An Interview with Jane Austen

     When a scheduled post doesn’t arrive in a timely manner, one must contemplate what is to be done. Cursing achieves little beyond a temporary solace and is considered uncouth by the better sort. Murder is a bit beyond the pale and , if apprehended, lands one in a noisome prison. When all else fails, a heart-felt prayer can suffice. As is often the case, enlightenment dawned. Jane Austen, the genetrix of all writers of romance, graciously consented to blog with the Sizzlers. Here’s Jane in her own words.

     Miss Austen, could you share with us your thoughts on writing romance? “I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem.–I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first Chapter.” 1
     But you have had great success with your books. I hesitate to mention gauche matters such as money but I understand that your books are selling rather well. “You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S.&S. is sold & that it has brought me £140–besides the Copyright, if that should ever be of any value.–I have now therefore written myself into £250.–which only makes me long for more.” 2
     In my humble opinion, your literary endeavors merit the highest approbation. What has been your experience of the matter? ” . . . there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labor of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.” 3
     I appreciate your support of your fellow authors and admire your insistence on upholding only the highest standards in literary endeavors.  I should not have been surprised, therefore, to discover that you have been very hard on your critique partner, your niece Anna.  Her “Henry Mellish I am afraid will be too much in the common Novel style–a handsome, amiable, unexceptionable Young Man (such as do not much about in real Life) desperately in Love, & all in vain. But I have no business to judge him so early.” And her “Devereux Forester’s being ruined by his Vanity is extremely good; but I wish she would not let him plunge into a ‘vortex of Dissipation’. I do not object to the Thing, but I cannot bear the expression;–it is such thorough novel slang–and so old, that I dare say Adam met with it in the first novel he opened.” 4
     I find your Elizabeth Bennet entrancing. Do you have a personal favorite? “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”5
      Have you considered following the emerging trends in the romance market? “No–I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way; And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.” 6    

Miss Austen, please accept my sincere appreciation for visiting with the Sizzlers on the occasion of the Southern Sizzle Romance Blog’s First Anniversary Celebration. I regret that you will be unable to respond to comments and I would never presume to channel you, so return to your blissful sleep content in the knowledge that you are the idol of many and exceeded by none. Tomorrow, Jessica Faust. Rita VF


1 Letter to James Stanier Clarke (April 1, 1816)
2 Letter to her brother Frank about the success of Sense and Sensibility (July 6, 1813)
3 Northanger Abbey, Chapter 5
4 Letters to her niece Anna Austen, critiquing her WIPs (1814)
5 Letter to Cassandra on Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet (January 29, 1813)
6 Letter to James Stanier Clarke (April 1, 1816)
Source of Quotations: Daily wit and inspiration from Austen, compiled by Lori Smith, author of A Walk with Jane Austen

15 Responses

  1. Magnificently done, Rita — the forward and the body of this post! I’m rising from my office chair to offer applause while on my feet. This deserves a standing ovation. (Yeah, and I’m being me and punching the air, too! lol)

    May every writer stay true to what speaks to her–or him–most clearly.

    • I bow most humbly to your ovation–and an air punch back atcha. It’s amazing that the authors of the past and present are confronted by the same concerns. Thank you, Runere. RitaVF

  2. OMG, Thank you Rita, and of course to our dear Miss Austen. A fabulous interview with the greatest romance author of all time.

    • The divine Miss Austen sent her special regards to you, Ro’mama. Although our Regencies were her Contemporaries, her last comment was intended for you. REGENCIES FOREVER!!! RitaVf

  3. Yeah. Love it, Rita. Great job and thanks to Jane for “being here” today.

    • Thank you, sfcatty. Jane and I had a most amiable conversation the three hours before the post was due. She was a dear for popping in on short notice RitaVF

  4. Very well done indeed. What a fun read!

    • Thank you so much, Kathryn. Miss Austen carried on extensive correspondence that was both insightful and humorous. Lori Smith’s website on Austen quotes was a gold mine. More than I could ever have used but was compelled to pause and read. RitaVF

  5. LOL, loved it. Great, great job!

    • Thanks, Danica. The Regency-style speech was fun to write. I modeled it on a book I’m reading, Regency Etiquette: The Mirror of Graces which was written in 1811 by a Lady of Distinction. It’s taken her two chapters to say behave yourself and don’t dress like a slut. LOL, RitaVF

  6. Excellent replies Miss Austen. Well done.

    • My abject apologies, Laurel Ann, for a tardy thank you for your kind comments. Your excellent post only just arrived from whatever ether to which it had been relegated by the Internet phantasms. RitaVF

  7. Thanks, Danica. The Regency-style speech was fun to write. I modeled it on a book I’m reading, Regency Etiquette: The Mirror of Graces which was written in 1811 by a Lady of Distinction. It’s taken her two chapters to say behave yourself and don’t dress like a slut. LOL, RitaVF

  8. How wonderful, Rita. I’m sure Ms. Austen is smiling down at you.
    I loved it and I don’t even read Regencies.

  9. Thank you, Allison, One hates to take liberties with the deceased but it is well known to all, that once Miss Austen was revealed as the author, she appreciated the notoriety she gained.
    As for Regencies, you’ve been known to write a Gothic on occasion. That said, I enjoy reading your Medievals and expect an autograph for my copy of Battlesong to go with my Heartsong. RitaVF

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