Memorable Jane Austen Quotes

Jane Austen

Jane Austen (1775 – 1817), the beloved British author, was deeply invested in her craft as a wordsmith. Many memorable quotes emerged from her six published books and her surviving letters. Here are some of our favorite Jane Austen quotes.


“A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.” (Northanger Abbey, 1817)


“An artist cannot do anything slovenly.” (From a letter to her sister Cassandra, 1798)


“Good-humoured, unaffected girls, will not do for a man who has been used to sensible women. They are two distinct orders of being.” (Mansfield Park, 1814)


“Wisdom is better than wit, and in the long run will certainly have the laugh on her side.” (From a letter to her niece, 1814)


“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” (Northanger Abbey, 1817)


Jane Austen quote on books and reading

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“I begin already to weigh my words and sentences more than I did, and am looking about for a sentiment, an illustration or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my Ideas flow as fast as the rain in the Store closet it would be charming.” (from a letter to her sister Cassandra, 1809)


“I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible Vanity, the most unlearned, & uninformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress.” (From a letter to James Stainer, 1815)


“Nothing ever fatigues me, but doing what I do not like.” (Mansfield Park, 1814)


“Why not seize the pleasure at once, how often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparations.”


“I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.” (from a letter to her sister Cassandra, December 24, 1798)


“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” (Pride and Prejudice, 1813)


“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” (Sense and Sensibility, 1811)


Jane Austen Quotes

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“It is only a novel … or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.” (Northanger Abbey, 1817)


“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” (Mansfield Park, 1814)


“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience— or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.” (Sense and Sensibility, 1811)


“The distance is nothing when one has a motive.” (Pride and Prejudice, 1813)


“Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.” (Mansfield Park, 1814)


“The work [Pride and Prejudice] is rather too light and bright and sparking; it wants shade; it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long chapter — of senses if it could be had; if not, of solemn specious nonsense — about something unconnected with the story… anything that would form a contrast, and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and epigrammatism of the general style.” (From a letter to her sister Cassandra, 1813)


“I must make use of this opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other novels. I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their merits. My greatest anxiety at present is that this fourth work should not disgrace what was good in the others.” (From a letter to a librarian, 1815)  


“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.”


“There’s nothing like staying home for real comfort.”


“People always live forever when there is an annuity to be paid them.” (Sense and Sensibility, 1811)


“The pleasures of friendship, of unreserved conversation, of similarity and taste and opinions will make good amends for orange wine.” (From a letter to her sister Cassandra, June 20, 1808)


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2 Responses to “Memorable Jane Austen Quotes”

  1. Unfortunately, two quotes in your list are not by Jane Austen, they are not from the novels you refer to but from adaptations of such works, but are repeatedly mentioned in all the net as if they were hers.

    One is “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”, which does not appear in Sense and Sensibility (1811) nor in any of her correspondence, it springs from Sense and Sensibility 2008, the BBC miniseries, script by Andrew Davies. If you search the novel, other of Austen’s works and letters, you would never find it.

    The other is “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” which is how Patricia Rozema transformed it to her Mansfield Park film in 1999. The original Austen quote comes from chapter 10 in Mansfield Park and goes: “from the time of their sitting down to table, it was a quick succession of busy nothings till the carriage came to the door”

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