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Jane Austen

The Life and Times

of the

Woman Behind the Books

by Diana White


250 pages, 156mm x 215mm
ISBN: 978 0 9928554 7 5

Publication date: 12 May 2017

Price: £9.99


Jane Austen lived when basic freedoms were denied her which she deeply resented. Diana White shows how Austen, in the subservient position of a younger daughter, was torn between her emancipated views of women's capabilities and her own, generally snobbish, preference for correct behaviour. Her novels were written both for those who would appreciate the romance but wouldn't understand the subtext, and those who would! Her daily life, with the difficulties of sanitation and the lack of modern conveniences are vividly illustrated.


1. Beginnings, Childbirth, Childcare & Illegitimacy
2. Family & Adoption
3. First Lessons, Books & Bluestockings
4. Hard Lessons & Widows
5. Polish & Plays
6. Music & Dancing
7. Teenage Troubles, More Relatives & Etiquette
8. First Scribblings & Boys
9. Women’s Woes & Friendship
10. The Importance of Being Pretty
11. Facing Facts & Figures
12. Clothing & Class
13. The Glebe, Goodness & Grace
14. The Male of the Species
15. The Teenager
16. Elinor & Marianne and Sentimentalism
17. The Irish Interlude
18. Leaving Steventon
19. Bath Lodgings, Sea Bathing & Writing Routines
20. A Scandal, House Hunting & Bathwick Village
21. Church, Bath Entertainment & The Theatre
22. A Romantic Interlude, Wine & A proposal
23. Despair, Disease & Death
24. Chawton & Literary Success
25. Mansfield Park, Emma & Persuasion
26. Conclusion

Opening paragraphs:

It is a sobering thought that at seven years old Jane Austen nearly died. No Pride and Prejudice, one of the world’s best loved stories, would have been written, no delightfully interfering Emma would have existed and neither would the dreadful Mrs. Norris. There would be no handsome Captain Wentworth to make us sigh in sympathy nor wicked Willoughby to censure. Not one of the six famous books Jane Austen wrote would have been on the bookshelves for us to read let alone on celluloid for us to watch. Yet, although fate was kind to us on that occasion, it was not so kind as to spare the author at forty-one. Jane Austen’s early death undoubtedly deprived us of untold joys; we can only ponder regretfully on those that might have been and be grateful for those she left behind.
Apart from those six famous novels what else do we have of a woman, whose life was almost humdrum, to remind us of her incredible achievements? What images does she arouse in us? Is she the spinster daughter of the house, or the loving sister and entertaining aunt? Is she a shadowy figure dressed in printed muslin with a cap covering her hair, or is she the young woman striding out across the fields? How do we think of her, we who love her books and wonder about the person who wrote them? The first place to go seeking information about someone is their childhood. Who were their parents and how were they brought up? ...

About the author:

Apart from being stopped by the police on the M27 for driving a stolen car, (she'd mistakenly reported it stolen having forgotten where she'd parked it!) Diana White has lived fairly blamelessly for her thirty years in Bath writing about the city's history, including a book, Stories of Bath, a monthly Letter from England on British culture and politics for a continental cultural supplement,and showing visitors around as a Guide. Like Jane Austen she loves dancing, despite complaining knees, and reading comic poems to the housebound.