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Jane Austen at Home

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Take a trip back to Jane Austen's world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses--both grand and small--of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a 'life without incident'.

Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but--in the end--a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

Illustrated with two sections of color plates, Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen at Home is a richly entertaining and illuminating new book about one of the world’s favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home.

387 pages, Hardcover

First published May 18, 2017

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About the author

Lucy Worsley

25 books2,509 followers
I was born in Reading (not great, but it could have been Slough), studied Ancient and Modern History at New College, Oxford, and I've got a PhD in art history from the University of Sussex.

My first job after leaving college was at a crazy but wonderful historic house called Milton Manor in Oxfordshire. Here I would give guided tours, occasionally feed the llamas, and look for important pieces of paper that my boss Anthony had lost. Soon after that I moved to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, in the lovely job for administrator of the Wind and Watermills Section. Here I helped to organise that celebrated media extravaganza, National Mills Day. I departed for English Heritage in 1997, first as an Assistant Inspector and then as an Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings; Bolsover Castle, Hardwick Old Hall, and Kirby Hall were my favourite properties there. In 2002 I made a brief excursion to Glasgow Museums before coming down to London as Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces in 2003. Yes, this is a brilliant job, but no, you can’t have it. (Bribes have been offered, and refused.)

You might also catch me presenting history films on the old goggle box, giving the talks on the cruise ship Queen Mary 2, or slurping cocktails.


Lucy Worsley, OBE (born 18 December 1973) is an English historian, author, curator, and television presenter.

Worsley is Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces but is best known as a presenter of BBC Television series on historical topics, including Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency (2011), Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: A 17th Century History for Girls (2012), The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain (2014), A Very British Romance (2015), Lucy Worsley: Mozart’s London Odyssey (2016), and Six Wives with Lucy Worsley (2016).

-From Wikipedia

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,051 reviews
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.7k followers
Want to read
April 17, 2023
why do i have a shelf for books i "can't wait to read" if it's filled with books i've owned for years and haven't touched.

lying is a lifestyle
Profile Image for Candi.
623 reviews4,717 followers
February 2, 2019
4.5 stars

"For Jane, home was a perennial problem. Where could she afford to live? Amid the many domestic duties of an unmarried daughter and aunt, how could she find the time to write? Where could she keep her manuscripts safe? A home of her own must have seemed to Jane to be always just out of reach."

Historian and author Lucy Worsley has written an excellent biography examining the beloved novelist Jane Austen’s writing from the context of homes – her own homes as well as the homes of others in which she either temporarily resided or often visited. In her novels, homes play such a significant role in the lives of her heroines, so it seems only fitting to take a closer look at how Jane’s own home life influenced her stories. "To her heroines, it’s always a life goal to be happy and ‘at home’, particularly in a drawing room, the stage upon which most of social life’s transactions are performed."

Details of the places where Jane lived are not lacking. From the start of her life at Steventon Rectory, to her homes in Bath, to Southampton, to Chawton Cottage, and to where she took her last breath in Winchester, we are introduced to the places where Jane drew her inspiration for her novels and where she sat down and wrote these masterpieces. We quickly learn that Jane was at the mercy of her father and later her brothers for providing her with a roof over her head as well as a small income on which to subsist. I was shocked to learn that wealthier Austen relations were not necessarily generous with their money when it came to offering a more comfortable life for both Jane and her unmarried sister Cassandra. Despite the fact that there is not an over-abundance of source material regarding Jane’s personal life, numerous letters – in particular those to her sister, still exist and shed much light on the novelist’s daily activities as well as her sparkling personality. Worsley indicates that much of what was previously understood about Jane’s life was perhaps colored by the Austen family’s desire to paint their famous relation in a certain image. "In later years, the Austen family entered into a kind of collective conspiracy to cover up their humble origins, and to make their famous aunt’s life look easier, more genteel, less hard work than it really was." However, when one carefully studies the letters she wrote, we may see a different side to Jane, the side that we often glimpse when we read about her fascinating heroines. "You could not think her lacking in temper once you have seen her private letters to Cassandra, which crackle, sometimes, with wickedness and rage." We also learn a bit more about Jane’s potential suitors, although much of her ‘love life’ still has an aura of mystery surrounding it, in my opinion!

Naturally, being a huge fan of Jane Austen’s novels, I was thrilled to find examples from her work. Worsley carefully traces the process of Jane’s writing her rough drafts to the various rewritings and to the onerous task of trying to publish the finished products. Having not delved into any sort of biography of her life previously, I was surprised to learn how very little money she actually made on her writing during her lifetime. Of course, over time, she became more savvy and independent regarding the process of publishing, yet it must have been a daunting task for a young woman living during the Georgian era! I agree wholeheartedly with Worsley’s statement: "But the enduring reason for Jane’s popularity today is that she seems born outside her time, to be more like one of us, for she lifelong expresses the opposite point of view: in favour of vitality, strength, independence."

I highly recommend this biography to any Jane Austen fan. The only ‘drawback’ I found to reading this book is that I want to drop all my other planned reading and grab my stack of Austen novels and fall in love with them all over again!

"Jane’s great gift to us is to have survived these dark days, keeping hold of hope, and staying true to life choices that would expand the very definition of what it means to be a female writer… She took her regrets and bitterness and turned them into irony and art. She would use these powerful weapons to blow open the lock that kept penniless daughters prisoners inside their family homes."
Profile Image for Diane.
1,081 reviews2,720 followers
August 3, 2017
I loved this biography of Jane Austen so much that while reading it I was bursting with enthusiasm and couldn't stop talking about it.

Historian Lucy Worlsey focused on Jane's experiences in her different homes and on how her novels treated life at home. I especially appreciated the details about Jane's relationship with her parents and siblings, the joy of when she got her first writing desk (which I was lucky enough to see on display at the British Library), and the details about how her work finally got published. I have read several books about Jane Austen, and this is one of the most enjoyable for its mix of real life and details from her writing.

