Color drawing of Jane Austen sitting in a chair wearing a blue dress

Jane Austen

(1775 - 1817)

“Arrange the great English novelists as one will,” Virginia Woolf wrote in 1913, “it does not seem possible to bring them out in any order where she is not first, or second, or third, whoever her companions may be.” Jane Austen was born in 1775 in a town west of London known only for being the birthplace of the author of such novels as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. She wrote six novels before her death at age forty-one. Decades later, her oldest sister burned most of Austen’s correspondence to keep her life out of the reach of gossipmongers, a plan that did not stop the writer from becoming a ubiquitous presence in pop culture.

All Writing

A mind lively and at ease can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.

—Jane Austen, 1815

For what do we live but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?

—Jane Austen, 1813

Miscellany

“There were very few beauties,” wrote Jane Austen to her sister about a party she attended in 1800. The two Miss Maitlands had “a good deal of nose”; the General, “the gout”; Mrs. Maitland, “the jaundice”; and regarding Susan, Sally, and Miss Debary, Austen was “as civil to them as their bad breath would allow.”

We do not suffer by accident. 

—Jane Austen, 1813

Nobody, who has not been in the interior of a family, can say what the difficulties of any individual of that family may be.

—Jane Austen, 1815

Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies.

—Jane Austen, 1818

I am sure of this: that if everybody was to drink their bottle a day, there would not be half the disorders in the world there are now.

—Jane Austen, c. 1798

The bathing was so delightful this morning, and Molly so pressing with me to enjoy myself, that I believe I stayed in rather too long, as since the middle of the day I have felt unreasonably tired. I shall be more careful another time, and shall not bathe tomorrow as I had before intended.

—Jane Austen, 1804

A sick child is always the mother’s property; her own feelings generally make it so.

—Jane Austen, 1816

A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.

—Jane Austen, 1814

Voices In Time

1791 | Steventon

Briefly Noted

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen is unimpressed with the kings and queens of England. More

Issues Contributed