News & Events
I've just published an essay, "Jane Austen, Illustrated," in The London Magazine in its October/November 2015 issue. http://www.thelondonmagazine.org/tlm-current-issue/?issue=october-november-2015
(The content is behind a paywall, but your $5 or some similar amount in pounds for an electronic copy would help support a great magazine!)
If you aren't sure if you want to splurge, I'll tease you with some of the gory details. I’ve discovered that Jane Austen’s previously unidentified first English illustrator was a proto-Van Wilder, whose wide-eyed, dark-and-stormy-night images for her books influenced generations of readers and probably came from a personally dark place. The artist, Ferdinand Pickering (1810-1889), responded to a brother who stabbed their mother in the face and neck over breakfast and had another brother who was a convicted bigamist. (That may go some distance toward explaining why Pickering's images of Austen's characters emphasize female and family conflict..)
His images also show Austen's characters in costumes from his own time, the 1830s, which I suspect contributed to Austen's being imagined as a Victorian novelist. Pickering himself became a life student at the Royal Academy Schools. His illustrations for Austen’s novels, published in 1833, ended up being his most notable work, reprinted into the 1890s, long after he'd dwindled into total obscurity.
This essay is part of material I'm working on for my in-progress book, The Making of Jane Austen, under contract to Johns Hopkins University Press. Stay tuned for more Austen afterlife news!
Prof. Devoney Looser (Known to a few as Stone Cold Jane Austen).