The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things

Hardback

By (author) Paula Byrne

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  • Publisher: HarperPress
  • Format: Hardback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 159mm x 240mm x 39mm | 770g
  • Publication date: 17 January 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0007358326
  • ISBN 13: 9780007358328
  • Sales rank: 82,662

Product description

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne's landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books. In this new biography, bestselling author Paula Byrne (author of Perdita, Mad World) explores the forces that shaped the interior life of Britain's most beloved novelist: her father's religious faith, her mother's aristocratic pedigree, her eldest brother's adoption, her other brothers' naval and military experiences, her relatives in the East and West Indies, her cousin who lived through the trauma of the French Revolution, the family's amateur theatricals, the female novelists she admired, her residence in Bath, her love of the seaside, her travels around England and her long struggle to become a published author. Byrne uses a highly innovative technique whereby each chapter begins from an object that conjures up a key moment or theme in Austen's life and work-a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a laptop writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more. The woman who emerges in this biography is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of 'dear Aunt Jane' would allow. Published to coincide with the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice, this lively and scholarly biography brings Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

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Author information

Paula Byrne was born in Birkenhead and has a PhD from the University of Liverpool, where she is a Research Fellow in English Literature. Her first book, Jane Austen and the Theatre, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize. Her second book, Perdita, was a Richard and Judy bookclub pick and Mad World was a Sunday Times bestseller. She lives in Oxford with her two children and her husband, the critic and biographer Jonathan Bate who is Provost of Worcester College.

Review quote

'Brilliantly illuminating ... Its great merit is ... by focusing on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allow us to grasp the richness of Austen's inner life' Guardian 'Perceptive and energetic' Sunday Telegraph 'A neat approach to biography, allowing Byrne to burrow deep beneath the surface of Austen's existence. The result is a delightful and engrossing portrait' Sunday Times 'Byrne's essays add up to a fine appraisal of the novelist's environment, truly Austenish in the way they burrow into a sequestered and often secretive private world' Observer 'A perceptive and energetic guide to Austen and her surroundings ... Byrne's critical study consists of a series of beautifully written, interrelated essays ... [her] style gives fresh charms to her subject matter. 'The Real Jane Austen' is bold, fast-moving and accessible' Daily Telegraph 'Engaging, compelling, a delightful and engrossing book. Of course we all know that the "real" Jane Austen will forever be a mystery, but most 21st century Janeites will adore this one. Byrne's passion is nothing if not persuasive' Sunday Times 'What is fresh in Byrne's biographical approach is her use of a succession of contemporary objects that Austen owned, or that might be seen in intimate connection with her interests ... this adds an attractive immediacy to a well-known story ... Byrne's affectionate study paints a pleasingly lively picture of Austen's life' Independent 'Brilliantly illuminating ... riveting. By focusing, chapter by chapter, on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allows us to grasp the richness of her inner life' Simon Callow, Guardian 'The portrait of Austen that emerges is sparklingly multi-faceted, catching the light in intriguing ways ... her Jane is far less likely to go for a quiet walk in the garden than she is to be whisked into town in search of a velvet cushion, a necklace or a smart new dress' Irish Mail on Sunday

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