It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen has inspired generations of new writers. Her memorable characters, quick wit and sharp observations on social life mean that she remains one of Britain’s best-loved classic authors.

Her timeless novels have been reworked in many forms, including the decade-defining TV moment involving Colin Firth in a wet shirt, the newspaper columns that eventually became Bridget Jones’ Diary and the classic Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice. Austen’s work has been so influential that writing inspired by her could almost be considered a genre in its own right.

As we commemorate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, join three fantastic female writers who have each been inspired by Austen’s stories, albeit in very different ways. Natasha Farrant and Jo Baker have both revisited Austen’s works from different character perspectives, whilst Ayisha Malik’s romantic comedies bring Austen’s forward-thinking feminism into the world of Muslim dating.

Expect a fun-filled discussion of everything Austen, as we ask what it is about her stories that keeps us coming back for more.

About The Speakers

Jo Baker

Jo Baker was educated at Oxford and Queen’s University, Belfast. She lives in Lancaster with her husband and their two children. She is the author of the bestselling Longbourn, which is due to be made into a film. Her latest novel is inspired by the life of Samuel Beckett.

Photo by Ed Marshall

Natasha Farrant

Natasha Farrant is the author of Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride & PrejudiceThe Things We Did For Love and the Bluebell Gadsby series, as well as two adult novels. Her books have been nominated for the Branford Boase Award, the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian book prize and the Queen of Teen.

Ayisha Malik

Ayisha Malik’s, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick. Ayisha was shortlisted for The Asian Women of Achievement Award and Marie Claire’s Future Shapers’ Award. She is also the writer behind Nadiya Hussain’s novels. Her third novel, This Green and Pleasant Land, is a dramedy about a Muslim family building a mosque in an English village.

About The Chair

Jodie Matthews

Jodie is an academic and critic specialising in 19th-century literature and culture and the ways in which we interpret texts from that period. She is a proud feminist and left-winger, and firmly believes in research and writing that is politically aware and engaged.