Workshop: Art of the Author

This workshop uses one of Jane Austen's Teenage Writings and an extract from Pride and Prejudice to introduce Jane Austen as a writer and give an overview of her extraordinary literary accomplishments.

Content overview:

This workshop explores Jane Austen as a writer and gives an overview of her extraordinary literary accomplishments. Pupils will develop knowledge and understanding of Jane Austen’s life and her journey to become a world-renowned author.

We explore her early writings, now published as her Teenage Writings. These are written in a very exaggerated satirical style, using an extensive range of genre. They are particularly accessible for pupils as they are short, fast-paced, and often very silly. We inform pupils about the purpose and audience of these early writings and use them to expose Jane Austen’s wit, humour, and use of irony.

We support pupils to develop a short story in twelve sentences, mimicking Jane Austen’s story The Beautifull Cassandra. They will consider character, plot, cause, and consequence.

In this workshop we also use Jane Austen’s best known novel Pride and Prejudice. We examine a short scene between Mr and Mrs Bennet, supported by video material. Pupils analyse the dialogue and examine how characterisation is a splendid example of Jane Austen’s writing advice ‘show don’t tell’. Pupils summarise their learning by identifying three adjectives to describe the personalities of Mr and Mrs Bennet. They may also assume the role of a stage director and select powerful adjectives to direct actors’ interpretation of the script.

Extra materials:

Pupils are provided with a short video to watch in advance of the session

We also provide post-lesson extension activities to re-enforce the message of each lesson, and a range of resource sheets to help further understanding of relevant topics, or to aid individual research.

What will pupils gain from this session?

Pupils will:

  • develop knowledge and understanding of Jane Austen’s life.
  • gain an understanding of Jane Austen’s brilliance through the first-hand experience of drafting a short story.
  • understand how the thoughts, feelings, and actions of her main characters create the true plots of her novels.
  • explore classic literature.
  • develop their independent and imaginative interpretations of Jane Austen’s work.
  • develop critical viewpoints substantiated with evidence and explore her linguistic and creative material exposing her messages.
  • begin to form and articulate a critical understanding of complex texts and ideas.
  • interrogate words and meanings that have changed over time.
  • reveal the intended depth of meaning from small extracts from novels, supporting them to make connections across their broader reading.
  • discuss and explain their understanding and ideas; extend communication skills, enhance their use of evidence to inform their view and strengthen their opinions.