… make me sick and wicked

Jane Austen & reading for lies with Emma Major


As Austen wrote to her niece Fanny Knight, whose admirer had criticized the comportment of Austen’s heroines: ‘Pictures of Perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked’.

In this lecture, Dr. Emma Major looks at the ways in which Austen encourages us to be suspicious of perfection, and to become better readers of character. Indeed the case could be made that Austen’s fiction offers the reader a first-rate lesson in detective skills. As P.D. James points out, detective fiction ‘does not require a murder’ but ‘does require a mystery’ – and as we’ll see, Austen provides plenty of these, continuing to inspire crime fiction writers of today.

Dr. Major (University of York) investigates Austen’s lifelong fascination with letters to show how Austen uses them to teach her heroines to become better readers of flawed human nature.


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Friday 14 Jul 2017


Fairfax House

£14.00 (£12.00 Friends) includes post-lecture wine reception

Friends of Fairfax House