happy birthday Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born 240 years ago today, on 16 December 1775.  Over two centuries later, she’s still one of the most widely read writers in the English language.

Interestingly, she appeared to ignore the ‘rules’ we writers are taught today: much of her writing is ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’, and she changes Point of View (shock horror!) not only in the same chapter but also in the same scene. Look at ‘Emma’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’ for some examples.

The beloved British novelist wrote prolifically and while her works were generally popular when they were published, they brought her little personal fame during her lifetime, as she released them anonymously (the credit for Sense and Sensibility reads simply, “By a Lady.”)


Categories: Jane Austen, WOMEN WRITERS, WRITING

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  1. “I come now to the relation of a misfortune, which about this time befell Mrs. John Dashwood.” The narrator of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ explains that Mrs. John Dashwood was forced to send her carriage for Elinor and Marianne “but what was still worse, must be subject to all the unpleasantness of appearing to treat them with attention: and who could tell that they might not expect to got out with her a second time?” Ch 36 The ‘I’ is used sparingly but with devastatingly acid irony.

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    • The omniscient narrator indeed! Clearly,Jane had never done a creative writing course at UTS or any of the more conventional writing workshops that abound in the twenty-first century, telling writers to ‘show, not tell’, and to never, never, intrude on the characters’ thoughts.


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