Life and times of Jane Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775. She lived during the times of significant changes in England—socially, politically, and economically. During the rule of George III, England became unstable with constant struggles between the King and Whigs. Simultaneously, the French Revolution had begun. Between 1804 and 1814, (the period in which Austen did most of her writing) England was at war with France’s Revolution leader, Napoleon. Austen was very much aware of these outside events, however they remain absent from her writing. She went out of her way to write about only what she had experienced and having never left the South of England, her experience was rather limited. By avoiding talking about the matters that were occurring outside of her daily experiences the characters in the books of which she wrote, share this perspective of the world, seemingly oblivious to any outside concerns. These characters also share the same obsession for marriage that she has. This is because she was surrounded by the people of Regency who were obsessed with marriage. Throughout English history, marriage was known as an economic transaction for the financial benefits for the families involved dismissing the couple’s feelings (or lack thereof) for one another. Suddenly, during the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century period people began to wonder if it was okay to factor in the idea of love which made matters more complicated. “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” Jane Austen knew all too well how marriage defined a woman’s life. She never married, and as a result was dependent most of her life on the charity of her brothers. During the first 25 years of her life she spent time at home, or visited local families of similar social status. She attended parties and dances at many of the local grand houses. Jane and her family moved to Bath. She gathered information here for her future novels but didn’t write for the 5 years she lived there. During the years they lived in Bath, she and her family often spent time at the seaside,

most often the beaches on the Devon and Dorset coasts. These locales have been worked into into her writing, as did most places. Pride and Prejudice, specifically, contains scenes based directly on her experience in the small fishing village of Lyme Regis, which was the scene of Louisa Musgrove’s frightening fall. After Jane’s father passed away, she and her family moved to Chawton. Jane and her family remained in touch

and still close. They relied mostly on one another for company, rather than seeking out society in local families as they had done while at Steventon. Jane lived at Chawton until her worsening health had forced her and Cassandra to move to Winchester in May of 1817, so that she was closer to her health care. Jane Austen died on 18th July 1817. “Jane Austen has been immortalized by the body of work that survived her and continues to delight and entertain readers today, almost 200 years after her death.”

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