The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love, and Britain Becomes Modern, by Robert Morrison — A Review

The Regency Years, by Robert Morrison (2019)From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

The subtitle for Robert Morrison’s history of Regency Great Britain, “during which Jane Austen writes, Napoleon fights, Byron makes love, and Britain becomes modern,” hints at the variety and diversity within its pages. In contrast to Jane Austen’s tightly focused fiction, famously self-described as “three or four families in a country village,” Morrison widens his lens to present extensive information and detail about Regency life that illuminates not only Austen’s world but our current time.

Morrison begins with a brief sketch of George Augustus Frederick, eldest son of George III and Queen Charlotte, in the book’s prologue. “The deep contradictions in the Regent’s character both energized and undermined him and were evident from an early age.” (3) With a string of mistresses, a secret and unlawful marriage to a Roman Catholic widow, an officially sanctioned marriage that was an abysmal failure, and the financial means to indulge every whim and fleeting inclination, the Regent was a constant feature of gossip and scandal during his lifetime. In 1812 he assumed the full authority of the crown, making him “not only the most powerful man in Britain but also the man at the head of the wealthiest, strongest, most ambitious, vibrant and productive country in the world.” (6)

George Cruikshank Loyal address's & radical petetions, or the R-ts most gracious answer to both sides of the question at once (1819

This print by George Cruikshank, was published on December 4, 1819, and is entitled “Loyal Address’s & Radical Petetions, or the R____ts most gracious answer to both sides of the question at once.” (48)

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Persuasion: An Annotated Edition, edited by Robert Morrison Due Out in November

Persuasion: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by, Robert Morrison (2011)Where are my aromatic vinegars? Harvard University Press really knows how to make this Janeite book lover swoon.

Next November we will be treated to another sumptuous annotated edition of one of Jane Austen’s classic novels. Last year they gave us Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks, and now Persuasion, edited by scholar Robert Morrison will be available to drool over.  Here is the publisher’s info:

Published posthumously with Northanger Abbey in 1817, Persuasion crowns Jane Austen’s remarkable career. It is her most passionate and introspective love story. This richly illustrated and annotated edition brings her last completed novel to life with previously unmatched vitality. In the same format that so rewarded readers of Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, it offers running commentary on the novel (conveniently placed alongside Austen’s text) to explain difficult words, allusions, and contexts, while bringing together critical observations and scholarship for an enhanced reading experience. The abundance of color illustrations allows the reader to see the characters, locations, clothing, and carriages of the novel, as well as the larger political and historical events that shape its action.

In his Introduction, distinguished scholar Robert Morrison examines the broken engagement between Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth, and the ways in which they wander from one another even as their enduring feelings draw them steadily back together. His notes constitute the most sustained critical commentary ever brought to bear on the novel and explicate its central conflicts as well as its relationship to Austen’s other works, and to those of her major contemporaries, including Lord Byron, Walter Scott, and Maria Edgeworth.

Specialists, Janeites, and first-time readers alike will treasure this annotated and beautifully illustrated edition, which does justice to the elegance and depth of Jane Austen’s time-bound and timeless story of loneliness, missed opportunities, and abiding love.

About the Author

Robert Morrison is Queen’s National Scholar at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.

It already has the blessing of two prominent scholars:

  • Robert Morrison’s new annotated edition of Persuasion is terrific: thorough, scrupulous, and thoughtful. It is a worthy addition to the wonderful Harvard series of annotated volumes, likely to be long read and much enjoyed by Austen enthusiasts. — Patricia Meyer Spacks
  • Readers who know Pride and Prejudice and Emma very well, can on encountering or re-encountering Austen’s final novel find it disconcerting and disorienting. Fortunately, they are now well served by the thorough and thoughtful annotation in Persuasion: An Annotated Edition. — Deidre Lynch, University of Toronto

What an incredibly beautiful cover. I can’t wait to tear into this.

Persuasion: An Annotated Edition, edited by Robert Morrison
Harvard University Press (2011)
Hardcover (360) pages
ISBN: 978-0674049741

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose