She was an important social commentator…

Jane Austen has been hailed as an acute social commentator – meaning that her novels look closely at the ways in which society worked and draw attention to its flaws. She does not openly condemn them, as other more radical writers of the time did; but if you read closely you can see that she is critical of the laws and conventions of the world she was living in: a world that denied to women many of the opportunities and freedoms we now take for granted.

Today, readers can miss this subtext and pigeon-hole her as a romance novelist.  While it is true that her six novels turn on marriages and feature flirting, affairs, and illicit elopements, they are far more than this. Her stories  actively explore gender relations, power, money, education, parental responsibilities and marriage through a female lens.