The disputed portrait, which may be of Jane Austen, now owned by Paula Byrne,  on show at the Jane Austen House Museum

The disputed portrait, which may be of Jane Austen, now owned by Paula Byrne, on show at the Jane Austen House Museum

This link to the Harper Collins site gives us the publication date for Paula Byrne’s new biography of Jane Austen. The hardback edition of The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things is to be published in Australia on the 2nd January, 2013, and in the UK on the 3rd January 2013. It will cost £25. An E-Text edition( for all formats presumably) will be on sale on the same dates.  There does not appear to be a US publication date as yet, but when it is known I will of course pass it on.

The publisher’s website gives us some idea as to the approach the book will be taking:

In this astonishing biography Paula Bryce, the renowned Austen scholar, thwarts all attempts to tame Jane’s reputation into one of dreary respectability and we meet the more likely personality behind such novels as Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Through her life and work, Jane emerges as deeply immersed in culture and politics, far ahead of her time in both her writerly ambition and desire for independence.

With new revelations, including Byrne’s discovery of a previously unknown contemporary portrait and the identity of Jane’s long-lost seaside love, this is a depiction of Austen that finally makes sense – an intelligent, subversive and thoroughly modern woman.

The  webpage for the Downloadable Audio Book , which is released on the 3rd Januaryhas this to add:

After this book, no longer can Austen be viewed as someone who did not engage with the great political events of her time. How many lovers of her work are aware that the Prince Regent kept a debauched household down the road from her village, that she was related by marriage to other major literary figures of the time such as the libertine Gothic novelist William Beckford and her favourite poet George Crabbe. The book will also identify her long lost seaside love as well as argue that her assumed ‘genteel’ sense of humour could also be savage, highly subversive irony.

I must admit , I am warily looking forward to reading this book. I have, as many of you already know, been researching Jane Austen and Politics for over ten years now, and I am really interested to have the opportunity to compare my notes and discoveries Dr.Byrne’s. As for the portrait, sadly, I still think it lacks the necessary provenance: perhaps this may change  when we can finally read the contents of the book.