As you can tell from this post’s title, I’m at a loss. What new and profound thing can I offer you about Jane Austen? Probably nothing. With that in mind, I’m going to forge ahead and give you a little background information about her that you might already know. I promise at least to attempt to make it mildly amusing.
Jane Austen, aka Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s authoress, was born on 16 December 1775 in Steventon, England, the second daughter to George and Cassandra Austen. Her family was cluttered with boys; she had six brothers. Only imagine how many times she had to fend off worms in her hair! (I have taken issue with worms ever since my brother’s friend tried to put one in my hair when I was three.) As you might guess, Cassandra (her sister, not her mother) and Jane were quite the pair, both remained unmarried, although not without their individual romantic associations with, rumored or otherwise, Thomas Fowle and Tom Lefroy, respectively. Was Austen’s love for Tom Lefroy as strong as Becoming Jane made it out to be? Or was it a passing flirtation? I don’t know. Good question.
From her youngest days, Austen wanted to be a writer and wrote her fair share of juvenilia, several editions of which are readily available for your perusal. She was also an avid reader of Samuel Richardson, Ann Radcliffe, Frances Burney, and others. I mention those three specifically because I will talk about them again in detail one way or another. She parodied Radcliffe and referenced Burney and just plain loved Richardson’s The History of Sir Charles Grandison. Side note: When I first caught the reference to Burney’s Camilla, I about died of excitement.
To make a long story short, after all this reading and writing, she finally published a novel—Sense and Sensibility. But of all her novels, the most popular is Pride and Prejudice, even if it’s far from my favorite. She wrote six in total. The seventh, Sanditon, remained unfinished on her death on 18 July 1817 in Winchester, England. Sanditon, however, was later completed by “A Lady,” who wished to remain anonymous, but it is worth a read because she seamlessly transitioned from the end of Austen’s writing to hers.
My book reviews for classics will be more akin to literary analyses than actually giving a rating, because I believe that classics are classics for a reason. For Jane Austen, I’ll be looking at all of her works, beginning with The History of England and working through chronologically to Sanditon.