Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in the village of Steventon in Hampshire, England. Her father, the Reverend George Austen, was the rector of the local parish and taught at the boys’ school. Her mother, Cassandra, was the daughter of a naval officer. Austen had six brothers and one sister, all of whom she outlived. Her closest relationship was with her elder sister, Cassandra.
Austen was educated at home by her father and later by a series of governesses. She began writing at an early age and completed her first novel, “Elinor and Marianne,” in 1795. However, it was not published until 1811, after the success of her second novel, “Sense and Sensibility.”
Austen’s career as a writer began in earnest with the publication of “Sense and Sensibility” in 1811. This was followed by “Pride and Prejudice” in 1813, “Mansfield Park” in 1814, and “Emma” in 1816. Austen’s novels were immediately popular, although she did not receive widespread critical acclaim until after her death.
Austen’s personal life is shrouded in mystery. She never married and there is no record of any serious romantic relationships. It is believed that she turned down at least two marriage proposals, one from a wealthy widower and one from a young clergyman.
Austen died on July 18, 1817, at the age of 41. The cause of death is unknown, but it is thought that she may have had Addison’s disease or cancer. Austen’s novels have enjoyed continued popularity and are considered among the finest examples of English literature.
July 18, 1817, Winchester, United Kingdom
George Austen, Cassandra Austen
Cassandra Austen, Henry Thomas Austen, Edward Austen, Francis Austen, Charles Austen, James Austen, George Austen
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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.
[when asked why her heroines always flawed] Pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked.
[her last words, when asked by her sister Cassandra if there was anything she wanted] Nothing, but death.
If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient--at others, so bewildered and so weak--and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are to be sure a miracle every way--but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting, do seem peculiarly past finding out.
Her brother Edward's descendant married the daughter of Louis Mountbatten (aka Lord Mountbatten; assassinated in 1979 by the IRA), who in turn was a descendant of Queen Victoria.
Between 1900 and 1975, there were more than 60 radio, television and stage productions of Austen novels. The first film adaptation was of "Pride and Prejudice" in 1940, although there had been a television version two years previously.
Her books have never been out of print since they were first published.
In July of 2002 a first edition of "Pride and Prejudice" was auctioned and sold for £40,000, nearly doubling the previous record set for an Austen novel in 2001 of £23,500.
The Prince Regent was such a fan of her work that he asked her to dedicate her next book to him, which she did.