Jane Austen

Jane Austen

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.

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.

Jane Austen

See Jane Austen’s Unsuccessful First Attempts at Publication

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.

illustration from Pride & Prejudice by Brock

You might also like: 10 Memorable Quotes from Pride and Prejudice

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Jane Austen Quotes

You might also like: Jane Austen’s Literary Ambitions


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