Jane Austen

(1775 – 1817)

author portraitBiographical Sketch

Jane Austen (Steventon Rectory, Hampshire, England, December 16, 1775 – Winchester, Hampshire, England, July 18, 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 have gained 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 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.

Biographical information concerning Jane Austen is scarce. 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 a large 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.

Read more about Jane Austen on Wikipedia.

 

Bibliography

Novels and Novel Fragments
  • The Three Sisters (1792)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1811)
  • Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  • Mansfield Park (1814)
  • Emma (1815)
  • Northanger Abbey (1818)
  • Persuasion (1818)
  • Lady Susan (1871)
  • The Watsons (1871)
  • Sanditon (1871)
Juvenalia, Short Fiction and Poetry
  • Juvenilia I (1933)
  • Juvenilia II (1951)
  • Juvenilia III (1963)
  • Henry and Eliza (1984)
  • Sanditon and Other Stories (1996)
  • Collected Poems and Verse of the Austen Family (1996)
  • The Poetry of Jane Austen and the Austen Family (1997)
  • Catharine and Other Writings (1998)
  • Love and Friendship and Other Early Works (2001)
Correspondence and Compilations
  • Letters (1925)
  • Jane Austen’s Letters
    To Her Sister Cassandra and Others (1964)
  • Selected Letters, 1796-1817 (1985)
  • The Sayings of Jane Austen (1993)
  • Jane Austen’s Little Instruction Book (1995)
  • Jane Austen’s Letters (1997)
  • Jane Austen’s Universal Truths (1997)
  • A Jane Austen Miscellany:
    Sisters, Suitors, Familes, Friends (1999)
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen (1999)
  • The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen (2002)
Online editions of Jane Austen’s works:

 

 A Selection of Quotes

Pride and Prejudice

“Miss Bingley’s congratulations to her brother, on his approaching marriage, were all that was affectionate and insincere.”

“Oh, Lizzy! do anything rather than marry without affection.”

“You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.”

“I do assure you, Sir, that I have no pretension whatever of that kind of elegance which consists in tormenting a respectable man. I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere. I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible. My feelings in every respect forbid it. Can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart.”

“I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”

“Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how.”

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! – When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Persuasion

“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”
“Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”

“If there is any thing disagreeable going on, men are always sure to get out of it.”

“Woe betide him, and her too, when it comes to things of consequence, when they are placed in circumstances requiring fortitude and strength of mind, if she have not resolution enough to resist idle interference … It is the worst evil of too yielding and indecisive a character, that no influence over it can be depended on. You are never sure of a good impression being durable; everybody may sway it. Let those who would be happy be firm.”

“What! Would I be turned back from doing a thing that I had determined to do, and that I knew to be right, by the airs and interference of such a person, or any person I may say? No, I have no idea of being so easily persuaded. When I have made up my mind, I have made it.”

“One man’s ways may be as good as another’s, but we all like our own best.”

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn – that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness – that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”

Mansfield Park

“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”

“Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.”

“If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.”

“A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself.”

“But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an Englishman’s constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct. No man of any brain can open at a good part of one of his plays without falling into the flow of his meaning immediately.”

Sense and Sensibility

“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”

“Elinor agreed with it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.”

Northanger Abbey

“The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author; and to her treatment of the subject I will only add, in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance.”

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

“To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.”

“But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. Can you?”
“Yes, I am fond of history.”
“I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all – it is very tiresome.”

Emma

“You must be the best judge of your own happiness.”

“It was a delightful visit; – perfect, in being much too short.”

“Without music, life would be a blank to me.”

“Why not seize the pleasure at once? – How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”

Catharine and Other Writings

“[I]f a book is well written, I always find it too short.”

Find more quotes by Jane Austen on Wikiquote and Goodreads.

 

Links

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

Advertisements