Jane Austen’s Literary Sisters

Ref: C3742708

This course explores novels by 3 leading women writers who greatly influenced Jane Austen. It is a 'taster' course for the Autumn term's course on Women Writers. Ann Radcliffe as the foremost 'gothic' writer of the day, whose works Jane uses to hilarious effect in the pseudo-Gothic sections of 'Northanger Abbey' (which we're also studying); we're studying Ann Radcliffe's A Sicilian Romance'. Jane subscribed to Fanny Burney's 'Camilla, a novel featuring a visit to the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Rooms. Maria Edgeworth seems to have been the novelist Jane most admired and we'll study 'Belinda' in it's controversial (and later censured) 2nd edition (OUP Worlds Classics), which features a marriage with a slave and an extraordinary send up of Mary Wollstonecraft as the masculine Harriet Freke.

Course aim

To explore works by 3 leading early women writers (Ann Radcliffe, Fanny Burney & Maria Edgeworth) & their influence of Jane Austen

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • describe the 4 novels studied
  • describe the influence of the first 3 novels on Jane Austen
  • explain the contribution of the 4 novels to women's writing
  • set the novels in their social and literary contexts
  • engage with next Autumn's course on Women Writers

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • the 'additional work' will simply be the reading in advance of the novels

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • please read and bring to class the texts in advance if possible, starting with 'A Sicilian Romance' for the first week

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Please read and bring to class the 4 texts (week one 'A Sicilian Romance; week two 'Camilla', week 3 'Belinda', week 4 'Northanger Abbey'.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full Course information sheet

Jane Austen’s Literary Sisters


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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