89 Facts About Jane Austen


Jane Austen was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique, and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century.


Jane Austen left behind three volumes of juvenile writings in manuscript, the short epistolary novel Lady Susan, and the unfinished novel The Watsons.


Jane Austen gained status after her death; her six full-length novels have since rarely been out of print.


In 1869, fifty-two years after her death, her nephew's publication of A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced a compelling version of her writing career and supposedly uneventful life to an eager audience.


Jane Austen has inspired a large number of critical essays and literary anthologies.


The scant biographical information about Jane Austen comes from her few surviving letters and sketches her family members wrote about her.


Only about 160 of the approximately 3,000 letters Jane Austen wrote have survived and been published.

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Cassandra Jane Austen destroyed the bulk of the letters she received from her sister, burning or otherwise destroying them.


Jane Austen wanted to ensure that the "younger nieces did not read any of Jane's sometimes acid or forthright comments on neighbours or family members".


Important details about the Jane Austen family were elided by intention, such as any mention of Jane Austen's brother George, whose undiagnosed developmental challenges led the family to send him away from home; the two brothers sent away to the navy at an early age; or wealthy Aunt Leigh-Perrot, arrested and tried on charges of larceny.


The first Jane Austen biography was Henry Thomas Jane Austen's 1818 "Biographical Notice".


Details of Austen's life continued to be omitted or embellished in her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen, published in 1869, and in William and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh's biography Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters, published in 1913, all of which included additional letters.


Jane Austen's father wrote of her arrival in a letter that her mother "certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago".


Jane Austen added that the newborn infant was "a present plaything for Cassy and a future companion".


George Jane Austen, served as the rector of the Anglican parishes of Steventon and Deane.


The Reverend Jane Austen came from an old and wealthy family of wool merchants.


Jane Austen came from the prominent Leigh family; her father was rector at All Souls College, Oxford, where she grew up among the gentry.


Jane Austen received the living of the Steventon parish from the wealthy husband of his second cousin, Thomas Knight.


Jane Austen's custom was to keep an infant at home for several months and then place it with Elizabeth Littlewood, a woman living nearby to nurse and raise for twelve to eighteen months.


Mrs Jane Austen spent the summer of 1770 in London with George's sister, Philadelphia, and her daughter Eliza, accompanied by his other sister, Mrs Walter and her daughter Philly.


From 1773 until 1796, George Jane Austen supplemented his income by farming and by teaching three or four boys at a time, who boarded at his home.


Jane Austen was from then home educated, until she attended boarding school with her sister from early in 1785 at the Reading Abbey Girls' School, ruled by Mrs La Tournelle.


Jane Austen's education came from reading, guided by her father and brothers James and Henry.


Irene Collins said that Jane Austen "used some of the same school books as the boys".


Jane Austen apparently had unfettered access both to her father's library and that of a family friend, Warren Hastings.

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Jane Austen's father was tolerant of Austen's sometimes risque experiments in writing, and provided both sisters with expensive paper and other materials for their writing and drawing.


From at least aged eleven, Jane Austen wrote poems and stories to amuse herself and her family.


Jane Austen's History parodied popular historical writing, particularly Oliver Goldsmith's History of England.


Honan speculates that not long after writing Love and Freindship, Jane Austen decided to "write for profit, to make stories her central effort", that is, to become a professional writer.


When she was around eighteen years old, Jane Austen began to write longer, more sophisticated works.


Between 1793 and 1795, Jane Austen wrote Lady Susan, a short epistolary novel, usually described as her most ambitious and sophisticated early work.


Jane Austen had just finished a university degree and was moving to London for training as a barrister.


Jane Austen wrote in her first surviving letter to her sister Cassandra that Lefroy was a "very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man".


However, it is clear that Jane Austen was genuinely attracted to Lefroy and subsequently none of her other suitors ever quite measured up to him.


Marriage was impractical as both Lefroy and Jane Austen must have known.


Jane Austen's sister remembered that it was read to the family "before 1796" and was told through a series of letters.


Jane Austen began a second novel, First Impressions, in 1796.


Cadell returned Mr Jane Austen's letter, marking it "Declined by Return of Post".


In 1797, Jane Austen met her cousin, Eliza de Feuillide, a French aristocrat whose first husband the Comte de Feuillide had been guillotined, causing her to flee to Britain, where she married Henry Jane Austen.


The manuscript remained in Crosby's hands, unpublished, until Jane Austen repurchased the copyright from him in 1816.


In December 1800, George Jane Austen unexpectedly announced his decision to retire from the ministry, leave Steventon, and move the family to 4, Sydney Place in Bath, Somerset.


Tomalin suggests this reflects a deep depression disabling her as a writer, but Honan disagrees, arguing Jane Austen wrote or revised her manuscripts throughout her creative life, except for a few months after her father died.


The critic Robert Irvine argued that if Jane Austen spent more time writing novels when she was in the countryside, it might just have been because she had more spare time as opposed to being more happy in the countryside as is often argued.


In December 1802, Jane Austen received her only known proposal of marriage.


However, Jane Austen had known him since both were young and the marriage offered many practical advantages to Jane Austen and her family.

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Jane Austen was the heir to extensive family estates located in the area where the sisters had grown up.


In 1804, while living in Bath, Jane Austen started, but did not complete, her novel The Watsons.


Honan suggests, and Tomalin agrees, that Jane Austen chose to stop work on the novel after her father died on 21 January 1805 and her personal circumstances resembled those of her characters too closely for her comfort.


Edward, James, Henry, and Francis Jane Austen pledged to make annual contributions to support their mother and sisters.


