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A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections
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A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  517 ratings  ·  53 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 5th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1869)
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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
...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
☆ 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
...more
Jennifer
I enjoyed it because I enjoy learning about Jane Austen. It was a bit slow but it only goes to show that Jane Austen lived a normal, quiet life surrounded by a loving family. I appreciated her nephew's discretion and honesty when it came to his memories of his aunt.
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
...more
Warmisunqu Austen

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Esta primera biografía ha sido llamada la fuente primaria de todos los escritos biográficos posteriores, de ahí mi interés en mirar otras biografías, porque la verdad sea dicha, me ha dejado un poco decepcionada debido a la poca profundidad sobre Jane Austen. Y el mismo autor lo menciona, debido al escasísimo material físico que había de ella.

Hubo una primera edición publicada del autor en 1870, al año siguiente se publicó una se
...more
Annette
A Memoir of Jane Austen was re-published in 1871, originally published in 1869. The re-published edition included two of her unfinished stories, Lady Susan and Sandition. A Memoir of Jane Austen was written by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. His memories of aunt Jane was when he was a young boy. He mentioned in this memoir that "he was the youngest at her funeral." He remembers Jane as being "sweet-tempered, loving-heart, kind, sympathizing, amusing," she made an impression on him as well ...more
Dante
I read this memoir with great interest because, well, I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen, and because this is my first biography of hers. Also, the author is related to Austen. James Edward Austen-Leigh is one of Jane's nephews. He is the son of James Austen, Jane's eldest brother.

Basically, this book is about his recollections of his aunt.

Here are some of the things I learned:

1. Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775;
2. Her father, George, was a clergyman. Her mother, Cassandra, came from a gentr
...more
Freeman Crouch
For even marginal Janeites, this is rather good! A number of years after Austen's death, one of her nephews pulled this together. It is a narrative of what he and other relatives remember, as well as some of her letters. While some of his paragraphs are a little long-winded now and then the book overall has the virtue of being rather short. It's also historically interesting, because it triggered a revisiting of Austen.
Kristin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan
Fifty two years after Jane Austen died, her nephew wrote this short memoir based on his and other family members' memories. Now and then we catch a glimpse of Miss Austen, expert at satin stitch and other needlework, upset when her father decided to resign his parsonage at Steventon and move with his family to Bath, and telling her family the doings of some of her characters after the novels' end. These brief recollections combined with excerpts from her letters are perhaps as close as we can ev ...more
玉梅 石
I found it on the Gutenburg website and read it for free. It was 89 pages and included the chapter from Persuasion she had scrapped containing the original version of Frederick Wentworth's re-engagement to Anne Elliot as well as excerpts from Sandition, the entire surviving fragmentary draft of which I had already read, and a surprising number of letters she had written. I felt closer to her than I had ever felt from anything else I had ever read, heard, or watched before. I believe it would be ...more
Danna
Liked it even though was quite disappointed that it was not as thorough a memoir I expected. But as the author has mentioned, resources were very scarce as letters were destroyed etc. Still interesting to have an insight on how Jane was perceived by relatives and other people during their time.
Hannah
The book was really informative and a great way to begin reading Jane Austen's books. The author had a distinct "Austen wit" (though obviously no where on par with his Aunt) and the personal recollections gave a nice depth to the book. Unfortunately, there really isn't as much information on her as a reader would typically like, but it was still a nice brief overview.
Carol
Because I knew so little of the Jane Austen family background, I found this book very informative. Saying that, I must admit it was very family oriented rather than a synopsis of the books she wrote. The book was written so many years after Austen died that it entailed more of the memories of children (the author is a nephew plus two neices who contributed)plus excerpts of letters that Jane had written to her very close sister, Cassandra, and an entry her brother, Henry, wrote 50 years after her ...more
Judith
I've read the e-book version from Project Gutenberg.

It's really intriguing to get such a biography. Edward Austen-Leigh uses personal recollections and those of people who knew Jane Austen and puts together a portrait.

He also adds letters, scraps of her writing and some interesting "historical" information, i.e. his opinion of the changes that came about in the past 100 years. He writes about 50 years after Jane Austen's death, so the time frame is valid and it gives one a much better insight i
...more
Catherine Delors
Among the biographies of Jane Austen, this is the earliest, published in 1870, by James Edward Austen-Leigh, the son of Jane Austen's eldest brother James. Written by someone who was closely related to Jane and knew her personally. At the same time, it very much bowdlerizes her to conform to Victorian standards, sweeps embarrassing truths under the carpet and sometimes fiddles with her letters. It is an indispensable, if flawed, source.

