Saturday, September 17, 2005

Jane Austen (1775 - 1817)

Jane Austen famously stated that 'three or four families in a country village is the thing to work on,' and she remained steadfast in applying this trustworthy formula. The great strength of her novels is the social observations they contain: Austen employed a strong sense of irony in her critique of aristocratic disaffection and the pretensions of the nouveau riche. With a measured sardonic eye she was able to summarise social mores and the restraints suffered by women in Regency England.
Born in the village of Steventon, Hampshire, to a rector, she began to write as a teenager and her early work display a keen perception of the absurd. It was not until the family move to Bath that she started to write seriously using the spa town as a location.
She had the support of her brother Henry who helped negotiate with a publisher and the first novel, Sense and Sensibility, appeared in 1811. But it was Pride and Prejudice that Austen described as her 'own darling child' which received highly favourable reviews, including an anonymous one from Sir Walter Scott.
Mansfield Park followed in 1814, then Emma the next year. Emma is dedicated to the Prince Regent who was an admirer of her work.
With her career in full swing Austen was tragically diagnosed with Addisons disease and she died in 1817. Two more novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published posthumously and a final novel, Sanditon, was left incomplete.


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