On 5 April 1809, about three months before the family's move to Chawton, Jane Austen wrote an angry letter to Richard Crosby, offering him a new manuscript of Susan if needed to secure the immediate publication of the novel, and requesting the return of the original so she could find another publisher.


Jane Austen did not have the resources to buy the copyright back at that time, but was able to purchase it in 1816.


Jane Austen's novels were published in larger editions than was normal for this period.


Jane Austen's novels were published in larger editions, ranging from about 750 copies of Sense and Sensibility to about 2,000 copies of Emma.


Jane Austen advertised the book widely and it was an immediate success, garnering three favourable reviews and selling well.


Jane Austen learned that the Prince Regent admired her novels and kept a set at each of his residences.


In November 1815, the Prince Regent's librarian James Stanier Clarke invited Jane Austen to visit the Prince's London residence and hinted Jane Austen should dedicate the forthcoming Emma to the Prince.


Jane Austen disapproved of the Prince Regent on the account of his womanising, gambling, drinking, spendthrift ways and generally disreputable behaviour.


Jane Austen later wrote Plan of a Novel, according to Hints from Various Quarters, a satiric outline of the "perfect novel" based on the librarian's many suggestions for a future Austen novel.


In mid-1815 Jane Austen moved her work from Egerton to John Murray, a better known London publisher, who published Emma in December 1815 and a second edition of Mansfield Park in February 1816.


Jane Austen was forced to postpone publishing either of these completed novels by family financial troubles.


Henry Jane Austen's bank failed in March 1816, depriving him of all of his assets, leaving him deeply in debt and costing Edward, James, and Frank Jane Austen large sums.


Jane Austen was feeling unwell by early 1816, but ignored the warning signs.


In January 1817, Jane Austen began The Brothers, completing twelve chapters before stopping work in mid-March 1817, probably due to illness.


Jane Austen put down her pen on 18 March 1817, making a note of it.


Jane Austen made light of her condition, describing it as "bile" and rheumatism.

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Jane Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817 at the age of 41.


Henry Jane Austen contributed a Biographical Note dated December 1817, which for the first time identified his sister as the author of the novels.


The earliest English novelists, Richardson, Henry Fielding and Tobias Smollett, were followed by the school of sentimentalists and romantics such as Walter Scott, Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve, Ann Radcliffe, and Oliver Goldsmith, whose style and genre Jane Austen repudiated, returning the novel on a "slender thread" to the tradition of Richardson and Fielding for a "realistic study of manners".


Jane Austen attempted Richardson's epistolary style, but found the flexibility of narrative more conducive to her realism, a realism in which each conversation and gesture carries a weight of significance.


Rather than delving too deeply into the psyche of her characters, Jane Austen enjoys them and imbues them with humour, according to critic John Bayley.


Jane Austen believes that the well-spring of her wit and irony is her own attitude that comedy "is the saving grace of life".


Part of Jane Austen's fame rests on the historical and literary significance that she was the first woman to write great comic novels.


Jane Austen's humour comes from her modesty and lack of superiority, allowing her most successful characters, such as Elizabeth Bennet, to transcend the trivialities of life, which the more foolish characters are overly absorbed in.


Jane Austen used comedy to explore the individualism of women's lives and gender relations, and she appears to have used it to find the goodness in life, often fusing it with "ethical sensibility", creating artistic tension.


Notwithstanding Walter Scott's positivity, Jane Austen's work did not match the prevailing aesthetic values of the Romantic zeitgeist.


Jane Austen's novels were republished in Britain from the 1830s and sold steadily, but they were not best-sellers.


The first French critic who paid notice to Jane Austen was Philarete Chasles in an 1842 essay, dismissing her in two sentences as a boring, imitative writer with no substance.


Jane Austen was almost completely ignored in France until 1878, when the French critic Leon Boucher published the essay Le Roman Classique en Angleterre, in which he called Jane Austen a "genius", the first French author to do so.


In Britain, Jane Austen gradually grew in the estimation of the literati.


The first dissertation on Jane Austen was published in 1883, by George Pellew, a student at Harvard University.


Chapman published the first scholarly edition of Jane Austen's collected works, which was the first scholarly edition of any English novelist.


Lascelles analyzed the books Jane Austen read and their influence on her work, and closely examined Jane Austen's style and "narrative art".


The period since World War II has seen a diversity of critical approaches to Jane Austen, including feminist theory, and perhaps most controversially, postcolonial theory.


Jane Austen's novels have resulted in sequels, prequels and adaptations of almost every type, from soft-core pornography to fantasy.


The first dramatic adaptation of Austen was published in 1895, Rosina Filippi's Duologues and Scenes from the Novels of Jane Austen: Arranged and Adapted for Drawing-Room Performance, and Filippi was responsible for the first professional stage adaptation, The Bennets.

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The British critic Robert Irvine noted that in American film adaptations of Jane Austen's novels, starting with the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice, class is subtly downplayed, and the society of Regency England depicted by Jane Austen that is grounded in a hierarchy based upon the ownership of land and the antiquity of the family name is one that Americans cannot embrace in its entirety.


From 1995, many Jane Austen adaptations appeared, with Ang Lee's film of Sense and Sensibility, for which screenwriter and star Emma Thompson won an Academy Award, and the BBC's immensely popular TV mini-series Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.


In 2013, Jane Austen's works featured on a series of UK postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail to mark the bicentenary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.


In July 2017, a statue of Jane Austen was erected in Basingstoke, Hampshire on the 200th anniversary of her death.