Memoir of Jane Austen

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Overview

The Memoir of my Aunt, Jane Austen, has been received with more favour than I had ventured to expect. The notices taken of it in the periodical press, as well as letters addressed to me by many with whom I am not personally acquainted, show that an unabated interest is still taken in every particular that can be told about her. I am thus encouraged not only to offer a Second Edition of the Memoir, but also to enlarge it with some additional matter which I might have scrupled to intrude on the public if they had ...
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Memoir of Jane Austen

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Overview

The Memoir of my Aunt, Jane Austen, has been received with more favour than I had ventured to expect. The notices taken of it in the periodical press, as well as letters addressed to me by many with whom I am not personally acquainted, show that an unabated interest is still taken in every particular that can be told about her. I am thus encouraged not only to offer a Second Edition of the Memoir, but also to enlarge it with some additional matter which I might have scrupled to intrude on the public if they had not thus seemed to call for it. In the present Edition, the narrative is somewhat enlarged, and a few more letters are added; with a short specimen of her childish stories. The cancelled chapter of 'Persuasion' is given, in compliance with wishes both publicly and privately expressed. A fragment of a story entitled 'The Watsons' is printed; p. iii and extracts are given from a novel which she had begun a few months before her death; but the chief addition is a short tale never before published, called 'Lady Susan.' I regret that the little which I have been able to add could not appear in my First Edition; as much of it was either unknown to me, or not at my command, when I first published; and I hope that I may claim some indulgent allowance for the difficulty of recovering little facts and feelings which had been merged half a century deep in oblivion.
November 17, 1870.
James Edward Austen-Leigh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770450813
  • Publisher: General Books LLC
  • Publication date: 3/28/2010
  • Pages: 50
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Meet the Author

A Memoir of Jane Austen is a biography of the novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817) published in 1869 by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. A second edition was published in 1871 which included previously unpublished Jane Austen writings. A family project, the biography was written by James Edward Austen-Leigh but owed much to the recollections of Jane Austen's many relatives. However, it was the decisions of her close friend and sister, Cassandra Austen, to destroy many of Jane's letters after her death that shaped the material available for the biography.

Austen-Leigh described his "dear Aunt Jane" domestically, as someone who was uninterested in fame and who only wrote in her spare time. However, the manuscripts appended to the second edition suggest that Jane Austen was intensely interested in revising her manuscripts and was perhaps less content than Austen-Leigh described her. The Memoir does not attempt to unreservedly tell the story of Jane Austen's life. Following the Victorian conventions of biography, it kept much private information from the public, but family members disagreed over just how much should be revealed, for example, regarding Austen's romantic relationships.

The Memoir introduced the public to the works of Jane Austen, generating interest in novels which only the literary elite had read up until that point. It remained the primary biographical work on the author for over half a century.

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Table of Contents

1. Introductory remarks;
2. Description of Steventon;
3. Early compositions;
4. Removal from Steventon;
5. Description of Jane Austen's person, character and tastes;
6. Habits of composition resumed after a long interval;
7. Seclusion from the literary world;
8. Slow growth of her fame;
9. Opinions expressed by eminent persons;
10. Observations on the novels;
11. Declining health of Jane Austen;
12. Postscript.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The original

    Jane Austen (as is so cogently noted in this volume) gained little notice or fame during her regrettably short life. Likewise, other than her six novels and some letters, little primary evidence exists to enlighten her admirers. Alas, it was common in the 19th century for families to burn all materials believed to be too personal or too revealing.

    In undertaking to write this "memoir" about the life of his brilliant aunt, J.E.Austen-Leigh undoubtedly followed the mores of the times in protecting her privacy. But the little he tells his readers about his memories of Jane Austen are worth a careful perusal, if only because he knew her. Those who know from her books about the sharpness of her sense of humor and satire will take with a grain of salt her portrayal here as always genteel and decorous. But he does manage to convey a sense of her playfulness, creativity, and inventiveness, and he is justified in referring to her as a genius.

    Written in a now antiquated style, portions of this slim memoir can be hard going, but it is worth the effort.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2015

    Poor

    Clearly being the nephew of an author does not make you an author yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2014

    Don't read this first.

    This is a Victorian biography written by a family member who perhaps unintentionally selected and slanted the facts to portray his beloved aunt as a nice domestic lady who did not write for money or fame but just for fun.

    It is worth reading for the basic facts and as an example of Victorian biography. If you want a reliable, readable biography, go with Dierdre Le Faye, Claire Tomalin or other late 20th and early 21st century biographers.

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    Posted April 25, 2010

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    Posted January 24, 2010

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    Posted March 23, 2011

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    Posted January 9, 2013

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    Posted January 8, 2010

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    Posted April 23, 2012

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews

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