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James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of his aunt Jane Austen was published in 1870, over fifty years after her death. Together with the shorter recollections of James Edward's two sisters, Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen, the Memoir remains the prime authority for her life and continues to inform all subsequent accounts. These are family memories, the record of Jane Austen's James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of his aunt Jane Austen was published in 1870, over fifty years after her death. Together with the shorter recollections of James Edward's two sisters, Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen, the Memoir remains the prime authority for her life and continues to inform all subsequent accounts. These are family memories, the record of Jane Austen's life shaped and limited by the loyalties, reserve, and affection of nieces and nephews recovering in old age the outlines of the young aunt they had each known. They still remembered the shape of her bonnet and the tone of her voice, and their first-hand accounts bring her vividly before us. Their declared partiality also raises fascinating issues concerning biographical truth, and the terms in which all biography functions. This edition brings together for the first time these three memoirs, and also includes Jane's brother Henry Austen's Biographical Notice of 1818 and his less known Memoir of 1833.


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James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of his aunt Jane Austen was published in 1870, over fifty years after her death. Together with the shorter recollections of James Edward's two sisters, Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen, the Memoir remains the prime authority for her life and continues to inform all subsequent accounts. These are family memories, the record of Jane Austen's James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of his aunt Jane Austen was published in 1870, over fifty years after her death. Together with the shorter recollections of James Edward's two sisters, Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen, the Memoir remains the prime authority for her life and continues to inform all subsequent accounts. These are family memories, the record of Jane Austen's life shaped and limited by the loyalties, reserve, and affection of nieces and nephews recovering in old age the outlines of the young aunt they had each known. They still remembered the shape of her bonnet and the tone of her voice, and their first-hand accounts bring her vividly before us. Their declared partiality also raises fascinating issues concerning biographical truth, and the terms in which all biography functions. This edition brings together for the first time these three memoirs, and also includes Jane's brother Henry Austen's Biographical Notice of 1818 and his less known Memoir of 1833.

30 review for A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections

  1. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    Mr. Austen-Leigh was a nephew of Jane Austen and his account of her life, her memoir, is gracious and flattering, as you would expect from a proud relative. He wrote this from his personal recollections, but he was only 19 when she died and this document was written over 50 years after her death. So his depth of material was somewhat limited and he even states in the first chapter, "Of events, her life was singularly barren: few changes and no great crisis ever broke the smooth current of it's c Mr. Austen-Leigh was a nephew of Jane Austen and his account of her life, her memoir, is gracious and flattering, as you would expect from a proud relative. He wrote this from his personal recollections, but he was only 19 when she died and this document was written over 50 years after her death. So his depth of material was somewhat limited and he even states in the first chapter, "Of events, her life was singularly barren: few changes and no great crisis ever broke the smooth current of it's course". He also admits his limitations as a writer and this being written in a late Victorian style, many people may find it challenging. But if you are a big Jane Austen fan, as I am, you may find some interesting facts here. I enjoyed reading the deleted chapter from Persuasion. 3 stars is the best I can do. PS: I have also read Carol Shield's biography of Jane Austin. It was good, certainly better written than this one, but it still left me thinking there must be something better out there. After all, we are talking about one of the most popular writers ever. She is certainly derserving of a first rate biography.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    This is a pompous, saccharine, Victorian memoir of Jane Austen by her clergyman nephew Mr Collins James Edward Austen-Leigh. Unfortunately, he has decided to promote her as the ideal Victorian spinster, who never did a wrong thing in her life. He claims the family were "never troubled by disagreements", which if you've read Jane Austen's Letters by Deirdre Le Faye (editor) you know this is clearly not the case. Jane wrote in one of her letters to her niece that "Pictures of perfection, as you kn This is a pompous, saccharine, Victorian memoir of Jane Austen by her clergyman nephew Mr Collins James Edward Austen-Leigh. Unfortunately, he has decided to promote her as the ideal Victorian spinster, who never did a wrong thing in her life. He claims the family were "never troubled by disagreements", which if you've read Jane Austen's Letters by Deirdre Le Faye (editor) you know this is clearly not the case. Jane wrote in one of her letters to her niece that "Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked.." I think if Jane Austen had read this memoir, (after being for a period "sick and wicked") she would have had a good long laugh.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rikke

