Two Histories of England by Jane Austen

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Synopsis

In these two forgotten gems of English literature, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens offer delightful, irreverent histories of their native land.

When she was only sixteen years old, Jane Austen composed her bitingly satirical History of England for performance in her family's drawingroom. A startling and precocious example of her celebrated wit—not to mention a brilliant social commentary—this lively piece sweeps rapidly across almost four centuries of British monarchy. In rambunctious and wickedly funny prose, Austen's critique spans from Henry IV to Charles I, from Richard III to Mary Queen of Scots, offering a fierce parody of the kind of biased history that young ladies of Austen's time were being forced to study. Reproduced here in its entirety, this is a rare, tantalizing look at the great novelist's budding talent, and an extraordinary bit of literary history that lay unpublished for more than 130 years.

Charles Dickens's A Child's History of England, by contrast, was written and published at the height of its author's considerable fame. A gory and dramatic account, full of villains and heroes, the essay was originally intended as a study-piece for his children, but in fact represented a sly, unconventional countertext to the more straitlaced historical canon. Dickens's exciting, flamboyant narrative is hugely evocative, both of the history he describes and of the time in which he himself was writing.

With an insightful introduction by bestselling historian David Starkey, Two Histories of England brings together, in a single, irresistible volume, these remarkable—and remarkably overlooked—literary treasures by two of the world's most beloved writers.

 

About Jane Austen

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One of England’s most beloved authors, Jane Austen wrote such classic novels as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. Published anonymously during her life, Austen’s work was renowned for its realism, humour, and commentary on English social rites and society at the time. Austen’s writing was supported by her family, particularly by her brother, Henry, and sister, Cassandra, who is believed to have destroyed, at Austen’s request, her personal correspondence after Austen’s death in 1817. Austen’s authorship was revealed by her nephew in A Memoir of Jane Austen, published in 1869, and the literary value of her work has since been recognized by scholars around the world.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 196 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Two Histories of England

Publishers Weekly

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Unbeknownst to most readers today, Austen and Dickens each wrote a satiric history of England.

Aug 13 2007 | Read Full Review of Two Histories of England

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Sentimental, moralizing, and careless with facts, A Child's History (offered here in abridged form) is also a display of Dickens's unequaled mastery of telling detail: the little dog that faithfully lay down beside the decapitated Mary, Queen of Scots;

Nov 12 2007 | Read Full Review of Two Histories of England

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