Jane Austen (1775–1817). Perhaps the most beloved of all English novelists. Her work has attracted a wide range of admirers—it has been the subject of innumerable film and television adaptations—and scholars have credited her with developing new techniques for the representation of consciousness. Austen was born in Hampshire, the sixth of seven children. Her father was a clergyman. She grew up in a family of devoted novel readers and showed an early talent for satire and parody. Austen began her first serious literary projects while in her 20s, producing early versions of what would later become Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. She returned to these works in her 30s, revising them for publication—Sense and Sensibility appeared in 1811, Pride and Prejudice in 1813—while also writing three new works: Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), and Persuasion, published posthumously, along with Northanger Abbey, in 1818. She never married, though she did accept one proposal, from a wealthy young man six years her junior, only to think better of her acceptance the next day.
[Courtesy: Professor Timothy Spurgin]