I thought the whole book was fascinating, and the author's examples from Jane's work made me want to reread all her novels. (Although this is not a new phenomenon; on any given day, whatever I'm doing, I'd likely rather be reading a Jane Austen novel. Or watching one of the movies.)

Anyway, I enjoyed this biography so much that I want to get my own copy and add it to my Austen shelf. "One can never have too many biographies of Jane Austen," is a thing I have actually said.

Highly recommended for Janeites. Now pardon me, but I need to go watch "Pride and Prejudice" for the thousandth time.

Meaningful Passage
"For Jane, home was a perennial problem. Where could she afford to live? Amid the many domestic duties of an unmarried daughter and aunt, how could she find the time to write? Where could she keep her manuscripts safe? A home of her own must have seemed to Jane to be always just out of reach. With only a tiny stash of capital hard earned by her writing, the death of her father forced her into a makeshift life in rented lodgings, or else shunted between the relations who used her as cheap childcare. It's not surprising, then, that the search for home is an idea that's central to Jane's fiction."
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 2 books2,960 followers
August 31, 2018
What a book! A really brilliant biography, so thoughtfully put together, so well written, with just the right amount of historical and social context. Very moving, very interesting and absolutely worth a read.
Profile Image for Tony Riches.
Author 21 books441 followers
February 4, 2017
I can say with some confidence that, after reading this book, you will never read Jane Austen’s works in quite the same way again. I also wonder if, like me, your mental picture of Jane Austen is a blend of the famous ‘portrait’ by her sister Cassandra and Anne Hathaway’s memorable portrayal in TV’s (historically inaccurate) ‘Becoming Jane’? If so, you must read this brilliant new work by Lucy Worsley.

Lucy’s lively style and relish in fascinating details shines new light on the real Jane Austen. Most of what I thought I knew was right – but lacking the vital context provided as we study the reality of Jane’s home life. In the modern vernacular, we would say she was ‘just about managing’ for most of her time, although Lucy helps us understand what was considered normal in Georgian society – and what was not.

Jane’s sister destroyed many of her letters deemed ‘personal’ and those which survive have been described as ‘mundane.’ Lucy Worsley disagrees and finds delight in the trivia. She says, ‘...her personality is there, bold as brass, bursting with life, buoyant or recalcitrant as each day required. These letters are a treasure trove hiding in plain sight.’ I was also fascinated to realise Jane knew her letters could be read aloud, often over breakfast, so used a code known to her sister to ensure discretion.

To return to what Jane might have looked like, Lucy suggests she was around five feet seven, with a twenty-four inch waist (the alarming consequence of wearing tight stays as a girl). She rebukes biographers who describe her as a ‘plump, dumpy woman’ based on Cassandra’s portrait rather than the evidence. Similarly, the romantic image of a lonely writer fits poorly with the known facts.

I was intrigued by the glimpses of the author’s own formative years. By wonderful coincidence Lucy attended the Abbey school in Reading where Jane Austen was sent as a border at the age of thirteen. (She also stayed at the same house as Jane Austen by the sea in Lyme Regis.) As we approach the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death on the 18th of July, I highly recommend this new book, which establishes Lucy Worsley as one of my favourite authors.

Tony Riches
Profile Image for Anne .
455 reviews376 followers
February 18, 2021
I was completely unprepared for how much I would love this biography of Jane Austen. For some reason, I expected it to get bogged down in too much detail or for it to be too academic. She does touch on some academic disputes in some areas but only enough to pique my interest.

Lucy Worsley writes beautifully and seamlessly and her interest in and enthusiasm for in her subject is contagious. This is a very long book that is fascinating from beginning to end. Not surprisingly, Jane had a strong personality and knew her own mind to which we are privy through the letters which she wrote constantly to friends and family. She also kept a personal diary. It is mostly through these writings, along with some letters from friends and family upon which this memoir (and all academic discussion about Austen) is based and draws it's conclusions. Worsely studied these writings, sharing many excerpts with her readers, allowing us to understand the conclusions she draws and how her conclusions differ from the conclusions drawn by others.

Through Worsely's eyes, we get to know Austen and her stoical, loving and humorous personality along with the part of her which could be a bit cutting towards people, authors and their books. We learn a great deal about Austen's family life and family members, some of whom were generous and kind while others were quite the opposite. We also spend much time exploring every city and home in which Jane lived, hence the title of this memoir. Throughout her life Austen was uprooted countless times due to the changes in the fates and fortunes of various family members upon whom she was completely financially dependent.

Several of the homes in which Austen lived were in Bath. Before reading this biography my only notion about the city of Bath was from her novels. Well, she left a lot out of the novels. Worsley draws a marvelous picture of the town, the squalor and the fading grandeur, the bathing habits and the coed baths. One would naturally think of Bath as a place of recuperation and health, but one risked one's life to actually live and bath there. I will say no more other than that I will never forget the Bath of the early 1800s as described by Worsley.

Last, we learn of the life events which shaped Austen. All of these details are stitched together beautifully throughout this biography and we are given examples of how Austen's life and thoughts about the society in which she lived, the people she knew, and all other aspects of her life were fodder for her beloved novels. We are given many examples of how all of these were worked into the novels, but also how and why she had to be very careful about what she included. Fascinating! This was my favorite part of the biography. Austen wrote about what she knew and even advised a beloved niece aspiring to write a novel to do just that.

I will reread Austen's novels through new lenses from now on.

Ruth Redman's narration of the audio version is excellent.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
June 13, 2020
This is a non-fiction book about the Georgian author Jane Austen (1787 – 1817). The Georgian era covers the period in British history from 1714 to 1830 when the Hanoverian kings George I, George II, George III and George IV reigned. The Victorian era followed. The literature of the two periods differ, each mirroring the social customs that held sway. Georgian society is typified by joie de vivre, dancing and theater, as well as dissipation and extravagance, for those with means. There is less fixation on moral constraints in the former, more in the latter. The pendulum swings, changing direction from debauchery to prudery.

