JANE AUSTEN (1775 - 1817)
Jane Austen’s Life
1775 Born on 16 December in Steventon, Hampshire, England, sixth in a large family with six brothers and one sister. Her father was Revd William George Austen.
1783 Went with her younger sister Cassandra to be privately educated first in Oxford then Southampton where she survived typhus.
1785 Continued education at boarding school but returned the following year because of financial hardship. Finished education by reading books from her father’s large library.
1787 Earliest examples of juvenilia date from this time: she wrote poems, stories and plays. She copied them into notebooks and added to them throughout her life.
1793–1795 Wrote Lady Susan, an epistolary novel which shows much of the character and wit which made her so admired, even in her own lifetime.
1796 According to Cassandra’s later recollections, a novel called Elinor and Marianne was read to the family before this date.
1797 Her father sent First Impressions (a first draft of Pride and Prejudice) to a publisher, but it was ‘Declined by Return of Post’.
1798 A revision of Elinor and Marianne was completed and it was renamed Sense and Sensibility. And she began working on Northanger Abbey, her satire on the Gothic novel which was originally called Susan.
1800 Jane Austen’s father retired and moved the family to Bath.
1805 Her father died leaving Jane, Cassandra and their mother in a difficult financial situation.
1809 The three moved to Chawton House, owned by Edward Austen, Jane’s older brother.
1811 October Sense and Sensibility became the first novel to be published, by Thomas Egerton. It was not ascribed to Jane Austen: on the title page it was proclaimed: ‘By A Lady’. It was well received and the print run sold out by 1813.
1814 Mansfield Park was published.
1815 Jane Austen visited the Prince Regent (an admirer of her work) at his request and agreed (somewhat reluctantly) to dedicate her next novel, Emma, to him.
1815 Emma was published by the London publisher John Murray.
1816 Persuasion published.
1816 Financial disaster hit the Austen family when Henry Austen’s bank failed. Jane began to show signs of illness.
1817 Despite ill-health, she started Sanditon.
1817 Jane Austen died on 18 July, aged 41, perhaps of Hodgkinson’s disease. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral.
1820 All the novels fell out of print.
1832 The publisher Richard Bentley bought all the copyrights and reprinted the novels. They have remained in print ever since.