Works by Jane Austen

Minor works

Volume 6 of the Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Minor Works, ed. R. W. Chapman, 1954 includes:

  • Juvenilia, Early Work and Fragments
  • Volume the First
  • Volume the Second
  • Volume the Third
  • Lady Susan
  • The Watsons
  • Sanditon

Major works

Sense and Sensibility (1811)
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Mansfield Park (1814)
Emma (1815-1816)
Northanger Abbey (1817)
Persuasion (1817)

Editions of Persuasion

Persuasion, Ed. Patricia Meyer Spacks. New York: W.W.Norton and Company, 1995.

  • This Norton Critical Edition includes relevant quotations from Jane Austen's letters as well as key reviews and essays.

Persuasion, Ed. Gillian Beer. Introduction and notes by Gillian Beer. London: Penguin Classics, 1998.

The Annotated Persuasion, Annotated and edited by David M. Shapard. Toronto: Anchor Books, 2010.

  • Useful format with annotations placed on page facing text. Extensive historical and literary comments.


J. E. Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

  • A very partial, charming (but not always accurate) account of Jane Austen's life by her nephew.

Elizabeth Jenkins, Jane Austen. London: 1938.

  • A chronological account of Jane Austen's life, which includes some analysis of the novels.

David Cecil, A Portrait of Jane Austen. New York: Hill and Wang, 1979.

  • A very readable account of Jane Austen's life which draws on many of her letters and other writings.

John Halperin, The Life of Jane Austen. Baltimore: John Hopkins, 1984

  • A refreshingly unvarnished portrait of Jane Austen.

Claire Tomalin, Jane Austen, A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

  • Compelling and well-researched, with excellent notes.

Carol Shields, Jane Austen. London: Penguin 2001.

  • Delightful biography of a very manageable size – a quick, easy read.

Claire Harman, Jane's Fame. New York: Henry Holt, 2009.

  • Traces the remarkable rise of Jane Austen's popularity with exactness, depth and humour.

Social, political and cultural context

These books offer good historical and cultural surveys of the period in which Jane Austen was writing:

  • Asa Briggs, The Age of Improvement: 1738-1867. New York: David McKay,1959.
  • W.A.Craik, Jane Austen in her Time. London: Thomas Nelson, 1969
  • Deidre Le Faye, Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels. London: Frances Lincoln, 2002.

Important studies of the literary history of the period of Jane Austen's writing:

  • Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.
  • Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its background 1790-1850. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Influential studies of the development of Jane Austen's narrative style and technique:

  • Mary Lascelles, Jane Austen and her Art. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1939.
  • Howard S. Babb, Jane Austen's Novels: The Fabric of Dialogue. Columbus, OH, Ohio State University Press, 1962.
  • A.W. Litz, Jane Austen: a study of her artistic development. London: Chatto and Windus, 1965.

Useful studies relating to key political and social themes in the novel:

  • Alistair Duckworth, The Improvement of the Estate. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.
  • Claudia Johnson, Jane Austen: Women, Politics and the Novel. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1988.
  • Margaret Kirkham, Jane Austen, Feminism and Fiction. London: The Athlone Press, 1997.
  • Brian Southam, Jane Austen and the Navy. London: Hambledon and London Ltd. 2000.

General critical works on Jane Austen

Robert Liddell, The Novels of Jane Austen. London: Longmans, 1963

B. C. Southam, ed., Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage, 2 vols. London: Routledge,1968-1987.

Tony Tanner, Jane Austen. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1986.

J. David Grey, ed. The Jane Austen Companion. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.

Ian Watt, ed., Jane Austen: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall,1963.

Emily Auerbach, Searching for Jane Austen. Madison, WI, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

Susannah Carson, A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen. New York, Random House 2009.

Criticism of Persuasion 

Many of the general books listed in the previous section have chapters or sections on Persuasion, easily found from the contents page or the index.

Harold Bloom ed., Jane Austen's Persuasion, Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.

  • Collection of influential essays on Persuasion by well-known critics.

Jocelyn Harris, A Revolution Almost Beyond Expression: Jane Austen's Persuasion. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2007.

  • Study of political, historical and textual influences found in Persuasion 


Note: Remember that websites – including this one – are secondary resources like any other. It is important to check the source of the site and to find out about the author(s). Also, remember that any material you draw from the site should be clearly referenced in essays or project work.

  • Site for the Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom. Has useful summaries and analyses of Austen's novels.

  • Site for The Jane Austen Society of North America. Useful information and links.

  • Site for the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. Includes an online magazine with historical, cultural and literary information relevant to Jane Austen and her writings.

  • Site for The Republic of Pemberley with discussions and information on Jane Austen. Has very useful link to the Jane Austen Information Page where there are links to numerous essays on Jane Austen and her works.

Persuasion on film and television

Question the adaptation

There have not been as many movie adaptations of Persuasion as there have been of some of Jane Austen's other novels, perhaps because of its more melancholy tone.
The obvious question to ask about any adaptation is:

  • How faithful is this to the original?

Although it is interesting and sometimes amusing to identify what is omitted or changed, there are other, more challenging, questions to be asked.

Some, for instance, concern the history and structure of the film and television industries:

  • Why was this version of the novel made at this time? In what ways might it be speaking to contemporary concerns?
  • Who were its likely viewers?
  • What were the motives of the studio or television company and the director?
  • What significance is there in the casting of the various roles?

Perhaps the most important questions relate to the way in which the story is interpreted, and here the answers to that original question about fidelity to the original can be reformulated as new questions.

  • Why might the director have omitted some parts of the plot (including some characters)?
  • Are there any ‘new' characters or incidents? Why are they in this version?
  • How is the story interpreted? Where does the emphasis lie?
  • How are the characters presented? Are they shown as more, or less, sympathetic than in the novel? Why?
  • What might the director's interpretation tell us about contemporary attitudes towards the issues raised by the novel?

BBC adaptations of Persuasion were released as mini-series in 1960 and 1971. More recently two made-for-television movie adaptations of the novel have been released:

Persuasion. Dir. Roger Michell. 1995

  • Beautifully filmed and faithful to the novel. Amanda Root does an excellent job conveying the subtleties of Anne Elliot's emotions.

Jane Austen's Persuasion. Dir. Adrian Shergold. 2007

  • Starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, this adaptation omits some key scenes (including Wentworth's letter-writing to Anne). Deviates from the original plot by changing the order of events here and there. Sometimes transfers thoughts and speeches from one character to another.
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