Worsley’s book speaks not only of Austen’s life and the books she wrote but also of her era. Reading the book is thus interesting for two reasons—it will appeal to those searching for information about the author and to those curious about the Georgian era. It does not get sidetracked into a discussion of political events: the Napoleonic Wars serve merely as a background.

Both Worsley and Austin zoom in on the lives of British middle- and upper-class women. Men are discussed in relation to their controlling influence upon women. Feminism is not a new phenomenon! Women were writing and having their voices heard even before the turn of the 19th century.

Definitive source material concerning some aspects of Jane Austen’s person and life are lacking, but there remains still much information to study. It is evident the author has done a thorough job. Letters do still exist. The only picture we have of Jane is drawn by her three-year older sister, Cassandra; this drawing has however been improved upon when Jane gained fame. Worsley works with that information which is available, clearly stating what is and is not sure. She puts out varying suppositions and analyzes them. Her arguments are convincing. I am no expert whatsoever, but the conclusions she draws make sense to me. I like very much how she lays out the facts and then analyzes what is known. She is upfront. She states outright that she adores Austen; yet one never gets the sense that she vies from the truth or tries to bend facts.

The author does not attempt to fabricate what is not known, although she does analyze what is not clear. We do know where Austen lived. We do know when and by what means her six books came to be published, the last not yet completed at her death. What is known about her death is that it was due to either Addison’s disease or Hodgkin’s lymphoma, possibly with depression and arsenic poisoning playing in too. We know of her fondness for the writings of Samuel Richardson and Frances Burney and her devotion to her sister, Cassandra. We know where she lived in her youth and where she resided after her father died and her brothers failed to provide her with a home. We follow her route of different residences from Steventon, in Hampshire, to Bath, to Southampton, back to the village Chawton in Hampshire and finally to Winchester. It Is not hard to imagine her longing for a permanent home.

We can only suppose how perhaps the events of Jane’s own life are mirrored in her characters’ lives and the choices they make. Worsley draws numerous examples of where the events in the lives of Austen’s characters may be a rewriting of events in her own life. We can observe Jane’s dislike of her mother, but we do not come to understand why. When there is adequate information explaining underlying motives, the author speculates and explains step by step the conclusions she draws. I appreciate and feel comfortable with this methodology. What is known is presented. What is postulated is presented as such.

I enjoyed the book because of what it has taught me about the Georgian period. I feel I have a better understanding of the author’s novels and her characters. Their brashness, pzazz and humor feel even more right than before I picked up this book.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Ruth Redman. The author narrates the introduction and the epilog. She and a male narrator disperse ad hoc lines that pepper the text, quotes or poems for example. They are in this way appropriately separated from the surrounding text. This is effective. It adds clarity. Redman is however the primary narrator of the audiobook. Her reading is delightful. In Georgian times women would entertain one another by reading to each other. One felt that Redman was reading as maybe Jane would have spoken had she been reading the lines. Lovely is the adjective that comes to mind in describing Redman’s narration. The speed is perfect, and I had no trouble understanding what is said. She does not dramatize; she simply reads in a delightful manner.

I do recommend this book.
Profile Image for Geevee.
360 reviews213 followers
July 27, 2020
I have yet to read a single Jane Austen book so why did I pick this hugely enjoyable and insightful read?

Two reasons: An interest in 18th/19th century society and Lucy Worsley.

This book is a superb telling of 18th century society and life - Jane's life - through her homes and it is ably done with passion and care that brings our subject and her family in to being. We read of early life at home in Hampshire and how the family lived together but with financial challenges that saw her mother and (especially) father try their best for the children.

The pictures painted by Lucy Worsley of Jane, her sisters, parents and wider family, friends and acquaintances brings them out of history, letters and paintings/drawings so that we learn of their cares, likes, dislikes and responses to situations. This creates a fascinating background to the people who live and work in the homes Jane lived in or visited. We read of furniture, food, chores, travel and finances. The situations and events are then projected back against these and the people involved. This coupled with Jane's, her beloved sister Cassandra's, and other's letters lets us into the minds of what was thought and said (or often not said). There is humour, tears, frustration, rejection and jealousy from all corners of the Austin and Leigh and extended families.

As the book and Jane's life progresses the writing, the talent and the struggle to be published are covered; so well and so clearly with detail that one feels in the room when Jane meets a publisher or writes to seek a deal or help. We read of her brother's help to get a deal...but it is neither perfect or the step hoped for.

Years pass by and the love interests come and go, as does the backdrop of Napoleonic war...to return later as the pesky Napoleon escapes his island prison and takes Europe by storm.

The visits, stay-overs and moves to Kent, Lyme Regis, Bath, Winchester and more are all so well described as (some) family members inherit riches, get married, give birth, die in childbirth, go to sea (successfully) and into banking (less successfully) and manage houses of varying sizes. All these details and experiences are then shown to form parts of Jane's books and the characters who live within her pages.

As time passes books are published but illness descends and we are taken towards the tragic early demise of this great author. We see how fine a sister Cassandra is as well as some friends and family. The final chapter discusses the works of Jane after her death and what happened to the people and homes from within the story. There is also a interesting thread throughout that shows how the family tried to tweak/re-write history around Jane (for the better or at least so they thought).

This is a superb book. The discovery, research and creation of the story of Jane through and within her homes is superb. It is a trademark of Lucy Worsley's that this is so and why she is such a superb historian and communicator.

