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On 16th of December 1775, in a small town called Steventon, UK, was born a person, which we know today as one of the brightest novelists of all time. Jane Austen was, and still is an idol for many writers. Her novels have been sold in millions of copies and have been adapted in numerous movies and tv shows, due to her unmistakable writing. But what exactly do we know about this incredible woman, except for her dashing male protagonists and elegant, yet satiric way of expressing her opinions through her books? What really shaped and inspired her to create such marvellous stories? Was there a real life Mr. Darcy? And how did her life experiences create a woman ahead of her times? I will show you just how her life inspired her to create these beloved novels.
Jane Austen, the daughter of George and Cassandra Austen, was the seventh of eight children. She had six brothers and a sister, who was her biggest confident. Her family was very modest, her father taking up three jobs in order to be able to support his wife and children. They would raise animals and plant vegetables as another way to survive with a pretty low income. As a child, Jane was encouraged to read, and was allowed to venture around her father’s bookshelves and pick out whatever she’d like. From a young age she started developing her creativity and love for stories. She would even write poems or plays, and started the yearly manuscripts of her novels from her teenage period. We see family playing as big of a part in Jane’s novels, as it did in her own life, the incomparable Bennet family being an example.
We may see Jane as a loner, surrounded only by pens and blank pages, but she had another side to her, a musical one. She enjoyed playing the piano and attending balls. The magical scenes in her novels were not just fiction, Jane was actually describing her own experiences. Although, there is no proof about the real inspiration for the handsome Mr. Darcy, there have been some guesses throughout the years. On a summer night, in 1796, Jane attended the ball where she met Tom Lefroy. They talked, danced and laughed, and by the end of the night, a romantic bond seemed to be forming between them. Tom was a young gentleman, with whom Jane had a number of encounters after the ball. She was even expecting a proposal from him! They seemed to be perfect for each other. Everything seemed to be going well, until Tom was sent away. He was supposed to marry someone richer than Jane, in order to support his family. Sounds familiar? Interestingly enough, the year Tom left was the same year Jane started writing her novel Pride and Prejudice.
Another possibility is that Mr. John Parker, the husband of one of her friends was behind this interesting character, due to his involvement in a scandal that led to a divorce.
Jane has certainly met a lot of interesting people in her life, and it could just be that she took a little bit from every single one of them for her characters. From young love, to running away from a proposal, Jane lived a curious life. Some of its details still remain unknown to this day.
During Jane’s time, Britain was often at war, and even though she rarely mentioned it in her books, she made sure to include the excitement of the ladies when regiments would settle in their town. If we take Mr. Wickham for example, from Pride and Prejudice, we can see all the buzz that was around these young officers, and the hopes of the ladies to marry one of them.
Jane published her first book Sense and sensibility in 1811. She published her books anonymously and only wrote as a note: by the author of Sense and Sensibility on her second book as it was sent out in the world. Pride and Prejudice came out in 1813, and then Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey came along. The last two were only printed and published after her death. Unfortunately, Jane never got to finish all of her books, some manuscripts being published with only a few chapters being finished, for example Sanditon. She died on the 18th of July 1817, at only 41 years old, in her sister’s lap.
Despite the fact that Jane struggled with poverty for almost her entire life, she never gave up on herself or on her writing. She admired nature, and preferred a quiet evening at home than walking around the city. She never got married, or had any children. Austen had an interesting sense of humor, and would satirize the ways of modern society, such as marrying for money, the desperate methods used by women to get a man’s attention, and even the idea that a woman is only good in domestic matters. She was caring, creative and modest. Jane moved more times than she would have liked, and not once found herself in rather horrible situations, but she managed to leave behind something cherished for centuries, a legacy.
Tehnoredactor: Pridie Carmen
Grafician: Axinia Daria