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About Jane Austen

Jane Austin was born late in 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire and was part of a large family, having five brothers and a sister. She began writing as a teenager and relocated to Bath in 1801.
Jane was mainly educated at home and only attended school briefly but received a broader education than most women of the day. Her flair for writing was apparent even as a child and she’d often write letters to her young friends in which she would observe the daily life of her family in intimate detail. Her father George supported her writing ambitions and bought her paper and a writing desk as well as attempting to help her secure a publishing deal

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In 1805 her father George died and she, her mother and her sister moved back to Chawton, a village near Steventon where she was born. With the help of her brother Henry, she published her first novel in 1811. This novel was “Sense and Sensibility” which was soon followed by “Pride and Prejudice” which was warmly received by reviewers of the day. “Mansfield Park” was published in 1814 and “Emma” in 1816 but by this time her health was beginning to deteriorate and she would only publish two more novels, “Persuasion” and “Northanger Abbey” which were both released after her death. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral in the North isle and according to her sister Cassandra: “It is a satisfaction to me to think that [she is] to lie in a Building she admired so much”

Her brother Henry made her authorship public after her death, up until which time her identity had remained under wraps. Sir Walter Scott wrote in March of 1826: “[Miss Austen] had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I have ever met with. The Big Bow-Wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me.”

Jane’s novels reflect life in the world of the English country gentry as she herself had lived it and due to her amusing plots and the wit and irony of her style, her works have not been out of print since they were first published and she is consequently one of the best known and highly regarded authors in the English-speaking world.

There has been much speculation about the identity of a mystery suitor who broke the writer’s heart and sparked a rift with her sister. The 2007 film “Becoming Jane” looked at her flirtation with a dashing Irishman named Tom Lefroy and it was suggested that he may have been the inspiration for the “Mr Darcy” character in “Pride and Prejudice”

More recently it has been claimed that her true love was a clergyman named Dr Samuel Blackall, who first gained Jane’s attention in 1798 while staying with the Lefroys.

It seems that Dr Blackall had revealed to friends his desire to pursue a courtship with Austen but his uncertainty was taken as a snub – “There seems no likelihood of his coming into Hampshire this Christmas, and it is therefore most probably that our indifference will soon be mutual, unless his regard, which appeared to spring from knowing nothing of me at first, is best supported by never seeing me”

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However, four years later after a chance meeting in Totnes, Devon, it is thought that their relationship was renewed:

“Nothing else was heard until Jane and her parents went down to the South Devon coast in 1802. Here we know she met and fell in love with an unknown clergyman, who was visiting his brother who was working in the town as a doctor” said Dr Norman, who has published biographies of several famous historical figures, including Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Francis Drake.