Jane Austen, The History of England (Quince Tree Press, 1999)
Austen in August was the perfect occasion -- I don't have time to read lots of full-length novels at the moment, but a sixteen-page pamphlet is manageable. And I'm glad I finally cracked it open -- it's a delightful glimpse into Austen's early creative work.
Dedicated to her beloved older sister Cassandra, who also provided the illustrations, this history is a comic parody of the ponderous tomes that were foisted upon the young in the eighteenth century. Consisting of a series of brief characterizations of the English monarchs from Henry IV to Elizabeth I, it reveals the author as a fanatical champion of the Stuart cause and of the executed Mary Queen of Scots. Pulling no punches, she describes herself from the outset as "a partial, prejudiced and ignorant historian," thus slyly suggesting that perhaps some published historians should confess themselves the same.