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Biography

Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire. She was the seventh child of George Austen, rector of Steventon, and his wife Cassandra. Jane had six brothers: James (1765-1819); George (1766-1838); Edward (1767-1852); Henry (1771–1850); Francis (1774-1865); and Charles (1779-1852); as well as one elder sister, Cassandra (1773-1845). 

Jane Austen was baptized at Steventon rectory, where she grew up. Her father and brothers oversaw her education, and she was exposed to the essays of writers such as Samuel Johnson as well as the novels of Samuel Richardson and Frances Burney. Austen was thus well-read, especially in contemporary fiction. She attended the Abbey House School with sister Cassandra until age 11. 

Significantly, Austen never married, but devoted her life to her writing. Her career accelerated with the completion of her novels, after she had written a series of other works in her youth, now referred to as the juvenilia. She completed six novels in total, but died on 18 July 1817 after about a year of suffering symptoms resembling tuberculosis or cancer. Her last two books, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published later that year by her brother Henry Austen.

Jane Austen's legacy has been enduring and profound, having spawned numerous television and film adaptations of her books, countless book clubs, discussion forums and university courses, and an entire field of academic work, all of which continue to thrive almost two hundred years after her death. 

Portrait of Jane Austen (pencil and watercolour), drawn by her sister Cassandra, c. 1810. National Portrait Gallery, London.
Portrait of Jane Austen (pencil and watercolour), drawn by her sister Cassandra, c. 1810. National Portrait Gallery, London.