Biography

Facts about Jane Austen

27 Jane Austen facts

Icon of the world novel of manners

Jane Austen is an English writer known as an expert on the psyche of the fair sex. She is the author of novels that described the life of the English upper class at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Jane Austen's novels were among the first to broadly expose the issue of social roles of women in nineteenth-century England. Jane Austen was a great observer of life. Although she lived on the sidelines and in a small town, she perfectly reflected the nuances of the "great" life of the upper classes. She grew up under the watchful eye of her father and oldest brother.

The plot of her works focuses mainly on exposing the flaws of British society at the time. When commenting on the state of the upper classes, she often used irony, humor and realistic descriptions. Some critics characterize Jane Austen as a feminist writer because her novels mostly tell about the problems of well-born women in Britain at the end of the eighteenth century. However, the fates of her well-drawn, resolute, and realistic protagonists continue to attract readers worldwide to this day. A love story full of twists and turns usually completes her novels.

Jane Austen
1
Jane Austin was born on 16 December 1775 in Stevenson near Basingstoke, Hempshire.
2
Jane's father, George Austin, was an educated minister of the Anglican Church.
As a promising young man, he won an academic scholarship that enabled him to study at Oxford's St. John's College, where he also worked as vice chaplain and dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts. During his studies, he earned a bachelor of arts, a master of arts, and a bachelor of theology and taught Greek.
3
Jane's mother, Cassandra Leigh, came from a prominent family-her father was a rector of All Souls College in Oxford.
He met his eight-years younger wife when Cassandra came to Oxford to visit her uncle. George's family was not present at the wedding, and the bride wore a red riding suit.
4
The family lived on his father's modest income of £600 a year.
It was a modest income at the time; by comparison, a skilled laborer - a blacksmith or carpenter - could earn about £100 a year, and the typical annual income of a noble family was between £1000 and £5000. From Jane's letters written to her family (over 100 letters written to Cassandra have survived), we can learn that she had a happy childhood, surrounded by care and love.
5
Jane had numerous siblings - six brothers and one sister.

Her eldest brother James was ordained to the priesthood and served in the parish of Steventon towards the end of his life.

The second brother - George - was disabled and possibly deaf from birth and did not live with his family in Steventon.

Edward - the third brother - was adopted by Austen's cousins Thomas and Catherine Knight and inherited a substantial estate in the county of Kent. Jane Austen was friends with his eldest daughter - Fanny Knight.

The fourth brother - Henry - was Jane's favorite. He was very handsome and studied at Oxford like his eldest brother. In 1797 he married Eliza Feuillide, ten years older than himself, a cousin of the Austens.

The two youngest brothers - Frank and Charles - joined the navy and fought in the British fleet. Jane's sister Cassandra became engaged to Thomas Fowle, who went to the Caribbean as a chaplain, where he contracted fever, from which he died. Jane had a strong emotional connection to Cassandra and maintained constant contact with her. Their letters provide a rich source of information about the writer's life.

6
Jane received her education primarily at home, learning drawing, music, and dance.
Jane's parents were avid readers, which they also strongly encouraged their daughter to do. As a result, Jane's father's library numbered half a thousand books. Jane also occasionally attended school (Mrs. Cawley's at Oxford, Southampton and then Abbey School, a boarding school in Reading), so she received a broader education than her peers.
7
Jane Austin's first literary attempts date from 1787 (she was 12 years old at the time).
Between 1787 and 1793, she wrote stories and farces (including humorous short stories and a history of England, illustrated by her sister Cassandra), which initially provided entertainment only for her family. Her early works were characterized by the eloquence and keen observation. Between 1795 and 1799, the first drafts of her novels "First Impressions" and "Lady Susan" were written and eventually published many years later as "Pride and Prejudice" and "Northanger Abbey."
8
Jane Austen's first novel - "Sense and Sensibility" was published in 1811 in three volumes as a work, "By a Lady."
The first version of the novel, previously titled "Elinor and Marianne," was written in 1795 as a collection of letters. The novel's plot revolves around the lives of two sisters, Eleanor Dashwood, who exhibits calmness of mind, intelligence, and prudence in even the most difficult situations, and Marianne Dashwood, who has a more romantic and emotional nature.
9
The novel Pride and Prejudice was written between October 1796 and August 1797.

Jane revised a manuscript titled "First Impressions" in 1812 and with the revised title was published as the one-volume novel "Pride and Prejudice." Undoubtedly, this is the most famous novel by the author. The plot of "Pride and Prejudice" tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet, who falls in love with Mr. Darcy - a wealthy aristocrat with an ambiguous reputation. Gradually discovering his story, first from the mouths of outsiders, then told by Darcy himself, the girl learns that it is not worth relying on gossip. The couple can happily be together when Darcy is finally cleared of all charges.  

The novel was soon published in different volumes. 

