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The History of England by Jane Austen

The History of England by Jane Austen is the final story in the Love and Freindship collection, and the author warns you from the beginning that there are very few dates in this history.  For readers unfamiliar with most of English history, some of these obscured events may be harder to decipher.  However, this story is not to be taken as truth given that it is mainly a commentary on history, rather than a unbiased account of past events.

She begins the narrative with Henry the 4th, of whom she says, “Be this as it may, he did not live forever, but falling ill, his son the Prince of Wales came and took away the crown; whereupon the King made a long speech, for which I must refer the Reader to Shakespear’s Plays, and the Prince made a still longer.”  (page 63)

Throughout her history, Austen often refers to other writers and plays.  Items that may color the perspective of society on certain historic events, which Austen readily talks about in reference to herself.  In fact, she often refers to her own religious proclivities and the biases those entail.  Many times throughout the narrative, her wit will have readers scratching their heads or giggling.

With regard to Richard the 3rd, she writes, “It has indeed been confidently asserted that he killed his two Nephew and his Wife, but it has also been declared that he did not kill his two Nephews, which I am inclined to believe true; and if this is the case, it may also be affirmed that he did not kill his Wife, for if Perkin Warbeck was really the Duke of York, why might not Lambert Simnel be the Widow of Richard.”  (page 65)

The History of England is another piece by Austen from her earlier years, and she took true events to highlight the follies of others and the ridiculous nature of royal society.  Effectively, she shows how these royals are no better or different from others in society, complete with love, hate, and secrets.  For another look at her earlier writing, readers will be able to see how her love of societal commentary began.

Also within this volume from Barnes & Noble’s Library of Essential Reading is A Collection of Letters, which comes with an introductory note from the author that alliteratively describes the letters wherein.  These letters are equally witty and fun and should not be missed.

This is my 13th book for the Jane Austen Challenge 2010.

This is my 9th book for the Everything Austen II Challenge.

  • I think this one sounds like a lovely book and a great way to yet get another glimpse of Austen’s life.

  • I love Austen’s social commentary, so this sounds good to me!

  • Beth Hoffman

    One of my girlfriends would go nuts for this! I’ll make sure to send her your link.

  • This sounds really funny, but I don’t know a lot about the history of the English royals, so I’m sure I won’t get much of it. We’ll see.
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