    This book isn't important or even interesting because of the words in it. What makes this book important are the words that are deliberately left out, cut from a picture that didn't fit. This is a memoir of Jane Austen written by her own family. It was written because the Austen-family feared that if they didn't write it, someone else would. It is written in the vain hope of securing a fitting image of a prestigious author – even if it means reshaping the actual image. And in fact, James Edward A This book isn't important or even interesting because of the words in it. What makes this book important are the words that are deliberately left out, cut from a picture that didn't fit. This is a memoir of Jane Austen written by her own family. It was written because the Austen-family feared that if they didn't write it, someone else would. It is written in the vain hope of securing a fitting image of a prestigious author – even if it means reshaping the actual image. And in fact, James Edward Austen-Leigh literally did alter the only remaining image of Jane Austen in order to write this memoir. The only image of Austen was a rough sketch made by Jane Austen's sister Cassandra. In the sketch Austen looked cross and annoyed; her features were all angles and her elbows were crossed. Austen-Leigh felt that Cassandra's sketch wouldn't do and requested a new one, specifically made for his memoir. Cassandra's sketch was sent to an artist, it was redrawn, and a new Jane Austen emerged; a much more mildly looking and doe-eyed woman, who could live up to her new image. The remaking of the sketch is, in many ways, symbolic of Austen-Leigh's entire memoir. He leaves important facts out, doesn't mention the bankruptcy of Jane Austen's brother, cuts off Jane Austen's letters whenever they get problematic and constantly tries to underline the fact, that Jane Austen wasn't merely a writer. According to Austen-Leigh she was first and foremost a homely woman, a loving aunt and a sensible daughter. A reoccurring image is that of Austen's hands, creating something more womanly fitting than words and novels. “Jane Austen was succesful in everything that she attempted with her fingers. None of us could throw spilikins in so perfect a circle, or take them off with so steady a hand. Her performances with a cup and ball were marvellous.” “But the writing was not the only part of her letters that showed superior handiwork. In those days there was an art in folding and sealing. No adhesive envelopes made all easy. Some people's letters always looked loose and untidy; but her paper was sure to take the right folds, and her sealing-wax to drop the right place.” “Whatever she produced was a genuine home-made article.” The last line almost sounds like an advertisement for an old-fashioned cooking product. James Edward Austen-Leigh clearly wanted to transform Jane Austen to 'dear aunt Jane', and he partly succeeded. It is so interesting to read this memoir critically and wonder how it influenced Jane Austen's afterlife.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elliot A

    Technically it wasn’t really part of my research, since it is now agreed that this is a very whitewashed, highly edited version of Jane Austen’s life, but it is nonetheless very interesting to read how the biographies and the creation of a very distinct image of Jane all began relatively shortly after her death. I appreciated Caroline Austen and Anna Austen Lefroy’s recollection of their aunt Jane; however short they were. At the risk of sounding slightly sexist, I have to caution readers when per Technically it wasn’t really part of my research, since it is now agreed that this is a very whitewashed, highly edited version of Jane Austen’s life, but it is nonetheless very interesting to read how the biographies and the creation of a very distinct image of Jane all began relatively shortly after her death. I appreciated Caroline Austen and Anna Austen Lefroy’s recollection of their aunt Jane; however short they were. At the risk of sounding slightly sexist, I have to caution readers when perusing the sections of this memoir that were written by Jane’s male relatives (nephew and brothers), since they try very hard to paint a picture of feminine demure, fragility and perfection. Jane was a person with high spirit, wit and intelligence, and these claims make her out to look like a small spinster, who dabbled in story writing, but who obtained the greatest pleasure from keeping house. Very untrue, indeed. Having said that, it is still worth a look, if one reads it with a grain of salt. Overall, I would suggest it, since it is so often referred to in biographies written about Jane. ElliotScribbles

