This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Wednesday 5 June 2024, 12pm to 1pm
  • Location: Online only
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Like her much-loved heroine Emma Woodhouse, Jane Austen 'played and sang'. Music occupied a central role in her life, and she made brilliant use of it in her books to illuminate characters' personalities and highlight the contrasts between them.

Until recently, our knowledge of Austen's musical inclinations was limited to the recollections of relatives who were still in their youth when she passed away. But with the digitisation of music books from her immediate family circle, a treasure trove of evidence has emerged. Delving into these books, alongside letters and other familial records, writer Gillian Dooley unveils a previously unknown facet of Austen's world.

Based on her book She Played and Sang, Gillian not only uncovers the music closely associated with Austen, but also unravels her musical connections with family and friends, revealing the intricate ties between her fiction and the melodies she performed. With these revelations, Austen's musical legacy comes to life, granting us a deeper understanding of her artistic prowess and the influences that shaped her literary masterpieces.

This event will take place live on Zoom Webinar. You will receive a link to join a couple of days before the event and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function, but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.

Book sales

You can buy copies of many of our speakers’ books from Fox Lane Books, a local independent bookseller and Festival partner. In some cases, author signed bookplates are available too. 

About the speaker

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, Australia. She has published and presented internationally on Jane Austen, and as a singer she has curated programmes of music from Austen's personal collection since 2007. She has appeared on Australian Broadcasting Corporation's The Book Show and The Minefield as an expert on Austen. Her most recent books are Matthew Flinders: The Man behind the Map and Listening to Iris Murdoch: Music, Sounds, and Silences (both 2022).


University of York