It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of the most popular novelists in the English language and her work is more popular today than ever before. The wit and romance of her writing captivate television and cinema audiences worldwide, while boosting the readership of the novels themselves. In an age when attention spans are low and fast, furious action drama overwhelms television and movie audiences, the sheer romance of Jane Austen adaptations has continued to prove itself at awards ceremonies. But who was Jane Austen and what sort of world did she inhabit? Maggie Lane, a respected Austen authority and a committee member of the Jane Austen Society, takes a look at the historical and social period in which Jane Austen was writing ? a time when England was developing into a colonial power, while George III sank into madness and the Regency took hold. Elsewhere, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars raged and the New World was developing.