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    The primary work in this valuable collection is the "Memoir" by James Edward Austen-Leigh--a nephew of the great author. Though it was written decades after the death of Jane Austen, it remains an immensely valuable first-hand source. It is not a biography in the modern sense at all; rather it is a recollection culled from various family sources emphasizing the genuine love Jane Austen inspired in those who were intimately acquainted with her. There can be no doubt but that this book recalls a v The primary work in this valuable collection is the "Memoir" by James Edward Austen-Leigh--a nephew of the great author. Though it was written decades after the death of Jane Austen, it remains an immensely valuable first-hand source. It is not a biography in the modern sense at all; rather it is a recollection culled from various family sources emphasizing the genuine love Jane Austen inspired in those who were intimately acquainted with her. There can be no doubt but that this book recalls a very domestic Jane Austen indeed. It is questionable if JEAL actually understood how great a literary figure his aunt was. He mentions that those who most appreciate her " . . . see her safely placed . . . in her niche, not indeed amongst the highest orders of genius, but in one confessedly her own, in our British temple of literary fame . . . ." How far this is from the comment of F. R. Leavis in his first chapter of "The Great Tradition": "Jane Austen is one of the truly great writers, and herself a major fact in the background of other great writers." and "She not only makes tradition for those coming after, but her achievement has for us a retroactive effect: as we look back beyond her we see in what goes before, and see because of her, potentialities and significances brought out in such a way that, for us, she creates the tradition we see leading down to her. Her work, like the work of all great creative writers, gives a meaning to the past." Still we get significant (if edited) insights from her letters. JEAL does include extracts from the very funny "Plan of a Novel, according to hints from various quarters." However, he omits some of the gentle humour shown by Jane Austen even on her deathbed when she composed some comic verses three days before she died. (You can find them in R.W. Chapman's "Minor Works" as well as the "Plan".) As to her death, her nephew does convey the bafflement and anguish created by that final illness which took her away at the height of her powers. In all likelihood it was either Addison's or Hodgkin's Disease--neither of which was understood in the 19th century. A summary of what is known will be found here: http://mh.bmj.com/content/31/1/3.full The edition I have chosen has a number of advantages. It includes other family reminiscences, illustrations, a family tree, a very fine introduction by Kathryn Sutherland and her excellent explanatory notes which are enormously effective in expanding the context of the "Memoir".

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shayne

    This is quite a charming account of Jane Austen's life, written years after her death by her nephew, assisted by two of his sisters. It's diffident, and gently affectionate; noticeably careful in what it says, but not descending into hagiography. By her nephew's account Jane was a much-loved daughter, sister and aunt, warm-hearted and certainly witty, but not someone who would stand out in a crowd. "... she was to be distinguished from many other amiable and sensible women only by that peculiar This is quite a charming account of Jane Austen's life, written years after her death by her nephew, assisted by two of his sisters. It's diffident, and gently affectionate; noticeably careful in what it says, but not descending into hagiography. By her nephew's account Jane was a much-loved daughter, sister and aunt, warm-hearted and certainly witty, but not someone who would stand out in a crowd. "... she was to be distinguished from many other amiable and sensible women only by that peculiar genius which shines out clearly enough in her works, but of which a biographer can make little use," Austen-Leigh tells us. As well as many biographical details, the memoir includes several letters from Jane to other family members, and these are a delight: witty and entertaining, as well as affectionate. There are also some snippets about her characters that Jane shared with her family: "She would, if asked, tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of some of her people." The letters and character details, as well as extracts from the unfinished "Sanditon", are what I enjoyed most in the memoir, but Austen-Leigh's occasional comments on changing habits of everyday life are also interesting to anyone drawn to social history. There's a certain amount of self-censoring; Jane's brother Henry's bankruptcy, for instance, is only hinted at. My favourite piece of bowderisation is in Austen-Leigh's quote from a letter of Jane's. His version has "Give my love to little Cassandra [a niece]! I hope she found my bed comfortable last night". He left off the last few words of that sentence: "and has not filled it with fleas." Victorian reticence aside, it's a pleasure to read an account of Jane by someone who actually knew her.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    I avoided reading this for the longest time, assuming it would be content-free hagiography. Was I wrong! Though it is very much late Victorian in tone, it's the crispy, slightly ironic but altogether compassionate view that one sometimes sees in those whose lives spanned most of the 1800s. Read in conjunction with Deirdre Le Faye's edition of the Letters, it is an especial treat. REREAD: I especially appreciated the reminiscences about life in Steventon and at Chawton. And the fact that Jane enter I avoided reading this for the longest time, assuming it would be content-free hagiography. Was I wrong! Though it is very much late Victorian in tone, it's the crispy, slightly ironic but altogether compassionate view that one sometimes sees in those whose lives spanned most of the 1800s. Read in conjunction with Deirdre Le Faye's edition of the Letters, it is an especial treat. REREAD: I especially appreciated the reminiscences about life in Steventon and at Chawton. And the fact that Jane entertained kids with fantasy stories.

