Reading Group: Jane Austen

Date / Time

  • February 15, 2017
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • February 22, 2017
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • March 1, 2017
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • March 22, 2017
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States


Tuition for this reading group is $250.
To register please call (215) 732-1600, ext. 100 or e-mail [email protected].

Rosenbach members at the Contributor level and above will receive a 10% discount on tuition.

Not a member? We invite you to join upon registration. Click here for more information about membership.


Northanger Abbey and the Gothic Novel

Northanger Abbey, the first novel completed by Austen but unpublished until after her death, is a satire of the gothic novel genre that had blossomed in the late 18th Century. Austen was a devoted reader of Gothic, but also a perceptive critic of the genre’s gloomy excesses. In Northanger Abbey, her young heroine reads gothic novels by day and imagines their plots coming alive by night. Austen’s sharp satire perfectly complements her first foray in developing a complete novel around a heroine thrust into the world of courtship and marriage.

In Northanger Abbey, several well-known gothic novels are mentioned by Austen’s characters, such as Ann Radcliffe’s The Mystery of Udolpho. However, also mentioned are several less known works, called “horrid novels,” that had some popularity in Austen’s time. So obscure had these works become, that scholars formerly believed Austen invented their titles as part of her parody. Over time, scholars managed to track down these books that Austen read for pleasure. As Northanger is a short novel, participants will also read one of these Horrid Novels (TBA), offering a clearer picture of the gothic genre to accompany Austen’s work. As part of this group, participants will have the chance to view first editions of Austen’s works in the Rosenbach collection.

Syllabus to come.

About the Instructor

Edward G. Pettit is a Philadelphia writer, professor, book reviewer, and all-around literary provocateur. He lectures extensively on 19th-century literature. Recently, he was a featured commentator in an episode of Philadelphia: The Great Experiment, which focused on life in the city in the 1840s. In 2012, he was the Charles Dickens Ambassador for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Dickens Bicentenary celebrations and also wrote a Dickensian mystery play for the Ebenzer Maxwell Mansion, where he performs a Dickens reading every December. Pettit teaches writing and literature at La Salle University and has led reading groups for the Rosenbach on Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Austen.