Jane Austen is one of the most notable literary figures of all time, because her stories featured romance, irony, and even social commentary. But even if you've read all of her classic novels, here's what you probably don't know about the legendary author:
Austen was born on December 16, 1775 in England to George and Cassandra Leigh Austen She lived the first 23 years of her life in this house in the village of Steventon — and apparently it was a full one. Her father was a clergyman and she was exceptionally close to her sister, Cassandra.
Even though her mother never seemed to regret her decision to marry down, Jane often touched on the topic of social class in her novels, likely as a result of this detail in her family's history.
The first one was with Tom Lefroy and was a source of inspiration for Sense and Sensibility. He was the nephew of a friend, but that friend later broke off the relationship because she knew if he married a "nobody" he'd lose his inheritance. The second was with a young clergyman she met while vacationing on the coast at Sidmouth in Devon. While it's believed he planned to propose to Austen, he died unexpectedly before that could happen.
A wealthy man six years her junior proposed, however Austen found him ill-mannered and quick-tempered so after a sleepless night she called off the engagement, which resulted in quite the scandal. Her niece later wrote about it, saying "Mr Wither was very plain in person — awkward, and even uncouth in manner — nothing but his size to recommend him."
Those novels include Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice. Not too shabby for such a young woman!
However, today people believe it was Addison's disease. She died the next year at the age of 41 and was buried in Winchester Cathedral.
Even though her family was quite large, only Austen's brother Henry (who had lost a lot of his savings), sister Cassandra, and (strangely) Madame Bigeon, the secretary of Henry's late wife got a nod in her will. Talk about a plot twist.
The two books that were released after her passing was Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.
Her brother Henry was one that revealed her true identity.
Here's the excerpt that was the source of inspiration: "The whole of this unfortunate business," said Dr Lyster, "has been the result of pride and prejudice. [...] if to pride and prejudice you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to pride and prejudice you will also owe their termination."
The first film adaption of one of her novels was the 1937 version of Emma. It starred Margaret Rutherford as Emma and Charles Laughton as Mr. Knightley. Later, in 1996, Gwyneth Paltrow put her own spin on the role of Emma.
Want even more Emma? the 1995 hit "Clueless" is a modern take on the novel. And apparently Martin Scorsese's 1990 movie Goodfellas is a more violent spin on Mansfield Park.