Jane Austen

Born on 16 December 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire, Jane Austen was one of eight children of George Austen, a clergyman, who assisted as the rector of the Anglican parishes. Jane began writing as a teenager. In 1783, along with her sister Cassandra, she was sent to Oxford where she was taught by Mrs Ann Cawley. When the sisters caught typhus, both were sent home and Jane attended boarding school in Reading from early 1785. Since the Austen family couldn’t afford the school fees, Jane returned home in 1786. In 1796, Jane began writing First Impressions and completed the first draft in August 1797,  (later published as Pride and Prejudice). During this time, her father tried publishing one of his daughter’s novels. In her early years, Jane had unrestricted access to her father’s library and her father too would provide her expensive stationery to encourage her. In 1797, George Austen wrote to Thomas Cadell, a famous publisher in London, asking if First Impressions could be considered. Meanwhile, during mid-1798, Jane began working on Susan (later published as Northanger Abbey). Again, the manuscript was offered to a London publisher who paid 10 pounds for the copyright. The book remained unpublished for a long time and eventually, Jane had to repurchase the copyright from the publisher in 1816. Northanger Abbey was published posthumously in 1818. In 1816, Jane’s health deteriorated due to Addison’s disease, and she went to Winchester for treatment. She died there on 18 July 1817. As a writer, Jane achieved critical acclaim only after her death. Her body of works include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. In 1833, her works were republished in Richard Bentley’s Standard Novels series, and illustrated by Ferdinand Pickering. These became immensely popular and almost 52 years after her death, in 1869, her nephew published A Memoir of Jane Austen, reintroducing the writer to her readers.