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2005 Essay Contest

Winning Entries

Topic: Jane Austen’s Letters in Fact and Fiction

The publication of the definitive edition of Jane Austen’s Letters (Oxford University Press), edited by Deirdre Le Faye, has led to a renewed interest in Austen’s correspondence, which represents both autobiography and sparkling entertainment and was written with the wry humor and narrative voice found in the novels. Students were asked to address one of the following questions.

  1. How does the style or the content of Austen’s own correspondence help you understand her better as an author of fiction?
  2. From the epistolary juvenilia and Lady Susan through Persuasion, letters appear in abundance and assume pivotal roles. In your essay, examine the role of letters in Jane Austen’s fiction.

NOTE: Only first-place essays were published online prior to 2012.

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