Pride and Prejudice
- "A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment."
Sense and Sensibility
- "Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience—or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope."
Unlike most great authors who seemingly must suffer for their art, Jane Austin had a fairly comfortable and untroubled life. Born in December 1775 AD in Hampshire, England, she was the seventh child of well-respected (if not wealthy) members of the community. Her father was a rector at the nearby Anglican Church, and her mother was a rector’s wife. Her Oxford-educated father had an extensive library, and encouraged his brood to revel in it.
In a few years, in order to acquire a formal education, Jane and her older sister Cassandra were sent off to boarding school. But the sisters contracted typhus, nearly died, and returned home, never to leave again. To pass the time and give her romantic notions free rein, Jane began writing stories – eventually novels – in a series of notebooks in the mid-1890s. They were, in effect, witty parodies of the romantic claptrap of the day. These bits and pieces would evolve into more ambitious works: the great 'Sense & Sensibility,' 'Pride & Prejudice,' and 'Northanger Abbey.' With the help of her brother Henry, who convinced the printer and bookseller Thomas Edgerton to publish it, 'Sense' would be released in 1811 – anonymously but to acclaim for its social commentary.
Jane spent her adulthood running the family home for her aging parents, playing piano, attending church, socializing with the neighbors, and all those other things expected of a proper English spinster. But it seems she was neither bored nor resentful. In 1801 the family – father, mother, Jane and Cassandra – moved to Bath. Her father died four years later, and for several years the three women moved about, until able to settle into a cottage in Chawton owned by Jane’s brother Edward. In 1816, Jane fell ill with a degenerative disease, dying the next year.