This section provides information and a synopsis for each of Jane Austen's six published novels.
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen is known worldwide for her six published novels, most notably the classic Pride and Prejudice (1813), a novel following the five unmarried Bennet sisters (Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia) and their efforts to secure their future livelihoods through prudent marriages. Her heroine Elizabeth (or "Lizzie"), after being slighted by the haughty, wealthy Mr. Darcy, determines to dislike him, but is ultimately surprised by the change he undergoes. Elizabeth's elder sister Jane falls in love with Mr. Darcy's amiable friend Mr. Bingley; this comedy of manners follows the two sisters while also highlighting their younger sister Lydia's follies in becoming involved with the duplicitous Mr. Wickham.
Sense and Sensibility
Another of her more celebrated works is Sense and Sensibility (1811), her first published novel. Sense and Sensibility features sisters Elinor Dashwood, a sensible young lady, and her younger sister, the flighty and headstrong Marianne. The two sisters' contrasting traits result in troubles with their respective courtships, and Austen explores their temperaments alongside her usual social commentary.
In 1814 Austen published Mansfield Park, featuring the impoverished Fanny Price and her ubringing with her wealthy cousins the Bertrams. Though plain and meek, Fanny's rigid moral resolve carries her through her emergence into adulthood, though it often causes friction with her uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, and the family's wishes for her.
Mansfield Park was followed by Emma in 1815 and centred on the titular character Emma Woodhouse, a girl with a penchant for matchmaking. Austen did not expect anyone other than herself to like Emma as a heroine, as her meddling gave her a sense of frivolity; but Emma's growth in the novel leads her to begin examining her own feelings rather than those of others.
One of Austen's last two novels that were published posthumously, Northanger Abbey (1817) is a satirical commentary on gothic romance novels following the naive Catherine Morland, whose imagination is so vivid she ultimately suspects her suitor's father of murdering his wife. Austen highlights the impacts of an overactive imagination, and seems to favour a more measured temperament in this didactic tale.
Persuasion was also published shortly after Austen's death in 1817, and follows the sacrificial, long-suffering Anne Elliot. Eight years after rejecting a proposal from the penniless Frederick Wentworth on advice from a family friend, a still unmarried Anne encounters the now wealthy Captain Wentworth upon his return from the navy. On the brink of spinsterhood, Anne must reckon with Captain Wentworth's wounded pride and her own family's poor manners.