Jane Austen and Representations of Regency England was first published in hardback towards the end of 1994. As other writers of academic books will appreciate, this meant that the manuscript had to be submitted a year earlier. There have been many important studies of Austen since 1993, as well as a new edition of her letters. There have also been some significant publications on the cultural history of Regency England. To take just one example, shortly after the publication of the hardback edition of this book the Jane Austen Society of North America held a conference in New Orleans entitled ‘Jane Austen and the Three Rs: Rebellion, Revolution and the Regency’.
Many of the papers covered themes that I had written about such as perceptions of the Prince Regent, ideas of empire and constructions of masculine identities. It might just have been possible to have persuaded my publishers to let me include some references to a limited amount of new material in the paperback edition. I decided, however, not even to attempt this for two main reasons. First, the sheer volume of critical and editorial work on Austen would have made it extremely difficult to have fixed any realistic limits at all. Second, although I have certainly read studies since 1993 that would have allowed me either to have elaborated upon or to have qualified some of my individual points, particularly on medical history, I have not found anything that has forced me to revise any of my central arguments. Indeed, I would argue that the reverse has been the case and that a significant number of recent studies could have been used to support not just these arguments themselves but also, more generally, the historical approach that I take towards Austen. When I read through the proceedings of the New Orleans conference in the 1994 issue of Persuasions, I had a strong sense that, prompted by previous studies whose influence I have acknowledged, I had written about issues that were now becoming increasingly important to other Austen scholars