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

May, William (2012) 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 pp. 115-131.

Record type: Book Section


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.

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Submitted date: 1 November 2011
Published date: 21 August 2012
Organisations: English


Local EPrints ID: 204619
ISBN: 9780230319462
PURE UUID: 627c2e8c-e2c9-4cae-ad62-a4cd19e29b8c

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Date deposited: 01 Dec 2011 10:09
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:06

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Author: William May
Editor: C. Hanson
Editor: Gillian Dow

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