What do we actually know about Jane Austen? What are the facts? And wouldn't it be fun to write them all down? That's how this book began: with a love of Jane Austen and a need to make neat little (!) lists.
• Where exactly did she live?
• How many siblings did she have?
• Who were her best friends?
• What did she do for fun?
• Who were her heartthrobs?
• All the first lines of her novels
• What she read
• What she wore
• What about her stuff?
• &c, &c, as Jane would say
In this book, we'll highlight all the people and places of Jane's lifetime. Just the facts-nieces and nephews born after she died are not listed, and places her friends or family may have traveled (but there's no evidence she did) are not included. It all makes for a true picture of Jane's life-her letters and friends'
and relatives' firsthand accounts are chock-full of fascinating tidbits-as do artifacts and reminiscences from neighbors and people who crossed her path.
As many before have discovered, trying to pin down Jane Austen is difficult-but not unexciting. We know quite a bit about her life and work,
thanks to remarkable research done by scholars and enthusiasts almost from the moment she died. And new information pops up regularly, sending a rumble through the landscape, changing our "truth" just a bit. No matter.
We're relentless, we're Janeites, and we're true fans.
Back to the "little" part of the lists. The biggest surprise in putting this book together was discovering the sheer number of social contacts, places visited, and characters in her books. Her social circle was enormous and her travels many, mirrored in her novels by the sixty plus characters and forty plus locations in Sense and Sensibility, for starters.
Do life and work connect in the world of Jane Austen? Maybe you'll find some clues here. And who knows, maybe someday you'll unearth an undiscovered diary. Much is left to explore, so let's begin!