your jane austen journey starts here.
part book club, part heroine's journaling,
a reading experience with Xandra Robinson-Burns
I have been characterised as ‘a Reader’ since displaying an interest in the activity from an early age. All the while, the title felt generous, because I will never read all the books I want to. Perhaps you can relate. Do you remember when Roald Dahl’s Matilda steadily made her way through every book in the library? I don’t possess that super power.
Still, as a young Reader, I felt an obligation to read Jane Austen. She’s just one of those authors one must read. When I finally did so, I was surprised by how much I could relate to her heroines from a couple hundred years ago. Something we shared was a pressure to read. From Emma making lists to Catherine getting around to ‘all such works as heroines must read’. In the novels, Austen’s women are finding their ways through the world and their lives, just like I was, I am, and I will.
There’s no ‘right’ way to read Austen, but I’ll confess - the first time I read Pride and Prejudice I was a teenager, and I’m certain I did it wrong. I was a speed-reading, multitasking busybody. I would have quit there if I didn’t have a mentor to guide me through properly.
Thankfully, I met a Jane Austen mentor who guided me through each novel. These letters are dedicated to Isa, whose passion and attention to Austen inspired my own. I have learned so much from Austen with her guidance, and it is my duty to pass on my own learnings to more Readers.
You're invited to receive weekly digital letters inspired by the literary correspondences in Jane Austen’s novels. Ready to read along with me?
This Jane Austen experience includes:
- Weekly digital letters from me, each one corresponding to a few chapters of the novel
- Contemporary context through commentary and Taylor Swift song pairings
- 'Write Back Soon’ prompts to engage with the novel through your own reflections
- Audiobook readings for each letter
- Ebook compilation of all letters
Whether you've already read the books, or want to enter in to the world of Austen for the first time, these letters are for fanatics and new fans alike!
In the bustle of the millennium, we have so much to learn from sitting down with a good book - not just about Regency England, but about our own everyday lives.
Will you be my pen pal?
Here's how it works!
Once you sign up, I'll add your name to my pen pal mailing list.
Then, each week you'll receive a digital letter to read alongside a selection of chapters of reading.
In 9 weeks, we'll have finished the novel!
can I join now?
“Letters from Jane Austen is a fun way of deepening your understanding of Austen’s novels.
your pen pal, xandra robinson-burns
Xandra Robinson-Burns, writer and protagonist of Heroine Training, is such a Catherine Morland. She followed her love of literature to Exeter College, Oxford, where she read English Literature, focusing on Jane Austen.
Her work has been featured in The Guardian and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
i have questions
When you join, you will be sent your digital welcome letter within 24 hours. You will also be sent the complete ebook of letters, in case you wish to read ahead! Your first letters will arrive the following day, covering Chapter One of your chosen novel. Then, every week, you will receive a new digital letter, corresponding with a few chapters.
Letters From Jane Austen brings the handmade touch of a handwritten letter, but in digital form.
If you do not receive your welcome email with 24 hours on a weekday, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes. I recommend purchasing one from your favourite local bookshop, and keeping it on your shelf forever! Take notes in the margins, and reread several times! Since Jane Austen's novels are in the public domain, the digital texts are also available for free on Project Gutenberg.
That depends on your reading speed, and I encourage reading Jane Austen slowly! Each week's reading varies, as stopping points are based more on the events of the story than on page count. Each novel takes 9 weeks to complete. Each letter includes a 'Write Back Soon' prompt that can take as long as you wish.
Now! You should receive your welcome email within 24 hours on a weekday. Your first digital Letter From Jane Austen arrives one day after you sign up.
I recommend dedicating a notebook to this project for your jouranlizing.
Yes! The keen Reader may remember that I first penned Letters from Jane Austen back in 2016.
Like Elinor Dashwood, ‘deliberated over my paper’ to compose 8 letters for each of Austen’s six completed novels.
Since then, I've traveled across continents in a tour of Heroine Training tea parties discussing with heroines in person.
After another round of editing, I present new and improved versions of these letters to you again. What's new? Pretty much everything! Each letter has been rewritten, and now includes writing prompts and song pairings, as well as a complete ebook and audiobook for each novel. They are better than ever!
At Oxford, the official recommendation was the Penguin editions. When I chose to specialise in Jane Austen at Oxford, I invested in a beautiful and durable Penguin clothbound classics edition! That's the one Snug and I still enjoy today.
But whichever one your heart desires will do! I believe that it's important to have a copy that makes you smile. Go ahead and judge the cover; the book is very good regardless, I assure you ;) There may be minor edits or differences in endnotes, but each version should be pretty much the same.
I recommend beginning with 'Northanger Abbey'. It's my favourite, first in publishing order, and it inspired the title 'Heroine Training'!