Unless you took an interest in prison reform, you probably didn't know who 'angel of prisons' Elizabeth Fry was, other than that lady who's on the £5 note. But the genius of choosing Jane Austen is that her influence spreads far beyond people that might be interested in books - it ranges from bored kids in stuffy classrooms to those watching her adaptations on TV and in the cinema, and those who simply love her writing. There really isn't other woman who can move so seamlessly between modern culture and the 18th Century.
For young girls, she's one of the first tastes of feminism, at least it was that way for me. I may not have appreciated it at the time when I was doodling in the margin of Mansfield Park wishing the bell would hurry up and ring, but one thing that did stop my yawns was when our teacher explained how Austen's ideas and beliefs were still relevant to us today.
Don't be dependent on a man for money.
Marry for sense, not just love because if there's anything that can cast a wet soggy blanket on a relationship, it's arguing about money.
Do be in love with the person you marry.
Women ARE funny.
Don't tell porkies because it doesn't end well.
Now, who can say that's not all good advice? For adults who have long since left Austen's novels behind in the classroom, we reconnect with her (guiltily) via TV.
There's the BBC TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice featuring Colin Firth which has now gone down in legend, numerous films and series.
We're even publishing books off the back of Austen's originals and imagining what her characters are up to, like a dead rapper brought back to life through 'new' songs.
There has been much in the way of debate around how much of a feminist Jane Austen really was, and to my mind, while it is important, it isn't quite so much.
What really matters is that she isn't a dusty, half-forgotten relic from the 18th Century. Austen is prevalent and relevant in almost every type of medium that speaks to children and adults, which is no mean feat.
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