Jane Austen is undoubtedly a household name. One of the first female authors of note, Jane Austen and her work are known for critiques of the British gentry, women’s reliance upon marriage for personal survival, and women’s desire for true affection at the close of the 18th century.
Jane was one of eight children born from George and Cassandra Austen. While she did receive some formal education, when the cost became too much for the family, she was tutored by her father and brother, and also had access to her father’s extensive library. The family was known for being devoted bookworms. Austen once wrote:
It is believed that Jane only truly loved one man: Tom Lefroy. The union was doomed, however, because neither had money and their marriage wouldn’t make any financial sense.
While she did receive one proposal, which she accepted initially, Jane rejected the offer the next day, presumably because she believed in marrying for affection, not financial security.
Instead of marrying, Austen devoted her life to her writing.
Perhaps a lesser known fact is that her first four novels — Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma — were all published within six years before her death in 1817. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were, sadly, both published after her death in 1818, with help from her brother Henry and sister Cassandra. In 1832, publisher Richard Bentley secured the remaining copyrights to all of her novels, and her works have been in print since.
So here’s to you, Jane, on what would be your 243rd birthday. While you’re no longer with us, your works will be eternally known.