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Writing About Jane Austen

Writing About Jane Austen

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  • Sat 18 May, 2:00pm – 4:00pm


St Andrews on the Terrace, 30 The Terrace, Wellington


All Ages

Writing about Jane Austen has changed utterly! Thanks to new resources, I was able to figure out why many of her wastrel characters were actually satires on her boozy, lascivious young neighbor the Prince of Wales, why anecdotes from Fanny Burney’s letters and journals turn up in the novels, and why the faulty education of the Bertram girls is remarkably similar to the royal family’s.

I could also argue that Elizabeth Bennet may be based on the celebrated comic actress Dorothy Jordan, mistress to the Duke of Clarence, and laugh along with Austen when she identified a portrait of another royal mistress as Mrs. Bingley. Most recently, I’ve been finding Charles II’s illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth, a.k.a. James Crofts, all overPersuasion.

The brilliant, headstrong, and dangerous Captain Wentworth may therefore owe some of his more dashing characteristics to that glamorous, doomed Stuart.

Jocelyn Harris is professor emerita at the University of Otago, and has published three books on Jane Austen: Jane Austen’s Art of Memory (1989), A Revolution Almost Beyond Expression: Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” (2007), and Satire, Celebrity, & Politics in Jane Austen (2017)

Jocelyn did an interview with Radio NZ - "Jane Austen - political satirist?"

Tea and cake provided.

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