Award-winning biographer Claire Harman traces the growth of Jane Austen’s fame, the changing status of her work and what it has stood for - or has been made to stand for in English culture - in a wide-ranging study aimed at the general reader. This is a story of personal struggle, family intrigue, accident, advocacy and sometimes surprising neglect as well as a history of changing public tastes and critical practices. Starting with Austen’s own experience as a beginning author (and addressing her difficulties getting published and her determination to succeed), Harman unfolds the history of how her estate was handled by her brother, sister, nieces and nephews, and goes on to explore the eruption of public interest in Austen in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the making of her into a classic English author in the twentieth century, the critical wars that erupted as a result and, lastly, her powerful influence on contemporary phenomena such as chick-lit, romantic comedy, the heritage industry and film. Part biography and part cultural history, this book does not just tell a fascinating story - it is essential reading for anyone interested in Austen’s life, works and remarkably potent fame.
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