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Jane Austen


Jane Austen (1775-1817), English author wrote numerous influential works contributing to the Western literary canon including Pride and Prejudice (1813) which starts;

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.” —Chapter 1

Austen had rejected suitor Harris Bigg Wither at the last minute and never ended up marrying, but still she expresses a keen grasp of the traditional female role and the ensuing hopes and heartbreaks with her memorable protagonists including Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price, Catherine Morland, Anne Elliot, and Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice. Writing in the romantic vein, Austen was also a realist and has been lauded for her form and structure of plot and intensely detailed characters who struggle with the issues of class-consciousness versus individualism: self-respecting men were supposed to become lawyers or join the church or military, and respectable women married to improve their station in life.

Jane had started writing at an early age and her family were highly supportive, though as was done at the time her works were published anonymously. Her combination of irony, humour, and sophisticated observations of the societal and cultural machinations between the classes epitomise the often absurd problems of inheritance, courtship, morals, and marriage in Regency England. Modestly successful during her life, her works have gone on to inspire adaptations to the stage and film and have endured the test of time even into the 21st century.

Born on 16 December, 1775 Jane Austen was the daughter of Cassandra (née Leigh) (1739–1827) and the reverend George Austen (1731–1805). The Austens were a very close-knit family; Jane had six brothers and one sister, Cassandra, who would later draw a famous portrait of Jane. They lived in the village of Steventon in Hampshire county, England, where George was rector. Young Jane was tutored at home and attended the Abbey School in Reading, Berkshire.

Jane was inseparable from her older sister Cassandra. They sang and danced and attended balls together. When George retired around 1801, he moved his family to Bath where he died in 1805. Adjusting to the ensuing financial difficulties, Jane, Cassandra and their mother then moved to Southampton for a time before settling in a cottage on the estate of Edward Austen in the village of Chawton, Hampshire in 1809, which is now a museum. Austen had missed Steventon life and now returning to the Hampshire countryside she wrote in earnest, revising and writing new works including Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815).

Possibly suffering from Addington’s disease, Jane Austen died on 18 July, 1817. She lies buried in the north aisle of the nave in Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, England.

In the Memory of
Jane Austen
youngest daughter of the Late
Rev.d George Austen
formerly rector of Steventon in this County
She departed this Life on the 18th of July, 1817,
Aged 41, after a long illness supported with
the patience and the hopes of a Christian

Posthumous publications were Persuasion (1817) and Northanger Abbey, a satirisation of Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic novels like The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). Although Austen had many critics, among them Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain and Lionel Trilling, she also had many admirers during her life and since, including the Prince Regent, Andrew Lang, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Virginia Woolf, and Sir Walter Scott who wrote;

“That young lady has a talent for describing the involvements of feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with.”

Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2006. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

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I am in favour of digging Jane Austen up to be sure of her looks...

Only yesterday, before I closed my beautiful brown eyes I was determined to start a drive to open dear Jane Austens grave to decide for once what she looked like. Who joins me? Exhuming people is done all the time, why could not Jane?...

Standish of Standish?

Jane Austin wrote a novel in the historical novel genre titled "Standish of Standish" why is it not listed with her works on this site? Not a P/C type book, is that it? I enjoyed reading it, maybe not the greatest bit of literature but deserves to be on the list, no? KDM...

pride and prejudice

Do you think that the book by Jane Austen, pride and prejudice, reflects the way we behave in Arabia? Explaination: Pride and Prejudice, is a book written by Jane Austen which was set in the early eighteen hundreds in England. Itís a book which, in my opinion, reveals the strict moral code which the people of that time lived by, and which we follow in Arabia....

Death comes to Pemberley

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Jane Austen comparison questions

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good articles about Jane Austen and her world

I just began a college course called bibliography and research. The basic purpose of this course is to prepare the students for further college research and writing. In this course we are required to choose a work of fiction of our choice to analyze and use as our primary research text throughout the course. Being a Jane Austen fan, I chose Pride and Prejudice. I am just now doing some preliminary research for a couple short summaries about Austen, Pride and Prejudice, and the times she lived in. I'm just wondering if anyone knows of any good sources regarding this sort of thing; summaries of the themes she addresses, the issues facing the world she lived in, and how they influenced her, are...

pride and prejudice paper!

Hi! I'm in high school and am writing an english paper on Pride and Prejudice. Particularly on the theme of marriage. For examples of the different views on marriage, i will be using Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Mrs. Bennet. Do you think I would have better luck analyzing Lydia rather than Mrs Bennet?...

Did Jane Austen write "shadow stories"?

I recently came across the blog Sharp Elves Society, which is dedicated to the exploration of Jane Austen's "shadow stories". Among the author's ideas are that Jane Austen was a more radical feminist than Mary Wollstonecraft, that there really was something nefarious going on in Captain Tilney's marriage and that Jane Fairfax had a baby, gave it to Mrs Weston ... and the father was not Frank. I am in no way affiliated with the author, and indeed, find some of his hypotheses extremely circumstantial. However, I appreciate his bringing to light the complexity of Austen's intelligence and her knowledge of other authors. Here's the link to his blog. I'd encourage anyone interested ...

Research help!

Hi! I am a third year undergraduate student currently studying towards a degree in geography and, as part of this, am completing a project on how the novels of Jane Austen have sculpted both the imagined and physical landscape of Bath. One of the facets of this is how the idea of Bath is constructed in the novels and how this is achieved through associating it with certain characters. With this in mind, I was wondering if anyone could be a huge help and let me know their thoughts on some of Austenís characters such as feelings towards them or words you would associate with them. The characters I need to know opinions on are Mr Woodhouse, Mr Elton, Mrs Elton (Emma); Mr Rushworth, Mr Cr...

Jane Austen couldn't spell!

It has been revealed that Jane Austen couldn't spell, wrote in a regional accent and didn't have sufficient punctuation! That puts this piece of her own writing in perspective: "Henry Tilney: It appears to me that the usual tyle of letter-writing among women is faultless except in three particulars. Miss Morland (?): And what are they? Tilney: A general deficiency of sub...

Putting the boot in - Miss Austin style

This is just brilliant! The language may be genteel and elegant, but no one puts the boot in quite like Miss Austin. - a lucky contraction of the brow had rescued her countenance from the disgrace of insipidity, by giving it the strong character of pride and ill-nature. She was not a woman of many words: for unlike people in general, she proportioned them to the number of her ideas....

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