Jane Austen's letters afford a unique insight into the daily life of the novelist: intimate and gossipy, observant and informative--they read much like the novels themselves. They bring alive her family and friends, her surroundings and contemporary events, all with a freshness unparalleled in modern biographies. Most important, we recognize the unmistakable voice of the author of such novels as Pride and Prejudice and Emma. We see the shift in her writing from witty and amusing descriptions of the social life of town and country, to a thoughtful and constructive tone while writing about the business of literary composition.
R.W. Chapman's ground-breaking edition of the collected letters first appeared in 1932, and a second edition followed twenty years later. A third edition, edited Deirdre Le Faye in 1997 added new material, re-ordered the letters into their correct chronological sequence, and provided discreet and full annotation to each letter, including its provenance, and information on the watermarks, postmarks, and other physical details of the manuscripts. This new fourth edition incorporates the findings of recent scholarship to further enrich our understanding of Austen and give us the fullest and most revealing view yet of her life and family. In addition, Le Faye has written a new preface, has amended and updated the biographical and topographical indexes, has introduced a new subject index, and had added the contents of the notes to the general index.
Teachers, students, and fans of Jane Austen, at all levels, will find in these letters remarkable insight into one of the most popular novelists ever.
"These are the letters of our greatest novelist. They give glances and hints at her life from the age of 20 to her death at 41, the years in which she wrote her six imperishable books."
--Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday
`Review from previous edition Deidre Le Faye's new edition is necessary and very welcome; no one was better qualified, no one could have done it so well.'
Independent on Sunday
`We waited a long time for the new edition. It was well worth the wait.'
Jane Austen Society of North America
`for those who are starting to get the novels confused with the films, here is a chance to enjoy their beloved Jane at her most direct ... a generous and comprehensive book'
Max Davidson, The Daily Telegraph
`Most will enjoy reading Austen unbuttoned, in an unfussy and intelligently edited volume.'
Sam Leith, The Observer
`Le Faye re-orders the letters chronologically and provides useful background information. She also includes previously unpublished material.'
`Wiht little else to fill that ordinary life, Jane had plenty of time to write letters. They were witty, intimate and gossipy and brought alive her contemporaries and their surroundings. More than 160 are collected here, annotated and placed in chronological order.'
`it is possible to appreciate Le Faye's edition for what it offers to readers both casual and academic. Most importantly, this is a highly readable text. ... Carefully detailed notes, biographical and topographical indexes, and bibliographical information about primary and secondary sources all contribute to the reader's sense that Le Faye's professional thoroughness has indeed made accessible 'the daily business' of Austen's world.'
RES New Series, vol.XLVIII, No.190, 1997
`These are the letters of our greatest novelist ... they give glances and hints at her life from the age of 20 to her death at 41, the years in which she wrote her six imperishable books'
Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday
Preface to Fourth Edition
List of Letters
Jane Austen's Letters
Abbreviations and Citations
General Notes on the Letters