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The Real Jane Austen
Cover of The Real Jane Austen
The Real Jane Austen
A Life in Small Things
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In The Real Jane Austen, acclaimed literary biographer Paula Byrne provides the most intimate and revealing portrait yet of a beloved but complex novelist.Just as letters and tokens in Jane Austen's...
In The Real Jane Austen, acclaimed literary biographer Paula Byrne provides the most intimate and revealing portrait yet of a beloved but complex novelist.Just as letters and tokens in Jane Austen's...
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Description-

  • In The Real Jane Austen, acclaimed literary biographer Paula Byrne provides the most intimate and revealing portrait yet of a beloved but complex novelist.

    Just as letters and tokens in Jane Austen's novels often signal key turning points in the narrative, Byrne explores the small things – a scrap of paper, a gold chain, an ivory miniature – that held significance in Austen's personal and creative life.

    Byrne transports us to different worlds, from the East Indies to revolutionary Paris, and to different events, from a high society scandal to a case of petty shoplifting. In this ground-breaking biography, Austen is set on a wider stage than ever before, revealing a well-traveled and politically aware writer – important aspects of her artistic development that have long been overlooked.

    The Real Jane Austen is a fresh, compelling, and surprising biography of the author of some of our most enduring classic books – from Pride and Prejudice to Sense and Sensibility, Emma to Persuasion – and a vivid evocation of the world that shaped her.

About the Author-

  • Paula Byrne is the critically acclaimed author of five biographies, including Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice, The Real Jane Austen, and Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. She lives in Oxford, England, with her husband, the academic and biographer Jonathan Bate.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 4, 2013
    Just in time for the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (first published in January 1813), comes Paula Byrne's vivacious new portrait of its author. The approach Byrne (Jane Austen and the Theatre) takes is refreshingly material-based and the book is experimental in structure; each chapter unfolds from the biographer's description of a small object associated with Austen's life (chapter titles include "The East Indian Shawl", "The Cocked Hat" "The Card of Lace", "The Crimson Velvet Cushions", and "The Topaz Crosses"). This technique serves two functions: firstly, it honors the precision for which Austen was famed by drawing attention to the material artifacts of her life; secondly, it challenges the "‘official' family biography of Jane Austen," which stresses the novelist's "enclosed, sequestered world", coloring Austen's life with the same "ivory miniature" quality she famously ascribed to her fiction. Byrne's Austen, as revealed through this archive of objects, emerges as a worldly woman, profoundly enmeshed in a wider world than she's often acknowledged to occupy. This is an Austen with a sense for the political as well as for the finer points of sensibility—and one who will be unfamiliar (though never unrecognizable) to many readers.

  • The Economist "[Byrne] breathes yet more life into Austen and her works by considering the objects that populated her days.... [The] thematic approach offers a revealing picture of Austen and a lively social history....paints a fresh and vivid picture of an inimitable woman."
  • Maureen Corrigan, NPR "Byrne's aim is to show how these objects, many of them reproduced in her book in lush color plates, reveal a much more cosmopolitan awareness of the world than is commonly credited to Austen."
  • Publishers Weekly "A vivacious portrait...Byrne's Austen emerges as a worldly woman, profoundly enmeshed in a wider world than she's often acknowledged to occupy. This is an Austen with a sense for the political as well as for the finer points of sensibility."
  • Bookreporter.com "An excellent new biography...well-researched and entertaining...Byrne gives us a Jane Austen many readers may not recognize: a woman who enjoyed black humor and was well aware of the political scene of her time."
  • New York Times Book Review "Vividly persuasive.... The Real Jane Austen is excellent... particularly on the dissonant topics of theater and slavery....Byrnes section on slavery is better still, establishing links between Austen's protagonists and contemporary figures, her pointed references and contemporary events, which highlight her supposedly oblivious fiction's sharp views on the slave trade."
  • Literary Omnivore "In THE REAL JANE AUSTEN, Bryne's engaging prose and thoughtful, determined analysis of tangible objects from her life give us a picture of Austen as a vivid, vital woman committed to her career as a novelist, clear-eyed and part of the wider world. Well worth a read."
  • NPR/All Things Considered "Biographer Paula Byrne has taken objects from Jane Austen's real life and times and used them as if we were dropping in on Austen on any given day...a dynamic new biography in which Austen lives and breathes."
  • Michael Dirda, Washington Post "Byrne takes Austen seriously as a writer...[she] brings to life a woman of "wonderful exuberance and self-confidence," of "firm opinions and strong passions." Little wonder that every other man she meets seems to fall in love with her."
  • Shelf Awareness "A fresh behind-the-scenes look at an author who, for many, stands behind only Shakespeare as the greatest English writer."
  • Simon Callow, The Guardian "Brilliantly illuminating...riveting...Again and again...Byrne opens out Austen's story with a novelist's persistent probing of the evidence."
  • Times Literary Supplement (London) "Magnificent...explodes the old view of Jane Austen. Byrne's research is wide, deep and meticulous...a more vivid and memorable Jane Austen emerges than a relentlessly 'straight' old-fashioned narrative could deliver."

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    Harper
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