**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Jane Austen
by [?]

And science with all its ingenuity has not yet pointed out a better way for acquiring a new language than the plan the Austens adopted at Steventon Rectory. We call it the “Berlitz Method” now.

Madame Fenillade’s widowhood rested lightly upon her, and she became quite the life of the whole household.

One of the Austen boys fell in love with the French widow; and surely it would be a very stupid country boy that wouldn’t love a French widow like that!

And they were married and lived happily ever afterward.

But before Madame married and moved away she taught the girls charades, and then little plays, and a theatrical performance was given in the barn.

Then a play could not be found that just suited, so Jane wrote one and Cassandra helped, and Madame criticized and the Reverend Mr. Austen suggested a few changes. Then it was all rewritten. And this was the first attempt at writing for the public by Jane Austen.

* * * * *

Jane Austen wrote four great novels, “Pride and Prejudice” was begun when she was twenty and finished a year later. The old father started a course of novel-reading on his own account in order to fit his mind to pass judgment on his daughter’s work. He was sure it was good, but feared that love had blinded his eyes, and he wanted to make sure. After six months’ comparison he wrote to a publisher explaining that he had the manuscript of a great novel that would be parted with for a consideration. He assured the publisher that the novel was as excellent as any Miss Burney, Miss Edgeworth, or any one else ever wrote.

Now publishers get letters like that by every mail, and when Mr. Austen received his reply it was so antarctic in sentiment that the manuscript was stored away in the garret, where it lay for just eleven years before it found a publisher. But in the meantime Miss Austen had written three other novels–not with much hope that any one would publish them, but to please her father and the few intimate friends who read and sighed and smiled in quiet.

The year she was thirty years of age her father died–died with no thought that the world would yet endorse his own loving estimate of his daughter’s worth.

After the father’s death financial troubles came, and something had to be done to fight off possible hungry wolves. The manuscript was hunted out, dusted, gone over, and submitted to publishers. They sniffed at it and sent it back. Finally a man was found who was bold enough to read. He liked it, but wouldn’t admit the fact. Yet he decided to print it. He did so. The reading world liked it and said so, although not very loudly. Slowly the work made head, and small-sized London drafts were occasionally sent by publishers to Miss Austen with apologies because the amounts were not larger.

Now, in reference to writing books it may not be amiss to explain that no one ever said, “Now then, I’ll write a story!” and sitting down at table took up pen and dipping it in ink, wrote. Stories don’t come that way. Stories take possession of one–incident after incident–and you write in order to get rid of ’em–with a few other reasons mixed in, for motives, like silver, are always found mixed. Children play at keeping house: and men and women who have loved think of the things that have happened, then imagine all the things that might have happened, and from thinking it all over to writing it out is but a step. You begin one chapter and write it this forenoon; and do all you may to banish the plot, the next chapter is all in your head before sundown. Next morning you write chapter number two, to unload it, and so the story spins itself out into a book. All this if you live in the country and have time to think and are not broken in upon by too much work and worry–save the worry of the ever-restless mind. Whether the story is good or not depends upon what you leave out.