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John Sharp’s Thoughts on the Jane Austen Lecture

There was another encouraging turn-out for our meeting on 12th April, at which Kate O’Leary and her husband, David, talked to us about Jane Austen. The opening section dealt with the appearance of Jane Austen, as derived from written descriptions and pictures. This was a tantalising quest, as no portrait can be regarded as absolutely authentic, although some similarities can be identified in those that are, at least, possibilities. The talk continued with a discussion about Jane Austen’s life and what this reveals of her character. Again, one has to rely as much on hints as firm factual information. There is, of course, no uncertainty about her works, most of which were published within a short space of time. The major novels were widely read in her lifetime and have been popular until the present day. As well as being amongst the highest achievements of English literature, they have also attracted viewers of television and film adaptations. The themes of money, marriage, manners and morality which underpin her writings, although they are clearly set in an early eighteenth century environment, are indeed relevant in any social context. We are grateful to Kate and David for a session that was both informative and interesting.

John Sharp

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