Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World” as Want to Read:
Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  857 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
Mention Jane Austen and you'll likely incite a slew of fervent opinions from anyone within earshot. Regarded as a brilliant social satirist by scholars, Austen also enjoys the sort of popular affection usually reserved for girl-next-door movie stars, leading to the paradox of an academically revered author who has served as the inspiration for chick lit (The Jane Austen Bo ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published April 19th 2010 by Tantor Media (first published April 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Jane's Fame, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Jane's Fame

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,767)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sherwood Smith

This is an immensely readable combination of biography, literary analysis, and personal essay, both exasperating and enlightening.

It is at its most exasperating when Harman attempts to tell us what Austen or her contemporaries were thinking, or what they really meant; it is best at uncovering facts and patterns relating to Austen’s publication history, reviews, biographies, and mentions in wildly ranging contexts after Austen’s death.

Examples of the former: page 46, in quoting a letter between J
I don't know, I thought this was sort of shallow. It's far from a full biography (whatever the back cover claims to the contrary), and even the later chapters, on Austen's cultural influence, were not as in-depth as I would have liked. For someone who's less well-read about Austen, this probably would be a good read; for me, it was less than I thought it could have been. I think I was expecting something more like Lucasta Miller's The Bronte Myth and just didn't get it.
Deborah Moulton
Sep 02, 2010 Deborah Moulton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not everyone is a fan of Jane Austen, but this work of literary history is a wonderful example of how an author's work comes in and out of fashion and how it becomes distorted as various heirs, critics and fans put their spin on it.

"The Divine Jane," as some call her, certainly earned her place on the literary pantheon for her radical departure from the outlandishly dramatic Edwardian novels of her day. In contrast to all that fantasy and hyperbole around her, her novels focused on everday life
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jun 20, 2010 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘What is all this about Jane Austen?’
‘What is there in her? What is it all about?’ (Letter from Joseph Conrad to H.G. Wells in 1901)

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) is one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Her novels are amongst the best known in the English language, and have been adapted for film and television. Today, close to 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is more popular than ever. But why is this? During her lifetime she had little fame and her nov
In 1815, Jane Austen published Emma, dedicated by permission (or rather command) to the Prince Regent, who was Austen’s highest profile fan, keeping a set of her novels in all his residences. What is less well known is that during Queen Victoria’s reign, the Prince’s beautifully bound presentation copy of Emma was relegated to the servants’ library. And apparently it wasn’t too popular there, which is why it remains in excellent condition today.

Despite attracting patronage from aristocracy and r
May 11, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
This was a biography, not of Jane Austen, but of her fame, in the Regency sense (her reputation, her interpretation, her known-ness), and how it's developed from the time she was first publishing until now. I'm not, after reading it, totally sure who the audience for this book was meant to be, but the book makes a persuasive argument that just by having Jane in the title, there will be a large and dedicated audience, many of them intelligent, many of them dipshits. And the fact that I felt like ...more
Apr 01, 2010 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
(Review written for The Bookstudio)

For all the love showered on Jane Austen through cinematic lovefests, academic treatises, and “I’d Rather Be Reading Jane Austen” bumper stickers, the author herself gets rather lost in the chatter. The sparse details of Austen’s biography and her brief catalogue of six novels permit today’s fans to imagine whatever they will of the British literary titan. Among the most common tropes about “Divine Jane?” That she was indifferent to fame, writing novels set squ
Jan 07, 2014 Margie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: austen
Almost 4 stars.

It's odd and quirky and jam-packed with information, but bogs down a bit midway through.

Harman traces how Jane Austen became popular, from when she initially wrote the books, through publication, republication, her biography by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh, on through other books about her, right up through Colin Firth in a wet shirt.

It's fascinating and I enjoyed it, but going decade by decade through the 1800s and early 1900s was just a wee bit tedious. I thought it coul
S. J.
Jan 29, 2014 S. J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 Stars

