Jane Austen - Her life and works

A video talk

The six most polished, controlled and elegant social comedies to be found in English Literature were written by a woman whose personal life was unexciting and confined. Jane Austen’s cool judgment, ironic detachment and her genius gave her books depth and charm and made them some of the most popular novels ever!

Jane Austen still breaks records two hundred years after she wrote her books. Would you like to find out why?

Did you know that today Jane Austen is the third most written about woman of all time? Did you know that she is the first woman writer in England ever to be featured on her country’s currency? She has also made television history – that moment when Colin Firth as Mr Darcy emerges from a lake in a wet white shirt has been voted the favourite TV moment of all time! Pride and Prejudice has been voted the world’s most romantic novel, and it must surely be the most prequelled, sequelled and adapted novel ever.

A quiet, but not uneventful, life

Jane Austen’s life was a quiet one, but it was not uneventful. In my talk I’ll tell you about her love life (was there a real-life Mr Darcy?), about her parents and siblings and how their careers and experiences influenced her writing, and about her struggles to get published. She began writing as a young teenager and has actually been compared with Mozart as one of the very few people in history to have produced works of genius while still in their teens. I’ll introduce you to her juvenilia and read you a hilarious segment from The Three Sisters, one of her delightful juvenile works.

“Of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness.”
― Virginia Woolf

What’s in the video?

It is sometimes wondered (by those who do not know her books) whether Jane Austen’s fiction is relevant in our modern world. Should students be studying her works in schools and universities? If her characters drive carriages while we drive cars, does this not make her stories dated? Not at all! Human nature has not changed in two hundred years and Jane Austen’s acute understanding of what makes people tick is demonstrated on every page of her novels.

I’ll give you my views on why Jane Austen needs to be read today! I’ll give you a list of excellent books for further reading. And I have included some dramatic readings from two of her novels.

A real addiction

There is no known cure for a Jane Austen addiction. Reading Jane Austen’s novels has changed my life, infinitely for the better. I’d love to persuade you to share the ‘Joy of Jane’ and discover that you too can be enriched in this way.

Join me on a journey through her life and works – your life might never be the same again!

Discuss it with me

Do you have a favourite Jane Austen novel? I know that not everyone shares my own personal favourite of Emma. Which was the first one you read, and was it a school text? There are thousands of books out there about Jane Austen’s life, her world, her characters, her style, her fans, and the film versions of her books – are there any you have particularly enjoyed? Let’s discuss it here.

Purchase the complete Virtual Talk (just $9)

This Virtual Talk is a real video treat! In it, I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. This talk is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen.

Buy it now and receive a link to view your video immediately.

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I only recommend books I have read or know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
Featured image credit- Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen in Little Women (2019), https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3281548/

Comments (14)

  1. Mary Anne Strachan

    Pride and Prejudice was the first Jane Austen book I purchased as a teenager. A navy blue hard cover with pages of handwritten notes inside the back cover. It is a treasured possession and, each time I reread it, I find something new. Life experiences certainly transforms depth of understanding.
    I enjoy very much your engaging newsletters and inclusive approach.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Isn’t it the most wonderful novel. I adore it every time I read it.
      You might like to listen to / watch my new virtual talk on ‘Jane Austen: Her Life and Works’ (52 mins long and illustrated) which is now for sale for just $4 on my website.

  2. Thank you for your delightful talk, Susannah! With all our Jane Austen meetings cancelled, this was just what I needed. I agree that Emma is the best novel–but Persuasion is my favorite. Austen reaches an emotional depth in that novel that is unlike any other. As you say, “It’s the most romantic.”

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I am delighted you enjoyed it so much, Donna. Yes, Persuasion is such a romantic and moving novel! I am hugely missing our JASA meetings and cannot wait for life to return to normal.

  3. Sally Petherbridge

    I have just listened to your three virtual talks and would like to say how much I enjoyed them. Please, Susannah, may I have some more?

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Oh Sally, you are nice.
      Yes, you can certainly have some more. One on Anthony Trollope and ‘Barchester Towers’ will be ready in a couple of days. And then you can expect one on Literary England – Susannah’s Top Ten. Thanks so much for your support.


    Your Jane Austen talk included so much I didn’t know: a dance in those times could last 30 minutes?! And I never realised how many letters went up in flames in Cassandra’s bonfire. Such a loss. Same as Florence Hardy obeying instructions to burn Hardy’s correspondence.

    And I had not made any connection between the new £10 note in Britain and Northanger Abbey! (Everyone will have to listen to find out why)

    Now I plan to settle down and listen to your Hardy talk.

    These strangely idle times bring blessings, don’t they.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      That’s fabulous, Lyn. I am so glad you enjoyed the talk and learned lots. Yes, there are some silver linings to this Covid cloud.

  5. Heather Grant

    I have just listened to your lecture on Jane Austen and she too, is my favourite author. I was allowed to listen on the radio when I was about 7 or 8 years old, to Pride and Prejudice. My parents believed in reading books and all of us belonged to the Public Library. I loved Pride and Prejudice to the point where I asked my Mother to change my name to Elizabeth…in fact pleaded to have my name changed to Elizabeth. That didn’t happen. However, I feel that Pride and Prejudice is still my favourite Jane Austen novel but have read all her other books and Emma comes a very close second followed by Persuasion. That letter Captain Wentworth wrote to Anne Elliot …. what can one say.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I am so glad you enjoyed my virtual lecture, Heather. I was interested that you wanted your name changed to Elizabeth. After I read P & P, my mother briefly called me Lizzy for a while, but it didn’t stick. She is such a fabulous heroine! And I agree about that letter!

  6. Amy

    I find it so hard to choose a favourite. Persuasion holds a very special place in my heart but Colonel Brandon’s loyalty and devotion in Sense and Sensibility! I love the fact that Miss Austen was telling us so much more than the love stories – she showed us the social norms, the gender oppressive laws and the moral expectations of the time. We can never tire in finding new fodder for analysis! I can’t wait to listen to all your video talks!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      It’s a bit like being asked to choose your favourite child, isn’t it! So hard, because we love them all so much.
      I am delighted you enjoyed the video talk and hope you get to see many more of the illustrateed talks I have produced.

  7. Penny Morris

    I’m ashamed to say that my love of Jane Austen started with the black and white movie starring Greer Garson and Sir Lawrence Olivier. The script is not terribly true to the novel of course but I just loved the feisty Elizabeth Bennet and sultry Mr Darcy plus the wonderful orchestral themes for each family group. Naturally, reading the novel soon followed and I am always happy to revisit it and delight in finding something new to discover. Emma comes a very close second followed by Sense and Sensibility. I have never really warmed to Northanger Abbey but can still appreciate the writing.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      You are not alone in falling in love with Jane Austen because of the Olivier / Garson film – I know many others. It might not have been very accurate, but it did bring many people to the book.
      Poor Northanger Abbey just doesn’t seem to get the same fan base as the other books. I adore it, though probably have to admit it is my least favourite of her books.

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