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About Devoney Looser
Most people call me Devoney (DEV-oh-knee), since Looser (we say LOH-zher) gets butchered in the pronunciation department. Hey, it made me stronger! I also go by Stone Cold Jane Austen, especially when I'm on roller skates. I still can't quite believe it, but I get to call myself a Guggenheim Fellow and National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar. I'm married to another Austen scholar, and we're raising two teen sons, who find Austen tolerable but untempting.
If you'd like to learn more about what's new, check out what I've been up to lately at www.devoney.com and on Twitter & Instagram at @devoneylooser. And keep in touch by signing up for my monthly author newsletter? That's here: https://tinyletter.com/DevoneyLooser
So glad to be connected through our mutual love of literature and the history of women,
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Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today? Devoney Looser’s The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen’s early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know.
Here are the Austen influencers, including her first English illustrator, the eccentric Ferdinand Pickering, whose sensational gothic images may be better understood through his brushes with bullying, bigamy, and an attempted matricide. The daring director-actress Rosina Filippi shaped Austen’s reputation with her pioneering dramatizations, leading thousands of young women to ventriloquize Elizabeth Bennet’s audacious lines before drawing room audiences. Even the supposedly staid history of Austen scholarship has its bizarre stories. The author of the first Jane Austen dissertation, student George Pellew, tragically died young, but he was believed by many, including his professor-mentor, to have come back from the dead.
Looser shows how these figures and their Austen-inspired work transformed Austen’s reputation, just as she profoundly shaped theirs. Through them, Looser describes the factors and influences that radically altered Austen’s evolving image. Drawing from unexplored material, Looser examines how echoes of that work reverberate in our explanations of Austen’s literary and cultural power. Whether you’re a devoted Janeite or simply Jane-curious, The Making of Jane Austen will have you thinking about how a literary icon is made, transformed, and handed down from generation to generation.
One of the most popular and prolific authors of her time, Jane West (1758-1852) enjoyed her greatest success with A Gossip's Story, and A Legendary Tale (1796), one of the best-selling novels of its era. Yet in addition to its significance as a lost classic by a neglected woman writer, A Gossip's Story has long been recognized by scholars as a likely influence on Jane Austen's celebrated novel Sense and Sensibility (1811).
West's wryly humorous cautionary tale - with its themes of courtship and love, money and romance, filial piety and financial ruin - centers on two very different sisters. Where Louisa proves herself to be rational and full of good sense, Marianne is driven by her emotions and romantic idealism, and their dispositions lead them to starkly different fates.
This first-ever annotated edition of West's novel includes the unabridged text of the original two-volume edition, including facsimile reproductions of its title pages, together with a new scholarly introduction which argues that "whether anchored to Austen's Sense and Sensibility, read on its own, or read as part of West's vast and largely unstudied oeuvre, A Gossip's Story deserves reassessment. With the publication of this edition, West's fiction may well regain - deservedly - some of its former prominence."
Devoney Looser, a.k.a. Stone Cold Jane Austen, has drawn 378 genuine, Austen-authored passages from across the canon, resulting in an anthology that is compulsively readable and repeatable. Whether you approach the collection on a one-a-day model or in a satisfying binge read, you will emerge wiser about Austen, if not about life. The Daily Jane Austen will amuse and inspire skeptical beginners, Janeite experts, and every reader in between by showcasing some of the greatest sentences ever crafted in the history of fiction.
This groundbreaking study explores the later lives and late-life writings of more than two dozen British women authors active during the long eighteenth century.
Drawing on biographical materials, literary texts, and reception histories, Devoney Looser finds that far from fading into moribund old age, female literary greats such as Anna Letitia Barbauld, Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Catharine Macaulay, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and Jane Porter toiled for decades after they achieved acclaim -- despite seemingly concerted attempts by literary gatekeepers to marginalize their later contributions.
Though these remarkable women wrote and published well into old age, Looser sees in their late careers the necessity of choosing among several different paths. These included receding into the background as authors of "classics," adapting to grandmotherly standards of behavior, attempting to reshape masculinized conceptions of aged wisdom, or trying to create entirely new categories for older women writers. In assessing how these writers affected and were affected by the culture in which they lived, and in examining their varied reactions to the prospect of aging, Looser constructs careful portraits of each of her subjects and explains why many turned toward retrospection in their later works.
In illuminating the powerful and often poorly recognized legacy of the British women writers who spurred a marketplace revolution in their earlier years only to find unanticipated barriers to acceptance in later life, Looser opens up new scholarly territory in the burgeoning field of feminist age studies.
Until recently, history writing has been understood as a male enclave from which women were restricted, particularly prior to the nineteenth century. The first book to look at British women writers and their contributions to historiography during the long eighteenth century, British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820, asks why, rather than writing history that included their own sex, some women of this period chose to write the same kind of history as men—one that marginalized or excluded women altogether. But as Devoney Looser demonstrates, although British women's historically informed writings were not necessarily feminist or even female-focused, they were intimately involved in debates over and conversations about the genre of history.
Looser investigates the careers of Lucy Hutchinson, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Charlotte Lennox, Catharine Macaulay, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and Jane Austen and shows how each of their contributions to historical discourse differed greatly as a result of political, historical, religious, class, and generic affiliations. Adding their contributions to accounts of early modern writing refutes the assumption that historiography was an exclusive men's club and that fiction was the only prose genre open to women.