Jane Austen, 1775 - 1817

portrait of Jane Austen
Watercolor and pencil sketch by her sister Cassandra (ca. 1810)
Jane Austen signature

Born: 16 December 1775, Steventon, Hampshire, England, UK
Died: 18 July 1817, Winchester, Hampshire, England, UK

Austen was born at her father's rectory, the seventh child and second daughter, and she lived with at least one member of her family her entire life. She and her older sister Cassandra were sent in 1783 to Oxford for tutoring but returned when both girls caught typhus, and their further education was in their fathers library. Jane was encouraged to write, including a novel that resembled the ironic look at society she would later be known for, a history of England, and juvenalia. She was fond of dancing and attended balls at the fine houses in the neighborhood, which became a frequent element in her later novels. In 1801 her father retired, leaving "the Steventon living" to his eldest son James, and moved the family to Bath, much to Jane's distaste, and she wrote little there. In the next several years she fell in love (the young man died), she received her only proposal of marriage (she said yes, but then said no the next day), her father died, the Austen ladies moved to Southampton, and her brother's banking business which supported the family failed. In 1809 another brother Edward offered a permanent home at Chawton for Jane, Cassandra, and their mother (also named Cassandra). With her older brother Henry acting as agent she sold her first novel to a publisher that never printed it, but Sense and Sensibility (1811) was a success, credited "by a Lady", followed by Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816). After Emma was published Austen's health began to fail, probably from Addisons Disease, and she was unable to walk far, she had a small donkey carriage for visiting. In May of the following year she and Cassandra took rooms at Winchester to be near her physician and died in her sister's arms.

Biography from Wikipedia and JaneAusten.org

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