DEEP DIVE into the world of Jane Austen!
If your kids are already avid Austen fans or are reluctant to take the plunge into her literary works, these additional resources (including film adaptions, biopics, and books inspired by her work) will enhance the experience of the avid fan as well as offer a more accessible “in” for those who are unsure.
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Jane Austen’s novels were originally published anonymously (several with the byline “By a Lady”) and brought her little fame in her lifetime. Two of her works were in fact only published after her death (Northanger Abby and Persuasion). Though she might not have been a household name in her time, she certainly is now. People of all ages and walks of life have enjoyed her stories across generations, as attested by the fact that her novels have been continuously in print since 1833.
Austen’s novels deal with concerns of marriage, social standing, etiquette, financial (in)stability, the importance of reputation, and the roles of women in society. The particulars of life in the 1800s may no longer be strictly relevant in the 21st Century, but Austen’s themes still resonate with readers to this day.
There is a wealth of material exploring Austen’s writing, her life, and her impact on her readership. So, let’s dive in!
Pride and Prejudice begins when two rich, eligible bachelors, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, move into the previously quiet countryside, stirring up a buzz of excitement as the ambitious Mrs. Bennett sees an opportunity to make advantageous marriages for her older daughters, Lizzie and Jane. Jane and Mr. Bingley immediately gravitate towards each other, but Lizzie overhears Mr. Darcy making snide comments about her family and determines that she will never like him. But fate has other plans as the unlikely pair are continuously thrown together and begin developing feelings which surprise them both.
First published in 1813, Jane Austen’s seminal comedy of manners has delighted readers and viewers alike and has been adapted to screen numerous times. This has the happy result of providing many choices for television and movie viewing. Some of the most notable are the 1995 BBC miniseries and the more recent 2005 film.
In addition, if you will be reading Pride and Prejudice, our Boomerang for the book provides a month’s worth of copywork/dictation, notes on grammar and literary style, as well as “think piece questions” to aid your children with literary analysis of the text.
Sense and Sensibility is the story of the Dashwood sisters, whose father passes away and leaves everything to their half-brother forcing them to move out of their own home and live meagerly with a distant relative. There the young women encounter love and heartache as they navigate their new social status.
Published in 1811, Sense and Sensibility was adapted into a film in 1995 directed by Ang Lee and starring Emma Thompson. This film is partially credited with a boom in interest around Austen’s work. There is also a Boomerang for Sense and Sensibility, which comes from the earlier years of Brave Writer and isn’t as robust as later issues (hence the lower price). It’s an oldie but still a goodie!
Becoming Jane is less of a biopic (the actual details of the authoress’s life are murky) than it is an ode to Austen’s published works. The film is partially based on the book Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Hunter Spence but plays fast and loose with historical fact. Still, have fun picking out the many references to Austen’s stories, particularly Pride and Prejudice.
Enjoy Jane Austen’s novels, of course.
Also in Polly Shulman’s Enthusiasm, Julie’s best friend, Ashleigh, is a Jane Austen enthusiast. Though Julie might not be as enthusiastic, both girls love Pride and Prejudice leading them to dress up in period clothes and sneak into a dance at an all-boys school looking for true love.
You can also use the Boomerang for Enthusiasm to further help teach language arts and delve more deeply into the book.
- Write the proposal scene in Pride and Prejudice from the rejected Mr. Collins’s point of view.
- If you could be Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility for a day, what would you do?
- Write about the scene in which Lizzie and Mr. Darcy dance together for the first time from the point of view of the dance floor.
Jane Austen’s World – all about Jane Austen