As for reading Jane...I'll be on it.
Profile Image for luce (that loser crying on the n° 2 bus).
1,438 reviews4,053 followers
August 28, 2021
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2.5 stars

Although I did—for the most part—find Lucy Worsley's prose to be compelling, I thought that many of her arguments were unconvincing and biased.
Of course historians have their biases, but shouldn't they at least try to distance themselves from their subject?
The problem I have with this biography props up in the author's introduction:

“While I’ll try to put Jane back into her social class and time, I must admit that I also write as a signed up ‘Janeite’, a devotee and worshipper. I too have searched for my own Jane, and naturally I have found her to be simply a far, far better version of myself: clever, kind, funny, but also angry at the restrictions of her life, someone tirelessly searching for ways to be free and creative. I know who I want Jane Austen to be, and I put my cards on the table. This is, unashamedly, the story of my Jane, every word of it written with love.”

Although in this instance Worsley is being upfront of her lack of objectivity, her biography on Austen seems quick to dismiss and criticise other historians' vision of Austen. She is critical of their attempts to romanticise Austen, both her personality and life. Yet she falls for the very same trap, as the Austen that emerges from this longwinded biography is very much a heroine, one that could easily feature in Austen's own novels.
Worsley's cleverly implements certain sections of Austen's own letters to corroborate with her image of this author. At times her suppositions and speculations regarding Austen's character and motivation are made to seem as facts. Unlike other historians and biographers, who often misconstrued Austen's personality and life, Worsley seems to imply at a personal connection to her subject, one that makes her into one few capable to discerning the truth about Austen. Curiously enough Worsley reveals that: “I was once a pupil at the Abbey School myself, and Jane Austen was our most famous ex-student”.
And often Worsley used this BBC-type of tone that sounded both patronising and childish. Her attempts to engage the reader seemed a bit cheesy.
“What a treat. And just up the road from the cottage, at Chawton Great House, lived one of Jane’s favourite girls in the whole family, Fanny Austen.”

There were lots of surelys and no wonders, and a lot of rhetorical questions, which yeah, didn't really work. If anything they reminded of her presence.
“But if you follow me this far in the idea that Jane was undermining the very moment where you’d expect marriage to be most praised, there could be an explanation. Remember that ‘double-voiced’ nature of Jane’s letters? The same applies to her novels. At first reading, these are stories about love and marriage and the conventional heterosexual happily-ever-after. Only at the second does a sneaky doubt perhaps creep in to suggest that maybe marriage is not the best thing that could ever happen to these women.”

Worsley's biography on Austen isn't as poignant or as revolutionary as its biographer seems to think. She treats her subject with too much familiarity, and her interjections had an almost jarring effect (there were a lot of “I think” and “I wonder”. An example being: “I hope that he hadn’t told Jane what he was doing, so that she did not have to face the instant rejection.”)
Worse still is that Worsley bases many of her arguments regarding Austen's personality and actions on the author's own novels. While I'm sure that when writing her novels Austen will have drawn inspiration from some of her own experiences, to solely link her life to those of her fictional characters makes for a rather skewed account of the author herself. These comparisons were thin at best, and most of the time plainly misleading.
“It has been suggested that with these clever layers of meaning, Jane was perhaps even more subversive than we give her credit for.”

Worsley tries to elevate herself, suggesting time and again that only she views the true Austen (going against her very own words since she initially stated that her Austen was very much hers). Yet, to me, the Worsley's Austen is an unconvincing and unabashedly fictionalised version of the real author.
This is a less a biography than a fictionalised take on Austen, one from a self-confessed ‘Janeite’ who is quick to knock down other historians accounts and readings of Austen's life and letters
The biography also had this weird insertions that seemed adverts of some sort:
“While Jane did not forget Lyme, the town did not forget her, either. You can still eat at Jane’s Cafe, walk in Jane Austen’s Garden, and buy souvenirs in the Persuasion gift shop today.”

Still, I did find that when Worsley was merely writing about the Georgian era (the lifestyle and traditions of those of Austen's class). There were some interesting tidbits abut their customs and daily routines.
Overall however I don't recommend reading this if you are looking for to read some informative, or credible, material about Austen. Worsley's constant snubs at her 'competitors' were tiring, especially considering that she seems to do exactly the same thing.
Just because she is a fan doesn't make her opinion of Austen more valid or true. Yes, while everyone can certainly believe that they have a certain connection to an author or historical figure, to use this 'connection' to validate one's interpretation of this person is ill-advised. Excusing your partiality by saying that it was done 'with love' is a bit of a cheap trick.
“I like to think that this last, insubstantial image of Jane running through the Hampshire grass in fact shows her running away from all the eager hungry biographers keen to get their teeth into her.”

Profile Image for Margarita Garova.
450 reviews177 followers
September 29, 2022
„Но едва с Остин жените започват да мислят, че искат – не, че имат нужда – да намерят мистър Дарси. …Чак с Остин жените започват да живеят така, както живеят и днес.“

За мое съжаление, не попадам често на книги, в които се пресичат литература и история в документален вид, затова дълго предвкусвах радостта от биографията на Джейн Остин. Дори големите почитатели на нейните романи не знаем кой знае колко за нея – тя е живяла кратко и доста уединено, запазени са малко нейни писма, а истинската слава не я спохожда приживе. Нейната личност трудно може да се отдели от тази на героините й и идиличния провинциален пейзаж на джорджианска Англия, затова известна идеализация спрямо писателката е неизбежна. Книгата разсейва образа на „благопристойната стара мома“, даже на моменти я представя като „лошото момиче“ в семейството, винаги готова с някой хаплив и остроумен коментар, и я закотвя в реалните грижи на нейното време – вечното безпаричие и опасността да остане без дом, откраднатите мигове за писане насред многобройните задължения в скромното домакинство, но и силната любов към най-скъпия за нея човек - сестра й Касандра.

Но една биография на Джейн Остин е и малко нещо история на джорджианската епоха, която, парадоксално, е предоставяла на жените повече свободи, отколкото последвалата я викторианска. Житейската несигурност обаче е била огромен фактор в прединдустриална Англия – сложните закони за наследяване, които често пренебрегвали роднините от женски пол, са могли да доведат до просешка тояга богата наследница на имение и обратното. Наполеоновите войни пък, ангажирали голяма част от младите мъже, не оставяли голям избор от канди��ати за женитба. А стигмата „стара мома“ е била не само социална, но и често икономическа присъда. Джейн Остин е изпитала всички тези неща лично, но с един тънък и леко убягващ нюанс – ухажори не са липсвали, по-скоро безбрачието на Джейн е било рядка проява на свободен избор и отказ от партньор „второ качество“.

