The works of Jane Austin
- The Countess of Monte Christo, 1816
Jane Austin’s first novel, The Countess of Monte Christo, was very
much a school girl production with a wild, melodramatic plot in the style
of the thrillers of the day.
- The Scarlet Peony, 1818
Unread today, Jane Austin’s novel of an English secret agent was wildly
popular at the time. It is not at all realistic; her knowledge of
England and France came from the novels of other authors such as
Barbara Cartland. Alexandre Dumas credited The Scarlet Peony
as the inspiration for his becoming an author.
- Northanger Abilene, 1823
Northanger Abilene is very much a transition novel, written
in the style of her early gothic romances but utilizing a Texas
setting with a Spanish land baron replacing the conventional
- Fence and Fencibility, 1824
Fence and Fencibility has been viewed by some critics as being
of the conflicts between ranchers and farmers that occurred much later
in the settling of the West. Others have viewed it as being an
prevision of the Mexican War. Such interpretations must be considered
as fanciful as the view that it is an attempt to rewrite Romeo and Juliet
for a ruder stage.
- Colt Persuasion, 1826
Colt Persuasion may be semi-autobiographical. The heroine’s
conversion from strongly objecting to the easy violence prevalent in
the West to accepting and using the colt revolver as the great equalizer
is generally considered to be based on her own experiences in becoming
a markswoman. It is doubtful, though, that Jane Austin ever had to
defend her virtue with a loaded revolver.
- Pride and Precipice, 1827
Unlike most of her compatriots, Jane Austin had no prejudice against
Indians. According to her biography she spent two summers with one
of the local tribes.
The most dramatic event in the novel is the description of a buffalo
hunt. Modern readers, however, value it for its haunting description
of the life of young Indian women.
- Winchester Park, 1828
Winchester Park is often considered a forerunner of the modern
Gothic novel. Some elements of the novel are considered to be
See also the description
of this novel by the noted author of Regency Romances, Lois McMaster Bujold.
- Edda, 1831
Jane Austin made good use of the year she spent with her Aunt Sarah
in St. Paul. It was then she she acquired a first hand knowledge
of the life and folkways of Scandavian immigrants in Minnesota. In
Edda she drew on her knowledge of Indian mythology and the
strictures of the Lutheran church to create a fusion of worldviews
that encapsulates the American experience.
Later classic depictions of Nordic-American life
such as Giants in the Ground
and A Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra drew extensively
on this seminal work.
Edda is considered by many to be her finest novel.
- Love and Fiendship (short stories) 1832
Jane Austin’s preferred medium was the novel. However she did write a
number of short stories during her early Texas years which appeared in
The Saturday Evening Post and The Tattler. Most of these
stories were light pieces about the life of young women in the west.
- Sandy Hills (unfinished) 1832
Sandy Hills is somewhat of a literary mystery. It was discovered
among her effects after her death; nothing is known as to why she never
finished it although it has been widely speculated that the events of the
novel were painfully close to her personal life.
- The Lady and the Tramp, 1834
The Lady and the Tramp is the definitive Western novel. The
heroine is a young woman from Vermont who goes west to become a school
teacher. There she is courted by a cowboy originally from Virginia who is
a man among men in the west but who lacks the civilized graces to which
she is accustomed. She almost retreats home rather than admit to the
passion that he has aroused in her but surrenders to her love for him
after a climactic gun battle.
- Remains of the Night, 1835
Remains of the Night was considered to be immoral at the time
and was banned in Boston. It is the story of a housekeeper in an English
mansion who is desperately in love with the head butler who does not
return her advances. Spurned, she leaves for employment elsewhere,
marries for convenience, has children, and is widowed. Many years later
the butler seeks her out to court her. She is tempted by the prospect
of reviving an old love but in the end decides that it is too late.
- A Field of Broken Dreams, 1838
In A Field of Broken Dreams she returns to the Adams family in
Fence and Fencibility to explore the heartbreak of dryland farmers
in an arid land as they discover that hard work is just not enough.
- Remember The Alamo!, 1843
Remember The Alamo! is her only non-fiction work. It is a
patriotic polemic urging her fellow Texans to keep Texas as a free
and independent country.
- Elderberry Wine, 1847
The viewpoint character in Jane Austin’s novel was usually a
Elderberry Wine is an exception; the principal character
is an orphaned boy who accompanies a runaway slave as they escape the
South. Today this novel is
thought of as a savage indictment of the slavery system but at the time
it was regarded as a light adventure.
- Raiders of the Purple Sage, 1848
Raiders of the Purple Sage is a western comedy of manners about
two housewives and their quarrel over a
patch of purple sage which each claims is part
of her spice garden.
- Cabaret, 1850
Cabaret tells the story of a young woman who travels to San Francisco
during the Gold Rush days and leads a fruitless campaign to end prostitution
there. Jane Austin was a woman of strong opinions which were expressed
vigorously in her later years.
- Aunt Jemima’s Cabin, 1852
Aunt Jemima’s Cabin is an openly anti-slavery tract
which was influential in inflaming Northern sentiment against slavery.
It was adapted as a stage melodrama; the stage version is
famed for the tearjerking scene with Moll
Flanders on the ice. Aunt Jemima’s Cabin was her last novel. In
her remaining years she served as a roving columnist for the San Francisco
- The Yellow Rose of Texas, 1859
Her autobiography, The Yellow Rose of Texas, was not published
in her lifetime; she continued to work on it up until the end of her
life. The manuscript was published posthumously by her daughter after
Jane’s death in a gun battle in Missouri.
Although she did
indeed lead a colorful life it must be said that there is considerable
doubt about the veracity of many of her anecdotes. There also is a
scarcity of detail about those phases of her life that are of interest
to her biographers.
This page was last updated September 1, 2001.