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Joint Faculty Graduate Open Day

What Matters in Jane Austen? - Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved

21 January 2013

Professor John Mullan (Head of the Department of English) explores the intricacies, themes and quirks at the heart of Jane Austen’s writing in his latest book, published by Bloomsbury.

What Matters Most in Jane Austen Book Cover


Over twenty-one chapters, Professor Mullan answers key questions raised by Austen’s novels, such as "Do We Ever See the Lower Classes?" and "How Much Money Is Enough?”.

Looking at the rituals and conventions of her characters, the book reveals the intricate strategies, technicalities and daring Austen employed to create such detailed and engaging fictional worlds.

In the opening of his Sunday Times review, John Carey asks “Would I get more pleasure from reading this than from re-reading my favourite Jane Austen novel? If you decide to give What Matters in Jane Austen a chance you'll know after a few pages that you've made the right choice”.

By using biographical detail and extracts from Jane Austen’s letters, the book explores and explains a variety of scenes from her novels, looking at how issues such as how much money she herself had to live on, what she chose to see at the theatre and her personal taste in literature, informed and influenced her writing.

Professor Mullan is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature and is at present writing the volume of the Oxford English Literary History that will cover the period from 1709 to 1784.