  8. 4 out of 5

    lauren

    Jane Austen has been a favourite author of mine for a long time now. Ashamedly, I have neglected to read any biography on her which I sought to rectify with this lovely little memoir and other family recollections. I thought this would be appropriate for my first read as I'm yet to finish all of her novels. Many biographies tend to spoil the novel's in full which I seek to avoid until I've managed to get through them all. I thought this memoir, written by her nephew, would be great to start off Jane Austen has been a favourite author of mine for a long time now. Ashamedly, I have neglected to read any biography on her which I sought to rectify with this lovely little memoir and other family recollections. I thought this would be appropriate for my first read as I'm yet to finish all of her novels. Many biographies tend to spoil the novel's in full which I seek to avoid until I've managed to get through them all. I thought this memoir, written by her nephew, would be great to start off with. To begin with, I really loved the first section of the book. It the main memoir written by James Edward Austen-Leigh. It was very sweet, and you really got the feel he loved and admired his aunt. It was comforting to read such assertions and, because of this, I thoroughly enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book. However, I didn't so much like the other family recollections. They were quite dull to read and very repetitive. It is quite obvious James used these as the foundations for his memoir, so reading over some of the quotes he picked out became a little tedious and boring. Although, some of the things the other family members (another nephew and a niece) included was interesting, I just thought it could have been better without, or at least omitted the bits that he repeated. My only other issue with this is the reliability. It's very apparent that James is trying to paint his aunt into being the conventional 18/19th century woman. Highly religious, angelic, quiet, meek and doesn't venture outside of the ordinary female entertainment (so knowing nothing of politics, economy, and so on). He obviously wanted to preserve Jane's image, and wanted to do this through a positive outlook, but you could tell it was a little exaggerated. I wanted to know the real Jane - who cares what the uptight Victorian society has to say (I mean, she is dead!!). Other than that, I really enjoyed this! It's so fun unpicking your favourite authors bit by bit through biographies and memoirs like this. I liked knowing the life and story behind my favourite authors, especially those from the 19th century, as life was so different then. I'd definitely recommend.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maud

    I was pretty disappointed by this one. I'm a massive fan of the books by Jane Austen and I was really looking forward to getting to know the author a bit better. This book includes 3 biographies by people who knew Jane Austen which could have been interesting but: - They literally copy things from one another. - They are too kind. It's obvious that they only want to share the warm and positive things even though we know that this wasn't always how life was. - They go on and on about things that real I was pretty disappointed by this one. I'm a massive fan of the books by Jane Austen and I was really looking forward to getting to know the author a bit better. This book includes 3 biographies by people who knew Jane Austen which could have been interesting but: - They literally copy things from one another. - They are too kind. It's obvious that they only want to share the warm and positive things even though we know that this wasn't always how life was. - They go on and on about things that really aren't that interesting (houses and families that are more connected to the author than to Jane Austen). - They really can't remember much about the time (little as some of it was) they spend with Jane Austen. I was having high hopes of seeing Jane Austen from her family's point of view but I honestly feel like her Wikipedia page will let me get to know her better than this book ever will.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bfisher

    Pride And Prejudice has one of the finest openings in English Literature - “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” What I liked best about this book was that a great deal of it was devoted to the corollary, a single man’s want of a good fortune, in the case of Jane Austen’s male relatives, and the means they adopted to get one; including an exhaustive (and exhausting) catalog of her male relatives’ connections. That Pride And Prejudice has one of the finest openings in English Literature - “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” What I liked best about this book was that a great deal of it was devoted to the corollary, a single man’s want of a good fortune, in the case of Jane Austen’s male relatives, and the means they adopted to get one; including an exhaustive (and exhausting) catalog of her male relatives’ connections. That is the main charm of this work, the indirect view it affords of the environmental constraints that Jane Austen had to operate in; a confirmation of the relentless chase for social advantage by her contemporaries, and of the shade that women of great ability had to grow within.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Lira

    Lovely memories about my favourite authors and most special that it comes from people who knew and lived with her. James Edward, with the help of his sisters Carolina Austen and Anna Lefroy, gives us an intimate view from their beloved aunt such like her manners, temperament, humour and way of life. I don't think that there is a better reliable source besides family members about the personality of a person, even though they were children/teenagers when Aunt Jane was still alive. The author also Lovely memories about my favourite authors and most special that it comes from people who knew and lived with her. James Edward, with the help of his sisters Carolina Austen and Anna Lefroy, gives us an intimate view from their beloved aunt such like her manners, temperament, humour and way of life. I don't think that there is a better reliable source besides family members about the personality of a person, even though they were children/teenagers when Aunt Jane was still alive. The author also gives interesting studies about the historical period of Regency England and other members of the Austen family and relatives who were important to the famous one. This is not a typical biography book in the modern sense, but it is a rich recollection of what left over from one of the best British authors.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicoleta Fedorca

