Jane Austen (December 16, 1775 – July 18, 1817), the renowned British author, led a writing life of the inimitable artist. Despite her charm and modesty, she continually hints that she was in full mastery of her gift and cared deeply about getting published despite myths to the contrary.
Though only a small portion of her letters survive, she left enough material in her first-person narratives to reveal a sense of the woman behind the pen. She sought to create perfection and grace, no matter what the outcome.
Part of a family that recognized her talent
Born in Steventon, Hampshire (England), Austen was part of a convivial middle-class family consisting of five brothers and an elder sister, Cassandra, with whom she was very close. The Austen family valued education and sent the two girls briefly to boarding school in addition to receiving further education at home.
Austen’s talent was recognized early on, and male members of her family, particularly her father (George Austen, a country rector), played key roles in getting her works published. Austen longed to see her work in print, regardless of whether or not it would gain her fame or fortune — but getting her work published was important to her, contrary to the myth about her extreme modesty.
Steady but modest success
She had trouble finding a publisher for Sense and Sensibility at first, but soon found a reputable publisher to print it on a commission basis. It was published 1811 and took two years to sell out the edition of one thousand.
Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and was one of the most successful novels of the season. Though sales were modest by today’s standards, both it and Sense and Sensibility were deemed successes and set the stage for slow and steady sales of her subsequent books.
Six exquisite novels—crafted with compassion, humor, and insight into the travails of the sexes and social classes assured her lofty position in literary history.
The beloved author died in Winchester, England a few months shy of her 42nd birthday after a short illness.
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More about Jane Austen on this site
- Jane Austen’s Literary Ambitions
- Why is Mr. Darcy So Attractive?
- Jane Austen’s Unsuccessful First Attempts at Publication
- The Writing Habits of Jane Austen by Tony Riches
- Jane Austen’s Reaction to Pride and Prejudice, Her “Own Darling Child”
- 10 Memorable Quotes from Pride and Prejudice
- Memorable Jane Austen Quotes
- The Biggest Myth About Jane Austen’s Writing Life
- Sense and Sensibility
- Pride and Prejudice
- Mansfield Park
- Northanger Abbey
- Sanditon (An unfinished novel)
Biographies about Jane Austen
- Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin
- Jane Austen – Her Life and Letters – A Family Record by William Austen Leigh
- The World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye
- The Letters of Jane Austen (full text on Project Gutenberg)
- On Wikipedia
- Biography, Timeline, Books, Movies, Quotes, Fashion
- Austen.com | Novels, fan fiction, and more
- The Jane Austen Society of North America
- Jane Austen Society UK: Aims and Activities
- Reader discussion of Austen’s books on Goodreads
- Austen page on Amazon.com
Read and Listen online
Articles, News, Etc.
- Virginia Woolf Wonders What Greatness Austen’s Death Prevented
- Did Mark Twain Really Hate Jane Austen?
- 6 Most Underrated Characters in Austen Novels
- Modern Obsession with Jane Austen
- Gorgeous Austen Novel Illustrations From the Time Before Adaptations
- Four Things Austen Actually Teaches Us About Love
- Austen Guide to Dating: Modern Singles Can Learn from Literary Heroines
- Austen and The Art of Letter Writing
- 200 Years on, Why Austen’s Lovers Find New Reason for their Passion
- Opinions by various people of Austen’s work
- Austen Artifacts at the Morgan Library and in England
Selected film adaptations
- Emma (1996)
- Emma (1997)
- Emma (2009, BBC)
- Mansfield Park (1999)
- Mansfield Park (2007, Masterpiece Theatre)
- Northanger Abbey (1986, BBC)
- Northanger Abbey (2007, Masterpiece Theatre)
- Persuasion (1995)
- Pride and Prejudice (1940)
- Pride and Prejudice (1996, BBC miniseries)
- Pride and Prejudice (2006)
- Sense and Sensibility (1995)
You might also like: Jane Austen’s Literary Ambitions
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