Jane AustenRomantic, witty, acerbic and endlessly popular, Jane Austen’s novels are amongst the most revered, relevant and consistently readable novels in English Literature. Subtly different in tone, they range from the Gothic satire of Northanger Abbey, the drama of Pride and Prejudice and the razor-sharp observation of Emma to the poignancy and tenderness of Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Persuasion.
Emma is young, rich and independent. She has decided not to get married and instead spends her time organising her acquaintances' love affairs. Her plans for the matrimonial success of her new friend Harriet, however, lead her into complications that ultimately test her own detachment from the world of romance.
Jane Austen for Children
Bestselling Jane Austen Biographies and Critical Works
Our selection of new and bestselling books about the life and work of Jane Austen and the world she chronicled.
Austen In Other Words - The Austen Project and Audiobook Collections
Great Gifts and Stationery
Jane Austen famously claimed that her scope embraced no more than would fit on a ‘little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory’ yet her miniature canvas encompassed a world of social observation, sexual politics, hierarchy, manners and behaviour. In an era when novels were often derided as sentimental nonsense, Austen’s fiction was a delicately barbed art, a pin-sharp tool for puncturing the pomposity of Regency life.
A Clergyman’s Daughter
Austen was born in 1775 in Steventon in Hampshire, one of eight children growing up in the house of her clergyman father. She started writing as a teenager, the works being collected later in her Juvenilia. After finishing her education at boarding school, Austen returned to the family home and continued to write, penning longer fiction including plays and the epistolary novellas Love and Friendship and Lady Susan, written primarily to amuse her family.
Following her father’s unexpected retirement, the Austen family moved to Bath with Jane spending time in Southampton and Lyme Regis (locations recognisable in her later fiction). During this time she began work on several early drafts of what would become her most famous novels; the first in English to use free indirect speech, allowing characters thoughts and opinions to merge with the author’s narration. These include Eleanor and Marianne (an early version of Sense and Sensibility) and First Impressions, the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, as well as a third novel which would become the Gothic satire Northanger Abbey.
After several failed attempts at getting her work published, Austen’s brother Henry approached a publisher Thomas Egerton who published Sense and Sensibility in 1811. The novel was a huge commercial success (although not for Jane herself, the novels being published anonymously) with the first edition selling out completely by 1813. Egerton went on to publish, in quick succession, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma.
Love and Marriage
Jane never married, her short friendship with a neighbour Tom Lefroy when she was twenty was cut short due to their mutual lack of money and although Jane later received an offer of marriage from family friend Harris Bigg-Wither which she initially accepted, she later withdrew her consent.
Jane died at the age of 41, leaving two finished novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion which were published posthumously in the year of her death. Having bought the rights to all of Austen’s novels the publisher Richard Bentley published a collected works in 1833, and since then the novels have never been out of print.
Jane Austen’s novels continue to be amongst the most loved works of English literature, spawning countless stage and screen adaptations as well as literary homages including Barbara Pym’s Jane and Prudence and Curtis Sittenfield’s Eligible. As author Ahdaf Soueif comments "Austen’s genius is that you find in her a true reflection of whatever you, at a particular moment, think is reality."
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