Happy Jane Austen’s Birthday – 11 of my favorite quotes

Jane Austen has clearly had an enormous influence on my writing career. But beyond the obvious connections that Shades of Milk and Honey has, Jane Austen’s attention to detail has taught me more, as an author, about writing than pretty much anyone else. She recognized that often what is unsaid is more telling than what is said.

So for her birthday, allow me to share those with you by way of some of my favorite quotes. I think she still provides excellent advice that works well in the modern age.

  1. The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.
  2. My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.
  3. A person who can write a long letter with ease, cannot write ill.
  4. Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.
  5. There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.
  6. Angry people are not always wise.
  7. Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another!
  8. …but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.
  9. It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.
  10. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.
  11. Nothing ever fatigues me, but doing what I do not like.
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3 Responses

    1. Ian Miller

      This is what I get for responding when I’m still waking up…
      (done by memory, any fact checking done after the initial guess)
      1. Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey.
      2. Anne Elliot, Persuasion
      3. Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice.
      4. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice.
      5. Unsure
      6. Narrator about Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice.
      7. Douglas McGrath writing for Mr. Knightley, Emma
      8. Unsure
      9. Unsure – when I googled it this morning, it said Sense and Sensibility, but a text search doesn’t find it, and Austen didn’t use that many contractions that I’m aware of. I also couldn’t find it in my S&S screenplay 🙁 But I didn’t reread it, just skimmed the places I thought it might be.
      10. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
      11. Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park

      I am ashamed 🙁

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