The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things
Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne's landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books. In this paperback of the landmark biography, best-selling biographer Paula Byrne uses objects that conjure up a key moment in Austen's life and work - a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more - to unlock the biography of this most beloved author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of 'dear aunt Jane' allows. Byrne's lively book explores the many forces that shaped Austen's life, her long struggle to become a published author, and brings Miss Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.
'Byrne's essays add up to a fine appraisal of the novelist's environment, truly Austenish in the way they burrow into a sequestered and often secretive private world' Observer 'A perceptive and energetic guide to Austen and her surroundings ... Byrne's critical study consists of a series of beautifully written, interrelated essays ... [her] style gives fresh charms to her subject matter. 'The Real Jane Austen' is bold, fast-moving and accessible' Daily Telegraph 'Engaging, compelling, a delightful and engrossing book. Of course we all know that the "real" Jane Austen will forever be a mystery, but most 21st century Janeites will adore this one. Byrne's passion is nothing if not persuasive' Sunday Times 'What is fresh in Byrne's biographical approach is her use of a succession of contemporary objects that Austen owned, or that might be seen in intimate connection with her interests ... this adds an attractive immediacy to a well-known story ... Byrne's affectionate study paints a pleasingly lively picture of Austen's life' Independent 'Brilliantly illuminating ... riveting. By focusing, chapter by chapter, on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allows us to grasp the richness of her inner life' Simon Callow, Guardian 'The portrait of Austen that emerges is sparklingly multi-faceted, catching the light in intriguing ways ... her Jane is far less likely to go for a quiet walk in the garden than she is to be whisked into town in search of a velvet cushion, a necklace or a smart new dress' Irish Mail on Sunday
Paula Byrne was born in Birkenhead. Her first book, Jane Austen and the Theatre, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize. Her second book, Perdita, was a Richard and Judy book-club pick and a best-seller. Her third, Mad World:Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead is 'the fascinating story of a great house and a great family.' It was published to rave reviews in 2009 and was another best-seller. She is married to Jonathan Bate and lives in Oxford.