The English writer Jane Austen was one of the most important novelists of the 19th century. In her intense concentration on the thoughts and feelings of a limited number of characters, Jane Austen creates as profound an understanding and as precise a vision of the potentialities of the human spirit as the art of fiction has ever achieved. Although her novels received favorable reviews, she was not celebrated as an author during her lifetime. Jane Austen was born in 1775 at Steventon, in the south of England, where her father was rector of the parish. She was the seventh of eight children in an affectionate and high-spirited family. In 1801 she moved to Bath with her father, her mother, and her only sister, Cassandra. After the Reverend Austen's death in 1805, the three women moved to Southampton and in 1809 to the village of Chawton, where Jane Austen lived for the rest of her life. She never married, but received at least one proposal and led an active and happy life, unmarked by dramatic incident and surrounded by her sister and brothers and their families. Austen began writing as a young girl and by the age of 14 had completed Love and Friendship. This early work, an amusing parody of the melodramatic novels popular at that time, shows clear signs of her talent for humorous and satirical writing. Three volumes of her collected juvenilia were published more than a hundred years after her death. Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen's first major novel was Sense and Sensibility, whose main characters are Elinor Dashwood and her sister Marianne. The first draft was written in 1795 and titled Elinor and Marianne. In 1797 Austen rewrote the novel and titled it Sense and Sensibility. After years of polishing, it was finally published in 1811. As the original and final titles indicate, the novel contrasts the temperaments of the two sisters. Elinor governs her life by sense or reasonableness, while Marianne is ruled by sensibility or feeling. Elinor keeps her wits about her under the strain of an affair during which her beloved becomes entangled with another girl. After his mother disinherits him, his beloved, an avaricious schemer, jilts him and he returns to Elinor--who has the sense to take him back. A more disagreeable moral revelation is evident in Marianne Dashwood's actions. She is in love with a scoundrel, who tires of her and goes off to London. She follows him there and is bitterly disillusioned by his callous treatment.
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Jane Austen biography
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