|Jane Austen character|
|Relatives||Miss Eleanor Tilney; Captain Frederick Tilney|
|Home||Northanger Abbey/Woodston Parsonage|
Tilney, with his teasing yet kind-hearted mentorship of Catherine, has been considered the nicest of Austen's heroes. At the same time, with his knowledge of muslin and of Gothic novels, he is the least masculine of heroes. Overshadowed by his military father and elder brother, he is a strangely passive figure, falling for Catherine only after she falls for him, and with his father as the driving force behind her coming to the Abbey. Nevertheless he does not lack moral courage, as he shows with his marriage at the book's close.
Frank Swinnerton considered that, as a teasing mentor, knowledgeable on female matters, Tilney might represent a disguised version of the author herself. Later critics, more cautiously, have seen him as representing in part the author's voice.
Sydney Smith, who is known to have overlapped with Austen in Bath at the close of the eighteenth century, and whose witty conversation resembles Tilney's, has also been seen as a possible model for the character. So too has Austen's witty brother Henry: “affectionate & kind as well as entertaining....he cannot help being amusing”.
- G. B. Stern, Talking of Jane Austen (London 1946) p.73
- Claire Harman, Jane's Fame (Edinburgh 2009) p. 249
- R. Jenkyns, A Fine Brush on Ivory (Oxford 2007) p. 135-6
- E. Copeland, The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen (Cambridge 1997) p. 38-9
- G. B. Stern, Talking of Jane Austen (London 1946) p.153
- G. B. Stern, Talking of Jane Austen (London 1946) p.74
- B. Hardy, Reading of Jane Austen (2000) p. 166
- B. Benedict ed. Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey (Cambridge 2006) Introduction p. xxv
- Deidre Le Faye ed., Jane Austen's Letters (Oxford 1996) p. 101-2 and Introduction p. x