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Jane Austen (1775-1817)

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Generally regarded as one of the greatest 19th-century English novelists, Jane Austen meticulously detailed the everyday lives of the upper and middle classes of her day. With their expert mix of romance, psychological insight, and wit, her novels are currently enjoying a new popularity, partially because of several recent film and television adaptations of her work. In honor of the December 16 anniversary of her birth, Education World recommends some great sites to help students learn about Jane Austen.

Jane Austen's books have enjoyed increasing popularity over the past few years. Recent film and television adaptations have introduced her work to a new audience, especially young people. This week, Education World recommends some of the best WWW sites dedicated to Austen, her work, and her vision.

  1. The Jane Austen Homepage
    This Web site is a good place to start gathering information on Jane Austen. It includes
      • a listing of all the books Austen wrote, with summaries
      • essays on Austen, her books, their characters, and their themes
      • film reviews of the various adaptations of Jane Austen's works to film and television
      • other useful information.

  2. James Dawe's Jane Austen Page
    For those unfamiliar with Austen as well as for Austen enthusiasts, this Web site should prove very helpful. Included is a biographical sketch, books about Austen, information about film and television adaptations of her works, and links to other interesting Web sites.

  3. About Jane Austen
    This site contains online versions of the texts of most of Austen's works. It is part of the Great Literature On-line Web site, which is dedicated to providing free, HTML-formatted e-text of classic literature.

  4. The Republic of Pemberley: Literary Companion
    The Republic of Pemberley is a Web site for fans of Austen's novels and their film adaptations. It consists of links to other Web sites that offer essays, articles, and e-mails pertaining to various topics of interest to Austen enthusiasts. They include
      • the recent popularity of films based on Austen's novels
      • Austen's treatment of the clergy
      • the significance of Tuesdays in Austen's works
      • contemporary opinions about Jane Austen.

  5. The Calendars Behind Jane Austen's Novels
    For an interesting take on Austen's novels, check out this well-researched scholarly Web site by Ellen Moody, who teaches literature at George Mason University. According to Moody, Austen developed the actions, events, and interior meditations of characters to follow a rhythm similar to the way people actually experience the passage of time. Moody comments on a curious element that apparently occurs in almost all Austen's novels -- pivotal events repeatedly occur on Tuesdays. Moody also notes that the main action in many Austen novels begins, or greatly accelerates, during the month of September.

    Moody has drawn calendars for each of Austen's novels, determining the year(s) in which the events in the books take place and on which days certain events occur. Follow the links at the bottom of the main page to view the calendars.

  6. Jane Austen's Persuasion, Cryptograms
    To add a little fun to a study of Jane Austen's Persuasion, this Web site offers 24 cryptograms. Each is a brief quote from Persuasion, disguised in a simple code that substitutes one letter for another. Each cryptogram has a different code. Hints are available to get users started. Crack the code to read the quote. The Persuasion chapter number for each quote is provided with the answer.

  7. Jane Austen's Pemberley -- Home of Mr. Darcy
    "... the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills. ... Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!"

    -- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 43

Would you and your students like to see what Pemberley House, the home of Mr. Darby in Pride and Prejudice, might have looked like? Then check out this Web site for Chatsworth, the Derbyshire home of the Dukes of Devonshire, which dates from the Elizabethan era. It is believed that Jane Austen visited Chatsworth in 1811 and used it as the model for Pemberley. With links to many pictures of the house and the grounds and a narrative giving the background and history of the property, this Web site can add greatly to the enjoyment of reading Pride and Prejudice.


Lauren P. Gattilia
Education World®
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Originally published 12/15/2000
Links last updated 08/02/2007