As my review is off-topic and may not conform to the new TOS of this site (whatever that may be), if you wish to read my thought then please click here to read it on my blog.
Mar 13, 2010 THE rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a recent convert to the Austen fan club, I regard this volume as essential for all Janenites. It provides the pithy details of the publication history, critical responses, and changing attitudes to Jane Austen's oeuvre (a word she would have derisively challenged). Harmon is an apt commentator and has done previous literary critiques and biographical studies on Fanny Burney and R. L. Stevenson. Her writing reflects her scholarly background at Oxford and Columbia without the pretentious cant o ...more
Oct 05, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was informative and occasionally entertaining. Clearly, a lot of research went into it (there are about 30 pages of notes and sources), but parts of it felt overly drawn-out, as though the author wanted to mention every source she used, even when they said essentially the same thing. All this made it a bit repetitive at times as well. The first part is a biography that seems to say over and over how little is actually know about Jane Austen. But it is well-written so most ...more
Apr 22, 2012 Marsha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Plenty has been said and written about Jane Austen’s novels and plenty about Jane herself. Yet the woman remains frustratingly out of reach. There has never been a satisfying portrait of her (she died 10 years before the first photograph came into history) and reports about her character vary greatly. No one is even quite sure what her hair color was.

But she was known for a satirical wit, a sweet temperament and an eagerness to make money to supplement her family’s dwindling income…and, of cour
Apr 10, 2013 Kirk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jane-austen
4.75 teacups out of 5 for Claire Harman's "Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World"

What a delight! What a pleasure! This lovely non-fiction book traces Jane Austen's strange journey from a well-kept (mostly) local secret to world literary powerhouse! This is a reread for me. The book wears well! I believe most Jane Austen fans, from Team Marianne(me!) to Team Elinor, will find something to like.
I know a wide range of Austen fans who have liked this book. Perhaps some of the early 20th
Kressel Housman
Every Jane Austen fan must read this book! More than just a biography, this book is a literary history told from both the academic/critical and business/publishing perspectives. It follows Jane's fame up till our times with a chapter called "Jane Austen TM," which includes a discussion of the films, the Colin Firth pond scene insertion, and fan sites such as the Republic of Pemberley. (My own intro to JA, through the 1980 Masterpiece Theatre version was not mentioned, nor was the fanfic phenomen ...more
May 11, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who reads Austen for her ironic wit, I really enjoyed this history of Jane Austen biographies and critical views over the last two hundred years. Harman obviously loves the Austen novels and yet, still looks with a wry eye on the "Jane Austen" of popular culture. She doesn't often express her own opinions out-right, but it's clear at times what she doesn't think much of some manifestations of Jane-olotry, e.g. the proliferation of TV versions of the novels that have little to do with ...more
Aug 04, 2011 Ting rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a biography and not a scholarly analysis into the various books but a straightforward and satisfying romp through all things Jane. It begins within her lifetime with the publication of her books and her modest success. It looks at the years immediately after her death when her family assumed that she would be all but forgotten. She was forgotten for about 20 years after her death and then a rediscovery of her books and a biography encouraged a longing for more and more. Her fame is now, near ...more
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
Those who know a little about Jane Austen's life, know that she didn't always enjoy the vast readership and iconic status that she does today. Throughout her lifetime, when her newly published novels were fashionable and her identity a curious mystery, Jane Austen only received some mild popularity and acclaim. And when she died and her identity was revealed, the reading world did not immediately embrace our beloved author, and her fame dwindled. We all know that since then, Jane Austen's fame a ...more
Nov 18, 2013 Mirte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very informative book on Austen's fame; from her own lifetime to the present. It gives a bit of biographical information, quotes a lot of famous scholars through the ages and their opinion of Jane Austen and does a good job in documenting the rise of Janeism. The style is not always scholarly, but this makes it a fairly easy and pleasant read.
Unfortunately, there's a but. The last chapter differs enormously from the rest, in that the author reveals herself as a thorough Austen fan (whi
If one was only going to read one book about Jane Austen, this is the one I'd recommend. Harman covers Austen's life, literary influences, work habits, as well as the public and critical reception her books have received in the years since their first drafts. Few regular readers are interested (I think) in critical analysis as practiced by professors of English literature, but Harman gives concise and fairly entertaining overviews of the many theories, as well as an idea of how well they've been ...more
Apr 02, 2010 Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To someone who has spent the major part of his life in the city of Bath this book is irresistable. It begins by documenting the twenty year struggle of a professional writer living in a family of writers to gain publication and subsequent recognition. It then catalogues the near two hundred year history of the success of the ensuing publications and the fame of the author around the world. It is a most erudite study and I am pleased that Claire Harman puts in a kind word for Gwyneth Hughers 'Mis ...more
Apr 19, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I have considered Jane Austen to be my favorite author for several years now it has only been recently that I've really spent time reading about her life. Harmon chronicles Austen's rise from almost obscurity after her death to her steady rise to fame from the late 1800s into present day. Harmon does not spend a lot of time on present day interest except to discuss the movie versions, specifically the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.I would recommend this to anyone looking for an ea ...more
Maia B.
Feb 11, 2011 Maia B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a biography of Jane Austen mixed with a dissertation on why she's as famous as she is. It's compulsively readable, very well-written and full of sly, dry humor that occasionally sounds a lot like Jane Austen herself. Plus I owe most of my knowledge of Austen's life to this book.

