Biography of Jane Austen

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English writer. She is particularly famous for her novels “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma”.


Steventon 1775-1801

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 in Steventon in the southern English county of Hampshire. Her father was a clergyman in the local parish. Jane was the seventh of eight children; she had a sister and six brothers. The father William George Austen (1731-1805) and the mother Cassandra Austen, nee Leigh (1739-1827) came from well-established old families. They had wealthy relatives.

The Austens ran an open house and the children grew up quite carefree. Jane’s literary interest was nurtured in many ways. Her father owned an extensive library, and so Jane came into contact with the works of famous writers at an early age. The Austen loved books and especially novels. Everyone liked reading and a lot; sometimes they put on small plays in family circles. Jane was already writing her own prose at the age of eleven. These were mostly amusing parodies of contemporary literature that she read for the entertainment of the family.

Jane had a particularly close relationship with her only sister, Cassandra (1773-1845) , who was three years her senior . There was a lively correspondence between them that lasted until Jane Austen’s death. None of the sisters married; they lived in their parents’ house. They wrote to each other regularly during their visits to their brothers’ families. Today the letters provide essential information about the life of the famous writer. Unfortunately, after Jane’s death, Cassandra completely or partially destroyed many of the letters that seemed too private to her.

In her early twenties, Jane Austen wrote the first versions of her later great novels. In 1797 the manuscript on “Pride and Prejudice” was written. Her father offered the work to a publisher, who refused it.

Bath 1801-1805

In 1801 Jane Austen’s father retired and moved the family to the elegant spa town of Bath. Jane was shocked when she first found out about the planned move. She didn’t feel comfortable in the fashionable seaside resort. In 1802 she turned away a younger man who wanted to marry her. She didn’t write much in Bath. Only a few testimonies from that time have survived. After the father’s death in 1805, the mother and her two daughters left the place.

Southampton and Chawton 1805-1817

After a few stops, including in Southampton, the women settled in Chawton, Hampshire in 1809. Here the author spent the last years of her life quite secluded in a country house on the manor house of her brother Edward.

It was not until 1811 and 1813 that Jane Austen’s novels “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice” were published for the first time. “Mind and Feeling” is the story of two women, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Both suffer from an unhappy love. While Elinor behaves sensibly and suffers in silence, her sister Marianne shows herself openly and reacts with violent feelings. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy must overcome pride and prejudice before they can admit their love. Along with Romeo and Juliet, the two are the most famous lovers in English literature.

Jane Austen’s humorous novels focus on strong female characters. Mostly young women from the country look for their way in life and – according to the social order of the time – a husband. A love story is always (also) told. In the end, after difficulties and entanglements with a love marriage, everything turns out for the better.

The author combines this rather conventional romantic plot with a virtuoso art of language and a very modern style. At the same time, Austen’s novels convince with skillfully composed dramatic plot elements. Your social observations and descriptions are extremely precise. With fine irony, she outlines the English class society of the early 19th century.

Jane Austen published under the pseudonym »by a lady« during her lifetime. Readers were delighted with the novels – and Austen’s authorship soon became an open secret.

Winchester 1817

Jane Auston fell seriously ill in Chawton. Presumably it was the then incurable adrenal insufficiency. In the spring of 1817 she went to Winchester for treatment, where she died on July 18, 1817 . Jane Austen was only 41 years old.

Unbroken fame

In England, Jane Austen is a national literary heritage. The Chawton country house where she spent the last years of her life is now a museum dedicated to her . On the 200th anniversary of the cult author’s death in 2017, a ten pound banknote with her portrait was put into circulation in the UK .

Jane Austen’s novels were already successful during her lifetime and were also translated into many languages at that time. However, the works only achieved great popularity later. With more than 20 million copies sold and various film adaptations, “Pride and Prejudice” is now one of the most successful classics of English national literature .


1811 “Sense and Sensibility” Novel

1813 “Pride and Prejudice” Novel

1814 “Mansfield Park” Novel

1816 “Emma” Novel

1817 “Northanger Abbey” Novel

1817 “Persuasion” Novel

1825 “Sanditon” Novel, unfinished

1871 “Lady Susan” Epistle novel


“The more I get to know about the world, the more I am convinced that I will never meet a man I can love. I ask so much! ”

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

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

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“Is not general incivility the very essence of love?”

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”

Jane Austen, Pride and Predjudice



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