Jane Austen

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“Jane Austen is one of the few novelists in world literature who is regarded as a ‘classic’ and yet is widely read” (Kelly 1). Austen is the only novelist, prior to Charles Dickens, whose novels maintain a significantly popular readership, and generations of students regard her fictional world as literature with a capital ‘L.’ The British author, Jane Austen, gave the novel its distinctly modern character in the 19th century by describing ordinary people in everyday life, portraying strong female protagonists, and depicting the perils of misconstrued romance.

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Hampshire County, England. Her father, George Austen, was a reverend in the small village of Steventon. Her mother, Cassandra Leigh Austen, despite having been born into a higher social class, chose to stay home to raise their eight children. Austen, affectionately known as Jenny by her family, and her sister Cassandra were “…too close emotionally to be separated for schooling, despite their difference in age…” (Kelly 2), so the girls received most of their education at home by teaching themselves. The Austen family enjoyed putting on plays and reading, and one person would often read aloud while the other family members completed household tasks. Not surprisingly, Austen quickly took to writing and amused her family with short stories throughout her adolescence.

Although Austen began several novels in the 1790s, they were not published for several years. “One reason for Austen's failure to push a book through to publication during these years may have been a series of personal losses…” (Kelly 2). After moving to Bath in 1801 due to her mother’s failing health, Austen fell in love with a young clergyman, who died suddenly. In...

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...'s Sons, 2000. Literature Resource Center. Web. 27 Jan. 2012.

Pollock, W.F. “British Novelists.” Fraser’s Magazine. January 1860. pp.30-35. Rpt. in Bloom’s Classic Critical Views: Jane Austen. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Bloom-Infobase, 2007. pp. 120-121.

"Review of ‘Emma’." Augustan Review 2.13 (May 1816): 484-486. Rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Janet Mullane and Robert Thomas Wilson. Vol. 19. Detroit: Gale Research, 1988. Literature Resource Center. Web. 27 Jan. 2012.

Scott, Sir Walter. Quarterly Review. October 1815. pp.192-200. Rpt. in Bloom’s Classic Critical Views: Jane Austen. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Bloom-Infobase, 2007. pp. 130-132.

Whately, Archbishop. “Modern Novels.” Quarterly Review. January 1821. pp. 359-63, 375-85. Rpt. in Bloom’s Classic Critical Views: Jane Austen. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Bloom-Infobase, 2007. p.21.

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