Jane Austen


Advanced Search

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.

Recent Forum Posts on Jane Austen

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

Yes, there is another sequel to Pride & Prejudice, but not one of the most straightforward kind. Firstly it is written by the revered P.D. James and secondly it is not foremost concerned with what happened after Lydia, Elizabeth and Jane finally got married. Despite its subject, the death of Captain Denny who also featured in the original, it keeps an odd balance between Austen’s world and characters and the investigation of the murder in its timeframe. As P.D. James is herself a...


Jane Austen comparison questions

I am planning on reading Pride and Prejudice this spring or summer, maybe closer to summer, when I can devote more time to it. I have summers off, I work in a school. I have never read Austen, but cannot imagine neglecting to read her most famous book, being a classics fan! I have an interesting question, I hope. I am currently rereading Jane Eyre, which I LOVE!! I love the writing style; the formality of it, the suspense, and the wonderful narration by Eyre. I am wondering about a comparison i...


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...


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 ...


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...


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! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1323056/How-Jane-Austen-failed-spelling-Study-shows-author-used-regional-accent-poor-punctuation.html?ITO=1490 That puts this piece of her own writing in perspective: ...


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....


Was Jane Austen (1775-1817) Black?

http://www.jasa.net.au/images/cassportrait.jpg Cassandra Austen or Jane Austen? WAS JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817) BLACK? "In person she was very attractive; her figure was rather tall and slender, her step light and firm, and her whole appearance expressive of health and animation. In complexion she was a clear brunette with a rich colour; she had full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and wellformed bright hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls c...


Was jane austen (1775-1817) black?

http://www.jasa.net.au/images/cassportrait.jpg WAS JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817) BLACK? By Egmond Codfried The chief glory of nations is derived from their writers wrote Dr. Samuel Johnson (1708-1784). And many around the world deeply enjoy Jane Austenís books and letters, of which the interpretation is constantly fine-tuned and made into movies and TV series. They study human behaviour and are satirical of human failin...


Post a New Comment/Question on Austen


Related links for Jane Austen

Here is where you find links to related content on this site or other sites, possibly including full books or essays about Jane Austen written by other authors featured on this site.




Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Email:
Sonnet-a-Day Newsletter
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.
Email: