Jane Austen 12.16.12 Thought of the Day


“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born in the Steventon Rectory, Hampshire, England in 1775. Today is the 237th anniversary of her birth.

The second youngest of eight children, Jane was also the younger of two girls in the Austen family. As was the custom for a family of the Austen’s class and means, baby Jane was sent to live with a wet-nurse, Elizabeth Little, until she was 18-months old. She was very close to her sister Cassandra and the two girls, along with their cousin Jane Cooper, were sent to Mrs. Cawley’s school in Oxford when Jane was 7. The school moved to Southampton when measles broke out in Oxford. But Southampton proved no safer. Typhus broke out there and all three girls caught the disease. The girls came back to Steventon where they were home schooled for a year before going to school at Mrs. La Tournelles (aka Sarah Hacket) where the girls received instruction in spelling, needlework and French. But by 1786 she was back home, this time for good.

Jane never had any formal education again…From their experience of school we can gather that Jane and Cassandra had perhaps learned some social skills, had had the opportunity to read, take part in plays, learn some French and learn the piano. These were things that were all available at home anyway. [Janeaustensworld]

And the Austen home was an excellent place at which to be home schooled. Her father took in tutors and taught his own sons. He had an impressive library (which Jane had free access to) The older boys included her in their theatricals  and charades and “even as a little girl Jane was encouraged to write” [jasa.net]

familytreelowres

Austen’s immediate family tree. [Image courtesy: jasa.net]

Jane had six older brothers: James, George, Edward, Henry, Francis and Charles.

By 14 she was writing to entertain her friends and family, penning such comedies as Love and Freindship (sic) and the parody   A History of England by a partial, prejudiced and ignorant Historian.  She collected 29 of her stories into three bound books, now known as Juvenilia.

In 1793 she began to write longer works in the epistolary style. Lady Susan was one such novel in letters.  She wrote Elinor and Marianne in the same style before she rewrote the work as a third person narrative and changed the title to Sense and Sensibility.

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1801 Rev. Austen moved (with Mrs. Austen, Cassandra and Jane) to Bath. Jane’s productivity took a nose-dive. She was either too busy to write — with all the shopping and socializing in Bath — or too depressed to write. The Austens lived in Sydney Place, no.4…

which offered both an easy walk into town and handy access to Sydney Gardens, a great outdoor attraction at that time with regular gala nights featuring music and fireworks.[Seeking Jane Austen]

…until Mr. Austen died  in 1804. By 1806 the ladies had left Bath for good, and moved Chawton in Southampton. As soon as they had settled in their new home she renewed her writing in earnest .

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1811, Thomas Egerton, a military Library publishing house printed 750 copies Sense and Sensibility, largely on Austen’s dime. The book sold out of its first edition by 1813. And Austen eventually made 140 pounds on it.  It  appeared under the pseudonym “A Lady,” and Austen carefully guarded her anonymity .

Encouraged by this success, Jane Austen turned to revising First Impressions, a.k.a. Pride and Prejudice. She sold it in November 1812, and her “own darling child” (as she called it in a letter) was published in late January 1813. [Pemberley.com]

In May of 1814 her third novel, Mansfield Park was published. It sold out in six months.

Austen's

Despite carefully guarding her name, word had begun to leak out. People knew who  the  “Lady” was…important people…like the Prince Regent. While she was writing Emma she was summoned to the palace and invited to dedicate her next novel to the Prince. Austen was less than thrilled to be given the honor, but couldn’t exactly refuse, so in wonderful Austen wit she flattered him as only she could…

TOHIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE REGENT, THIS WORK IS,BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S PERMISSION,MOST REPECTFULLY DEDICATED,BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S DUTIFUL AND OBEDIENT HUMBLE SERVANT, THE AUTHOR

In 1815 she began working on Persuasion. By then her health had begun to deteriorate. She completed the first draft by 1816 and began The Brothers which later became  Sanditon. Her condition rapidly worsened. In May her bother Henry took Jane to Winchester for treatment, but on July 18, 1817 at the age of 41 Jane Austen passed away. She was buried at Winchester Cathedral.

English: Jane Austen's memorial gravestone in ...

English: Jane Austen’s memorial gravestone in the nave of Winchester Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Henry, with Cassandra’s help, got Persuasion and Northanger Abbey published in December of 1817. For the first time the author was listed as “Jane Austen.”

Happy Birthday Jane!!!

Ooops forgot to link to my own blog on the Pride and Prejudice Essay Contest!

  • JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America)
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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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