Jane Austen was born the seventh
child in a family of eight to Reverend George and Cassandra Austen on December
16, 1775 in Stephenton, Hampshire England. She wrote six major novels
including Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Pride
and Prejudice is claimed to be the most popular. Her early writings
began in 1787 and ended in 1793. They consisted of plays, versus,
short novels, a virtual cornucopia of literary expressions. They
were entitled Volume the First, Volume the Second and Volume the Third,
an extravagant display of her wit and literary genus.
Her love life, though filled with speculation, was believed to be sad and strange. In 1802 it was rumored that she accepted a proposal of marriage from Mr. Harris Bigg-Wither. However she later changed her mind and brought much friction between her family and the family of Mr. Bigg-Wither. This may have been the influence for the engagement of Edward to Lucy and the chaos involved in the ending of their relationship.
Furthermore, stories circulated about a man she fell in love with who died during their acquaintance. This tragedy in Jane’s life most likely served as the model for the disastrous end to Marianne and Willoughby’s relationship.
Jane’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility began as a novel-in-letters called “Elinor and Marianne.” These letters may reflect the relationship between Jane and her sister Cassandra. It is well documented that Jane and Cassandra were extremely close as children. When they grew older the two kept in touch by writing each other letters on a daily basis. Cassandra destroyed many of letters of correspondence with Jane to protect her privacy following her death.
In 1805, Jane’s father died and relatives housed Jane until her brother Edward found her family a cottage in the village of Chawton. Jane’s scenario is identical to the Dashwood’s predicament when Mr. Dashwood died, in that they had to rely on John and Fanny for lodging until they found Barton Cottage. Once settled in at the cottage Jane began preparing Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice for publication.
By 1811, Jane was already receiving acclaim for her novels. George IV was one of her largest fans. Jane even acknowledged his support by “respectfully dedicating” Emma to him.
In 1817 Jane’s recent run of good fortune came to an end. Her health grew worse as throughout the year from what we now know was Addison’s disease, she passed away on July 18 of that year.