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Release: Immediate

New UI Press book collects poetry of Jane Austen and family

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jane Austen, well-known for her skillful depiction of family affairs, was also a witty poet who often wrote light verse in a literary game she played with her family, according to a new book from the University of Iowa Press.

"The Poetry of Jane Austen and the Austen Family," edited by David Selwyn, contains all the known poems by Jane herself as well as a selection of work by her mother, her sister Cassandra, four of her brothers, her uncle James, her nieces Anna and Fanny, her nephew James Edward, and other relatives.

The family poems were considered a lively entertainment in late 18th-century Great Britain, and the Austen family were accomplished players, writing poems for nearly every occasion and composing ingenious riddles and charades. Well-known for her novels, such as "Emma," "Sense and Sensibility" or "Persuasion," Austen's lesser known literary life comes alive in this new collection.

The book includes poems written as a group activity, such as "Verses to rhyme with 'Rose,' which begins, "This morning I woke up from a quiet repose/ I first rubb'd my eyes and I next blew my nose..." Other works include a recipe for pudding in verse and a promise to a dog.

On a more serious note, there are also verses penned to loved ones upon their marriage, the death of a beloved pony, or a serious illness.

Skilled and witty, these poems will give pleasure to general readers familiar with Austen's novels and provide scholars with insight into a largely neglected, essentially private aspect of Austen's writing. Published in association with the Jane Austen Society, the volume of verses enhances understanding of Jane Austen and her world.

Editor David Selwyn has written numerous reviews, articles, and libretti; he has composed music of all kinds, including six operas. A regular lecturer on both music and literature, he lives and teaches in Bristol.

He provides an introduction and full explanatory notes.

"The Poetry of Jane Austen and the Austen Family" is available at bookstores nationwide for $12.95 as trade paperback original. The book can also be ordered from UI Press by calling (319) 384-3807 (for calls within Johnson County) or 1-800-235-2665 (outside Johnson County).

Information is also available at the UI Press website: