The book What matters in Jane Austen? (by John Mullan, 2012) explores rituals and conventions of Jane Austen's (1775-1817) fictional world in order to reveal "her technical virtuosity and sheer daring as novelist". The chapter eleven is devoted to the issue Is there any sex in Jane Austen?
|'What matters in Jane Austen?|
by John Mullan (Bloomsbury).
|Public bathing at Bath, the city where|
Lydia allows herself to be seduced by Wickham
|Collin Firth, the best Mr. Darcy ever filmed.|
inspiration for Jane Austen's
iconic Mr. Darcy.
Last but not least, Jane Austen and her readers lived in an era of considerable sexual licenses among the elite: the Prince Regent and his brothers the Duke of York, the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) and the Duke of Kent (Queen's Victoria father) were famous for their sexual irregularities.
Austen's heroine Emma is well known for his habit to evade a truth by indulging in a fancy. This applies also to sexual affairs in her neighbourhood, as we can see when she dreamt about Frank Churchill's adoptive father ("Half a dozen natural children, perhaps"). Maybe these "dreams" are the way for Jane Austen to require the reader to recognise what she has sometimes been accused of denying; that humans are driven by sexual appetites.