Claire Harman also knows how to keep her reader interested without spilling into silly tangents involving writing scenes from Jane Austen's viewpoint - something I really hate in non-fiction books. I wish this boo
Devyn Duffy
Jul 22, 2015 Devyn Duffy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Jane Austen
Jane's Fame is a historical look at the evolving popularity and critical reception of Jane Austen and her work, from her lifetime to the aftermath of the 1990s' film boom. It's entertaining and apparently well-researched.

Harman is not afraid to show the entire range of responses, from groundbreaking criticism to "Austenolatry" to blind hatred to love for the wrong reasons. Late in the book, Harman introduces the idea that Austen is popular because her novels are perceived as love stories; until
Sheryl Tribble
This book was about what I expected. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I have some other, more personal, explorations of Jane Austen's works, and I didn't. I expected it to be a bit drier, and that it would discuss publishing trends and annoyances and the like, which it did.

I agreed with Harman before I read it that Jane Austen was not so indifferent to being published as she is sometimes portrayed, and that Jane is often more respected than read. Now I think on it, if I had any major disa
Mar 17, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Starting with the birth of Jane Austen, the author follows her life as a young teen surrounded by a literary-minded family, writing along with them, and then growing into a mature writer who kept revising her old manuscripts to keep them current as she continued to try to get them published. She had some small fame during her lifetime, which faded after her death until something like the late Victorian era, when it saw a revival. From there the author describes the development of Jane's fame, fr ...more
Oct 28, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read. The first part of the book is devoted to factual information about the life and profession of Jane Austen. The author is very successful in pointing out that the existing factual information about Jane Austen is very thin. The author did a commendable job presenting this limited information in a readable form allowing the reader to form a “mind’s eye” picture of Jane Austen and her life, her work, and the times she lived. The second part of the book is devoted to modern information ...more
Book of the Week

Alice Krige reads from Claire Harman's exploration of Jane Austen's rise to pre-eminence from humble family scribblings to Hollywood movies.

(view spoiler)
May 24, 2015 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
this is not meant to be a biography of Jane Austen so don't expect that -the author is explaining how someone who's books weren't read all that much in her lifetime became so popular and part of the canon.

Overall I think she does a good job - although at times I was lost in all the names/people she mentions. And I also thought there were times when something was assumed to be understood by the reader but wasn't - at least is wasn't understood by me...for example:

In the chapter Canon and Canoniz
Aug 05, 2015 Iain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book looking at the immediate success, then lull, and then rise of Jane Austen's fame as a writer. Now, well established in the literary canon she was not always. Claire Harman does a thorough job at examining how Austen and her works, actually primarily her works as frustratingly little contemporary information is known about the woman. Her works popular when published quickly faded and would reemerge as major works of literature until the 1870s, due to some wealthy supporters wh ...more
May 23, 2010 Dody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read every bio there is about Jane. So, I had read much of this information in bits and pieces, but it is nice to have this research detailed all in one book... the metamorphosis of her amazing success (mostly posthumous.) I love Jane. It is January! Biography month. I love to read bios in January...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 92 93 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen
  • A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen
  • Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels
  • Jane Austen's World: The Life and Times of England's Most Popular Author
  • A Fine Brush on Ivory: An Appreciation of Jane Austen
  • Why Jane Austen?
  • Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury
  • Jane Austen: A Life
  • Jane Austen For Dummies
  • Searching for Jane Austen
  • Jane Austen: A Life
  • The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility
  • Tea with Jane Austen
  • Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters: A Family Record
  • The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World
  • Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen
  • 101 Things You Didn't Know About Jane Austen: The Truth about the World's Most Intriguing Romantic Literary Heroine
  • The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things
Claire Harman began her career in publishing, at Carcanet Press and the poetry magazine PN Review, where she was co-ordinating editor.

Her first book, a biography of the writer Sylvia Townsend Warner, was published in 1989 and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for ‘a writer of growing stature’ under the age of 35. She has since published biographies of Fanny Burney and Robert Louis Stevenson and ed
More about Claire Harman...

Share This Book