Jane Austen A Brief Life Fiona Stafford

Publication date:
18 Jul 2017
Yale University Press
184 pages: 210mm
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An elegant and accessible introduction to the life and works of one of England's greatest and most popular novelists

"I want to salute Fiona Stafford's brilliant [book]. . . . It tells one all one needs to know about Jane Austen, and, best of all, leaves one wanting to read the novels once more, and better."—Jane Aiken Hodge

Every devoted reader feels that, in some way, they know Jane Austen. But how can we make sense of her extraordinary achievements? At a time when most women received so little formal education and none could obtain a place at university, how did Austen come to write novels that have commanded the attention of some of the most brilliant minds ever since? Why were hers the books that Darwin knew by heart and Churchill read during the Blitz?

In this graceful introduction to the author’s life and works, Fiona Stafford offers a fresh and accessible perspective, discussing Austen’s six astonishing novels in the context of their time. Newly updated, Jane Austen: A Brief Life offers a rich and sympathetic insight into a writer who was just as much the Romantic genius as Keats, Shelley or Byron—full of youthful exuberance, intensely creative once she had found her individual voice, and dead before she reached middle age.

Fiona Stafford is professor of English language and literature, University of Oxford. She is author of The Sunday Times Nature Book of the Year, The Long, Long Life of Trees and presenter of two highly acclaimed series for BBC Radio 3 titled The Meaning of Trees. She lives in Bucks, UK.

"Of all the books published on Austen this year, the most satisfying—perhaps because it has a succinctness and a refreshing absence of great claims that Austen herself would have appreciated—is Fiona Stafford's Jane Austen: A Brief Life."—Lucy Lethbridge, Literary Review

“[An] engaging biography”—Barbara Leonardi, The Year’s Work in English Studies