    James Edward Austen Leigh published her aunt memoir more than fifty years after her death. Not too much was known by the public about the author of 'pride and prejudice' 'sense and sensibility' 'Emma' when she was alive and after her death when her novels became more popular people wanted to know more. She had 7 brothers and sisters but JEAL mentions only 6 in his memoir, the family was close to each other but she was closest with Cassandra her only sister. Much of what is known about Jane Austen James Edward Austen Leigh published her aunt memoir more than fifty years after her death. Not too much was known by the public about the author of 'pride and prejudice' 'sense and sensibility' 'Emma' when she was alive and after her death when her novels became more popular people wanted to know more. She had 7 brothers and sisters but JEAL mentions only 6 in his memoir, the family was close to each other but she was closest with Cassandra her only sister. Much of what is known about Jane Austen life is known from her correspondence with Cassandra. Before her death Cassandra also destroyed lots of letters from her sister. In this memoir JEAL writes about his and his families memories of her, about the places she lived and the influence those had on her work.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Krystal

    Fascinating to read how her family tried to manage her story at first. All the biographies I have read of Jane start from this one so I was long overdue to read. I enjoyed all the different pieces to this very sedate biography.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maan Kawas

    Excellent read!

  15. 5 out of 5

    majoringinliterature

    My Austen in August quest to read more about Jane Austen's life begins with the first 'official' biography. Written in the late Victorian period, more than fifty years after she died, A Memoir of Jane Austen is offered to readers as a kind of 'family record' of the author. Austen's nephew, J.E. Austen-Leigh, was responsible for compiling family histories and records into a coherent account of her life. It's no secret that A Memoir of Jane Austen is a flawed account, and deeply unsatisfying for A My Austen in August quest to read more about Jane Austen's life begins with the first 'official' biography. Written in the late Victorian period, more than fifty years after she died, A Memoir of Jane Austen is offered to readers as a kind of 'family record' of the author. Austen's nephew, J.E. Austen-Leigh, was responsible for compiling family histories and records into a coherent account of her life. It's no secret that A Memoir of Jane Austen is a flawed account, and deeply unsatisfying for Austen's readers and admirers. Indeed, my own personal opinion quickly came to be that it tells the reader more about Austen-Leigh, and the age in which he was living, than it does about Austen herself. A Memoir of Jane Austen is responsible for launching the infamous 'Aunt Jane' image which has been impossible to shake off, even after more than a century has passed. The tone of the book is a little priggish, and at times you almost feel that Austen-Leigh is sermonising (probably not surprising, as he was a clergyman; in the Austen family the church had become something of a family business, and they churned out clergymen by the dozen). Austen-Leigh approaches his aunt's life with the assumption that nothing much happened to her; he therefore pads his account with stories about Austen's neighbours, friends, and distant acquaintances. Who is related to whom seems far more important than who Austen actually was in this account. The memoir becomes a kind of patchwork of eminent people, and Austen-Leigh reveals his own prejudice as an Oxford man by jumping on every opportunity to mention people even vaguely connected to the institution. The result is that Austen herself disappears from the narrative, crowded out by the mass of complete and often unimportant strangers Austen-Leigh talks about. In order to further 'pad up' the memoir, and to make it more 'interesting' to a general audience (Austen scholars laugh derisively and shake their fists in anger), Austen-Leigh justifies writing the memoir by promising to use the space to try and record details of late eighteenth-century life. Needless to say, he doesn't do brilliantly at this, either. The memoir is mostly a mix-and-match of long-gone names and places, and frequent allusions to Austen's acceptable femininity. "We did not think of her as being clever," Austen-Leigh writes, "but we valued her as one always kind, sympathising, and amusing" (Chapter I). He frequently makes references to her 'modesty' and 'kindness'. And he writes that "She was always very careful not to meddle with matters which she did not thoroughly understand. She never touched upon politics, law, or medicine" (Chapter I). Though there is truth to this statement (inasmuch as it is true that Austen did not write about "politics, law, or medicine") there is a distinctly gendered sentiment here; 'meddling' is something women do, and I have yet to hear it applied to a man (men 'interfere', but they never meddle; heavens no). In addition, Austen-Leigh makes several backhanded remarks about contemporary female writers; he compares his aunt to Fanny Burney and Maria Edgeworth (both writers Austen read and admired), illustrating the superiority of his aunt's work to theirs. I somehow doubt his aunt would have approved. Altogether, it was not enjoyable trying to get through A Memoir of Jane Austen. Though it potentially includes some useful biographical information, everything in this account must be read with a grain of salt. It is a reflection of the mind of the author and the period in which he wrote, more than an account of the life and times of Jane Austen. The writing is poor, and the writer's prejudices at times leak out in almost amusing ways. Take, for instance, the headings for Chapter Nine, which details the reception of Austen's work: Austen-Leigh promises us "Opinions expressed by eminent persons - Opinions of others of less eminence - Opinion of American readers." Austen-Leigh appears to live in a world where people can be divided into three neat groups - 'rich', 'poor', and 'Americans'. It's a perfect illustration of the way that Austen's life is constantly being put under the lens of our own cultural preoccupations.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Those who choose this book hoping for a straightforward, in depth memoir/biography of Jane Austen will likely be disappointed. However, those who are interested in how the life story of a person is constructed for public consumption by biographers (in this case, family members/descendants of Jane Austen) will be fascinated. Here is presented James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of his aunt alongside many of the memories/family stories provided to him by relatives for the purpose of writing said Me Those who choose this book hoping for a straightforward, in depth memoir/biography of Jane Austen will likely be disappointed. However, those who are interested in how the life story of a person is constructed for public consumption by biographers (in this case, family members/descendants of Jane Austen) will be fascinated. Here is presented James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of his aunt alongside many of the memories/family stories provided to him by relatives for the purpose of writing said Memoir. Individually I understand how each piece could be seen as underwhelming, but read as a whole- and particularly in conjunction with the appendix of family letters concerning the creation and printing of the Memoir- it is an excellent exercise in examining family memory and the work that goes into deciding what should or should not be committed to print for the public. It is also, of course, lovely to read some of the details that Jane's family remembered about her decades after her death, which makes her feel more accessible even if there remains much an air of mystery about her.