More at
http://blog.catherinedelors.com/2010/...
Elissa
This was a very nice biography written by Jane Austen's nephew, with lovely little insights and details. She seems to have been a very successful human being on many levels, even accounting for family partiality. It also had the delightful bonus of having excerpts of Jane's unfinished or unused writings that I had never before read. Written by Jane. Herself. I did know about these and was saving them for my deathbed, so I would have something to look forward to, but carpe diem. Now I'm down to t ...more
Joanna Vaught
pretty much just jane austen's living family members, chiefly her nieces and nephews, reminiscing about what a nice broad she was and being insistent that none of her characters were based on real life people in her family or circle of friends.

please, for the love of god, if i die early and something that i did before i died thrusts me into notoreity, and someone wants to write a biography: DO NOT LET my nieces and nephews write it. i beg you. you, dear reader, probably know me better than do.
Marren
The first half of the memoir read like the history of period Jane Austen lived in and and also a breakdown of her family tree. I am appreciative of the inclusion of some of Austen 's earlier works such as The Mystery. An Unfinished Comedy. The second half of the memoir spoke more of Jane Austen in terms of how the nephew perceived her life. Something was missing in here for me.I felt like the author tried selling a goodie to shoes Austen to me; it read like a flat textbook.
Kimbolimbo
Sometimes you can only wish for more information than what is available. This is one of those times. The memoir only has what was available at the time it was written thus making you regret that the stories and facts about Jane Austin were similar to what might be written about yourself. She wasn't an extroverted crazy off-her-rocker type of person. The tales of her life are rather mundane. Her books are what set her apart from the rest of the world.
Matt
Le pongo 3/5 aunque en realidad sería un 3,5/5, básicamente porque la mayoría de datos que ofrece ya los conocía y otros me parecieron algo tediosos (como cuando el autor se duerme en los laureles y empieza a explicar cosas de los vecinos, los antepasados, etc.). Sin embargo, es un gran testimonio sobre la personalidad verdadera de Jane Austen, para mí antes desconocida ya que solo leía conjeturas: una mujer dulce, cariñosa y llena de alegría.
Christina Dudley
Blitzed through this short, charming memoir of the author's aunt. Many parts had been quoted by later biographers and Austen-y sites, but much was still fresh and new. Interesting to see which authors of Austen's and James Edward Austen-Leigh's times "held up." Scott and Edgeworth and Burney yes (somewhat), but poor Mary Russell Mitford not so much. And I would love to know who wrote THE HEROINE that he quotes her as enjoying...
Lorraine
I feel that the austen family only had one talented writer, and that was Jane Austen. The memoirs were very protective; they all tried to paint a certain 'ideal woman' picture: caring, nurturing, always cheerful. I am a little distrustful of them. JEAL's memoir is the most substantive; this however is not new to me as it has already been included in JA's Critical Assessments. The rest are pleasant to read but a trifle boring.
Nana
Good because it was written by one of Jane Austen's nephews. It is honest because the author admits his limits in his personal knowledge of the aunt (he was only a boy when she was alive, he never saw Steventon parsonage because it was demolished before he was born etc.). Nevertheless the books contains some pieces of information I never got from other JA bios. It is well written. Worth a read for the Austen fan.
Jules
It's quite illuminating to see how the family managed to construct Jane Austen. Having Kathryn Sutherland's introduction and explanatory notes to go with this added a much-needed academic layer of reflection on the Memoir, as it allows for more critical distance with the text. It did shape much of Jane Austen's historical reception, after all...
Camila
Jane Austen did not have a very eventful life, however as she was Jane Austen I read this book. It was a quick read and I'm glad at that because as I said, her life was not extremely eventful; there were no passionate love affairs or scandals, she never married or experienced immense fame in her lifetime, but still, it was a pleasant read.
Kirk Lowery
Written by Austen's nephew at the beginning of the 20th century, it is a classic of hagiography. It is valuable for its personal and close remembrances, its extracts of Austen's personal correspondence. But one should always keep in mind that the goal of the writer was to protect a family member's public reputation.
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