Jane Austen Critical Essays

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And by way of celebration, the Bank of England is introducing a new £10 note with her face on it. It’s an idealized picture commissioned for a family memoir published 50 years after she died.

She looks richer, prettier, and far less grumpy than she does in the amateurish, unfinished sketch it’s based on.

Seeing it on a banknote half a dozen times a week is only going to embed it further.

Jane was born five years after the poet William Wordsworth, the year before the American Revolution began.

We know Jane; we know that however delicate her touch she’s essentially writing variations of the same plot, a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in any romantic comedy of the last two centuries. * The indisputable facts of Jane Austen’s life are few and simple.

She was born in the small Hampshire village of Steventon on December 16, 1775, the seventh of a clergyman’s eight children.

The more determined our pursuit, the more elusive Jane becomes. Will we find her in modern-day Bath, in the rain-drenched gold stone buildings that are now flats or dental surgeries, in the park that occupies the place where the Lower Assembly Rooms once stood, or at the Upper Rooms, which were rebuilt almost entirely after fire damage in World War II?

Will we find her in Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton?

She did live there, for eight years, and her sister, Cassandra, for nearly 40.

In the middle of the 19th century it was divided into separate dwellings; a century later it was turned back into one. And if any trace of Jane remains, then the thousands of tourists who trudge through the rooms each year will have driven it away.


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