We would like to welcome new visitors to AustenBlog who saw Becoming Jane last week or over the weekend and are looking for more information on Jane Austen’s life and work.
The first question many of you will have is: What parts of Becoming Jane are real and which are fiction?
A good place to start is with a page put together by JASNA, the Jane Austen Society of North America: Becoming Jane: Sorting Fact from Fiction. JASNA also has a brief biography of Jane Austen on their Web site.
Lori Smith also has an article on the Following Jane blog about fact and fiction in the film.
We also recommend several books as good starting places to learn more about Jane Austen.
Elizabeth Jenkins’ Jane Austen: A Biography is unfortunately out of print, but used copies are available, or you may be able to find it in your library. There are lots of other biographies around, but this is our favorite; it’s beautifully written and gives a good overview of Jane Austen’s life.
101 Things You Didn’t Know About Jane Austen by Patrice Hannon is a readable and very informative book about Jane Austen’s life and work.
Jane Austen: A Family Record by Deirdre Le Faye is an excellent follow-up to either of the above books and is loaded with all the dates, places, and names you could want.
A Memoir of Jane Austen, written by Jane Austen’s nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh, is available to read online or in an excellent print edition from Oxford University Press, which includes other biographical sketches and remembrances by Jane’s family members.
Some of Jane Austen’s letters are available online, or the complete, annotated print edition (including letters that became available later) is also available. (We do recommend that one read them for enjoyment, and resist the urge to read too much into them.)
If you really want to know more about Jane Austen, the most important suggestion we can make is to read her books. Don’t watch the movies; read the books. We are not suggesting that Jane Austen’s novels reflected events in her life or people that she knew; in fact, she said that was not the case. If Jane were around today to ask, we think she would suggest that her novels are the best memorial she could have.
If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments and we will
argue over them do our best to answer them. 😀
ETA: Added links to the Memoir and the letters.