The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne
A Life in Small Things

80%

6 Critic Reviews

Where Austen's life is undocumented, Byrne illuminates the things, places, circumstances, people surrounding her...Byrne's angles on the Austen artefacts are often unexpected. Topaz crosses, gifts to Jane and her sister, Cassandra...This may not be a canonical biography of Austen, but like Austen herself it is vivacious, surprising and rarely dull.
-Guardian

Synopsis

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 Paula Byrne

See more books from this Author
Paula Byrne is the author of Jane Austen and the Theatre; Perdita, a highly acclaimed biography of the eighteenth-century actress, poet, novelist, feminist, celebrity and royal mistress, and Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. A regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and other publications, she lives in Warwickshire, England, with her three young children and her husband, the critic and biographer Jonathan Bate.
 
Published January 29, 2013 by Harper. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Real Jane Austen
All: 6 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Maxwell Carter on Feb 15 2013

...“The Real Jane Austen” is excellent...particularly on the dissonant topics of theater and slavery.

Read Full Review of The Real Jane Austen: A Life ... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Helen Zaltzman on Mar 16 2014

Where Austen's life is undocumented, Byrne illuminates the things, places, circumstances, people surrounding her...Byrne's angles on the Austen artefacts are often unexpected. Topaz crosses, gifts to Jane and her sister, Cassandra...This may not be a canonical biography of Austen, but like Austen herself it is vivacious, surprising and rarely dull.

Read Full Review of The Real Jane Austen: A Life ... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Simon Callow on Feb 08 2013

The Real Jane Austen similarly provides us with constantly surprising glimpses of her. Liberated from linear chronology, the book is like an advent calendar: each new object, each new chapter, brings another group portrait...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Peter Conrad on Jan 17 2013

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.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Jan 24 2013

...she takes a clever approach to scrutinizing the few facts that we know about Austen's life.

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The Economist

Good
on Jan 26 2013

Ms Byrne has an obvious affection for her subject. This book may offer few revelations, but it paints a fresh and vivid picture of an inimitable woman.

Read Full Review of The Real Jane Austen: A Life ... | See more reviews from The Economist

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Ann Caswell 5 Sep 2013

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