Семейният произход на писателката също подпечатва съдбата й; принадлежността към така наречените „псевдоджентри“ е означавало едно много особено, междинно социално положение на хора със скромни доходи, но с претенции да демонстрират елегантен бит и стил, далеч надхвърлящ възможностите им. Да прибавим и мъките, съпътстващи отпечатването на нейните книги, неуредиците с авторските права и генерално трудната задача за една жена да пробие като писател и да се издържа от писателския си труд и ще проуеем напълно какво има предвид голямата почитателка на Остин – Вирджиния Улф, когато говори за „малко пари и собствена стая“ като двете есенциални предпоставки за писане.

Книгата прави интересни паралели между героините на Остин и случващото се в романите й с моменти от нейната собствена биография, на пръв поглед банална и с нищо неотличаваща се от тази на много други жени с интелектуални аспирации. Всъщност, истински интересното (за съжаление) започва след смъртта й, когато постепенно си проличава огромния ефект от нейните романи върху поколения читатели (никога няма да забравя как се увредих, в добрия смисъл, след първото прочитане на „Гордост и предразсъдъци“).

Писателката така и не намира истински, удобен, собствен дом за себе си (намирането на дом неслучайно е голяма тема за нейните героини), но заглавието „Джейн Остин у дома“ не подвежда – домът е състояние на ума, а книгите на Джейн са в повече домове, отколкото някога е предполагала.

P.S. Много от местата, на които е живяла или посещавала, все още съществуват и са отворени за нейни почитатели – страхотна идея за литературно пътуване

„Но нейният принос е в това, че пренася романтиката до обикновения човек и му показва, че е възможно да намери изумителна, лична, единствена по рода си, неповторима любов.“

“…но загадката около писането на Джейн е, че никой никога не я е виждал да го прави..“

Profile Image for Teresa.
580 reviews128 followers
June 12, 2017
This is a fantastic read. I've read a few Jane Austen Biographies and some were a bit high brow and I had to trudge through others. It's all change with this one. The chapters were laid out clear and concisely. It started with her early days and went right through in order. As usual the chapter about her death is extremely sad but very well done. I thought I knew all there was to know about Jane but I picked up some new snippets here.
I was pulled into this book as soon as I started reading. I stopped to do a group read of another book and couldn't wait to get back to it. Enthralled again as soon as I picked it up.
For anyone who's new to Jane Austen's novels or just Jane herself, I'd highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,511 reviews856 followers
February 9, 2018
I'm not usually a fan of biography but this was truly fascinating: an homage to the single woman. As with many people of genius, her work never really brought her fame or wealth during her lifetime ( she made about £600) over her lifetime). The historical context of her life, spanning the napoleonic war, the details of the bawdy rowdy Georgian years and sensibilities, the irony that Austen, creator of the modern romantic sensibility should herself never marry or find that kind of love, very much struck a chord with me. I chuckled at the fact that, while Bath is a city for Austen fans, Jane herself disliked it for its rowdy elements and was unable to write while living there!
Profile Image for Leigh.
100 reviews15 followers
November 24, 2018
As the title suggests this book is about the life of Jane Austen. It's written in a very accessible way and is therefore very easy to read. Some of the chapters are longer than others though, I read the book on my Kindle and most of the chapters were 8-10 minutes long. But a couple were 30 minutes long! Although this didn't impact my reading or enjoyment at all, I think this might be irksome to some. There is also a lot of information packed into the book and therefore the chapters, so people may also feel a little bogged down by all the information presented. But again, this wasn't a problem for me, I enjoyed all the extra bits of information and think they helped make the book what it was.

I loved the book! It was so fascinating to read all about Jane, her family, her friends and just how the world was back then. Jane and her family weren't overly rich, but they was definitely not poor either, they had nice homes with servants and food was always available. But they certainly didn't live in the grand manor houses that some of Austen's characters lived in. Which I found interesting as I knew next to nothing about how people of this standing lived!

Jane's life itself doesn't sound very interesting; based on the facts that she never married or had children. She also seemed to have lived a quiet sort of life, she wasn't involved in scandals or anything like that. Which doesn't sound all that interesting, but in truth her life story is fascinating!

Jane lived a life surrounded by people, her letters which we are frequently quoted throughout the book tell us about all their comings and goings. Jane travelled quite a bit, she had firltations, she danced she went to the beach and met the prince Regent! She was also a very independent and intelligent woman, which I think this book showed us. Jane didn't want to settle and marry just anyone, Jane wanted to marry for love and only love.

I think anyone remotely interested in Jane Austen and the time she lived, should definitely read this! It's such a good and insightful read about a truly remarkable woman.
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,301 reviews450 followers
February 24, 2019
First, thanks to Candi for bringing this to my attention. I am definitely a Jane Austen fan, but was always of the opinion that not much was known about her life because her sister Cassandra had burned many of her letters, at Jane's request. But in fact, a great deal is known about her because a great many letters survived, she had a large family interested in preserving her legacy, and her novels themselves contain many clues to her life and times.

Lucy Worsley gives us Jane's life through the places she lived, and her few possessions. She never had a place of her own, as spinsters and widows were dependent on family charity for their survival in the early 19th century. Jane apparently had at least five chances at marriage, but never found her Mr. Darcy, and decided to let her novels be her children. This biography gives a fascinating history of her and her family, and my only complaint was that I would have liked more information about Cassandra, without whom Jane would not have been able to devote time to her novels.

