Jane's Fame How Jane Austen Conquered the World

Claire Harman




Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Jane's Fame tells the fascinating story of Jane Austen's renown, from the years of rejection the author faced during her lifetime to the global recognition and adoration she now enjoys. Almost two hundred years after her death, Austen remains a hot topic, constantly open to revival and reinterpretation and known to millions of people through film and television adaptations as much as through her books. In Jane's Fame, Claire Harman gives us the complete biography—of both the author and her lasting cultural influence—making this essential reading for anyone interested in Austen's life, works, and remarkably potent fame.


Praise for Jane's Fame

"Harman presents the story of Austen's self-fashioning and later popularity in a convincing, enjoyable way. She describes Austen's reputation from her own lifetime to the current era of Jane Austen, Inc., synthesizing a good deal of scholarship into a series of tidy chapters offering an accessible guide to the evolution of her subject's renown."—The New York Times Book Review
An informed and elegant chronicle of the rise of ‘Divine Jane.'"—NPR's Fresh Air

"Harman's Austen is neither sweet nor retiring, but a fire poker—a metaphor evoked by her bearing and manner, according to a contemporary visiting her household. Think tall, strong, and ‘formidable,' not small and sweet."—Elizabeth Toohey, The Christian Science Monitor

"Anyone who thinks that an author shouldn't have a rest from time to time should read Claire Harman's Jane's Fame, about the evolution of Jane Austen's career from about 1802, when, at the age of 27, she sold her first manuscript (of Northanger Abbey, never published in her lifetime) for £10, to now. The common misconception about Austen, according to Harman, is that she was reclusive and indifferent to her own concerns, including the reception of her books, but Harman makes a convincing case that she was neither as indifferent nor as obscure as we have been led to believe."—Jane Smiley, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Rich, incisive."—The Sunday Times (UK)

"Fascinating and sophisticated . . . a sparkling addition to the canon."—Evening Standard

"Splendid . . . Harman is the first to treat this fascinating subject in an accessible, lively manner unshackled by academic jargon."—The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

"Deft, elegant . . . a happy blend of critical insight and narrative bounce."—Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian (UK)

"Pleasingly unstuffy."—The Times (London)

"Beautifully researched, fascinating."—The Scotsman

"A fascinating compendium of absolutely everything relating to Austen . . . Extraordinary."—The Independent on Sunday

"Harman unpicks the cultural and sexual fantasies at the heart of Jane fandom with great skill . . . The material [she] has deftly put together makes two things strikingly apparent: no reading of Jane, however seemingly wayward, is a misreading; and Austen's major effect is to inspire good writing."—The Daily Telegraph (UK)

"Harman's narrative is brisk and incisive, and her emphases distinctive and provocative. She invites us to conceive of Austen both as a dedicated writer and also a ‘hard-nosed' one . . . We never tire of reading or writing about Austen, and all the ever-ramifying epiphenomena she generates do deliver real pleasure. Jane's Fame both chronicles and exemplifies this tirelessness, and readers will take pleasure in it accordingly."—The Times Literary Supplement (London)

"An exhilarating look at the rise of Divine Jane's worldwide influence. Harman charts its course with wit and style, as well as scholarly precision, making this a book that no Austen addict will want to resist."—Literary Review (UK)

"Harman conjures a blooming portrait of the brilliant, modest nineteenth-century author who wrote her masterpieces on small, easily concealed sheafs of paper in the busy family sitting room."—Elle

"Chock full of quotes, primary and secondary resources, and letters from every possible angle, Jane's Fame is a treat for any Janeite. I need not balk when I say that it truly is the most engaging biography of anyone I've ever read. Ever."—

"There is much to divert and please in Claire Harman's well-blended biography and cultural commentary . . . Harman, an award-winning biographer, turns her sharp scholarly eye, acutely sensible prose and considerable wit on the life of the ‘divine Jane' in this gem of a book, tracing Austen's early years and literary pursuits through to the present-day cult of Austen-mania . . . This biography-history fills in many blanks, brimming with entertaining anecdotes and quotes, robust scholarship and ironic humor."—Alison Hood, BookPage

"A must for Austen bibliophiles."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] sharp and scholarly analysis of Jane Austen's life and the posthumous exploitation of her . . . Harman herself delights with this comprehensive catalogue of Austen-mania."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Jane's Fame

"Authors Too Ourselves"
IN 1869, JANE AUSTEN'S FIRST BIOGRAPHER, JAMES EDWARD Austen-Leigh, expressed surprise at how his aunt had managed to write so much in the last five years of her life, living...

Read the full excerpt


  • Claire Harman

  • Claire Harman is the author of Sylvia Townsend Warner, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize; Fanny Burney, which was short-listed for the Whitbread Prize, and the critically acclaimed Robert Louis Stevenson. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006, Harman teaches at the universities of Manchester and Oxford in England and at Columbia University in New York City.