Cover image for Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Shields, Carol.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2001.
Physical Description:
185 pages ; 20 cm.
General Note:
"A Lipper/Viking book."
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PR4036 .S48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Central Library PR4036 .S48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Clarence Library PR4036 .S48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Hamburg Library PR4036 .S48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Kenmore Library PR4036 .S48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Orchard Park Library PR4036 .S48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Anna M. Reinstein Library PR4036 .S48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Williamsville Library PR4036 .S48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



"In her fictional biography, The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields created an astonishing portrait of Daisy Goodwill Flett, a modern woman struggling to understand her place in her own life. With the same sensitivity and artfulness that are the trade-marks of her award-winning novels, Shields here explores the life of a writer whose own novels have engaged and delighted readers for the past two hundred years." "In Jane Austen, Shields follows this superb and beloved novelist from her early family life in Steventon to her later years in Bath, her broken engagement, and her intense relationship with her sister Cassandra. She reveals both the very private woman and the acclaimed author behind the enduring classics Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. With its fascinating insights into the writing process from an award-winning novelist, Carol Shields's magnificent biography of Jane Austen is also a compelling meditation on how great fiction is created."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Carol Shields is a writer and critic who was born on June 2, 1935 in Chicago and grew up in Illinois. Shields resided in Canada, where she was the Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, and a professor at the University of Manitoba.

Shields's first novel, Small Ceremonies, was published the week of her 40th birthday. Her other works of fiction include The Orange Fish, Larry's Party, Various Miracles, and The Stone Diaries, which received the Governor's General Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Shields has also been awarded the Canadian Bookseller's Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the CBC Prize for Drama. She died on July 16, 2003.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

While many are familiar with Jane Austen's novels, the details of her life are less well known. In this addition to the Penguin Lives series, biographer Shields draws from Austen's witty letters and classic novels to combat the notion that Austen lived a placid, uneventful life. Raised in a large family by intelligent parents, Austen's creativity flourished. She and her siblings were known to put on plays, and she found a ready audience for her fiction in her family. Her writing developed from outrageously witty and satirical juvenilia to a subtle and graceful maturity in her novels. Meanwhile, Austen's life was anything but dull; balls, parties, broken or tragically ended engagements, and family scandals occupied Jane and sister Cassandra's time. Shields explores popular Austen stories, such as her attraction to and subsequent separation from an eligible bachelor and her 24-hour engagement to a different man. Although Shields suggests that Austen's unmarried state might have been a source of disappointment for her, Shields also shows how important Austen's literary successes were to her. A thoughtful introduction to an important and influential writer. --Kristine Huntley

Publisher's Weekly Review

Penguin's wonderful series of "lives," biographies unique in their manageable length and careful pairing of subjects with authors who are themselves important creative figures, delights once again, this time with a pithy literary biography of Jane Austen by Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer Shields (The Stone Diaries; Dressing Up for the Carnival etc.). With frankness, warmth and grace, Shields writes of an "opaque" subject who lived a short life and about whom very little is known beyond family letters. "Jane Austen belongs to the nearly unreachable past," Shields notes. There is no diary, no photograph, no voice recording of her; her life was filled with lengthy "silences," notably a nearly 10-year "bewildering" period starting in 1800, when Austen, unmarried and in her mid-20s, moved with her family from rural Stevenson to the more urban Bath. This period also "drives a wedge between her first three major novels and her final three: Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion" and suggests Austen's "reconciliation to the life she had been handed... in a day when to be married was the only form of independence." Shields is especially interested in the sisterly relations between Jane and the "subsuming," older Cassandra, as "each sister's life invaded the other, canceling out parts of the knowable self." The insularity evident in their letters to each other reveals something puzzling about Austen herself. She is relatively provincial and inexperienced in matters both social and sexual, yet conveys a "trenchant, knowing glance" throughout her novels. Shields seems to conclude that of the two sets of writingsÄthe private letters and the published novelsÄthe novels themselves offer the greater insight into Austen's artful imagination and shrewdly judgmental character. (Feb. 19) Forecast: Recent film versions of Austen's novels have revived public interest in this classic writer. With Shield's high-profile name also on the cover, sales should be strong and steady (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Shields, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (The Stone Diaries) and devoted reader of Jane Austen, explores the family, private, and writing lives of the author of such beloved classics as Pride and Prejudice. Like Claire Tomalin (Jane Austen: A Life, LJ 1/98), she attempts to dispel the myth that Austen was oblivious to the world and its events. In chronicling her subject's life and personality, Shields emphasizes Austen's keen ability to listen, observe, and capture clearly the social mores of her time and explore human nature in her writing. Shields contends that historical references are behind many of the scenes and characters in Austen's novels, and as a way of more clearly personalizing Austen's experiences or feelings, she interjects commentary regarding writing and publishing that is presumably based on personal experience. These interjections tend to be a bit distracting but are fortunately brief and infrequent. This is a good introductory biography of Austen, but it lacks the interesting, intriguing, lively detail and scholarship of Tomalin's biography.ÄJeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Google Preview