Jane Austen is without a doubt one of the most famous and influential authors of all time. She is known for her works: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey. Her novels are primarily romances with strong female leads, with hints of comedy and satire throughout. According to the Chicago Public Library, “[Jane Austen] was a woman of stature, humor and keen intelligence.” Many people believe that she was much more intelligent and sharp thinking than her family wanted the public to think. Her writings covered topics of women and marriage and education in the 18th/19th century, and her works had a strong impact on upper-middle class people’s views on these topics. Austen helped them think about these topics in a groundbreaking new way.
The British Library reports, Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775. She was the seventh child of eight, and her family was said to be very close. Jane was especially close with her sister Cassandra. Both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice surround sisters, and both works are said to model the close relationship she had with her own sister. Both sisters went to school in Oxford before returning home with typhus shortly after they arrived. They continued their education at Abbey School in Reading, but eventually it became too expensive, and they were brought home to continue their education with the help of their brothers and parents. Her family eventually relocated to Bath (in England) which Jane was not thrilled about. They lived in Bath until her father died, and after he died, he left enough money for Jane, Cassandra, and their mother to live comfortably. The women moved to a cottage in Chawton, which belonged to one of her brothers, and there she began writing some of her most famous works.
Jane Austen had a few romances throughout her life, but she remained unmarried. It’s said that she and her sister refused to marry just for the sake of marriage. This parallels her novel Pride and Prejudice, where Elizabeth refuses marriage proposals. Jane Austen had the novel concept of having strong lead female characters in her stories. She makes characters such as Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice and Emma from Emma, independent, and she has them not rely on men which is unique for the 18th and 19th century.
Sadly, Jane Austen died at the early age of 41. Many of her novels were published after her death. In the grand scheme of things, we know hardly anything about Jane Austen’s life. Her letters with her sister towards the end of her life were a key component for biographers. Even though not much is known about Jane’s life, she left a major impact on the world. She brought forth the ideas of education (especially for women) and of denying a marriage proposal. She influenced the world through her characters that were modern and could relate to the people who read her books. Her characters were normal— they fell in love, made mistakes, misjudged people, and modeled close family relationships. In addition to this, Jane Austen was known for her satire, specifically in Northanger Abbey. She had such an impact that there have been numerous adaptations of her work. Some of these include Clueless, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Bride and Prejudice, and hundreds of other books, movies, and television shows. Jane Austen has left a stark influence on the literary world and continues to influence it today with her timeless stories.