Facts About Jane Austen, the Beloved Author

Author Jane Austen is best known for Pride and Prejudice, however, during her life, the writer completed six novels (in addition to other writings), and her works are still relevant over 200 years later.

Austen’s works have come to define the Regency period, while her name seems to encompass the social milieu, manners, and tastes of Georgian Britain.

Jane Austen’s Closest Friend Was Her Sister Cassandra Austen.
The sisters were two years apart and the only girls among the Austen family’s eight children. Both Cassandra and Jane never married. They remained close throughout their lives, and after Jane’s death, her sister was instrumental in getting Persuasion and Northanger Abbey published posthumously.

The Working Title of Austen’s Most Famous Work, Pride and Prejudice, Was Originally First Impressions.
The working draft was referred to by Austen in a letter to her sister as First Impressions. However, the draft was not published immediately, and in 1811, Austen is thought to have edited the draft rather heavily before selling it to a publisher for £110.

Jane Austen Advised Marrying for Love and Seems to Have Followed Her Own Advice.
It is known that Austen only received one proposal—from a man named Harris Bigg-Wither when she was 27 years old. She recognized the practicality given her age and situation and accepted; however, the next morning withdrew her acceptance citing she was “miserable.”

Austen’s Novels Made Her Relatively Little Money.
Austen made relatively little as an author. Some of her works she sold on commission, reaping a reward per book sold. For others, she sold the copyright directly to publishers—forfeiting future revenue for a larger immediate sum. She sold the copyright for Pride and Prejudice for only £110, and it later sold well. Such income was admirable for a young woman, but not enough to live independently on for those of her middling, educated class. When Austen died, her estate was valued quite modestly at under £800.

The Author Charlotte Brontë Didn’t Like Austen’s Writing, However Charles Darwin Did.
Charlotte Brontë accused her predecessor’s lack of feeling. She described Austen’s work as “an accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a common face.” However, a surprisingly big fan of Austen’s work was Charles Darwin. Ironically, Austen took Darwin’s place on the British £10 note in 2013.

Austen’s Death in 1817 at Age 41 Is Still the Subject of Modern Medical and Historic Speculation.
In 1816, about a year before her death, Austen began to feel poorly. Living and writing in Winchester over her last year of life, the author claimed rheumatism. However, literary scholars, historians, and medical experts have all weighed in since her death on what caused such a decline at age 41. Some ascribe her death to cancer, others to Addison’s disease—an endocrine disorder. While we will probably never know the true cause for certain, you can pay your respects at her grave in Winchester Cathedral.

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