Becoming Jane Austen

Becoming Jane Austen

A Life

Book - 2007
Average Rating:
Rate this:
McMillan Palgrave

Jon Spence's fascinating biography of Jane Austen paints an intimate portrait of the much-loved novelist. Spence's meticulous research has, perhaps most notably, uncovered evidence that Austen and the charming young Irishman Tom Lefroy fell in love at the age of twenty and that the relationship inspired Pride and Prejudice, one of the most celebrated works of fiction ever written. Becoming Jane Austen gives the fullest account we have of the romance, which was more serious and more enduring than previously believed. Seeing this love story in the context of Jane Austen's whole life enables us to appreciate the profound effect the relationship had on her art and on subsequent choices that she made in her life.

Full of insight and with an attentive eye for detail, Spence explores Jane Austen's emotional attachments and the personal influences that shaped her as a novelist. His elegant narrative provides a point of entry into Jane Austen's world as she herself perceived and experienced it. It is a world familiar to us from her novels, but in Becoming Jane Austen, Austen herself is the heroine.

Book News
Spence draws from family accounts and diaries to construct this biography of Jane Austen in a tone that nods to that author's attention to the seemingly smallest affairs in her characters' society, business, family, and love lives. Positing that Austen's friendship with Irish lawyer Tom Lefroy inspired her love stories, Spence also illustrates the financial and personal circumstances among Austen and her siblings and acquaintances that so informed her work. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : Hambledon Continuum, 2007
ISBN: 9781847250469
Branch Call Number: 823.7 Auste -S
Characteristics: xii, 294 p


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 25, 2014

Very detailed. Lots of relatives with similar names, make it difficult sometimes to know which Jane or Cassandra or Philadelphia, John, James, etc. is being referred to. However, one thing that just RANKLES is that someone took the time to wander through the book, underlining in pencil, making notes in pen (which the pencil-user then rebuked: "Please don't make marks in pen") before continuing on with their penciled remarks. GAH. How can people be so inconsiderate? It ruined the reading of the book for me, because the penciled stuff was so distracting.

Aug 07, 2013

A very informative biography of Jan Austen's life, from generations before her birth to her death. The author makes solid connections between the instances in Austen's life (as found through her surviving letters) and the events in her novels. At times a bit TOO much information (I dare you not to get confused on the 'who's who' with the large amount of Janes, James, Toms, etc in her family tree), but the author speaks from a solid foundation. I definitely have a better sense for who the writer was as a personality after having read this.

Mar 29, 2011

The only other writing Jane left behind (besides her novels, a few half-finished works-in-progress, and a handful of childhood scribblings) is her letters. Jane?s elegant literary style is not on show in these missives; these are everyday thoughts put down on the spur of the moment, gossip, news, and family jokes. But there is one tantalizing incident?a flirtation with one ?Tom Lefroy.? Tom and Jane met, danced, chatted, and parted forever. Schoolgirl crush or doomed love affair? We?ll never know, but that doesn?t stop biographer Jon Spence from speculating that this relationship was a turning point in Jane?s life that directly inspired the love stories she later wrote. Spence also highlights the possible influence of Jane?s fashionable, glamorous cousin Eliza de Feuillide, whose first husband was guillotined during the French Revolution. By making connections between historical fact and literary fiction, Spence infuses Jane?s life with the romance and drama that Austen fans long to know she experienced. Becoming Jane Austen was the inspiration for the 2007 Hollywood movie Becoming Jane, which firmly casts Jane Austen as the heroine in her very own romantic comedy.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at IPL

To Top