In this sympathetic and probing biography, Park Honan enters the private world of Jane Austen to reveal experiences and observations she drew upon to write such masterpieces as "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility", "Persuasion" and "Northanger Abbey". Drawing on diaries, memoirs and letters written by members of the Austen family, Professor Honan recreates Austen's childhood, sketches her devotion to her ambitious parents and draws a lively picture of Jane's two brothers, one of whom served with Nelson's navy at Trafalgar, and of Jane's closest confidante, her elder sister Cassandra. Set against a backdrop of rural Hampshire and Bath, Honan's life of Austen moves between closely observed domestic life with family and friends, to descriptions of dances and parties, social mores and malice. It brings new insights into her chequered love life, her moments of loneliness and frustration and her ironic appreciation of her situation as an intelligent, economically dependent woman.
Park Honan has taught widely and most recently held a chair in the School of English at Leeds University. Park co-sponsors the Jane Austen London Group and has lectured on Austen for many years. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has won many awards including the British Academy and Leverhulme Award, a Guggenheim fellowship and the Huntington and Folger Shakespeare Library Awards. Previous titles include Matthew Arnold: A Life, Shakespeare: A Life and Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy.