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JANE AUSTEN

1775-1817
English

"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was born on December 16th at Steventon in Hampshire, the seventh child of the Reverend George Austen and his wife Cassandra. In 1783 Jane and her older sister Cassandra went briefly to be taught by a Mrs Cawley, who lived first in Oxford and then moved to Southampton. They were brought home from Southampton after the outbreak of an infectious disease, and in 1785 they went to the Abbey boarding school in Reading, however they returned home in 1786 and this proved to be their only education outside of the family. 

Jane enjoyed social events, and her early letters tell of dances and parties; however, there is little solid evidence of any serious courtship with men, apart from a mutual flirtation with an Irishman Thomas Lefroy and an unsubstantiated story of a holiday romance with ‘a young man’, who supposedly told Jane, when parting at the end of the holiday, that he would seek her out again. However, they heard a little time later that he had died. 

In 1801 when Jane’s father retired, the family moved to Bath, and then in 1806 to Southampton. Three years later, together with her sister and mother, she moved to Chawton, near Alton and Winchester, where her brother Edward provided a small house on one of his estates. She remained there for the rest of her life until she died on Friday 18th July 1817 aged 41. It was not known what caused her death, but it seems likely that it was Addison’s disease.  

Her literary career began at the age of fifteen, when she started work on her Juvenilia, which were written between 1787 and 1793, they are collected in three volumes and were originally written for the amusement of her family. 

Earlier versions of her novels were all begun and worked on from 1795 to 1799. Sense and Sensibility was finally published in 1811, Pride and Prejudice in 1813, Mansfield Park in 1814, Emma in 1816. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were both published posthumously in 1818. In her works she generally portrayed small groups of people in a limited environment, and moulding the trivial incidents of their lives into a comedy of manners. Most of her characters are middle-class in constant pursuit of courtship and marriage.

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