  17. 4 out of 5

    ☆Ruth☆

    Written by her nephew, this biography provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of Jane Austen. In addition to personal and family memories, there are excerpts from her correspondence, as well as a previously unpublished chapter from Persuasion, which she had discarded and replaced. There is also some description of her physical appearance, as well as her personality, something I haven't come across before. I didn't find it a very easy read, as the language is somewhat old fashioned and there Written by her nephew, this biography provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of Jane Austen. In addition to personal and family memories, there are excerpts from her correspondence, as well as a previously unpublished chapter from Persuasion, which she had discarded and replaced. There is also some description of her physical appearance, as well as her personality, something I haven't come across before. I didn't find it a very easy read, as the language is somewhat old fashioned and there are many references to people who have nowadays been forgotten but were presumably well known at the time. However it is a book I would recommend to any serious Jane Austen devotees.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    This book was mostly a selection of letters and sections of unpublished books and discarded chapters. Her nephew does make an attempt to correct false information about his aunt that he has come across, but it's really very weak as far as biographies go. This book was mostly a selection of letters and sections of unpublished books and discarded chapters. Her nephew does make an attempt to correct false information about his aunt that he has come across, but it's really very weak as far as biographies go.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I'm giving my 5 Stars to this particular edition. I started reading an out-of-copyright free Kindle edition, and within 20 pages felt like something was missing. Luckily I found this Oxford World Classics edition on Kindle (it wasn't easy, even the pb edition of it links you to an unedited Kindle edition thanks to Amazon's horrid bibliographic control - no one will ever confuse them with the LOC!). For a little less than $6, and edited by Kathryn Sutherland, who is one of the leading Austen scho I'm giving my 5 Stars to this particular edition. I started reading an out-of-copyright free Kindle edition, and within 20 pages felt like something was missing. Luckily I found this Oxford World Classics edition on Kindle (it wasn't easy, even the pb edition of it links you to an unedited Kindle edition thanks to Amazon's horrid bibliographic control - no one will ever confuse them with the LOC!). For a little less than $6, and edited by Kathryn Sutherland, who is one of the leading Austen scholars out there today. Besides the text, she adds a helpful 40 pp Intro, a Family Tree, 90 pp of Notes (!!!!), and about 65 pp of original material from his cousins that JEAL used to toss together this "biography". Be sure to read the short, but nasty, note niece Fanny Knatchbull (the Knight side of the family) wrote about her "beloved" aunt - which is in the Intro, rather than in the additonal materials at the end. With only 161 of her letters still existing (out of possibly more than 3,000 written!), this is one of the few primary source materials available about the life of JA. In her Intro Sutherland provides us with good background to the reasoning behind this publication - that the last of JA's generation had just died, and the nieces and nephews were getting older themselves. Jane's older sister Cassandra had doled out letters and pieces of manuscript to various family members, and no one quite knew who had what! And when he wrote this JEAL was not aware that the Knight side of the family had most of JA's letters. So it is largely based on memories of a handful of nieces, and JEAL's own memories and a bit of research. It is good to hear from Sutherland that I was not the only one who was occasionally confused by who is who in the family and amongst the family friends. Shared names, and 2 brothers who changed their names for inheritances, and all the offspring of her siblings, can make for confusing reading at times! Sutherland makes an excellent case for JEAL (known to the family as Edward, not James - more confusion!) wanting to not only share his aunt's life and literary output with the public, he also wanted to define the narrative by which she would be known (for some, he has defined her as "Saint Jane"!). Sutherland is a great help in bringing to our attention what was not included (E. g. the mentally and physically handicapped 2nd son), and what, at times oddly (like the ancestor's letter), was included in this loose biography. Because there is so little primary material on her life, current biographies seem to be filled more with "maybe this happened" than actual fact of what *did* happen! Which, if you have an interest in Austen, makes this well worth a read. And definitely use this Kathryn Sutherland edited edition, with its voluminous, and extremely helpful, Notes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kylee Ehmann

