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The Life of Jane Austen

Jane Austen saw four of her novels published during her lifetime: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma. Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published after her death. She was writing a seventh novel, Sanditon, before she died. In 2013, the BBC asked the nation to list the 100 best loved novels. Pride and Prejudice is second only to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Austen has three books on that list.


Jane Austen born to George and Cassandra Austen. She is the seventh of eight children.

The eighth Austen child, Charles John Austen rose to the rank of rear admiral in the Royal Navy. He died in 1852.

Edward Austen was adopted by wealthy relatives Thomas and Catherine Knight. He later changed his name to Edward Austen Knight. In 1809, he provided Chawton Cottage, near his estate Chawton House to his mother and sisters.

Jane and Cassandra went to Mrs. Cawley’s boarding school in Oxford, which moved to Southampton after a disease outbreak. Nevertheless, both sisters contracted typhus after the move. Then the sisters were sent to the Abbey School in Reading.

Jane’s cousin, Eliza de Feuillide, arrives in Steventon where Austen’s brothers vied for her affection. She later marries Henry Austen.

Austen writes Love and Freindship. And that’s not a typo; grammar and spelling rules were still in flux and Jane was but a teen.

Austen writes Lady Susan, an epistolary novel with a heroine who is beautiful, smart, manipulative and scheming. It is not published until 1871.

Comte (Count) Jean-Francois Capotte de Feuillide, Eliza’s husband is executed in Paris by the revolution. He had returned to France to reclaim his property.

Austen flirted with Thomas Langlois Lefroy while visiting Ashe Rectory, the home of family friend Anne Lefroy.

The Rev. Tom Fowle was recruited by the Earl of Craven on a campaign to the West Indies. He died of yellow fever and was buried at sea. He and Cassandra became engaged in 1792.

While on a visit to Bath, Jane Austen’s aunt, Jane Leigh-Perrot, is accused of stealing lace from a linen draper’s shop. She is imprisoned, tried and found innocent.

Jane Austen’s father retires and moves the family to Bath. Jane supposedly faints at the news.

Jane and Cassandra were staying at Manydown Park when Bigg-Withers proposes. Jane returns his proposal the next day, and then hurriedly leaves.

Lyme Regis, and especially the Cobb, plays a substantial role in Austen’s Persuasion

The family friend remained close to Jane despite the circumstances that led to the remove of Tom Lefroy from the author’s acquaintance. The death occurred on Austen’s birthday.

Jane’s father the Rev. George Austen dies unexpectedly at age 73. After his death, the Austen women’s income is considerably reduced and they live with friends and relatives.

For now, the only accepted (by The National Portrait Gallery) portrait of Jane Austen. Some believe the Rice portrait depicts a young Jane.

Jane, her mother, sister and family friend Mary Lloyd move into Chawton Cottage.

Publisher Thomas Egerton publishes Austen’s first novel, which is attributed to “By a Lady.” Austen, probably helped by a loan from brother Henry, pays for its publication.

Publisher Thomas Egerton publishes Austen’s second novel, attributed to the author of Sense and Sensibility. It is Austen’s most well-known novel.

Henry Austen’s wife dies, with Jane at her side. She is 51. Eliza was probably a model for Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park.

Jane, with her brother Henry, visits the Sir Joshya Reynolds exhibition at the British Institution in Pall Mall

Jane’s most challenging and least loved novel follows timid Fanny Price, raised by her rich uncle. Children growing up away from their natural families is a theme in Austen novels

Henry Austen became ill while brother and sister were preparing the publication of Emma

Henry Austen’s banks collapse in the post-Napoleonic War depression

James Stanier Clarke, the royal librarian, invites Austen to the home of the Prince Regent. He gives her permission to dedicate her next novel to the prince. Her dedication reads: “To his royal highness the prince regent, this work is, by his royal highness’s permission, most respectfully dedicated, by his royal highness’s dutiful and obedient humble servant, the author”

Austen’s fourth novel follows Emma Woodhouse’s disastrous attempts at matchmaking

Austen’s seventh novel would probably have proved quite a different story. She stops writing in March 1817.

Jane Austen dies in Winchester, age 41, perhaps due to Addison’s Disease

Austen’s final two novels are published after her death. She is for the first time credited as the author of her six novels