Jane Austen, born on December 16th, 1775, mostly wrote about young women from the respectably impoverished middle-class, just like her, who were faced with the dilemma: getting married for money or love? Alas, women had limited choices in the Regency era, and securing a wealthy husband was the most prudent economic decision a woman could make. However, Austen didn’t write only about husband-hunting. Her novels offer an insightful, humorous glimpse into the society of her time, and that is what makes them so valuable.
Austen mostly wrote at Chawton Cottage in Hampshire. She wrote Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion there, and revised Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey. Jane tried to write every day at an unusually small walnut table, placed close to a window for the light.
She used a ‘writing box’, which was probably a gift from her father. Although she did write on small pieces of paper, most experts think that the reason for that wasn’t to hide them quickly in her writing box if she heard someone approaching the door. Since Jane read her drafts to friends and family, it isn’t likely that she felt the need to hide her manuscripts. After finishing the first draft, she edited it profusely, crossing out sentences and rewriting until she was satisfied. When you feel disheartened while editing your manuscript, just imagine who it was in the pre-computer era and you will instantly feel better.
Like every author, Austen was plagued with doubts, and writing wasn’t always easy for her, “I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on until I am.” And, like every author, she couldn’t escape insecurity, “I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress.”
How about paying tribute to Jane Austen today with a few of her famous quotes? Can you remember which quote is from which book?
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”
“The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!”
“Angry people are not always wise.”
“But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”
“Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.”
“Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.”
“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.”
“Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.”
“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”
“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”
“My good opinion once lost is lost forever.”
“The distance is nothing when one has a motive.”
“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men. ” “Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”