Introduced by Fay Weldon
Now reissued in series with our Austen collection, this biography is an affectionate portrait of one of our best-loved writers, and the time in which she wrote.
If you’ve ever wondered what Jane Austen thought of Walter Scott, whether she was good at spillikins, or how Emma and Mr Knightley fared after they were married, then this memoir will provide you with the answers. This edition, originally published in 1989, features an introduction by Fay Weldon and numerous images, re-sourced in colour for this reissue. The binding has also been redesigned to complement our recent editions of Austen’s novels; Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Sense and Sensibility.
Written by her nephew in 1869, half a century after her death, the memoir offers a unique insight into Austen’s life and the society in which she grew up. James Edward Austen-Leigh was only 20 when his aunt died, but as an eager and punctilious social historian, he presents a vivid reconstruction of events in the Austen household. His first-hand knowledge of his aunt is recorded with ‘a distinct recollection of her person and character’, and his candid and heartfelt account remains a primary source of our knowledge about her, and the time in which she lived. It also generated a great deal of interest when it was first published, and prompted the reissue of her novels.
This volume reproduces the second, 1871 edition of the memoir, which also included an excerpt from Austen’s juvenilia, along with many of her letters, which are always entertaining and display the mordant perspective she brought to her fiction: ‘Mr B seems nothing more than a tall young man.’ This is the first biography of the beloved author, and a very important one. We are left feeling we have been granted a very personal glimpse behind the scenes of a genius at work; the ‘Immortal Jane’ writing on tiny pieces of paper, ears pricked to hear the creaking swing door, announcing the entrance of an inquisitive relation.
Fay Weldon is the author of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983). She has written over thirty novels since her first was published in 1968; five collections of short stories; and many plays for stage, radio and television, including in 1980 an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for the BBC. Her Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen (1984) has become a classic introduction to Austen’s fiction. She was made a CBE for services to literature in 2001, and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. For The Folio Society he has introduced Jane Austen's Emma(2015)
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