Austen, Jane

NOVELIST (ENGLAND)
BORN 16 Dec 1775, Steventon (near Basingstoke), New Hampshire: Rectory - DIED 18 Jul 1817, Winchester, Hampshire
GRAVE LOCATION Winchester, Hampshire: Winchester Cathedral (under the north aisle of the nave)

Jane austen was the daughter of George Austen and Cassandra Leigh. Her father was the rector of the Anglican parishes at Steventon, Hampshire and her mother came from the noble Leigh family. Jane was their seventh child. In 1783 she was sent away to be educated by a Mrs. Ann Cawley, but after she nearly died from typhus she returned home and was educated there.

She read widely from the libraries of her father and of Warren Hastings, the godfather of her cousin Elizabeth. During her youth the Austens staged a series of amateur plays at home. From an early age she also started writing poems and stories.

As an adult she continued to live at home and in 1793 she started a play and between 1793 and 1795 she wrote a short novel, "Lady Susan". After that she started a full novel, "Elinor and Marianne". The manuscript is lost but she used elements from it in "Sense and Sensibility" (1811).

In 1800 her father retired and decided to move to Bath, much to Jane's dislike. In 1802 she received a proposal of marriage from Harris Bigg-Wither, an unattractive man with good prospects. She accepted him, but the next morning she withdrew her acceptance.

In 1805 her father died and the family was left in poor financial circumstances. They moved to Southampton in 1806 to live with brother Frank and his wife. In 1809 they settled in a cottage in Chawton. By now Jane had written several novels and she finally succeeded in publishing "Sense and Sensibility" in 1811. It was published anonymously, reviewed favourable and sold well and in 1813 "Pride and Prejudice" followed. "Mansfield Park" followed in 1814 and was even more succesful.

Allthough all her books were published anonymously, she was told that the Prince Regent liked her novels and she was invited by his librarian to visit the library at Carlton House. She did so but further details about this visit are unknown, allthough James Staniel Clarke, the librarian, freely suggested subjects and characters for future novels afterwards. "Emma" was published in 1815 and dedicated to the Prince Regent.

By 1816 she had almost completed two further novels. She suffered from health problems, but ignored them and started a third new novel early in 1817. But her health detoriated and in May she was brought to Winchester for treatment. There she died in a house near Winchester Cathedral on 18 July. Her brother Henry arranged for her funeral in the Cathedral. That is was allowed was probably due to his connections with the clergy and not to the fact that she was the author of several well received novels. There is no word about her authorship on her gravestone.

Her finished novels "Persuasion" and "Northanger Abbey" were published together in December 1817 and in a biographical note by Henry her identity was first revealed to the public. It took many years before Winchester Cathedral realised why so many people asked for the grave of Jane Austen. Allthough her books were republished in the 1830s it wasn't until the 1880s before they became widely popular.

Related persons
• is cousin of Austen, Elizabeth
• was published by Bentley, Richard
• was published by Murray, John

Events
1811/10/30: Jane Austen's "Sense & Sensibility" is published
The publisher was Thomas Egerton.
1813/1/28: Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is published
Thomas Egerton was the publisher. It was well advertised and the book became a succes.
1815/12/0: Jane Austen's "Emma" is published
John Murray was the publisher.
1817/12/0: Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion" are published as a set
The publisher was John Murray. Jane had died earlier that year and for the first time she was identified as the author. Sales started strong, but weakened soon afterwards. In 1820 Murray destroyed the unsold copies.
1833/0/0: The collected works of Jane Austen are published by Richard Bentley

Sources
• Tomalin, Claire, Jane Austen, A Life, Viking, London, 1997
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Austen

Images

The house in Winchester where Jane Austen died.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 2015)

 

Plaque at the house in Winchester where Jane Austen died.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 2015)

 

Gravestone for Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 2015)

 

Memorial tablet for Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 2015)

 

Memorial window for Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 2015)

 

Plaque at the location where the house stood where Jane Austen lived in Southampton (1807-1809).
Picture by Androom (28 Aug 2015)

 

Plaque at the location where the house stood where Jane Austen lived in Southampton (1807-1809).
Picture by Androom (28 Aug 2015)

 

The house in Chawton where Jane Austen lived from 1809 until her death in 1817.
Picture by Androom (30 Jun 2017)

 

Plaque at the house in Chawton where Jane Austen lived from 1809 until her death in 1817.
Picture by Androom (30 Jun 2017)

 

The table at which Jane Austen is supposed to have written her books in the house where she lived from 1809 until 1817 in Chawton.
Picture by Androom (30 Jun 2017)

 

Memorial for Jane Austen opposite the house in Winchester where she died.
Picture by Androom (30 Jun 2017)

 

Plaque for Jane Austen at the Dolphin Hotel, Southampton.
Picture by Androom (02 Jul 2017)

 


Avery, Thomas

Published: 5 Sep 2015
Last update: 22 Jul 2017