That Jane Austen disparaged the idea of a heroine is a truth universally acknowledged. Northanger Abbey opens by mocking its heroine: “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine,” for Catherine is neither pretty nor intelligent, and her learning, drawing, and music skills are all deficient (13, 14). Ironically, recent film spinoffs have taken a fancy to transforming Austen herself into a literary heroine. The biopics Becoming Jane (2007)1 and Miss Austen Regrets (2008) depict an attractive novelist: played by Anne Hathaway and Olivia Williams respectively, the filmic Austen strays far away from Cassandra’s drawing, the only likeness to have been authenticated by the National Portrait Gallery at the time of writing (January 2013). Modern fictional renditions of Austen’s life include T. C. Boyle’s I Dated Jane Austen (1977), Veronica Bennet’s Cassandra’s Sister (2006), and Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (2009). The reason for this upsurge of author fictions may be that, as was true of Catherine Morland, “when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her” (Northanger Abbey 16).
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