Sense & Sensibility was first published in 1811. Jane Austen wrote about two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who become relatively poor after their father dies. They, along with their mother and younger sister, are forced to take up residence in a small cottage and do without most of the luxuries to which they were once accustomed.

By this time, Elinor had fallen in love with a man named Edward Ferrars, a soft-spoken person who wants to become a clergyman. Marianne has also fallen in love with John Willoughby, a gregarious individual who enjoys hunting, music, and Shakespeare. Circumstances later force these couples apart. Elinor discovers that Edward has been secretly engaged to a woman named Lucy Steele for the past five years while Marianne learns that Willoughby, due to a prior sexual indiscretion, must now marry a woman who is worth several thousand pounds to avoid abject poverty.

Throughout the story, Elinor remained resolute in keeping her emotions in check. She refused to display her suffering to the people around her. Marianne, however, worked herself into such a frenzy of depression that she almost dies from a fever. She eventually regained her emotional and physical health and later married a man named Colonel Brandon (who had loved almost from the time of their first meeting). And by the end of the story, Elinor did get to marry Edward after Lucy abandoned him and married his younger brother.

Jane Austen was anonymous as an author at this point. Her first novel was extremely popular with the general reading public. Originally, Jane had considered telling this story in a letter format, but later decided against that.  Sense & Sensibility provides great insight into her opinion's on love and marriage. She believed that love should be the basis of all marriages, not wealth or family connections. However, it is not entirely clear which sister from the story actually voiced Jane's true opinion when it came to behavior in that society. She was sympathetic toward Marianne - the sister who was determined to let everyone know what she was feeling. And yet, Elinor, ever the voice of reason and calmness, seemed to receive greater development as a character. It is largely a matter of personal preference today as to which sister the author actually supported more in this story. Sense & Sensibility remains highly popular to this day, typically taking third place in most lists of Austen readers' favorites.