The Life of Jane Austen
Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775 to George and Cassandra Leigh Austen, without the assistance of a doctor. She was one of eight children born into the Austen family, and in the family she would remain for the rest of her life. Jane Austen would never be married, which is somewhat odd considering that marriage is a topic covered often in her literary works.
Though she would live at home even in her last days, some of her first would be spent away from home. Jane Austen's parents believed in sending their children off after they were weaned to live with other families until they were able to walk and talk. Only when they could do both could they return back to their own family's home.
Home for Jane Austen, during her first twenty-five years, was the parsonage at Steventon, Hampshire, the place where she was born. During these years, the parsonage served not only as a boy's boarding school, but also a place for her to learn and thrive. This is the place where she began writing and reading, practicing her form for her family and guests, and spending much of her time lost in books or performing in family theatricals. Jane Austen was only expulsed one more time, when she was sent to a boarding school with her sister Cassandra and cousin Cooper. What was called a "putrid fever" raged through the school during their time there, and this is what sent them back home.
As stated above, Jane Austen never got married. It is rumored, however, that she got engaged for one night to a family friend, then changed her mind and told him so the very next morning. Since she was never married, she moved when her family moved. It is said that when she found out her family was leaving their countryside home for Bath, she fainted in shock, but whether or not this is true fact is debated amongst scholars and her many fans. While in Bath, it is generally said that Jane Austen was unhappy. Accounts say that she made mostly small talk. In one case, she bought dresses in two shades of brown just so she could discuss the color differentiation. She was certainly in a creative pause, having had written three novels already and having three novels not yet put to paper.
When her father died in 1805, she lost what monetary claims she had to society. A few years later, she moved to Chawton, where her brother Edward lived. Once there, she finally got to writing again. Her now-finished works, some of which that she had painstakingly tried to get out in the public for years, were finally published. She lived out her final years writing, playing the piano, and enjoying the society of others, until her death on July 18th, 1817 in Winchester, Hampshire, England. She passed away at the young age of 41, leaving to the world an unfinished work entitled Sandition, letters to her family, a lock of hair that is still preserved today, and, of course, her incredible legacy.
For more information, see the sources (cited below) that I used for this page and/or the following links:
- for more information on the museum/places of her life and links to her books online: http://www.janeausten.org
- for a quick summary of her life: http://www.biography.com/people/jane-austen-9192819#synopsis
- for when you need a break from reading and want to watch a video instead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIYiThAyY8s
Reisman, Rosemary M. Canfield. "Jane Austen." Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia (2016): Topic Overviews 6-12. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
"Austen, Jane." Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2016): 1p. 1. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
Shields, Carol. Jane Austen. NY, NY: Viking, 2001. Print.
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