When the authors you will meet on this site first began writing what we commonly call JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction), they had few dreams of becoming rich from the task, for writing is a labor intensive exercise with few true benefits except the process is a passionate release of one’s soul into the world. Most of them write because they can think of nothing more fulfilling. After their first foray, and then their second, the process became a bit of an obsession, and they are hooked. We hope you, the readers, are likewise “obsessed” with our many offerings.
People often ask me: “Why Jane Austen? Why not one of the Brontës or some other famous female author?”
The answer is simple for me and, I imagine such is true for the rest of our group.
Jane Austen is one of the greatest and most beloved authors in English history. Trust me, I taught English for 40 years, and I have come across many a student who “resisted” a study of Austen on every level. Yet, repeatedly, I hear back from first one and then another of how Austen played out in his or her life after high school and college. For example, I know a young man who vehemently asked why he had to suffer so when all he wanted to do was to go to film school. I kept telling him some day he would be on “®Jeopardy” and be required to know who wrote both Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion for the ®Final Jeopardy question. Yet, as you might have imagined something better came along. On his first major interview after graduation with his film studies degree, the director was describing the basic plot of the movie they hoped to produce. The man did not provide the name of the characters or the working title of the film; yet, my former student recognized it immediately. He said, “So it is a modern day Pride and Prejudice.” He earned the job and a “bevy of female assistants.” He sent me a sincere thank you for both the employment and the lovely ladies.
Yet, there are other reasons to study and to love Austen. Most assuredly, it is nearly impossible not to become lost in her writing style—to take serious note of the structure of her novels. Austen is timeless when compared to many of her contemporaries. A literary study of her six major novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey, as well as the unfinished novel Sanditon and the much later published novella, Lady Susan, opens the reader to a world he/she could never have imagined. Jane Austen is truly unique in her approach to the novel, but her “style” serves as the format for the majority of the romance-based novels on the market today, especially the historical romances.
Austen also provides us with an intimate look of the late Georgian era, specifically to the Regency era in England. The Regency era was a time of refinement and culture and wealthy landowners. It was a time impacted by the Napoleonic Wars, economic collapse, and the “Year Without Summer,” which saw English society’s dependency on agriculture wan and the rush to the cities to find alternative employment. It was a time of political crisis: the Corn Laws, the Peterloo Massacre, and abolitionism. Yet, in all this chaos, the Regency was characterized by its distinct taste in architecture and fashion and its move to modernization. The Regency also embraced Romanticism, and many of the major artists, musicians, novelists, and poets of the Romantic movement became some of the United Kingdom’s greatest. Along with Austen, we find Lord Byron, John Keats, Ann Radcliffe, Sir Walter Scott, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth.
Naturally, there is much to be learned from Austen and her novels about the period in which the lady lived: fine art, music, dance, social norms, family life, etiquette, manners, marriage, geography, etc. Remember: Austen was NOT writing historical novels, but rather, contemporary tales. Within those stories, there is the richness of her vocabulary. To all these things, we add the compelling desire of the film industry to depend again and again on Austen for their scripts, not only films of her actual novels, but multiple adaptations and “what ifs,” such as You’ve Got Mail, Becoming Jane, Clueless, etc. Such is what each author on this blog does daily. Each writes an adaptation, a variation, a ‘What If’ tale, etc., whether historical or contemporary based on an Austen novel or Austen’s characters.
Hopefully, you will discover more of each of these aspects on ©Always Austen, as well as a variety of tales from our very talented troupe of writers. Come celebrate the brilliance of Jane Austen with us. Try your luck with the giveaways, but come to ©AlwaysAusten to share with others in a love of the forever-fabulous Jane Austen.