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  1. 1. Jane Austen
  2. 2. Writing Life and Education • An English novelist • Wrote works of romantic fiction set among the gentry (nearly rich landowners just below nobility class) • One of the most widely read writers in English literature • 1811-16 Released Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma; achieved success as published writer
  3. 3. •Lived Dec 1775 - Jul 1817 (41 years), never married •Raised by a nurse the first 1.5 years of life •Began education in Oxford at 8 years, nearly died of typhus •Continued education at home; at 10 went to boarding school for a year •Schools at that time focused girls’ education on needlework, drama, and the like
  4. 4. Political & Social Events • 1775-1783 War of Independence • 18th-19th C. Industrial Revolution • Owning land was main form of wealth, political power and influence • 18th C. Campaigns to end slavery • 1807 Slave Trade Act (slaves still held, but not sold) • Early 19th C. era of political and social unrest • May 1812 British Prime Minister assassinated • 1811-16 Textile workers broke factory machines to save their jobs; named “Luddites” and if caught would be hung
  5. 5. Personal Life Influences • Close-knit, supportive family was critical to her development as professional writer • Austen self-educated by reading books • Father gave access to his large library, was tolerant of Austen’s risqué experiments in writing, and provided her with expensive paper for writing • Austen home was open, amusing, and intellectual • Sister Cassandra was her closest friend and confidante • From 7 to 13, family staged plays—comedies, which suggests one way in which Austen’s comedic and satirical gifts were cultivated
  6. 6. Literary Themes and Styles • Realism and biting social commentary cemented her historical importance among scholars and critics • Plots are fundamentally comic and highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security • Used combination of parody, burlesque, irony, free indirect speech and a degree of realism
  7. 7. • Little narrative or scenic description; dialogue rich • Each character has a distinctive voice • Themes of education, self-reflection and morality (manners, duty to society, religious seriousness) • Focus on economic situation of women in the 18th and 19th Centuries • Contain fairytale elements (e.g. Pride and Prejudice follows Cinderella theme) • Structured around a pair of characters
  8. 8. The History of England • Part of compilation of poems, stories and plays referred to as Juvenalia—called “boisterous” and “anarchic;” compared to work of 18th C. novelist Laurence Sterne and 20th C. comedy group Monty Python • Austen wrote at age 15 • Burlesque, pokes fun at widely used schoolroom history books – Namely Oliver Goldsmith’s The History of England from the Earliest Times to the Death of George II • Mockingly imitates the style of textbook histories of English monarchs, while ridiculing historians’ pretensions to objectivity
  9. 9. • Cites as sources fictional works such as Shakespeare plays, a novel by Charlotte Turner, and opinions of Austen’s family and friends • Accounts of English kings and queens contain little factual information but great deal of comically exaggerated opining about their characters and behavior • Work includes charades and puns on names • Illustrated by Austen’s sister Cassandra, to whom the work is dedicated
  10. 10. The History of England from the reign of Henry the 4th to the death of Charles the 1st. By a partial, prejudiced & ignorant Historian To Miss Austen, eldest daughter of the Rev. George Austen, this book is inscribed with all due respect by The Author N.B. There will be very few Dates in this History.
  11. 11. Mary This woman had the good luck of being advanced to the throne of England, inspite of the superior protentions, Merit & Beauty of her Cousins Mary Queen of Scotland & Jane Grey. Nor can I pity the Kingdom for the misfortunes they experienced during her Reign, since they fully deserved them, for having allowed her to succeed her Brother—which was a double piece of folly, since they might have foreseen that as she died without Children, she would be succeeded by that disgrace to humanity, that pest of society, Elizabeth. Many were the people who fell martyrs to the protestant Religion during her reign; I suppose not fewer than a dozen. She married Philip King of Spain who in her Sister’s reign was famous for building the Armadas. She died without issue, & then the dreadful moment came in which the destroyer of all comfort, the deceitful Betrayer of trust reposed in her, & the Murderess of her Cousin succeeded to the Throne.
  12. 12. Queen Mary I of England • Fourth crowned monarch of Tudor dynasty • Succeeded her short-lived half-brother Edward VI to the throne • Remembered for restoring England to Roman Catholicism • Had almost 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions, earning her the name “Bloody Mary” • Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her successor and half-sister Elizabeth I
  13. 13. Relation to Broader Work • Less serious than her later writing • Deals with political figures and social structures • Follows her theme of morality • Not published during her lifetime • Perhaps an experimentation with characters and development of stories