Austen had rejected suitor Harris Bigg Wither at the last minute and never ended up marrying, but still she expresses a keen grasp of the traditional female role and the ensuing hopes and heartbreaks with her memorable protagonists including Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price, Catherine Morland, Anne Elliot, and Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice. Writing in the romantic vein, Austen was also a realist and has been lauded for her form and structure of plot and intensely detailed characters who struggle with the issues of class-consciousness versus individualism: self-respecting men were supposed to become lawyers or join the church or military, and respectable women married to improve their station in life.
Despite Austen's popularity and eventual success with publishing her novels, Austen still received recommendations that she write romances instead.In one letter, she replied to this suggestion, saying, "I could no more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or at other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other."
Jane Austen is famous principally for her refinement of the English novel. In her works, she mirrored society: manners, customs, and beliefs. Her most famous works include six well-read novels: Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma. She worked magic with the commonplace, seemingly subtle, realities of life.
Austen's immediate family was large: six brothers—James (1765–1819), George (1766–1838), Edward (1767–1852), Henry Thomas (1771–1850), Francis William (Frank) (1774–1865), Charles John (1779–1852)—and one sister, Cassandra Elizabeth (Steventon, Hampshire, 9 January 1773–1845), who, like Jane, died unmarried. Cassandra was Austen's closest friend and confidante throughout her life. Of her brothers, Austen felt closest to Henry, who became a banker and, after his bank failed, an Anglican clergyman. Henry was also his sister's literary agent. His large circle of friends and acquaintances in London included bankers, merchants, publishers, painters, and actors: he provided Austen with a view of social worlds not normally visible from a small parish in rural Hampshire.
Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.
We live in a Jane Austen universe. A book about a book club that reads only Jane Austen is firmly entrenched on our bestseller lists. Keira Knightley -- one of Hollywood's reigning "It" girls -- is filming the role of Elizabeth Bennet for yet another version of "Pride and Prejudice," expected to be in theaters next year...
Then there's genteel, gentle Jane Austen.
Almost two centuries after her death, the shy, quiet Regency spinster who wrote mostly for the entertainment of her family has collected a following every bit as devoted _ not to say obsessive _ as that of any chronicler of vampires, wizards or hobbits. All simply by observing the mating habits of upper-middle-class young ladies and young gentlemen in 18th-century England.
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in the village of Steventon, Hampshire. The seventh of eight children, the younger of two daughters, she grew up among the parsons and squires, naval and army officers, Oxford and Cambridge fellows whom she would later satirize with gentle humor in her novels.