Book Chapter

Jane Austen's Global Influence



Halsey K (2019) Jane Austen's Global Influence. In: Rabinowitz P (ed.) Oxford Research Encyclopedia: Literature. Oxford Research Encyclopedias. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) is a writer with a global reputation. She is one of a very few writers to enjoy both a wide popular readership and critical acclaim, and one of even fewer writers of her period whose name has instant recognition. Her literary reputation rests on six novels – Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816), Northanger Abbey (1818) and Persuasion (1818) – a handful of unfinished works, and three manuscript notebooks of juvenilia, but this small oeuvre has been translated into almost every known language, adapted for film and television across the world, and has spawned an enormous number of sequels, prequels, spin-offs, remediations and other fan-fictions in both print and digital media. Critics have, for more than two centuries, attempted both to describe the technical brilliance of Austen’s work, and to account for her surprising popularity with very diverse audiences. Her works describe the daily realities of life in Georgian and Regency England, but clearly still speak to modern, world-wide audiences. She is known simultaneously as a romance writer par excellence, and as a deeply ironic and sceptical social commentator. Her style is characterised by economy, brevity and wit, and through a series of technical innovations in the craft of writing, Austen transformed the genre of the novel, and thus its status from the nineteenth century onwards. Her international success, however, can be attributed only partly to the brilliance of her literary output, and must, in part, be ascribed to the work of successive film adaptations of her novels, in particular the 1940 and 1995 versions of Pride and Prejudice, starring respectively Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, and Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Across the world, many people now know Austen’s works primarily through the medium of film adaptations of her novels, and biopics that fictionalise her life. ‘Jane Austen’ has become a lucrative brand, existing almost irrespective of the original works.

Jane Austen; Nineteenth-Century Literature; Eighteenth-Century Literature; Reception; Adaptation; Readers; Style; Film; The Novel; Genre.

Title of seriesOxford Research Encyclopedias
Publication date31/12/2019
Publication date online25/01/2019
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publicationOxford

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Professor Katherine Halsey

Professor Katherine Halsey

Professor, English Studies