Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Famous as Novelist
Born on 16 December 1775
Born in Steventon, England
Died on 18 July 1817
Nationality United Kingdom




Jane Austen is possibly the most well known and widely referred female novelist on earth. Austen's brilliantly created novels include 'Sense and Sensibility', 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Mansfield Park' and 'Emma'. Austen was a great writer who ruled the writing world, considered to me man's territory before she arrived. Jane's involvement with the family and her family's support for her writing career made her move forward and find a place in the history of English Literature and mankind in general. Jane found a new way of writing that was equally stylish and realistic. Jane found a great place among fellow writers and critics of her times. In her novels, Jane used various forms of literary styles. Jane's writing has surpassed the barriers of time and has been accepted by modern day readers and literary circles for excellent comic elements. Jane Austen's works have been beautifully portrayed through several films, theatre and television adaptations. Due to anonymity used in her writing, Jane got maximum honours and tributes after her death which have flown even to the present times.

Jane Austen Childhood
There is very little evidence to validate the exact biographical extract of Jane Austen. Much of her biographical details heavily rely on her letters to her relatives, many of which have been destroyed. Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon vicarage in north Hampshire, England. Jane was cared by her mother for a few months at home before she was given away to Elizabeth Littlewood who lived nearby and took care of Jane and nursed her till Jane turned 1 year or 18 months old.
 
Youth and Education
In 1783, Jane went to Oxford along with her sister Cassandra to get her education from Mrs. Ann Cawley and they moved with her to Southampton later that year. Jane and her sister got affected by typhus which nearly killed Jane. Jane received her education at home after this before she and Cassandra left for boarding school in the early 1785. Jane’s school reportedly included French, spelling, needlework, dancing and music and, perhaps, drama in its course.  Jane’s family could not continue with the studies of their daughters and by December 1786 both Jane and Cassandra were forced to return home.
 
Early Works
According to assorted evidences Jane Austen had started writing poems, stories, and plays for her own and her family's amusement by 1787. Much later Jane took time to bring out a compilation of 29 of her earliest works (which were produced into three bound notebooks) which are presently known as “Juvenilia”. She made fair copies of all her works which were originally known to have been written between 1787 and 1793. Evidences suggest that Jane worked on these pieces till late 1809–11 which were further added with other works of hers by her niece and nephew, Anna and James in 1814. Jane had reportedly written (which had been added to the compilation) a satirical novel in letters titled “Love and Friendship” which had been intentionally written like that as she had mocked popular novels of sensibility. Other works like ‘The History of England’, a manuscript of 34 pages accompanied by 13 watercolour miniatures by her sister Cassandra also formed a part of “Juvenilia”. For parodied writing, Austen earned the names, “boisterous” and “anarchic” from scholar Richard Jenkyns.
 
Growth as an Adult
As Jane started becoming an adult woman, she got more and more involved with her family. She took part in family rituals and helped female relatives during childbirth and also the elders at their deathbeds. Jane loved dancing and her socializing mostly meant to be along with her close family and friends. Jane was a regular participant at the dance events and balls that took place at the neighbourhood town halls and assembly rooms. Her brother Henry later said that “Jane was fond of dancing, and excelled in it”. Jane sent many of her short pieces of writing to her newborn nieces Fanny Catherine and Jane Anna Elizabeth. Jane went to church and made beautiful clothes.
 
In 1793 Jane started on a play which she soon abandoned. It was later titled, “Sir Charles Grandison or the happy Man, a comedy in 6 acts” which she restarted and completed around 1800. In the period between 1793 and 1795, Jane wrote ‘Lady Susan’, a short epistolary novel which was considered by Jane as one of her greatest and most ambitious works.
 
