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Jane Austen
Steventon 16 Dec. 1775 - Winchester 18 July 1817 • English novelist

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Jane Austen was born in the Hampshire village of Steventon, England, on December 16, 1775, the youngest daughter of the village rector. She had six brothers and one sister, Cassandra; neither sister married and they remained close throughout their lives. The entire Austen family was fond of reading, writing, and staging theatrical performances. Samuel Richardson and Helen Fielding were among the family's favorite authors. The two sisters were educated at home after a period of early tutoring at Oxford, and they learned about the larger world chiefly through letters and visits with their extensive circle of family and friends.

Little is known about Austen's romantic relationships. She apparently once agreed to marry the brother of family friends, only to end the engagement the next morning. Inconclusive evidence suggests that she may have been in love with a man who died early in their relationship. Whatever her experience of love and romance may have been, Austen was resolute in her belief that, as she wrote in one letter, 'anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection'.

Surviving notebooks indicate that Austen began writing by the age of twelve, and her early writing includes plays, short novels, and poetry. In 1795, Austen began writing the novel that would
become Sense and Sensibility. Pride and Prejudice followed in 1797 and Northanger Abbey in 1798 or 1799. In late 1797, Austen's father wrote to a London publisher about the possibility of publishing her work, but he received no answer.

Austen's life changed dramatically in 1801 when her father retired and moved the family to Bath. Austen never much liked Bath, and her writing life there was relatively unproductive. Her father died in 1805, and in 1809, her brother Edward invited his mother and sisters to live in a cottage on his property in Hampshire, close to Austen's birthplace. Rejuvenated, Austen began working on her earlier manuscripts with an eye toward publication. Sense and Sensibility appeared in 1811- anonymously, as was common at the time. The next five years saw the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Austen died on July 18, 1817, of a kidney ailment now believed to be Addison's disease. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumously in 1818, with the author identified. Her work was well received during her lifetime, and she was buried in Winchester Cathedral.


Clarissa, or, The history of a young lady
Samuel Richardson, 1748
Epistolary novel about a chaste, doomed woman.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Shakespeare, 1596
Lovestruck youngsters chase each other around in the Athenian woods.

As You Like It
William Shakespeare, 1599
Confusion abounds in this romantic comedy with a feisty heroine.

Joseph Andrews
Henry Fielding, 1742
Beautiful youth is lured into various beds, but always ends up making a mess of things.

Tom Jones
Henry Fielding, 1749
The tragi-comic fate of an English foundling.

Evelina: or The History of a Young Lady's Entrance in the World
Fanny Burney, 1778
Epistolary novel about the life and loves of a young noblewoman.

She Stoops to Conquer
Oliver Goldsmith, 1773
Comedy of errors in which a young lady poses as a serving girl to win the heart of a young gentleman too shy to court ladies of his own class.


Pride and Prejudice
Two of literature's most famous lovers, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, have to subdue their pride and overcome prejudices if they are to find happiness together.

The Portrait of a Lady
Henry James, 1881 (first publ. 1880-81 as serial)
'Novel of manners' about a strong-willed young woman who opts for unhappiness.

The Age of Innocence
Edith Wharton, 1920
Social conventions in New York wreck the lovelife of upper-class divorcée.

Hotel du Lac
Anita Brookner, 1984
While staying at Swiss hotel, thirtysomething Romantic novelist is faced with difficult choice.

Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë, 1847
Romantic tragedy about a clever orphan girl who, after much trial and tribulation, ends up happily married.

[Joop ter Heul]
Cissy van Marxveldt, 1919-1925 (4 delen)
At school and in love...

Daphne du Maurier, 1938
Leave it to the housekeeper to poke her nose in where she's not wanted...

High Fidelity
Nick Hornby, 1995
Immature music lover seeks ideal woman and ends up in the arms of his ex.


Whatever happened to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy after Pride and Prejudice was over?

Bridget Jones's Diary
Helen Fielding, 1997
Elizabeth and Darcy in the world of hotshot publishers and TV dinners.

Major Frank
A.L.G. Bosboom-Touissant, 1874
Independent tomboy learns mores from husband-to-be.

George Eliot, 1871-1872
Provincial beauty marries (second time around) for love instead of fortune.

Sense and Sensibility
Mrs Dashwood and her two daughters must leave the family home and move to a small house in another part of the country. Soon Marianne and Elinor both fall in love, but they must first learn some terrible secrets before they find true happiness.
Quick-witted, beautiful, headstrong and rich, Emma Woodhouse is inordinately fond of matchmaking. Yet the irony is that she is oblivious to the question of who she herself might marry. Through this comedy of sentimental education, she discovers a capacity for love and marriage.
1818 (posthumous)
Differing from Austen's other novels in adopting a more sober tone, this one describes the ordeals of Anne Elliot, who has been persuaded by her family to reject Captain Wentworth. The novel opens several years later, when she is 27 and still unattached.
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