An Interview With Helena Kelly, Author of Jane Austen the Secret Radical Helena Kelly’s book, Jane Austen the Secret Radical, began an interesting debate around the beloved Regency author when it was released in November 2016. Kelly’s book explored Jane Austen as a radical, spirited and politically engaged writer, and this was a shock for those people who’d only thought of Jane as a tranquil, smiling woman who spent her time penning purely romantic novels. After receiving a review copy of this brilliant work, and after reading its original analysis, Jane Austen blogger Maria Grazia ended up with a few questions she wanted to ask Helena Kelly. So she wrote them down and was graciously granted the answers. Here’s the interview that resulted. *** Hello Helena and welcome to our online Jane Austen book club! My first question is … I’ve always thought Jane Austen was rather revolutionary, but now you’ve taken a step ahead of me: a radical? Hello, and thank you for inviting me! The title Jane Austen the Secret Radical isn’t actually mine, but it is a good choice for the book. I don’t know that Austen wanted to overturn things, but she did want to dig down and examine them, to show people how they actually worked, and that’s what radicalism is about, isn’t it, getting down to the ‘radix’, the root of things. I totally agree with you, of course. But when and how exactly did you come to realize her novels are not simply grand houses, balls
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