Whether 19 or 90, everybody has a few books which they absolutely love. There exist a select few books which you can read an endless number of times and yet never tire of them, books which you would do anything to be able to read them as if for the first time. Literature is found everywhere in our day-to-day life and one can weave stories from even the simplest of interactions. Books are what give help us escape from our mundane reality to a utopic world and teach us to have hope. There exist a plethora of renowned authors, playwrights and poets who are adored worldwide. Jane Austen is an author who despite having only six works is considered one of the greatest writers, even now. When one thinks about classics, her name is one of the foremost to come to the mind.
The revered novelist was born on 16th December, 1775 to Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Austen at Steventon in Hampshire. She was their seventh child. After returning from the boarding school where she and her sister, Cassandra were sent to at the age of 8, Jane was taught by her father and brothers. Her father had an extensive library having various works of literature which Jane thoroughly enjoyed reading. Her family was quite in touch with their creative tenacity which enabled her to develop an interest as well.
Jane Austen started her literary journey by writing poems, stories and plays for amusement. These were compiled into three bound notebooks and are known as ‘Juvenilia’. Her first mature work was a novella by the name of ‘Lady Susan’ which was written in the form of a series of letters. It was published after her death. By 1796, Austen had finished writing the work then known as ‘Elinor and Marianne’ which later became the very popular ‘Sense and Sensibility’ which was published in 1811 with the help of her brother, Henry who became her literary agent.
From her letters to her sister, it was clear that she loved Tom Lefroy, an Irish man studying to be a barrister whom she met when he had come to see his uncle and aunt but he went home and she never saw him again.
Jane Austen completed the first draft of ‘First Impressions’ in 1799. This classic was later renamed as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which till this day remains her most famous work. Her father tried to get one of her works published but in vain. Austen then began working on ‘Susan’ which was later known as ‘Northanger Abbey’. She even completed a short play ‘Sir Charles Grandison or the Happy Man’.
She received a marriage proposal from childhood friend Harris Bigg-Wither which she accepted but went on to reject later as she did not love him.
After the success of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which was published in 1813, she published ‘Mansfield Park’ in 1814. The former was received well by public and critics alike while the latter was not quite liked by critics but absolutely loved by the public. ‘Emma’ was published in 1816 which was her last work to be published before her death. She died on 18th July, 1817 due to an undiagnosed disease which is now thought to be Addison’s disease at the age of 41 in Winchester, United Kingdom. ‘Sanditon’ was a novel she had started writing at the start of 1817 but it was unfinished due to her falling ill.
In ‘Sense and Sensibility’, Elinor represents ‘sense’ while her sister, Marianne represents ‘sensibility’. Through the depiction of their stark opposite demeanours and their lives, Austen conveys that sense and sensibility, both are of equal significance. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was a classic which was very dear to her as is evident by her referring to it as ‘my darling child’. It is a beloved of people even now and Mr. Darcy and Ms. Elizabeth Bennet are characters which are considered their favourites by many. It is enthralling to read how the two characters overcome their pride and prejudices through the course of the story.
Her works, ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’ were published posthumously. The former was a satire of gothic novels while the latter deals with the beautiful idea of a second chance at love.
Jane Austen, in her novels depicted the lives of middle-class families which is what made them relatable and also is a reason for their general appeal. She writes about love in a beautiful manner. Her novels are never pedantic and describe the social statuses among other things in a detailed manner. Her works are relevant even now as evident by the various adaptations of them and she is considered to be one of the greatest writers of all time. Though she passed away around 200 years ago, her works have immortalized her and she remains one of the most famous personalities of all time, even today who left a mark and has greatly influenced people’s lives.