She played and sang

Jane Austen and music

By Gillian Dooley

She played and sang
Hardcover -
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526170101
  • Publish Date: Mar 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526170095
  • Publish Date: Mar 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: Hardcover
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-7010-1
    • Pages: 344
    • Price: £20.00
    • Published Date: March 2024


    Like her much-loved heroine Emma Woodhouse, Jane Austen 'played and sang'. Music occupied a central role in her life, and she made brilliant use of it in her books to illuminate characters' personalities and highlight the contrasts between them.

    Until recently, our knowledge of Austen's musical inclinations was limited to the recollections of relatives who were still in their youth when she passed away. But with the digitisation of music books from her immediate family circle, a treasure trove of evidence has emerged. Delving into these books, alongside letters and other familial records, She played and sang unveils a previously unknown facet of Austen's world.

    This insightful work not only uncovers the music closely associated with Austen, but also unravels her musical connections with family and friends, revealing the intricate ties between her fiction and the melodies she performed. With these revelations, Austen's musical legacy comes to life, granting us a deeper understanding of her artistic prowess and the influences that shaped her literary masterpieces.


    'Dooley sings out with important information about the musical tastes and activities of Jane Austen. You'll be glad you tuned in to her harmonious and engaging book!'
    Janine Barchas, author of The Lost Books of Jane Austen

    'In this fascinating and knowledgeable study Gillian Dooley invites us to hear again the audible traces of a forgotten musical repertoire that played through Jane Austen's life and writings.'
    Kathryn Sutherland, editor of Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts

    'A beautifully detailed account of the importance of music, and especially of song, to Jane Austen.'
    John Mullan, author of What Matters in Jane Austen?

    'Gillian Dooley brings deep knowledge and appreciation of both musical and literary composition to establish their connection in Austen's writing. She played and sang is a lucid, detailed and fascinating addition that brings new insights to this important aspect of Austen studies.'
    Sandie Byrne, author of Jane Austen's Possessions and Dispossessions

    'An illuminating book on the power of music as a social and rhetorical force in Austen's life and fiction. Gillian Dooley, drawing on a recently unearthed collection of 500 pieces of Austen family sheet music, has produced an original, informative must-read.'
    Devoney Looser, author of Sister Novelists

    It's an interesting read, but, more importantly, it fills a gap in our knowledge of the music Austen loved, copied, and sang. Dooley brought to mind how important reading out loud was to Austen and the people of her time, and how important music was in an era when family and local and musicians provided wonderful entertainments for their families and communities.'
    Jane Austen's World

    'Gillian Dooley has done the burgeoning world of Austen studies a service by cataloguing the manuscripts that survive in Austen's hand'
    Nicholas Kenyon, BBC Music Magazine

    'Meticulously researched, detailed and original, Gillian Dooley's exhaustive account of the role of music in the life of Jane Austen, her family and her fictional creations is a remarkable achievement.'
    Jocelyn Bury, Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine

    'This informative and readable book is sure to interest scholars and general readers of Jane Austen's writing, as well as those who would like greater insight into the kind of music played and enjoyed in the domestic setting in early nineteenth-century England.'
    Frances Wilson,

    'The book is accessible to any reader of Austen whose enthusiasm for her work is stimulated by an increased understanding of the world she inhabited, in this case the importance of music, both vocal and instrumental, in her world and her life.'
    Good Reading Magazine


    1 The Jane Austen music manuscripts
    2 Jane Austen's musical relationships
    3 Jane Austen and the music of the French Revolution
    4 'These happy effects on the character of the British sailor': family life in sea songs of the late Georgian period
    5 Jane Austen, Thomas Arne and Georgian musical theatre
    6 Jane Austen and British song
    7 Juvenile songs and lessons: music culture in Jane Austen's teenage years
    8 Marianne and Willoughby, Lucy and Colin: betrayal, suffering, death and the poetic image


    Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University. She has published and presented internationally on Jane Austen, and as a singer she has curated programmes of music from Austen's personal collection since 2007. She has appeared on Australian Broadcasting Corporation's The Book Show and The Minefield as an expert on Austen. Her most recent books are Matthew Flinders: The Man behind the Map and Listening to Iris Murdoch: Music, Sounds, and Silences (both 2022).

    She played and sang

    By Gillian Dooley

    Hardcover £20.00 / $29.95

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