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‘Pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked,’ Jane Austen wrote to her niece Fanny Knight a few months before she died. Yet most traditional accounts of Austen’s life have insisted on portraying her as just such a picture of perfection. In his 1997 biography David Nokes re-examined Austen, and presented a far richer and livelier picture of the woman who once wrote in another of her letters, ‘If I am a wild beast, I cannot help it …’.

‘A fine book, probably the best tribute to the genius of Jane.’ Glasgow Herald

‘[This book] cries out to be read, not alone by fans of Jane Austen but by anyone who enjoys a great, witty, gossipy read.’ Irish Times

‘What fun Nokes’s book is.’ Fay Weldon, Independent

‘David Nokes is assertive, energetic, opinionated, satirical, supremely confident, dramatising and gleefully splenetic.’ Hermione Lee


David Nokes was for many years a professor of English Literature at King’s College London, where he taught eighteenth-century literature and pioneered the Creative Writing course. His books include Jonathan Swift, A Hypocrite Reversed, which won the James Tait Black Memorial prize in 1985, and biographies of John Gay (1995), Jane Austen (1997) and Samuel Johnson (2009). His adaptation of…

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