JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817) British
Within the narrow confines of her existence she lived and wrote without affectations of her literary genius. She was only twenty-one as she wrote Pride and Prejudice, her masterpiece, and she followed it up with others. But not until she was already thirty-six did she see any of her novels published. She was the daughter of a curate, dabbling in an art form to which, owing to her sex, was denied authorship of such classics that have stood the test of time. She has now become a cult figure and all over the world societies bearing her name and dedicated to her works have sprang up.
Austen was one of eight children of an English clergyman, and lived a remarkably quiet and domestic life in the rural south of England. She was only 41 when she died probably from Addison’s disease. Only after her death the veil of anonymity was lifted and her authorship was acknowledged. The fact that she could break the prejudices of her time and be in step with modern attitudes speaks about her genius: she described ordinary people in everyday life, and yet her works have a modern feel. Her works tend to be ‘miniatures of a single class done on a little bit,- two inches wide of ivory.’
She was good natured in her own reconciliation to her limitations and she was content to describe only subjects that she understood, which she lifted to works of art.
She began with sentimental fiction and parodies but soon she found her own distinct voice. In her six full-length novels — Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Persuasion (1817), and Northanger Abbey (written before others but published 1817) — she created the comedy of manners of middle-class English life in her time.
She never married but in all of Austen’s novels her heroines are ultimately married.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (from Pride and Prejudice, 1813)
Austen’s unfinished Sanditon was published in 1925.
Note: For further reading- Please refer my post on Jane Austen-was she murdered? dated 15 Nov.2011