Happy Birthday to Jane Austen!

A Page from Jane Austen’s handwritten music book

Today (December 16th) is Jane Austen’s birthday! Every year I like to write a blog post to celebrate. This year I’m going to focus on music. Her whole family loved music, and she made a point to practice the piano every day.

You can see the Austen Family Music Books because they have been digitized by the Library Digitisation Unit, University of Southampton. They consist of eighteen printed and manuscript music books owned by members of the family, including Jane herself.

If you want to learn more, you can listen to performances of many of the songs found in these music books or mentioned in her letters or novels.  We also have several scholarly books that discuss the importance of music in Jane Austen’s life and work.

Performances 

The Jane Austen Companion

Jane’s Hand: The Jane Austen Songbooks

Entertaining Miss Austen

Jane Austen’s Songbook

You can also listen to a Spotify playlist, and you may be interested in the ongoing Jane Austen Playlist project.

Books

The Innocent Diversion: A Study of Music in the Life and Writings of Jane Austen

The Routledge Companion to Jane Austen (see chapter 17)

A Dance with Jane Austen: How a Novelist and Her Characters Went to the Ball

‘Yes, yes, we will have a Pianoforte, as good a one as can be got for 30 Guineas — & I will practise country dances, that we may have some amusement for our nephews & neices, when we have the pleasure of their company.’
Jane Austen to Cassandra, 28 December 1808, Chawton

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