Latest Issue

How does Jane Austen speak to today’s politics?

Theresa May and Michael Gove have both cited the author—but are her novels really an advert for conservatism?

By Elizabeth Picciuto  

An illustration from Sense and Sensibility—why did Gove name the book as being akin to the Tory manifesto?

Jane Austen held her views on the politics of her time exceptionally close. In her novels, government stays politely in the background. It neither overregulates nor ensures the wellbeing of citizens. It provides income via interest on securities, delivers the mail, and employs handsome and charming naval and militia officers.

Yet she develops a rich and sophisticated theory of moral character development—virtue ethics—that earns her a position among the most astute…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect