Introduction

Jane Austen Portrait

The web has provided new opportunities for Jane Austen fans to share information and build communities to celebrate this significant English writer.  Online resources ranging from digitized manuscripts to web forums have facilitated the sharing of resources across a much larger audience.  This exhibit explores how bringing resources together from a variety of institutions, groups, and individuals, in a common virtual space, can promote a better understanding of the history of women and the arts during Jane Austen's time.  While her novels frequently demonstrate the importance of music, dance, and visual art in the lives of her characters, a closer look at surviving resources can provide additional insight into the experiences of English women in the landed gentry during this period.  In particular, these primary sources highlight the importance of the arts in social status, exemplified by the role of the arts in both education and leisure.