    I think this is an interesting insight into Austen's Victorian relatives and the differences between the Regency and the Victorian era. Like the embarrassment and disdain that the younger generations felt over the fact that Henry Austen included the fact that his sister had entertained her relatives on her death bed with a silly rhyme or how absolutely determined they were to ensure that everyone thought that she was a Good Pious Christian Woman Who Respected The Church. The annotations were inc I think this is an interesting insight into Austen's Victorian relatives and the differences between the Regency and the Victorian era. Like the embarrassment and disdain that the younger generations felt over the fact that Henry Austen included the fact that his sister had entertained her relatives on her death bed with a silly rhyme or how absolutely determined they were to ensure that everyone thought that she was a Good Pious Christian Woman Who Respected The Church. The annotations were incredibly useful. I don't know if this would be of any interest to a general reader, but if you are an avid Austen fan than it's probably worth a read. I did find all of the details about how good she was with young kids, how she was talented with games like the ball and cup, told everyone fairy stories, and that kids just sort of followed her around at Chawton, incredibly charming. Those were the parts I found uniquely valuable and I wish Austen Leigh spent more time with those instead of going off on snobbish tangents about their obscure aristocratic past or trying to convince everyone his aunt was a Good Pious Christian Woman Who Respected The Church.

  21. 4 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    This is a collection of the first biographical information we had on Austen: a preface to her posthumous books from a brother, then the fuller memoir from a nephew, then a collection of letters from various family members. It's all a little hazy on everything except geography and family alliances (none of which we care about now) and it's a little too close to hagiography to be very close to real life, I'm guessing, but it made for a nice little read and at some points charming little details sn This is a collection of the first biographical information we had on Austen: a preface to her posthumous books from a brother, then the fuller memoir from a nephew, then a collection of letters from various family members. It's all a little hazy on everything except geography and family alliances (none of which we care about now) and it's a little too close to hagiography to be very close to real life, I'm guessing, but it made for a nice little read and at some points charming little details snuck out, like her feelings on her characters or one of the nonsense stories she wrote when she was a child. If you like her, this is worth a look. And of course you should like her, because, as one of her contemporaries put it, "he had established it in his own mind, as a new test of ability, whether people could or could not appreciate Miss Austen's merits."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Minnie

    4* By now, the various family "biographies" of Austen have become more valuable for their lessons on hagiography and distortion rather than the quality of information they provide (even though they are doubtlessly the most important of the precious few accounts we have on Austen's life), which I thought Sutherland did a very good job at highlighting in her introduction and notes. I thoroughly enjoyed this as a collection of edited works, not so much for their own worth - although it is charming t 4* By now, the various family "biographies" of Austen have become more valuable for their lessons on hagiography and distortion rather than the quality of information they provide (even though they are doubtlessly the most important of the precious few accounts we have on Austen's life), which I thought Sutherland did a very good job at highlighting in her introduction and notes. I thoroughly enjoyed this as a collection of edited works, not so much for their own worth - although it is charming to imagine Austen in her private moments, stylised though they may be -, but to see how different the image we get from reading her letters is from the one her family worked so hard to carve out of a completely unyielding material.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    I attempted to read the one found in Penguin Classic's edition of Persuasion and maybe it's not helping that I have Booktube videos on in the background, but I'm feeling interest in this memoir. It's too bad because I could have included it for Non-fiction November, but alas it's not working for me. The introduction does warn that a lot personal things were left out to protect this beloved author's image, but I wonder what Jane herself would think. What I have read so far is a history lesson on I attempted to read the one found in Penguin Classic's edition of Persuasion and maybe it's not helping that I have Booktube videos on in the background, but I'm feeling interest in this memoir. It's too bad because I could have included it for Non-fiction November, but alas it's not working for me. The introduction does warn that a lot personal things were left out to protect this beloved author's image, but I wonder what Jane herself would think. What I have read so far is a history lesson on her family and paints Ms. Austen as "Dear Aunt Jane", and after reading Julie Andrew's second memoir this is disappointing. Maybe it's also the time period it was written. Anyway, this is a DNF, but I might possibly read in the future.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maria Thomas

