Inspiration December 16, 2016
In our ongoing series, #WomenThatDid, ENTITY profiles inspirational and famous women in history whose impact on our world can still be felt today. If you have a suggestion for a historical powerhouse you would like to see featured, tweet us with the hashtag #WomenThatDid.
On the 241st birthday of Jane Austen, we celebrate the author who profoundly impacted the novel genre. While she only produced six novels during her lifetime, they “have gone on to become the model formula for the romance stories of today,” according to her website.
Name: Jane Austen
Lifetime: December 16, 1775 – July 18, 1817
What she’s known for: Jane Austen was an English novelist whose romantic fiction novels are some of the most well-known around the world. She wrote six novels, though only four were published during her lifetime.
Why we love her: Little is known about Jane’s upbringing, except what can be gleaned from her few personal letters. She was a member of the gentry and was well-educated for a woman at the time. She was attracted to literature from a young age, having unrestricted access to her father’s and a family friend’s libraries.
She was encouraged to experiment with her sometimes risqué writing. Her first novel, “Elinor and Marianne,” was completed before her 20th birthday and parts of it were adapted for her 1811 novel, “Sense and Sensibility.” Revisions for her second project, “First Impressions,” were finished a year later and the name changed to “Pride and Prejudice.”
She then set about writing “Northanger Abbey.” When her family unexpectedly moved to Bath in 1800, Jane suffered from a bout of writer’s block that lasted for several years. In 1809, she moved once again and picked up her writing along with her belongings. She successfully published four novels, “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park” and “Emma.”
She then began writing “Persuasion.” This novel, along with “Northanger Abbey,” was published posthumously. Her brother included a biographical note, which identified her as the author. Previously, her novels were published under the pseudonym “A Lady.”
Jane remained unmarried for her entire life and only once considered marriage to Harris Bigg-Wither. She accepted his proposal, but woke up the next morning filled with regret and subsequently broke the engagement. Her nieces often wrote to her about romantic advice and Jane cautioned them, saying, “Having written so much on one side of the question, I shall now turn around and entreat you to commit yourself further, and not to think of accepting him unless you really do like him. Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection.”
Fun fact: Almost all of her novels have been adapted into films or TV series – such as “Pride and Prejudice” with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, “Emma” with Gwyneth Paltrow and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” with Lily James and Sam Riley.
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