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Jane Austen | Biography

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Born in Steventon, Hampshire, England, on December 16, 1775, Jane Austen wrote about characters and plots rooted in her own world of the English gentry and upper classes. She published anonymously, as was common for women writers of the period, and while her novels gained some notoriety during her day (her 1815 novel Emma was dedicated to the prince regent, at his request), they became widely influential only after her death. Her novels helped establish the foundation of the modern novel, leading fiction away from the fantastic to focus on the realistic. Addressing themes surrounding love and marriage, she wrote six novels. Although she never married it is believed that she was engaged to Harris Bigg-Wither for one night in 1802.

She spent the last months of her life suffering from Addison disease and writing Persuasion, her last completed novel. Persuasion differs somewhat from her earlier novels. This two-volume work is considerably shorter than her others, and 27-year-old Anne Elliot is the most mature of Austen's protagonists. Notable, too, is that she and Captain Wentworth have a romantic history.

Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817. Later that year her brother Henry published Persuasion, along with Northanger Abbey, and a "Biographical Notice of the Author," which publicly revealed her identity for the first time. Austen's novels have enjoyed popularity for two centuries and have been adapted into numerous films.

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