Sarah Dillon discovers how Jane Austen's last completed novel, Persuasion, was written. She discusses Austen's last illness, possible plot inspirations and her creative process.
Sarah Dillon discovers how Jane Austen's last completed novel, 'Persuasion' was written. The novel has sometimes been viewed as Austen's valedictory novel - written while she was suffering with her final illness. But Sarah Dillon uncovers a more complex story: dates of revisions on the manuscripts in the British Library confirm her sister's story that Persuasion was completed almost a year before Austen's death, but it was only published posthumously. By talking to Dr Kathryn Sutherland from St Anne's College, Oxford, Paula Byrne, author of 'The Real Jane Austen, A Life In Small Things' and writer Margaret Drabble, we go behind the scant details of Austen's life and uncover reasons for the delay: her last illness; the possibly personal inspirations for the plot of the novel; the state of her finances; her fascinating creative process; and the radical reaches and determination of her literary ambitions.