Jane Austen’s False History Book

“By a biased, biased, ignorant historian.” Who other than Jane Austen could start a book with such a coarse handwriting? Austin opens history of england With those words, and it gets even funnier from there. “There will be very few dates on this date,” she warns her readers in her introduction. Anyone looking for a more serious historical text should look elsewhere. She was not writing to teach, but rather to express herself in her own ironic way.

Austin was only 15 when she wrote history of england in 1791, but she was already finding a foothold as an intelligent writer and social commentator. in her teens, The prospect of publishing wasn’t her ultimate goal yet. She was writing mainly as a form of self-amusement and for her family’s own amusement, which allowed her to A high degree of freedom for developmental experimentation with form, style, and subject matter. She had several event projects in progress, one of which was a satirical history book that satirized the prevailing harsh methods and attitudes toward narrating past events. According to Austin researcher Misty Krueger,Many scholars have identified Austen’s history as a parody of history writing, particularly Oliver Goldsmith’s book. A history of England from the earliest times until the death of George II (1771) and his abbreviation of those volumes (1774).” Probably Austen, having read the book as part of her strict regime of self-education, fell back from the tedious utterances with weary sighs and thought to herself, ‘I could do better.’

Jane Austen, as usual, She had a bold opinion of her subject of choice, uninterested in offering romantic versions to anyone or anything. history of england Readers are given a satirical tour through the reigns of England’s kings by a guide who is not at all shy about which ones you prefer and which ones you dislike. “It would be an insult to my readers to suppose that they were not as well versed in the details of this king’s reign as I am,” she explains in her reflection. King Henry VIII. “So he will save them the task of reading again what they have read before, and I myself the trouble of writing what I do not quite remember, by giving only a simple sketch of the principal events which marked his reign.”

Young Austen had a special interest in the ill-fated Stewart dynasty, and her work reflects a rebellious young crusader spirit seeking belated justice for a cause. History has been violent and biased for the Stewarts. Austen will reassemble her tarnished reputation with her writing without sacrificing her sense of humor in the process.

“Austin offers its readers a multi-valued and mediated text that includes parody and historiography, yet deals with traditions of martyrdom and justification, or defence,” Krueger notes.

Austen’s earnest efforts were more devoted to Henry VIII’s daughter Elizabeth I and She executed her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. Austin points the finger at Elizabeth’s advisors for letting her “bring this friendly woman over.” [Mary] to sudden, undeserved death, and scandals.” When Austin described herself as “biased and prejudiced,” she meant it. Sincerely.

history of england It was a technical collaboration. Austen’s older sister Cassandra, an amateur watercolor painter, was recruited to provide illustrations for the text. Smart and talented in her own right, Cassandra seems to have fully understood the nature of the task. Her portrayal of Elizabeth I is a satirical, intriguing, witch-like portrait of a crooked, hooked nose. Mary, Queen of Scots, is a perfect innocent fairytale princess with a doll-like heart shaped face. One can easily imagine Jane and Cassandra sharing a good laugh at the two-person smear campaign against the revered Elizabeth who was, in their eyes, the villain, not the heroine, of history.

Jane Austen will eventually pursue a writing career Fictional heroines (and more in 3D)Her short tenure as a historian matches the volume of the work itself, which spanned only thirty-four pages in the manuscript of Austen’s Early Writings, Volume Two. Austen may have realized later in her life that being “biased, prejudiced, and ignorant” did not allow her to explore the full potential of her literary abilities after all.


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JSTOR is a digital library for scholars, researchers, and students. JSTOR daily readers can access the original research behind our articles for free on JSTOR.

Written by: Michelle Levy

E.L.H., Vol. 77, No. 4 (Winter 2010), pp. 1015-1040

Johns Hopkins University Press

Written by: Misty Krueger

Eighteenth Century, Vol. 56, No. 2, Special Issue: Jane Austen and Her Contemporaries (Summer 2015), pp. 243-259

University of Pennsylvania Press

Written by: Jane Stabler

Nineteenth Century Studies, Vol. 21 (2007), pp. 1-18

Pennsylvania State University Press

Written by: Katrina Banks-Whiteley and Keira Kramer

Historical Journal, Vol. 53, p. 4 (December 2010), pp. 827-848

Cambridge University Press

By: GR Batho

The Scottish Historical Review, Vol. 39, No. 127, Part 1 (April 1960), pp. 35-42

Edinburgh University Press

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