Letters to Jane: Austen, the letter, and twentieth-century women's writing

May, William (2011) Letters to Jane: Austen, the letter, and twentieth-century women's writing. In, Hanson, C. and Dow, Gillian (eds.) Uses of Austen: Jane's Afterlives. Basingstoke, GB, Palgrave, 115-131.


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This article considers the importance of Austen's letters for twentieth-century women writers. The author reads Chapman's 1932 scholarly edition of Austen's letters alongside W.H. Auden's address to her in 'Letter to Lord Byron' (1936), and considers how questions of gender and genre intersect in Austen's epistolary legacy. He considers the reception of the letters in the twentieth-century, including Terry Castle's controversial review of Deirdre Le Faye's edition and Virginia Woolf's epistolary response to the 1932 edition, and suggests how Woolf's reading of the letters reshaped Austen's influence on her work, focusing on 'Letter to a Young Poet' (1932) and The Years (1936). He notes the evasion and contradiction that haunts Austen's letters, and suggests how writers including Stevie Smith, Rebecca West, and Fay Weldon have used their gaps and spaces to rethink their relationship to Austen's legacy.

Item Type: Book Section
ISBNs: 9780230319462 (hardback)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions : Faculty of Humanities > English
ePrint ID: 204619
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
1 November 2011Submitted
21 August 2012Published
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2011 10:09
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:47
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/204619

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