Early Stage Novels
After completing Lady Susan, Jane started writing on her first full-length novel “Elinor and Marianne” (There is no evidence to confirm as to how much original text was maintained and reproduced in the novel published in 1811 as “Sense and Sensibility”). According to her sister Cassandra, Jane had read out her novel before 1796. Tom Lefroy, a neighbour’s nephew had made a visit to Steventon from December 1795 to January 1796 and Jane was just 20 years old at this time. Lefroy got introduced to Jane at a ball and according to Austen’s letters to Cassandra, Jane shared great times with Lefroy. Due to young age and no money the love story got aborted in the nascent stage as Lefroy was sent away to Ireland for establishing his legal career.
 
Austen attempted her second novel, ‘First Impressions’ in 1796 and completed writing the draft in August 1797 at the age of 21. Jane’s father took the initiative to publish one of her novels. In November 1797 Jane’s father, George Austen wrote to Thomas Cadell, an established publisher in London asking him to consider publishing “a Manuscript Novel, comprised in three Volumes about the length of Miss Burney's Evelina” (First Impressions) which was rejected and returned. Jane went back to reworking on her ‘Elinor and Marianne’ from November 1797 until mid-1798 revising it greatly.
 
In the middle of 1798 Jane started on her third novel after fully revising Elinor and Marianne. Her third novel initially had a title, ‘Susan’, which was later titled as ‘Northanger Abbey’ that was a clear satire on the popular Gothic novel. Austen reportedly finished with her work after a year. Her brother Henry Austen presented ‘Susan’ to Benjamin Crosby, a London publisher who agreed to pay £10 for the copyright. The manuscript of the book was repurchased from Crosby by Austen in 1816.
 
Life in Bath and Southampton
In December 1800 Austen family had to shift to Bath in the south west of London as Jane’s father decided to retire from the ministry.  Jane was not able to write much during this time. She made certain revisions on ‘Susan’. In December 1802 Austen received her marriage proposal. Austen initially accepted the proposal but rejected it as she did not like Harris Bigg-Wither as he was a large, plain-looking man who spoke little, stuttering while speaking and was aggressive in conversation. There is no evidence even in the form of letters as to what Jane had felt about the proposal. While residing in Bath, Jane started out but did not complete a new novel, ‘The Watsons’ in 1804. Austen’s father died on 21 January 1805 which resulted in Jane stopping all work. The Austen family faced economic hardships and lived part of the time in rented quarters in Bath and other parts in the beginning of 1806, in Southampton, where they shared a house with Frank Austen and his new wife.
 
Jane’s family moved to Chawton in the early 1809 when Austen's brother Edward offered his mother and sisters to stay in a large cottage in Chawton village that was a part of Edward's nearby estate, Chawton House. Jane, along with her sister Cassandra and her mother, shifted to Chawton cottage on 7 July 1809. Jane wrote everyday but more privately. She could give much of her time to her writing as she had spare time and less household work.
 
Published Works and Identity as an Author
While staying at Chawton, Jane Austen could successfully publish four of her novels which were received well and appreciated greatly. Jane’s brother Henry helped her in persuading publisher Thomas Egerton to publish ‘Sense and Sensibility’ which appeared in October 1811. The novel turned many heads and became popular besides being judged as fashionable by critics. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was completely sold out by the middle of 1813 providing Jane with some sort of financial and psychological independence. Egerton then published ‘Pride and Prejudice’, a revision of First Impressions, in January 1813 for which he also advertised that made the book an immediate success. By October 1813, Egerton began selling a second edition of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. In May 1814 Mansfield Park was published by Egerton. ‘Emma’ was published in December 1815 and a second edition of ‘Mansfield Park’ was published in February 1816 by London based publisher John Murray. Austen started on a new novel after Emma and she named it ‘The Elliots’ which was later brought out as ‘Persuasion’. She completed drafting Persuasion in July 1816.
 
