Skip to main content
Login to unlock Email share
Biographical information concerning Jane Austen is "famously scarce", according to one biographer.Only some personal and family letters remain (by one estimate only 160 out of Austen's 3,000 letters are extant), and her sister Cassandra (to whom most of the letters were originally addressed) burned "the greater part" of the ones she kept and censored those she did not destroy.Other letters were destroyed by the heirs of Admiral Francis Austen, Jane's brother. Most of the biographical material produced for fifty years after Austen's death was written by her relatives and reflects the family's biases in favour of "good quiet Aunt Jane". Scholars have unearthed little information since.
Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years into her thirties. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she tried then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it.Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture. In 2007, the article Rejecting Jane by British author David Lassman, which examined how Austen would fare in the modern day publishing industry, became the literary story of the year behind the publication of J. K. Rowling's final instalment of the Harry Potter series.
FamilyAusten's parents, George Austen (1731–1805), and his wife Cassandra (1739–1827), were members of substantial gentry families.George was descended from a family of woollen manufacturers, which had risen through the professions to the lower ranks of the landed gentry.Cassandra was a member of the prominent Leigh family; they married on 26 April 1764 at Walcot Church in Bath. From 1765 until 1801, that is, for much of Jane's life, George Austen served as the rector of the Anglican parishes at Steventon, Hampshire, and a nearby village. From 1773 until 1796, he supplemented this income by farming and by teaching three or four boys at a time who boarded at his home.Austen's immediate family was large: six brothers—James (1765–1819), George (1766–1838), Edward (1767–1852), Henry Thomas (1771–1850), Francis William (Frank) (1774–1865), Charles John (1779–1852)—and one sister, Cassandra Elizabeth (Steventon, Hampshire, 9 January 1773–1845), who, like Jane, died unmarried. Cassandra was Austen's closest friend and confidante throughout her life. Of her brothers, Austen felt closest to Henry, who became a banker and, after his bank failed, an Anglican clergyman. Henry was also his sister's literary agent. His large circle of friends and acquaintances in London included bankers, merchants, publishers, painters, and actors: he provided Austen with a view of social worlds not normally visible from a small parish in rural Hampshire. George was sent to live with a local family at a young age because, as Austen biographer Le Faye describes it, he was "mentally abnormal and subject to fits". He may also have been deaf and mute. Charles and Frank served in the navy, both rising to the rank of admiral. Edward was adopted by his fourth cousin, Thomas Knight, inheriting Knight's estate and taking his name in 1812.
List of worksNovelsSense and Sensibility (1811) Pride and Prejudice (1813) Mansfield Park (1814) Emma (1815) Northanger Abbey (1818, posthumous) Persuasion (1818, posthumous) Short fictionLady Susan (1794, 1805) Unfinished fictionThe Watsons (1804) Sanditon (1817) Other worksSir Charles Grandison (1793, 1800)Plan of a Novel (1815) Poems Prayers Letters Juvenilia – Volume the FirstFrederic & Elfrida Jack & Alice Edgar & Emma Henry and Eliza The Adventures of Mr. Harley Sir William Mountague Memoirs of Mr. Clifford The Beautifull Cassandra ·Amelia Webster ·The Visit ·The Mystery ·The Three Sisters ·A beautiful description ·The generous Curate ·Ode to Pity Juvenilia – Volume the SecondLove and Freindship ·Lesley Castle The History of England ·A Collection of Letters ·The female philosopher ·The first Act of a Comedy ·A Letter from a Young Lady ·A Tour through Wales ·A Tale Juvenilia – Volume the ThirdEvelyn Catharine, or the Bower See alsoFamily tree showing Jane Austen, her parents and her siblings Family tree showing Jane Austen's siblings and her nephews and nieces Timeline of Jane Austen Styles and themes of Jane Austen
Popular Films :
popular works of the writer :