7 New Books to Commemorate the Life of Jane Austen
Celebrate the author’s legacy with these picks.
The 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death is on July 18, 2017. Janeites have been celebrating their favorite novelist all year at Austen-themed festivals, picnics, and movie marathons, and of course, with obligatory rereading of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Sense and Sensibility. The British Royal Mint commemorated the anniversary by unveiling Austen’s portrait on its new £10 bill, making the novelist the only other woman to appear on Britain’s money other than Queen Elizabeth. Fans also have their pick of new biographies and perspectives, timed to memorialize Austen at 200. Here are the seven that caught our eye.
The Making of Jane Austen, by Devoney Looser
In The Making of Jane Austen, Arizona State University English professor and superfan traces how Austen became a literary icon over the last 200 years. Looser looks at how Austen’s works have been translated to film and the theater, and how one illustrator influenced readers’ perception for generations to come. Even the biggest Jane fans will learn something new.
To buy: $22; amazon.com.
Jane Austen at Home: A Biography, by Lucy Worsley
Historian and author Lucy Worsley deep-dives into the many places Austen called home over her life, revealing the rooms where Austen wrote, the people she shared homes with, and the places where she vacationed. Worsley shows readers a new perspective on Austen’s work and how she was influenced by the meaning of home.
To buy: $18; amazon.com.
The Jane Austen Treasury: A Collection of Fascinating Insights into Her Life, Her Time and Her Novels, by Janet Todd
Todd’s book is filled with fun facts and trivia about Austen’s life—from the marriage proposal she declined to her favorite hobbies. The Jane Austen Treasury is a good primer for new fans, along with those who want to better understand how her life imitated her art.
To buy: $15; amazon.com.
Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, by Helena Kelly
In Jane Austen, the Secret Radical Oxfordhistorian and expert Helena Kelly challenges readers to look at Austen’s novels as much more than love stories. She shows how Austen was, in fact, tackling then-taboo subjects in her writing, from slavery to feminism. Kelly’s novel will no doubt give fans a lot to talk about.
To buy: $17; amazon.com.
The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She Works in Hollywood, by Paula Byrne
Paula Byrne’s The Genius of Jane Austen has been required reading for Janeites since it was first published in 2003 (though unfortunately it fell out of print in the U.S. in recent years). To mark the anniversary of Austen’s death, Byrne added new material for this just-released second edition. In it, she explores Austen’s own love of the theater and acting and how her novels have been translated to the screen—from the classic BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries to Clueless.
To buy: $14; amazon.com.
A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, by Emily Midorikawa, Emma Claire Sweeney
Friends and authors Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa delve into the lives and female friendships of several authors, including Austen, in the forthcoming A Secret Sisterhood. Sweeney and Midorikawa recount how Austen befriended her niece’s governess and amateur playwright, Anne Sharp, and turned to her for manuscript critiques. A perfect gift for both the Janeites and the female friends in your life.
To pre-order: $18; amazon.com.
Released October 17.
Jane on the Brain: Exploring the Science of Social Intelligence with Jane Austen, by Wendy Jones
In Jane on the Brain, out later this year, psychotherapist Wendy Jones explores why readers fall in love with Austen’s characters. Drawing on psychology and neuroscience, Jones shows that Austen’s works were ahead of their time in terms of how they portrayed social relationships. In other words, it offers a scientific explanation for why we’re so obsessed with Emma, Elizabeth, and Anne.
To pre-order: $26; amazon.com.
Released December 5.