This is really fascinating!  I can't tell if it is a compliment to Austen or a suggestion that her novels are anodyne.  My question is: do you think it is possible to find Brett-Smith's whole list of novels and poetry with their assigned places on the Fever-Chart? That would be well worth having! 

As for the question at hand, I suspect that Kipling knew that Austen was a favorite among military men (as she was with officers in the American merchant marine according to a colleague of mine).

Miriam Bailin

On Sun, Oct 11, 2009 at 12:23 AM, George Simmers <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
In a letter to the Times Literary Supplement (3 February 1984), Fr Martin Jarrett-Kerr reported that during the First World War the Oxford don H.F. Brett-Smith was employed by military hospitals to advise on reading matter for the war wounded. 'His job was to grade novels and poetry according to the "Fever-Chart". For the severely shell-shocked he selected Jane Austen'.

Considering the effectiveness of Jane Austen in palliating Humberstall's psychological damage in 'The Janeites', I'm wondering whether Kipling might have known of Brett-Smith's advisory work. Any ideas?

George Simmers
George Simmers's research blog is at

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