    Rounding up from 2.5 I found the book somewhat tedious reading. So many end notes requiring constant flipping back and forth to the end made it annoying to me. Most of the book is written by J.E. Austen-Leigh, Jane's nephew but he drew much of his info from two nieces, Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen. Their writing is also included in the book but since JEAL already quoted from it, it was largely repeated information. Too bad because I preferred Anna and Caroline's writing to JEAL. The most inter Rounding up from 2.5 I found the book somewhat tedious reading. So many end notes requiring constant flipping back and forth to the end made it annoying to me. Most of the book is written by J.E. Austen-Leigh, Jane's nephew but he drew much of his info from two nieces, Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen. Their writing is also included in the book but since JEAL already quoted from it, it was largely repeated information. Too bad because I preferred Anna and Caroline's writing to JEAL. The most interesting parts of the book were Jane's letters in my opinion. I'm glad I read it but once was enough....

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    3 stars for the actual biography portion. It's not bad, considering the dearth of source material, but it is dated and dry and doesn't bring Jane Austen as much to life as I would have liked. However, I'm bumping the work to 4 stars for the inclusion of The Watsons and Lady Susan, both of which were excellent reads and neither of which I had read before. I can only regret that Jane Austen never had time to finish writing The Watsons , although I now believe I will seek out some of the complet 3 stars for the actual biography portion. It's not bad, considering the dearth of source material, but it is dated and dry and doesn't bring Jane Austen as much to life as I would have liked. However, I'm bumping the work to 4 stars for the inclusion of The Watsons and Lady Susan, both of which were excellent reads and neither of which I had read before. I can only regret that Jane Austen never had time to finish writing The Watsons , although I now believe I will seek out some of the completions by modern authors and see if any of them satisfy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sullivan

    This particular edition of the Memoir (the Oxford Classics edition ed. by Kathryn Sutherland) is great because of the notes and extra material included. It puts a lot of the Memoir in context. I know this book is a bit fraught for some Austen scholars and fans because it whitewashes Austen to an extent, but I still consider it interesting and valuable, and remember that Austen-Leigh did what he did from love for his aunt. He wanted to do his best by her.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carrie George

    The contents of the book were interesting enough. I am definitely an admirer of Jane Austen, so to have stories from relatives who knew her is pretty neat. However, the layout of this particular edition is so incredibly cumbersome to read. There was no continuous flow to the story because it is constantly being expanded upon by the author himself or corrected and expanded by the revisor. It took enjoyment out of the reading process. That is the main reason for the three stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chrystyna

    A Memoir of Jane Austen by JE Austen Leigh - Good Included in my copy of Persuasion was this memoir by her nephew. So interesting to read of her life as viewed by someone who not only knew her but also viewed her from a different period of history from hers and from ours. It is so easy to assume things from a 200 year perspective and so interesting to read of them from just 50ish years after her death.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katharine Harding

    This is a charming book. You can see on every page how much Jane Austen's family loved her. It's a lovely portrait. If you are a fan of her books this is definitely worth reading. It probably is a bit idealised as it is written from family memories from some time after she died, so you should not go into it expecting some sort of rigorous academic work, but I didn't have a problem with this. My copy was a Kindle version from Project Gutenberg. This is a charming book. You can see on every page how much Jane Austen's family loved her. It's a lovely portrait. If you are a fan of her books this is definitely worth reading. It probably is a bit idealised as it is written from family memories from some time after she died, so you should not go into it expecting some sort of rigorous academic work, but I didn't have a problem with this. My copy was a Kindle version from Project Gutenberg.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I loved the sections that have Jane Austen's own thoughts about her characters, which were her favorites and what happened to them after the story. I also love the letters between her and the Prince Regent's librarian. They cracked me up. I loved the sections that have Jane Austen's own thoughts about her characters, which were her favorites and what happened to them after the story. I also love the letters between her and the Prince Regent's librarian. They cracked me up.

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