Now to get time to re-read her six published novels in light of what I now know about their creation.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
3,100 reviews1,484 followers
February 7, 2018
A new biography focusing on the domestic life of Jane Austen by historian and curator Lucy Worsley. Lucy Worsley takes into consideration the most recent scholarship on Austen and draws conclusions from examining private papers to attempt to flesh out the mere facts known about Jane Austen's life.

While Lucy Worsley is a fun and engaging TV presenter, her writing style is a bit dry. This reads like a traditional biography and not one of her TV shows, unfortunately. Having read extensively about Jane Austen's life and times, this biography wasn't exactly what I was looking for. What I really liked was the quotes from diaries and letters of Jane Austen's contemporaries to give a better sense of what was going on at the time and what other women's lives were like. I also liked learning more about the extended Austen family and the affair of Stoneleigh Abbey. Also new and interesting is the fates of the Austen family homes.

Lucy Worsley is guilty of speculating at times of what Jane actually meant. She also goes off on tangents at times on things indirectly relating to the home. Source material from Jane Austen is quite thin but I was expecting this book to stick to the subject of the home.

A much better book about Georgian era homes and women is Amanda Vickery's Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England. Combine that with a good biography of Jane Austen and you'll have a pretty complete picture of what we know about Jane Austen. All the rest is conjecture.

Be sure to watch the documentary that accompanies the book though. Lucy Worsley gains access to places not normally open to the ordinary public and visits places Jane Austen once lived. If you've never been on a Jane Austen pilgrimage of England, this is a must-see and even if you have, it's worth a watch.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,635 reviews417 followers
January 27, 2018
2.5 Stars
In some respects, this book was a worthy addition to the saturated world Jane Austen biographies. It centers around the idea of the importance of a home in Jane Austen's life and writing. I enjoyed the author's emphasis about the single - and married - women who impacted Jane Austen's life and the way they banded about her. This is particularly contrasted with her more erratic brothers' behavior.
Yet honestly, this book was a trudge to get through. I do not care for Lucy Worsley's style at all. She interjects herself into the narrative far too often. She repeats facts and stories and quotes in a redundant and annoying manner. She makes a few points about sex that really are meaningless and- as one other reviewer pointed out - exist only for shock value. Austen's various suitors get drummed up and dismissed as unworthy. In fact, Worsley dismisses marriage and childbearing as often as she brings it up. The "modern" attitude pervades each page and seriously distracts from her point about a home.
Finally, what annoyed me most consistently about this book was the way Worsley persists in "finding" Austen in her novels. She pushes the idea that Austen represented her views about life in this character or that; Austen's plots must reflect the emotion and characters of her life. I just don't buy it. I will swallow that she based Emma off of her two favorite nieces, but not that her writing represents some secret, deep feelings she couldn't otherwise express.
As this author is ever so fond of saying, you find in Austen's works what you look for. And in that sense, I do find Worsley and I come to very different interpretations!
Profile Image for My_Strange_Reading.
533 reviews87 followers
December 23, 2018
BOOK 100!!!! 😱😱😱😱

#mystrangereading Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley ⭐️⭐️⭐️ A very interesting look at Jane Austen and her family's life. It was clearly very well researched, and I appreciate how as it followed her life it paralleled the books she wrote. Biographies are difficult for me to get through, but I found this one to be engaging enough to keep me curious and reading!

🏠 My biggest issue with this book was how she inserted quotes from the novels as though the character's dialogue was proof of the historical fact she was claiming about Jane. I know her books mirrored her life (hello, I'm a mega fan), but I don't think we can assume that there is enough mirrored to quote characters from novels as proof of the author's opinion.

This fulfills No. 1 of #my2018strangepanzanellareadingchallenge BIOGRAPHY.
Profile Image for Andrea.
216 reviews106 followers
November 29, 2017
Después de pasar unas cuantas semanas sumergida en la vida de Jane Austen me resulta muy difícil cerrar definitivamente esta admirable biografía. Esta especie de diario privado de alguien a quien quieres y ya no está aquí. No puedo decir otra cosa que: gracias, Lucy Worsley. Gracias por darnos a conocer "otra" Jane.
Profile Image for Kristin.
1,038 reviews96 followers
January 30, 2019
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I would like to thank the publisher for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the death of Austen, Worsley has come out with a lively biography that focuses on Austen’s homes (or lack of them). This angle gives an interesting insight into how Austen lived her life day to day and how much this influenced her work.
Worsley’s style of writing is clear, entertaining and easy to read, I flew through the book. The information that is presented is very well researched and gives a real idea of who Austen really was and what she looked like. What Austen looked like is hard to determine, but Worsley presents a clear image that is oddly familiar. Austen becomes a “modern” woman with a temper and a want of independence.
This biography packs a punch, I learnt so much from it. It has just the right amount of contextual information is included, informing the reader about the era without overwhelming them or turning the biography into a textbook on the era. Worsley debunks myths about Austen herself and the era in which she lived and wrote. I loved that Worsley includes historical and archaeological evidence, as a hopeful future archaeologist myself, this is refreshing.
The influence behind Austen’s novels is obviously discussed, but Worsley brings forward new and interesting ideas. The idea of Austen as a “modern” woman who didn’t like having to do domestic chores is explored along with the subtlety of her novels and where the original spark of imagination for her writing came from. I love that Worsley suggests that this may have come from Austen’s time at the Abbey school Reading, though I may be bias as I was born in Reading.

In conclusion this is a fantastically entertaining book that is completely worth picking up, I now have a list of places I want to visit and stay at along with books to read.

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Dr Lucy Worsley is the Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, covering Hampton court, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Banqueting Hall, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. Worsley gets amazing behind the scene access to these properties and often tweets about the goings on. She is an insightful writer having recently released two childrens’ fiction books based on Katherine Howard and Queen Victoria and is also regularly seen on TV, including her latest series Six Wives.

