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Jane Austen - Her Books

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Jane Austen was an astute observer of the people around her. She also had a sharp, rather sarcastic sense of humor. Her surviving letters to her sister attest to this fact.

She spent the first twenty-five years of her life at the village of Steventon. However, after her father retired, he decided to move his remaining family to Bath. It was rumored that Jane fainted upon receiving the news. She disliked Bath immensely, so much so that she apparently did not write for the decade she lived there.

After the death of her father, Jane, her sister Cassandra, their mother, and a friend named Martha Lloyd were given Chawton Cottage (located in Hampshire) by Jane's wealthy older brother Edward. Jane did most of her writing and revising in a small sitting room in that cottage.

With the aid of her brother Henry, Jane was able to publish Sense & Sensibility (1811), Pride & Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). She had hoped to remain anonymous, but Henry had other plans for her. Jane received a great deal of praise for her first two novels. Mansfield Park received mixed reviews - some readers loved the story, Fanny Price, and her strong moral character while others were disgusted. The majority of the readers who disliked Mansfield Park felt that Fanny was too passive and quiet. Emma was well received despite Jane's feelings that no one would ever like the character of Emma Woodhouse. Jane's final two completed novels (Persuasion and Northanger Abbey) were published in 1817, mere months after her death.

Jane died at the age of forty-one from what was likely either cancer or Addison's disease in the summer of 1817. Her funeral was private but she had many devoted fans who mourned her passing. Her mother would outlive Jane for almost a decade and her sister lived on almost thirty years after Jane's death.

She wrote superb novels. It sometimes surprises new readers that Jane did not write extensively about the events occurring in the England at the time. Instead, her novels typically describe young people and their progress and missteps toward marriage. And, by the end of the story, her good characters have married well with foundations of mutual love, respect, and understanding.

 

 

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