10
The novel "Mansfield Park" was published in 1814 in three volumes. The Star magazine advertised it as a new novel by the author of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility."
Jane wrote it from 1811 to 1813. The main character of this novel is radically different from the protagonists of "Pride and Prejudice" or "Sense and Sensibility" and this makes "Mansfield Park" unique in the author's literary canon. The novel focuses on the fate of Fanny Price, who grows up in the home of wealthy relatives. Although however, Fanny herself is not richly born. She also has a relatively quiet and modest nature. Fanny leads a rather colorless life, aware that her low estate rules out a normal future. In the world where she lives, a woman's personality does not matter, only money and social position. Only her friendship with her well-to-do cousin Edmund, who appreciates her femininity, slowly makes Fanny realize that not all is lost.
11
The novel "Emma" was published in 1816 in three volumes, with an added dedication to the Prince Regent.
It was written between 21 January 1814 and 29 March 1815. Jane began work on a book about a heroine who, in her own words, no one but her would like. The novel tells the story of Emma Woodhouse - a well-born, young and spoiled maiden who tries to play matchmaker. Her interference in the love lives of the villagers of Highbury leads to many unfortunate yet funny misunderstandings.
12
An admirer of Jane's novels was the Prince Regent - later King George IV, who kept a set of all her novels in every residence.
Upon hearing that Jane Austen was in London before the publication of "Emma," the Duke instructed his librarian, the Reverend James Stainer Clarke, to give the writer a tour of the royal library. During this visit, Mr. Clarke suggested that Jane consider dedicating her next novel to the Prince Regent. At first, Jane ignored the suggestion because she could not stand the prince, but under the influence of her sister Cassandra and brother Henry, she changed her mind. Finally, the siblings made her realize that it was the prince's order, conveyed in the form of a suggestion. Jane was therefore forced to send the dedication to the publisher.
13
Several reviews of "Emma" were published, including one by Walter Scott - but written anonymously. The writer praised the novel for its faithful representation of life and quiet humor.
14
In 1818, "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasions" were published.

The first novel was written between 1798 and 1799 under the title - "Susan." Although the manuscript was sold to a publisher, the book was not published. Finally, in 1816, Henry Austen managed to buy back the book from the publisher.

"Persuasions" was written between 8 August 1815 and 1816. Both novels were published in four volumes after Jane Austen's death as the work of "the Author of Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park." However, this edition included a biographical note by the author.

15
"Northanger Abbey" is a parody of the so-called Gothic novel, a literary genre extremely popular in Britain at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The novel's main character - young and naive Catherine- must learn to distinguish between reality and unrealistic gothic fiction. Although Jane Austen was fond of the gothic novel, in "Northanger Abbey," the author makes fun of this genre.  

"Persuasions" tells the story of the fate of Anne Elliot, a twenty-seven-year-old maiden who, at the urging of her family, refused to marry her beloved Frederick Wentworth - Frederick was not financially secure when he asked Anne to marry him. "Persuasion" is a particularly lauded entry by Jane Austen, mainly because of the personality of the main character, who is not one-dimensional and believable. 

16
Jane Austen never married, although her romances and fleeting loves took place.

With Irishman Thomas Leyfroy, a law student whom she met in late 1795 and early 1796, she flirted at three balls and ended the acquaintance. However, based on today's information, mainly from letters that have survived to the present day, we can assume that the relationship may have lasted longer. Austen herself was more involved in it (she wrote to her sister: "You scold me so much in the nice long letter which I have this moment received from you, that I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together."). 


Austen's second love adventure occurred during one of her annual trips to the seaside. While she and her family were living in Bath, she met an amiable young man there who, according to Cassandra, had fallen utterly in love with Jane, and his proposal would be accepted. Circumstances, however, meant that the young man had to leave and news soon reached the sisters that the young man had died.

In December 1802, Jane and Cassandra were with family friends in Hampshire - Mr. and Mrs. Bigg Manydown. There she met Harris Bigg-Wither, six years younger, who proposed to Jane - without hesitation, she agreed to marry him. Unfortunately, the very next day she reversed her decision and together with Cassandra hastily returned to Bath. Austen admitted that her fiancé had a "bad physique. He was also a gullible man who spoke little, and when he did, he could be aggressive and completely lacked tact. 

17
Jane Austen died on 18 July 1817 in Winchester at the age of 41.
The cause of the writer's death is unknown. It is speculated that she may have died of Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency), tuberculosis, or cancer. Recently, a new clue has emerged. According to British Library staff, Austen may have accidentally poisoned herself with arsenic. The theory is supported by several facts linking to the writer's deteriorating eyesight.
18
Austen's works have repeatedly inspired filmmakers.
Many Hollywood productions lived to see the novels: "Pride and Prejudice," which was screened as many as ten times, "Sense and Sensibility," "Mansfield Park" and "Emma."
19
The 1940 adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice"- "In Pursuit of a Husband" won an Oscar.
Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier played the roles of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
20
In 1995, a television adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" - a miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, was awarded an Emmy statuette.
21
In Joe Wright's 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, young lovers struggling with social conventions, barriers, and prejudices were played by Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.
22
Made in 1996, this adaptation of "Emma" received 2 Oscar nominations - it won the statuette for Best Original Score.
The title character, Emma Woodhouse, was played by Gwyneth Partlow.
23
Jane Austen's life was brought to the screen in films such as "Jane in Love" and" Miss Austen Regrets."
In "Jane in Love" the role of Jane was played by Anne Hathaway, and in "Jane Austen Regrets," describing the last years of the writer's life, Olivia Willliams.
24
Jane Austen was an expert at brewing spruce beer.
At a time when drinking beer was sometimes safer than consuming permanently contaminated water, low-alcohol beers were regularly produced in homes. The beverage was consumed during all meals and was also served to children. Austen wrote about spruce beer in "Emma".
25
In 2017, a £10 bill with Jane Austen's likeness was introduced into circulation in the United Kingdom.
It is the only British banknote to have an image of a woman on the reverse (apart from the British Queen, whose image is on the obverse as an image of the monarch).
26
Jane Austen's letter, dated 29-30 October 1812, sent to her favorite niece Anna Lefroy, in which the writer parodied a Gothic novel she had read, sold for over £162,000 at auction on 11 July 2017.
27
The city of Bath in the county of Somerset is home to the Jane Austen Centre.
The writer lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806, and the city is the setting for her two novels: "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasions." The Jane Austen Centre offers a permanent exhibition telling the story of Bath's most famous resident. Actors in period costume give an introductory lecture; you can sample period food, dress in Regency era costume and have your picture taken with a wax figure of Jane Austen.
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