Monday, January 9, 2012


Wishing to express my appreciation for the gracious invitation to blog with the authors at The Writers Vineyard, I determined to invite an incomparable guest to share her thoughts on writing and publishing. I retrieved my well-worn Ouija board from the basement where it had resided for decades, dusted it off, and invoked the spirit of one whom every writer of romance esteems above all others. Miss Jane Austen, the genetrix of all writers of romance, graciously consented to an interview to be published exclusively with The Writers Vineyard. Allow me to present Jane in her own words.

     Miss Austen, could you share your thoughts on writing romance? “I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem.–I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first Chapter.” 1

     But you have had great success with your books. I hesitate to mention gauche matters such as money but I understand that your books are selling rather well. “You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S.&S. is sold & that it has brought me £140–besides the Copyright, if that should ever be of any value.–I have now therefore written myself into £250.–which only makes me long for more.” 2

     In my humble opinion, your literary endeavors merit the highest approbation. What has been your experience of the matter? ” . . . there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labor of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.” 3

     I appreciate your support of your fellow authors and admire your insistence on upholding only the highest standards in literary endeavors.  I should not have been surprised, therefore, to discover that you have been very hard on your critique partner, your niece Anna.  Her “Henry Mellish I am afraid will be too much in the common Novel style–a handsome, amiable, unexceptionable Young Man (such as do not much about in real Life) desperately in Love, & all in vain. But I have no business to judge him so early.” And her “Devereux Forester’s being ruined by his Vanity is extremely good; but I wish she would not let him plunge into a ‘vortex of Dissipation’. I do not object to the Thing, but I cannot bear the expression;–it is such thorough novel slang–and so old, that I dare say Adam met with it in the first novel he opened.” 4

     I find your Elizabeth Bennet entrancing. Do you have a personal favorite? “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”5

      Have you considered following the emerging trends in the romance market? “No–I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way; And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.” 6  

Miss Austen, please accept my sincere appreciation for visiting The Writer’s Vineyard. I regret that you will be unable to respond to comments and I would never presume to channel you, so return to your blissful sleep content in the knowledge that you are the idol of many and exceeded by none.

Today in honor of Miss Austen, Moonday's Heroic Hunks in History at will feature gorgeous hunks in Regency attire from Miss Austen's works in film. Join me also at for daily posts on this month's theme, Discoveries & Inventions.

Next month, Rewriting History.

Rita Bay
"Celebrating Romance Across the Ages"
“Into the Lyon's Den” from Champagne Books, Summer, 2012

1 Letter to James Stanier Clarke (April 1, 1816)
2 Letter to her brother Frank about the success of Sense and Sensibility (July 6, 1813)
3 Northanger Abbey, Chapter 5
4 Letters to her niece Anna Austen, critiquing her WIPs (1814)
5 Letter to Cassandra on Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet (January 29, 1813)
6 Letter to James Stanier Clarke (April 1, 1816)
Source of Quotations: "Daily wit and inspiration from Austen," compiled by Lori Smith, author of A Walk with Miss Jane Austen.


January Bain said...

Thanks Rita, that was entertaining and thought provoking!

Rita Bay said...

Thank you, January. Her comments are really worth considering even today.RB

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Fun idea, Rita - I love all her works and I have the book of her letters to Cassandra. She spoke a lot of sense.

Big Mike said...

Luv what ya did Rita. Very neat.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)

Rita Bay said...

Thank you, Rosemary & Mike. Love Miss Austin's books and the movies that were based on them. Like many people of her age, she was a prolific writer. We seldom see her personal correspondence, though. RB