Portal:Jane Austen

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Jane Austen

Jane Austen

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. (more...)

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Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen's novels to be completed for publication, though she had previously made a start on Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Originally titled Susan, the novel was written approximately during 1798–99. It was revised by Austen for the press in 1803, and sold in the same year for £10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co., who decided against publishing. In 1817, the bookseller was content to sell it back to the novelist's brother, Henry Austen, for the exact sum — £10 — that he had paid for it at the beginning, not knowing that the writer was by then the author of four popular novels. The novel was further revised before being brought out posthumously in late December 1817 (1818 given on the title-page), as the first two volumes of a four-volume set with Persuasion.

Northanger Abbey is fundamentally a parody of Gothic fiction. Austen turns the conventions of eighteenth-century novels on their head, by making her heroine a plain and undistinguished girl from a middle-class family, allowing the heroine to fall in love with the hero before he has a serious thought of her, and exposing the heroine's romantic fears and curiosities as groundless. Austen biographer Claire Tomalin speculates that Austen may have begun this book, which is more explicitly comic than her other works and contains many literary allusions that her parents and siblings would have enjoyed, as a family entertainment—a piece of lighthearted parody to be read aloud by the fireside. (more...)

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Fanny Price is the heroine in Jane Austen's 1814 novel Mansfield Park. Austen describes Fanny Price as "extremely timid and shy, shrinking from notice", and repeatedly reinforces that Fanny is shy, timid, and afraid of everyone and everything.

Fanny is the eldest daughter of an obscure and poor retired Marine lieutenant in Portsmouth, who is father to eight other children. Fanny's mother's sisters, the wealthy Lady Bertram and Mrs Norris, offer to take her in and bring her up at Sir Thomas Bertram's estate, Mansfield Park in Northamptonshire. Upon her first arriving in Mansfield, she is intimidated by her new home and her cousins (Thomas, Edmund, Maria and Julia), and is very homesick. None of her cousins are very obliging to her except Edmund, the younger son, who befriends her and helps her adapt to her new life. Mrs Norris, who prefers her richer cousins, constantly emphasises her inferiority, while Fanny's female cousins make fun of her apparent ignorance. As she grows, she finds Edmund to be a considerate companion and confidante, and she also becomes attracted to him. (more...)

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Silhouette of Cassandra Austen (1773–1845), unknown date

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