Musical characters and allusions appear throughout Jane Austen’s novels, and she was a practicing amateur musician herself. Scholarly interest both in the place of music and musicianship in her fiction and in her surviving music collections, is longstanding, with critical attention increasing markedly over the past decade.1 Class is necessarily a part of many of these discussions but deserves a more focused analysis, particularly in relation to the complexity of Austen’s engagement with music as a marker of social position. Music in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain was certainly very class-based, as well as being divided on gender lines. As the opening example of Fanny Price highlights, readers of Austen’s fiction enter a world in which musical accomplishment is a marker, often quite deliberate, of social class and social mobility.
- Jane Austen