Jane Austen’s books are famous for their portrayal of English social manners in the 1800s. She only published four novels in her lifetime, but the stories still resonate today with many screen adaptations, fan fiction and a multitude of recommendations on Five Books.
“Austen’s purpose is to illustrate this very Aristotelian virtue of prudence: that you’ve got to look out for your interests, you mustn’t just give in to passion.” British philosopher Edward Skidelsky discusses Sense and Sensibility in his interview on the best books on virtue.
Austen never married and died aged 41 in 1817. “As you probably know she was proposed to, she accepted the man, she thought about it overnight and she rejected him in the morning. One doesn’t know very much about the man – but the fact is she rejected what would have been a very practical marriage, to a friend of the family, a prosperous man, who would have taken care of her. That may suggest that she really personally had a very romantic view of marriage, and wasn’t willing to settle.” Austen scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks tells us about the joy of rereading Jane Austen novels.
Books by Jane Austen
Interviews where books by Jane Austen were recommended
British philosopher Edward Skidelsky tells us about virtue from Plato to the modern day, and says Jane Austen got it right when she wrote about passion
The distinguished Austen scholar Patricia Meyer Spacks tells us about the joy of rereading Jane Austen novels and the hidden layers of complexity that emerge from the writing when one does so.
The award-winning journalist and the world’s leading Wrongologist discusses human error and selects five books on wrongness in both public life and literature
Jane Eyre, 1984 and Anne Frank’s diary all make it onto novelist Amanda Craig’s list of books that changed the world. On Black Beauty‘s underrated importance: ‘People forget that William Wilberforce, who abolished the slave trade, also founded the RSPCA.’
The award-winning novelist Meg Rosoff talks about coming-of-age tales, highlighting the wonder of the moment when adolescents find the world suddenly coming into focus.
The Professor of Philosophy at the University of London and Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford, picks five books on Ideas That Matter. He discusses Aristotle, Darwin, Kant, Hazlett and Austen
Journalist Robert McCrum spent two years selecting the best novels ever written in English. Here he narrows it down to just five: a perfect introduction to the best fiction the English language has to offer.
Bestselling novelist and historian Stella Tillyard says the 19th century Regency era was, apart from the duels and empire-line dresses, much like our own – a time of war and economic uncertainty.
From Jane Austen to James Baldwin, the best love stories in literature recommended by Jenny Davidson, novelist, historian and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.
Which comes first, morality or religion? And what happens when religious dogma clashes with the morality it purports to uphold? British philosopher Mary Warnock recommends the best books on morality without God.
Thanks to her ability to be many things to many people at once, Jane Austen is one of the vast minority of writers who manage to be both eternally popular and canonical. Here, Austen scholar Devoney ‘Stone Cold Jane’ Looser presents alternative Austens, from subversive youngster to video-game heroine
Return of the Native (Illustrated)
by Clare Leighton (illustrator) & Thomas Hardy
Moby Dick (Illustrated)
by Herman Melville & Rockwell Kent (illustrator)
Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (Illustrated)
by Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë & Fritz Eichenberg (illustrator)
by Jane Austen & Joan Hassall (illustrator)
The craze of the 1930s and 1940s was for beautifully illustrated editions of the great Victorian novels, affordably priced to take pride of place in a middle-class home. Lecturer and author Rosalind Parry recommends five outstanding editions whose illustrations are as striking as their stories.