Jane Austen was an English writer and is considered one of the most important female authors in the history of literature.
Born in Hampshire on the 16th December 1775, Jane came from a family that could be considered bourgeois, and she was the youngest daughter, having seven older siblings. Her father, the reverend George Austen, as well as her older brothers where the main responsible for her education; at 8 years old, she went to an intern school for a short period, together with her only sister, Cassandra. Reverend Austen was an avid reader, and the family possessed what was considered at the time an extensive collection of books. After returning home from the intern school Jane, like all her siblings, was encouraged to read, an activity that had always interested her, as well as writing, whether it was poems, short stories or even theatre plays, that she used to share with her family.
At the end of her adolescence, at 19, Jane Austen finished her first romance, “Lady Susan”. Afterwards, she wrote “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice”, initially titled “Elinor and Marianne” and “First Impressions”, respectively, which are until this day the most well-known books of the author, and considered masterpieces in the literary world. However, both stories were at first rejected by publishers, in 1797, and Austen was only able to publish them several years later, in 1811 and 1813. In the first edition, the author’s name wasn’t mentioned, and instead it was only referred that the books were written “by a lady”.
During her life time, Jane Austen also published “Mansfield Park” and “Emma”. All of her books were extremely well received by the public, and she sold numerous copies. Besides the romances she became most known for, there are also published “The Watsons”, an unfinished novel, and “Juvenilia”, a collection of some stories she wrote while a teenager.
Austen’s romances contain strong criticism towards the society at the time, and portray very accurately that time period, regarding the habits, daily life, personal relations, and even small details, like the decoration or clothing used. Irony and realism are considered the main characteristics of Jane Austen’s work.
Jane Austen never got married, and she lived with her parents her entire life; alongside with the time she devoted to her writing, she also engaged in recreational activities considered appropriate to a woman of her age and social status, like playing the piano, helping with the home duties and attending events and parties hosted by people of her acquaintance. The author died at only 41 years old, on the 18th July 1817, victim of complications from Addison’s disease.
The novels “Northanger Abbey”, “Persuasion” and “Sandition”, another unfinished story, where published posthumously.
New editions of most of Jane Austen’s books keep being published until this day, and the majority of her novels have been adapted into movies or television series.