Jane Austen: the daughter, the sister, the writer and the woman
Jane Austen is almost always synonymous with the classics. Today, her name is established amongst the greatest literary authors of all times. However, Austen, during her time, was barely known or recognized. Her books took a long time to get published, and she had to fight against the cultural norms of her own times to hold on to her own principles.
The author of Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, pride and Prejudice, as well as Emma, was born to George Austen, and Cassandra Austen. Both her parents were landed gentry, and therefore, they were considered a good match for a comfortable life. Jane had seven siblings, that is, six brothers, and one sister, who was also named Cassandra. She, like Jane, remained unmarried all her life, and she also remained one of the closest friends Jane Austen ever had.
Austen’s father, for most of her growing years, worked as a rector at Steventson, in Hampshire. Right after Jane was born, in 1775, her parents sent her off to be brought up by a woman named Elizabeth Littlewood. She was brought back home when she was eighteen months old, and after that, both she and her sister were sent off to be educated by Mrs. Ann Cawley, at Oxford. However, both the sister, during their stay at Oxford, caught typhus, which brought Jane to the brink of death. After that, both were brought back and were educated at home.
During her growing up years, Jane did what was required of young girls to do, which is, mainly, social visits as well as maintaining o social relations. However, she was a voracious reader, and her father never stopped her from reading the books he kept in his library. She also began to participate in small theatricals, which her whole family indulged in, and her favorites were comedies, which also helped her develop her sense of humor in her own writing.
Austen began writing at an early age, and some of her earliest works, were complied into a book called Juvenilia. This was written between 1787 and 1793. From satires, to the mocking of the then-current literary trends, and the mock re-writings of history was contained in that volume.
When she became an adult, she did her duty of socializing and taking care of various social and domestic obligations. When she was twenty, in 1795, she met Tom Lefroy, who was visiting Steventson for a year. She became very close to him, and a relationship was developing between them, when the Lefroy family intervened, and Tom left. This is the only romantic relationship which is known about, as far as Jane Austen is concerned.
She began writing a play, but then she stopped. Between 1793 and 1795, she wrote Lady Susan, which was a short novel. She then began work on her second novel, Elinor and Marianne, which would later be published as Sense and Sensibility. She wrote First Impressions in 1976, and it would later be published as Pride and Prejudice, and she then wrote another novel mocking the gothic novel-writing style, which would be called Northanger Abbey, later. However, the family had no luck getting these books published, and it was only after they moved to Chawton that some of the books finally began to get printed, although anonymously.
In 1816, Austen began to feel unwell, and she was taken care of by her sister and her brother, Henry. She finally succumbed to her illness in 1817, at the age of only 41. However, she still lived on, not in her times, maybe, but much later, and her female heroines began to be revered for being exactly like Austen: educated, fearless, outspoken, intelligent and independent.