Twitter = @Lucy_Worsley

I would like to thank Lucy Worsley and Maddy Price at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a physical proof copy! I look forward to reading it :)

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Profile Image for Nick Imrie.
297 reviews133 followers
January 24, 2018
Lucy Worsley loves Jane Austen. It's very sweet to see her flare up, jumping into the text, not caring that she's got her authorial opinion all over the nice clean history. When Austen's ungrateful niece sneers at Austen for being less than a lady, Worsley leaps in to point out that the niece is prejudiced by her Victorian priggishness. When a nephew asserts that his aunt was certainly a lady who had no part in housework, Worsley stoutly defends the immense amount of work that the Austen women did as they clung onto gentility by their finger nails. When one biographer has the audacity to say that Austen might've been a bit chubby, Worsley is all fired up with measurements of Austen's surviving pelisse to prove that she was at least 5'7" and had a 24 inch waist.

Worsley is utterly exasperated with biographers who bemoan how little we know about Austen, complaining that Cassandra burned or redacted so many of Jane's letters, that she left us no diary, that she had few possessions. There's plenty of Austen to be found for those who aren't too proud to look into the everyday details of women's lives and possessions. And Worsley does this with impressive scrutiny. She clearly has a vast knowledge of the time period, all the places Austen lived, and the customs and expectations of the time, the details of women's lives. The book would be worth it just for the extensive and fascinating information on the regency period, so it's somewhat marvellous that that's just a backdrop to a truly compelling life story.

I was very emotionally invested in the story of Jane Austen's life. I was so sad for her when she had to leave Steventon, selling all her books. I was furious when her bloody brothers were swanning around with incomes in the thousands and couldn't even spare a hundred for their mother and sisters. And I simply cannot bear how many great women have died barely into their 40s. It's so tragic. We've got six wonderful books to remember her by, what a shame it wasn't more.
Profile Image for Abi White.
4 reviews
May 21, 2017
I am a massive Janite, but am still Shocked that I have read a biography at such a pace. This really did "feel" more like a work of fiction, and managed to be fun despite doing nothing to gloss over the fact that being a poor unmarried "gentleman's daughter" sounds like my idea of hell.

I will certainly be seeking out Lucy Worsley's other books, and will be making a pilgrimage to some of the places described in such great detail.

I cried at the end. Does that count as a spoiler?
Profile Image for Anina e gambette di pollo.
78 reviews29 followers
May 13, 2018
Per la festa della mamma mi è stato regalato questo libro: una biografia di Jane Austen.

Non indaghiamo sul perché e il percome io abbia usurpato un festeggiamento che non mi compete.
Anche Jane non giocò mai il ruolo di mamma, ma fu per moltissimi “zia”.
E anche se non vi sono certezze, vari sospetti indicano che non ci teneva neppure a quel ruolo.
A lei piaceva leggere, indossare qualche bel vestito, suonare, danzare, mangiare bene e magari bere anche meglio. L’amore? Era soprattutto un rischio: nel suo ambiente l’amore significava matrimonio e matrimonio voleva dire una serie interminabile di parti.

Il libro è serio, documentato e nonostante l’amore dell’autrice per Jane, poco emotivo.

Il vero problema per chi vuol scrivere una biografia della Austen è la famiglia.
L’amatissima sorella Cassandra distrusse centinaia di lettere, molte altre furono espurgate dai nipoti vittoriani che misero le mutande ad ogni frase o parola potesse ledere il santino.
I fatti documentabili sono pochi e domestici: le case dove visse, le difficoltà economiche (soprattutto dopo il ritiro del padre dal ruolo di vicario e dopo la sua morte), le varie eredità che piovvero in famiglia, ma solo nelle tasche dei maschi, una anche dolorosamente contestata ad un’arcigna vedova di un fratello. Non proprio roba da Casa desolata, ma neppure molto lontano da lì.
Resta solo la possibilità di sfruttare al massimo la ridotta documentazione e di credere che nelle eroine dei suoi libri si nasconda qualcosa di lei.

Cose interessanti?
Le case splendide dei suoi libri che non vengono mai descritte come forse meriterebbero. Forse perché per Jane la casa è più home che house.
La rappresentazione della società georgiana prima che la stessa venisse fagocitata dalla pruderie vittoriana.
I suoi romanzi, in parte per problemi editoriali (c’erano pure allora), conquistarono all’inizio un numero ristretto di lettori che aumentarono nel corso del tempo, destinati ad essere interpretati da molti lettori come romanzi d’amore (lettrici comprese ***) o letti con diffidenza da molti uomini che navigano nelle secche del pregiudizio.


*** ho spulciato un poco nelle librerie di chi ha dato un voto basso e ho trovato una preponderanza di romance ….
Profile Image for Georgiana 1792.
1,918 reviews119 followers
January 3, 2022
Una biografia di Jane Austen, basata sui luoghi in cui abitò e che frequentò, come già aveva fatto, nel 1901, Constance Hill con il suo Jane Austen, her Home and Her Friends, con la differenza che all'epoca molto poco ancora si sapeva su Jane Austen se non quello tramandato dalla sua famiglia, attraverso il Memoir di James Edward Austen-Leigh e le lettere raccolte da Lord Brabourne (figlio della nipote Fanny Austen-Knight), ma con il vantaggio di poter ancora visitare dei luoghi che in seguito subirono trasformazioni permanenti. Quello di Constance Hill era un mero diario di viaggio, mentre questo libro è uno studio piuttosto approfondito della vita di Jane Austen, che si avvale di tutti i più recenti scritti critici e le nuove biografie.
E, come filo conduttore, la casa, un tema fondamentale nella vita e nelle opere di Jane Austen, che fu costretta a cambiarne molte nella sua vita, e che per questo fu ossessionata di trovarne una per le sue figlie letterarie. Lei, che sentì come "casa sua" solo due luoghi: la canonica di Steventon in cui nacque e il cottage di Chawton in cui andò ad abitare dal 1809 e che sancì la fine dell'incubo di essere sballottata da una parte all'altra dell'Inghilterra, tanto che, come dice Lucy Worsley:
In questo caso [Persuasione] non ci viene dato di vedere il tanto anelato nido, però. La dimora che Anna e il marito acquisteranno con i soldi di lui non viene visitata né descritta come Pemberley nel caso di Lizzy o la canonica di Fanny. Ora, più che mai, la «casa» per Jane è diventata una condizione mentale. Non ha più bisogno di malta e mattoni.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books346 followers
April 26, 2022
Having enjoyed Lucy Worsley hosted shows on PBS now and then, I was excited to pick up her book on Jane Austen. Jane Austen at Home is a biography that draws attention to her home life in all the places she lived and stayed.

