who used her as cheap child care. "Home was a perennial problem…How could she find the time to write? Where could she keep her manuscripts safe?"
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