“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How sooner one tires of any other thing than of a book!” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.
Wise words written by the wittiest woman in literature, Jane Austen – who understood the meaning of irony in a way that Alanis Morrison never did. In fact, in Pride and Prejudice these words are spoken by Catherine Bingley who has no interest in books, just Mr Darcey (um, don’t we all!) She is trying to impress him whilst watching him read. Austen is known for making acute observations about 19th century women’s obsession with making themselves as appealing to men as possible, though I’d say you only have to watch Love Island to realise that her social commentary is as true today as it was all those years ago.
Today marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death so it seems fitting to make her our tm icon for July. She was the first author of classic literature that I fell in love with and whilst the Bronte’s became my enduring passion, there’s always a place in my heart – and on my shelves – for her. Her novels remain as presciently powerful observations on human nature as they were when they were published and her characters talk realistically about life and love in a language that we can all still relate to.
She was a pioneer of fiction, achieving huge success with her four novels, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma, but little fame as they were published anonymously. In fact, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were both published posthumously. Her subsequent fame from literature fans the world over – not to mention the many different film and TV adaptations of her work – have ensured her legacy will continue to live on.
Today, the bank of England have announced that her face (and this quote) will appear on the new polymer £10 that will be issued in September. It’s a fitting tribute to one of the greatest women in fiction this country has ever seen.
3 biographies about Jane Austen to pick up (once you’ve read her novels)