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).
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's research blog is at
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