Jane Austen – a life #
Jane Austen was born in 1775 to a Clergyman and his wife Cassandra in Hampshire. She had a sister, Cassandra and five brothers, two who also became clergymen and two who went into the Navy. When her father retired they lived in Bath for six years.
Love affairs #
Jane fell in love during the winter of 1795 at the age of 20. While she had some other suitors, she does not seem to have considered any until she met Tom Lefroy, a young Irish law student.
Judging by the letters she received from Jane, her sister was enthusiastic about the boy but neither of them had the money to marry. Tom left for London where he married a wealthy woman and became the chief legislative magistrate of Ireland. Decades later, Judge Lefroy would admit that he had felt a youthful love for Jane Austen.
On December 2, 1802, Harris Biggs-Wither, the heir to Manydown, proposed to Jane Austen.
From an economic point of view, it was a very advantageous offer, with the prospect of becoming the mistress of a large mansion and money at her disposal.
At first, Jane accepted the happiness of her friends who had surely conspired for their brother to propose. She must have spent a sleepless night, weighing the whole thing, for young Harris was a few years her junior and not very bright intellectually, surely not the partner she wanted to share her life with.
The next morning she wrote to call it off.
The situation was mortifying, the visit was shortened and we can only speculate as to whether Jane Austen received reproaches from her family for having missed that “golden” opportunity that would have definitively secured her financial situation
Despite the two suitors, Jane never married and after her father died in 1805 she, her sister and her mother were taken care of by her wealthy brother. By 1814, Jane’s health deteriorated and she died in 1817. She was 41.
Her first novel, called First Impressions was sent to a publisher in 1797 by her father who also offered to pay for its publication. It was sent back immediately with a note; “Declined by return Post”. It was finally published 16 years later as Pride and Prejudice in 1813.
Sense and Sensibilitywas written in 1798 and published at the expense of her brother in 1811.
Northanger Abbeywas written in 1799, sold to a London publisher in 1803 for £10. When it was not published six years later, Jane Austen wanted to offer it to another publisher. The publisher requested his £10 be returned.
The novel was eventually published shortly after Austen’s death in 1817.
For more than ten years Austen failed to write any serious novels until 1811 when she began Mansfield Park. By 1813 she had completed it and it was published the year after in 1814.
Persuasion was written in 1814 and published posthumously.
Emmawas written from 1814 – 15 and published in 1815.
It is estimated that in all Jane Austen earned about £700 from all her novels during her lifetime.
A full biography @: