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...)

Selected article

MemoirJaneAusten.jpg
A Memoir of Jane Austen is a biography of the novelist Jane Austen published in 1869 by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. A second edition was published in 1871 which included previously unpublished Jane Austen writings. A family project, the biography was written by James Edward Austen-Leigh but owed much to the recollections of Jane Austen's many relatives. However, it was the decisions of her close friend and sister, Cassandra Austen, to destroy many of Jane's letters after her death that shaped the material available for the biography.

Austen-Leigh described his "dear Aunt Jane" domestically, as someone who was uninterested in fame and who only wrote in her spare time. However, the manuscripts appended to the second edition suggest that Jane Austen was intensely interested in revising her manuscripts and was perhaps less content than Austen-Leigh described her. The Memoir does not attempt to unreservedly tell the story of Jane Austen's life. Following the Victorian conventions of biography, it kept much private information from the public, but family members disagreed over just how much should be revealed, for example, regarding Austen's romantic relationships. (more...)

Selected biography

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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Jane Austen Winchester.jpg
Memorial gravestone of Jane Austen in Winchester Cathedral, where she is buried.

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