It can be safely said that Jane Austen is one of the best-loved English authors of all time. Born December 16, 1775, Austen made a mark on the literary world with her romantic fiction set among the landed gentry in England. Although she is one of the most popular and well known authors, there is little known about her private life.
Austen was one of eight children born to parents Reverend James Austen and Cassandra Leigh Austen - both members of substantial gentry families. Jane, like her sister Cassandra, remained unmarried. All the Austen children were literary with Jane being the most prolific. Her writing career began early when she wrote stories, poems and plays for her family's entertainment. These pieces of work, originally written between 1787 and 1793, now known as Juvenilia, were ultimately bound in three volumes.
Jane Austen is most famously known for her six major novels : Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. However, there are several other novels and stories that were either started, abandoned or published posthumously. One of Austen's earliest works - excluding her Juvenilia, was a short epistolary novel called Lady Susan. In 1796 Austen began a second novel, titled First Impressions. She completed the first draft when she was 21 and her father offered the manuscript to a publisher in London but was turned down. This novel later became Pride and Prejudice, and in 1813, publisher Thomas Egerton agreed to publish it and the novel was an immediate success. Egerton also published Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. Austen's first published novel, Sense and Sensibilty, centers on the experiences of two dissimilar sisters who undergo comparable experiences in the loss of the men they love. With a cast of characters satirically drawn, Sense and Sensibility remains a classic example of Austen's skill.
Jane Austen died in 1817 at 41 from an ailment no-one has truly identified. After her death, Jane's sister and brother Henry, arranged to have Persuasion and Northanger Abbey published as a set in December 1817. Austen's books have been continuously in print since 1833. Adaptions of every kind, as well as sequels have been based on Austen's work. The first film version of her work starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson was Pride and Prejudice in 1940. Numerous other films, TV series and books, all based on the novels of Jane Austen will ensure that this great author will never be forgotten. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral and her brother James composed the epitaph which mentions "extraordinary endowments of her mind" but not her writing.
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1. The Novels of Jane Austen - £3,330
Published in London by Richard Bentley in 1836-1837.
2. The Novels and the Letters - £3,165
The text based on collation of the early editions by R. W. Chapman. With notes, indexes and illustrations from contemporary sources.
3. Pride and Prejudice - £2,495
First one-volume edition, first illustrated edition, and only the fifth edition overall.
4. Pride and Prejudice - £2,210
A beautiful Art Nouveau floral spine decorated copy.
5. The Novels of Jane Austen - £2,085
The text based on collation of the early editions by R. W. Chapman. Finely bound by the Bayntun-Riviere bindery in half crimson morocco.
6. The Novels - £2,020
Published in London by Richard Bentley in 1856.
7. The Works of Jane Austen - £1,880
Bentley edition of 1856. All five volumes expertly re-backed to preserve the original green cloth boards, contents very clean, all plates intact.
8. Austen's Novels - £1,840
Hardcover complete six volume set, frontispiece engravings, marbled endpapers and edges, half leather, marbled sides, raised bands with gilt tooling.
9. Pride and Prejudice - £1,815
Published in London by George Allen in 1906, this is a beautifully bound example of the Hugh Thomson illustrated edition.
10. Sense and Sensibility - £1,610
First Bentley edition, third overall. Bentley’s Standard Novels was an extremely successful series of reprints published monthly between 1831 and 1854, and it included the first inexpensive, single volume versions of Austen’s novels.