Jane Austen at Home begins with the background of the Austen and Leigh families and the rectory at Steventon and then chronologically unfolds Jane Austen's life, geographically speaking. Lucy Worsley interspersed the bio with facts gleaned from Austen family letters and memoirs, but also further Georgian era resources to give a fuller view of the times and the family. I found much of it was well organized and interesting as bios go though I confess that I've read several so I didn't spot much new material. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy Jane Austen at Home. I surely did. I liked the approach and the author's style of presenting her facts and some conjectures. I got a few new tidbits on Georgian life and it colored in details for me.

All in all, it was well-written and engaging. Those who want to learn about Jane Austen's life or Georgian period life in general should give this a go.
Profile Image for Alicia Avila.
267 reviews17 followers
February 16, 2021
Esta biografía es perfecta para los fans de Jane que al igual que a mi les interese el cómo, cuándo y dónde fue que surgieron sus novelas, también te hace un retrato de la época en la que vivió y cómo vivió.
Profile Image for Damaskcat.
1,782 reviews4 followers
May 20, 2017
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley.

Lucy Worsley succeeds in presenting a three dimensional Jane Austen in this fascinating biography. She shows how the Austen family tried to sanitise the picture which was presented to the world after Jane's death but the evidence is still there if you choose to look for it. By reference to previous biographies, primary sources, the novels themselves and the juvenilia the author pieces together a very much more robust picture - warts and all.

It is well known that Cassandra Austen - Jane's sister - destroyed some of her letters after her death to help create the picture of her which has been handed down through the generations. But there is enough evidence in the surviving letters to show that Jane's character was not all sweetness and light. She was someone who belonged to the more robust culture of the eighteenth century rather than the more mealy mouthed and buttoned up nineteenth century culture.

You only have to read Sense and Sensibility and appreciate the earthy vulgarity of Mrs Jennings to know that Jane Austen must have been aware of aspects of life which would not automatically be associated with a maiden aunt. Her letters show she was something of a flirt and had many possible suitors - all of whom she refused in the end. Jane Austen was very much aware of the facts of life.

She also had a very well developed sense of the ridiculous and a sense of humour which could see something amusing in most situations. She also enjoyed misleading people and her letters and the novels can be read on many levels and it is very far from clear whether she is joking or being serious.

This is a book to read and re-read and Lucy Worsley has written what to my mind is one of the best books about Jane Austen ever written. The book contains a comprehensive bibliography as well as an index ad notes on sources throughout the text. If you only read one book on Jane Austen this year then make it this one.
Profile Image for Silvia.
357 reviews
October 30, 2018
Me ha encantado conocer más en profundidad a Jane, no sólo en su faceta de escritora sino también en su día a día, como eran las relaciones con su familia, con sus amigos, conocer las dificultades y los obstáculos que tuvo que salvar para conseguir lo que más ansiaba.

Me deja con muchas ganas de releer sus novelas, que estoy segura que entenderé de otro modo ahora, pero también tengo ganas de leer a algunas otras autoras que leía Jane como Maria Edgeworth, intentarlo otra vez con la Radcliffe y suplicar por la publicación de Cecilia, una de las novelas de Fanny Burney.
Profile Image for Les.
2,813 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2018
This is a meticulously researched bio of Jane Austen, warts and all. We follow Jane and her family from home to home, including schools, visits, vacations, assemblies, even occasional Inns. This is a book by a Janeite for Janeites. There were some points where I was reading about cousins and neighbors and wondering 'wait where is Jane in all this again?'

You really understand the 'genteel' poverty the Austen women suffered from after her father's death. And will marvel at how some relatives of means could have easily elevated them but didn't. Ms. Worsley even points out how miserly their existence at the cottage compared to the luxury of the Knight family enjoyed only a few yards away.

The text ends at 74% on the Kindle with the remainder of the book filled with acknowledgements and the meticulously researched footnotes.
Profile Image for Claudia.
Author 47 books239 followers
September 2, 2018
Una absoluta maravilla; no puedo encontrar las palabras para explicar cuánto he disfrutado esta lectura y lo interesante que me ha parecido todo lo que la autora nos ha contado acerca de la vida de Jane. Lo mejor, creo, es que tanta admiración no nace solo de lo mucho que ansiaba leer este libro por el cariño que siento por la obra y la vida de Jane sino porque me he encontrado con un trabajo monumental que en muchos pasajes me dejó boquiabierta. Tan solo de pensar en la labor de documentación llevada a cabo por Lucy Worsley; el conocimiento acumulado durante lo que sin duda han de haber sido años; el amor y respeto casi palpables por su objeto de estudio... tiemblo, me conmuevo y mi admiración crece hasta el infinito. Considero dejar este libro cerca de mi mesita de noche durante mucho tiempo para ir releyendo algunos pasajes marcados de cuando en cuando ♥
Profile Image for Lisa (NY).
1,551 reviews603 followers
June 12, 2018
[4.5] Worsley brilliantly and delightfully details Jane Austen's domestic life - her homes, habits, finances, writing, family relationships and more. The author's focus on the minute details of Jane's life was never tedious but quite captivating. Through the window of Jane's life, I also learned a great deal about life in Georgian England. I loved listening to Ruth Redman's wonderful audio narration.
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