Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Perhaps, like me, you have wondered about the temporal relationship between Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope. In that case, the following will be of interest to you.

From Wikipedia:

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose realism, biting social commentary and masterful use of free indirect speech, burlesque, and irony have earned her a place as one of the most widely read and most beloved writers in English literature.

Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812, in Landport, Portsmouth, in Hampshire, the second of eight children to John Dickens (1786–1851), a clerk in the Navy Pay Office at Portsmouth, and his wife, Elizabeth (née Barrow, 1789–1863).
...on 9 June 1870, he died at his home in Gad's Hill Place. He was mourned by all his readers.

Anthony Trollope ( 24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882 ) became one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era.

So now you know, if you didn't before, that Jane Austen was writing in a period more or less following the Revolutionary War in America, while Dickens and Trollope were firmly established in their own writing careers during the American Civil War. These events leave little to no impression on the works of these authors, even though the histories of America and England were finely intertwoven throughout both events.

For good measure, let's include some more British authors:

Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855) was a British novelist, the eldest of the three famous Brontë sisters whose novels have become standards of English literature. Charlotte Brontë, who used the pen name Currer Bell, is best known for Jane Eyre, one of the most famous of English novels.

I find it interesting that even though the Bronte sisters were writing well after Jane Austen's literary success, they still felt it incumbent upon themselves to use masculine pen names.

William Makepeace Thackeray (18 July 1811 – 24 December 1863) was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.

I include Thackeray because I know that Charlotte Bronte and Anthony Trollope both admired him tremendously. And now I know, which I didn't before, how contemporary all of these authors, excepting only Jane Austen, were. I wonder, two hundred years from now, which of our popular writers who will continue to find audiences as these writers have done.



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