Later Years and Death
In early 1816 Jane Austen started finding herself unwell but did not give much attention to it. Soon her health declined.  Austen reportedly was affected by Hodgkin’s lymphoma but recent works by Katherine White of Britain's Addison’s Disease Self Help Group suggests that Austen likely died of bovine tuberculosis which occurred due to drinking of non-pasteurized milk. Austen continued working ignoring her declining health. She finished rewriting the final two chapters of ‘The Elliots’ and on 6 August 1816 she completed The Elliots. In January 1817 started afresh on her new work, a novel, The Brothers, (later titled Sanditon upon its first publication in 1925) and completed twelve chapters before stopping work in mid-March 1817 (possibly because of her illness). On 18 July 1817 Austen died at the age of 41.

Jane Austen Timeline:
1775 - Jane Austen was born on 16 December
1783 - Jane went to Oxford along with her sister Cassandra to get her education from Mrs. Ann Cawley and they moved with her to Southampton later that year
1785 - She and Cassandra left for boarding school early this year
1786 – In December both Jane and Cassandra were forced to return home due to their family not able to bear the education cost
1787 - Jane Austen had started writing poems, stories, and plays for her own and her family's amusement
1787 and 1793 - “Juvenilia” was made into fair copies by her which included all of her works
1793 - Jane started on a play which she soon abandoned. It was later titled, “Sir Charles Grandison or the happy Man, a comedy in 6 acts”
1793 and 1795 - In this period Jane wrote ‘Lady Susan’
1796 - Austen attempted her second novel, ‘First Impressions’
1797 - Jane completed writing the draft for ‘First Impressions’ in August at the age of 21
1797 - In November  Jane’s father, George Austen wrote to Thomas Cadell, an established publisher in London asking him to consider publishing “a Manuscript Novel, comprised in three Vols. about the length of Miss Burney's Evelina” (First Impressions) which was rejected and returned
1797 until mid-1798 - Jane went back to reworking on her ‘Elinor and Marianne’ from November 1797 until mid-1798 revising it greatly
1798 - In the middle of 1798 Jane started on her third novel after fully revising Elinor and Marianne. Her third novel initially had a title; ‘Susan’ was later titled as ‘Northanger Abbey’ and was a clear satire on the popular Gothic novel
1800 - In December Austen family had to shift to Bath in the south west of London because of Jane’s father deciding to retire from the ministry
1802 - In December Austen received her marriage proposal
1804 - Jane started out but did not complete a new novel, ‘The Watsons’
1805 - Austen’s father died on 21 January which resulted in Jane stopping all work
1806 - The Austen family faced economic hardships and lived part of the time in rented quarters in Bath and other parts in the beginning of 1806, in Southampton, where they shared a house with Frank Austen and his new wife
1809 - Jane’s family moved to Chawton in the early 1809 when Austen's brother Edward offered his mother and sisters to stay in a large cottage in Chawton village that was a part of Edward's nearby estate, Chawton House
1809 - Jane along with her sister Cassandra and her mother shifted to Chawton cottage on 7 July. Jane wrote everyday but more privately. She could give much of her time to her writing as she had spare time and less household work
1811 - Jane’s brother Henry helped her in persuading publisher Thomas Egerton to publish ‘Sense and Sensibility’ which appeared in October
1813 - Egerton then published ‘Pride and Prejudice’, a revision of First Impressions, in January  for which he also advertised that made the book an immediate success
1813 - ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was completely sold out by the middle of 1813 providing Jane with some sort of financial and psychological independence
1813 - By October Egerton began selling a second edition of ‘Pride and Prejudice’
1814 – In May Mansfield Park was published by Egerton
1815 - ‘Emma’ was published in December
1816 - Second edition of ‘Mansfield Park’ was published in February by London based publisher John Murray
1816 - In early 1816 Jane Austen started finding herself unwell but did not give much attention to it. Soon her health declined
1816 - She completed drafting Persuasion in July
1816 - She finished rewriting the final two chapters of ‘The Elliots’ and on 6 August she completed The Elliots
1817 - In January she started freshly on her new work, a novel, The Brothers, (later titled Sanditon upon its first publication in 1925) and completed twelve chapters before stopping work in mid-March 1817 (possibly because of her illness)
1817 - On 18 July Austen died

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