Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today? Devoney Looser's The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen's early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know.
Here are the Austen influencers, including her first English illustrator, the eccentric Ferdinand Pickering, whose sensational gothic images may be better understood through his brushes with bullying, bigamy, and an attempted matricide. The daring director-actress Rosina Filippi shaped Austen's reputation with her pioneering dramatizations, leading thousands of young women to ventriloquize Elizabeth Bennet's audacious lines before drawing room audiences. Even the supposedly staid history of Austen scholarship has its bizarre stories. The author of the first Jane Austen dissertation, student George Pellew, tragically died young, but he was believed by many, including his professor-mentor, to have come back from the dead.
Looser shows how these figures and their Austen-inspired work transformed Austen's reputation, just as she profoundly shaped theirs. Through them, Looser describes the factors and influences that radically altered Austen's evolving image. Drawing from unexplored material, Looser examines how echoes of that work reverberate in our explanations of Austen's literary and cultural power. Whether you're a devoted Janeite or simply Jane-curious, The Making of Jane Austen will have you thinking about how a literary icon is made, transformed, and handed down from generation to generation.
Devoney Looser is a Foundation Professor of English at Arizona State University, a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar, and a Guggenheim Fellow. She is the author of Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750-1850 and British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820.
Introduction: Jane Austen MattersPart I: Jane Austen, Illustrated1. Austen's First English Illustrator: Ferdinand Pickering's Vioctorian Sensationalism2. Visual Austen Experiments: From Lush Landscapes to Bearded Heroes3. A Golden Age for Illustrated Austen: From Peacocks to PhotoplaysPart II: Jane Austen, Dramatized4. Austen's First Dramatist: Rosina Filippi's Duologues for Every Cultivated Amateur5. Playing Mr. Darcy before Laurence Olivier: Cross Dressing, Consuming Passion, and Cracking the Whip6. Dear Jane: Christian Spinster, Feminist Flirt, and Shadow Actress7. Stage to Screen Pride and Prejudice: Hollywood's Austen and Its Unrealized ScreenplaysPart III: Jane Austen, Politicized8. The Night of the Divine Jane: Men's Club Clashes and Politics in the Periodical Press9. Stone-Throwing Jane Austen: Suffragist Street Activism, Grand Pageants, and Costume PartiesPart IV: Jane Austen, Schooled10. The First Jane Austen Dissertation: George Pellew and the Human Telephone11. Textbook Austens: From McGuffey's Readers to National LampoonCoda: Twenty-First Century Jane AustenAfterwordAcknowledgmentsAppendix: Suggested Further ReadingNotesBibliographyIndex