Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Signature of Jane Austen. Taken from her 1817 ...

Signature of Jane Austen. Taken from her 1817 will. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know I’ve decided that I should bring some classic authors as guests to my blog, not only because it’s always a pleasure to remind myself of their work (and hopefully those who read my posts) but also because we have the advantage that many of their works are available for free and it always offers us an opportunity to read them again or even get to know some we’re not so familiar with.

Today I decided to visit a great favourite with many people, not only readers but also those who make film adaptations and TV series. Jane Austen. We all have our favourites novels, and also adaptations (I quite like Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility movie although on TV Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth…is still probably my favourite. I also love the novel. Yes, and Mr Darcy).

Brief biography:

Jane Austen was born on the 16th of December 1775. His father was a reverend in Steventon. She was the 6th of seven children and only the second of two daughters and she became quite close to her sister Cassandra (her mother was also called Cassandra). Henry, one of her brothers, would become her agent in later life.

At age of 8 she was sent to boarding school with her sister where she would learn what was felt to be appropriate education for a woman at the time (French, music and dancing…). At home it seems she was always interested in reading and writing and they would make their own plays that the family would perform.

In 1789 she started to write more seriously (Love and Friendship) and a bit later started writing plays. In 1795 she met Tom Lefroy (if you have watched Becoming Jane Austen you’ll remember he’s played in that movie by James MacAvoy) the nephew of a neighbouring family who was in London studying Law. Unfortunately neither of the two families being of means it appears it was felt such union would not be in their interest and he was sent away.

She worked on some stories that later would evolve into her novels. Her father retired when she was 27 and they moved to Bath, a spa town that was the epitome of class and high society (everybody who was anybody would go there to take the waters and to be seen, it seems).

In Bath she received a proposal of marriage by a childhood friend, Harris Brigg-Wither, her only one. She initially said yes, as he was to receive and inheritance who would have secured her and her family’s subsistence, but she thought better of it and the next day she refused.

In 1803 her brother sold Susan to a publisher who promised to publish it but didn’t and there were difficulties with rights afterwards.

Her father died in 1805 leaving the three women in a difficult situation. They moved frequently until her brother Frank offered them a cottage where they moved when she was 33. She dedicated herself to writing there and her brother sold Sense and Sensibility to Thomas Egerton who published it in 1811. It got good reviews and the whole edition was sold by 1813.

The same publisher seeing how well it had done in 1813 published Pride and Prejudice. It was even more successful and he published a second edition. Mansfield Park although less well received by critics was a public success and became the most commercially successful of her works during her lifetime. Jane move on to publisher John Murray who published a new edition of Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey. Her brother Henry’s bank failed and Jane made efforts to regain the rights to Susan that was then published as Catherine.

In 1816 her health began to fail but she carried on working. In January 1817 her sister Cassandra and brother Henry took her to Winchester to seek medical help and there she died on July the 18th 1817 leaving some unfinished works. Her brother published her complete works and revealed her real identity.

Links:

http://www.janeausten.org/

You can read all of her works online in the above link apart from finding plenty of information about her.

http://www.janeausten.co.uk/

Information on the Jane Austen centre, activities and even the Jane Austen festival in Bath.

http://www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk/

Website of her house museum.

http://www.pemberley.com/

Fan site.

http://www.austen.com/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/austen_jane.shtml

BBC history website on Jane Austen

FREE Links to novels:

Title page from the first edition of the first...

Title page from the first edition of the first volume of Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pride and Prejudice

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008476HBM/

Emma:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083Z3O8Y/

Mansfield Park:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083Z4RNU/

Persuasion:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083Z6AH6/

Northanger Abbey:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0084B008Y/

Lady Susan:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083ZXYB6/

I couldn’t find a copy of Sense and Sensibility  free although they were quite a few under $1 so…(and I suspect one must be hiding somewhere).

Thank you for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post. If you have, please comment, share and click!