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Jane Austen

Jane Austen was, and continues to be, one of the most popular and widely read authors in English Literature. She focused her writing on works of romantic fiction that captivated the hearts of millions, and her novels continue to pose as a topic of discussion in classic literature.

Austen was born on December 16th, 1775. She came from a gentry family that was, in modern terms, large. She had six brothers and one sister, Cassandra, who was her closest friend throughout her life. One of her brothers, Henry, eventually became her literary agent. His true profession was that of a banker, which gave him connections to other bankers as well as actors, publishers, and merchants. This extended social connection greatly helped Austen and her writings, giving her a much more broad network of people to expose her work to. It can be agreed that her brother played a considerable role in her massive literary success.

In 1783, Jane was sent with her sister Cassandra to Oxford, per family tradition. The two young girls were put in the care of Mrs. Ann Cawley, who was given the task of educating them. Later on, the two girls moved with their mentor to Southampton, where they both caught Typhus. Jane came very near to dying, but made a lucky recovery. In 1785, Jane was sent, with her sister of course, to boarding school, though just a year later they were forced to return home, as the family could not afford to keep two girls in boarding school. Though Jane could not receive any more official education, she continued to learn with help of her father and brother Henry. Her father had a sizable library, which she had unlimited access to.

Jane’s father greatly influenced her writing skills and how much she was able to develop them. He bought expensive writing paper for both her and her sister, and was accepting of Jane’s “risque” writing style. She began to write poems, stories, and short plays for the entertainment of her family as well as her own. Jane took these early works and compiled them into three notebooks, which have come to be called Juvenilia. In these stories, she often spoke ill of her country. In one piece, History of England, which she titled after Oliver Goldsmith’s piece of the same name, she mocked Henry the 4th and his ascension to the throne. Many of her works in Juvenilia have been labeled as anarchist works, and spark quite the discussion.

Throughout her early adulthood and adulthood, she continued to write, producing one of her most well-known pieces, Lady Susan. Her works suffered a slow period when her father retired and decided to move the family to Bath. As Jane had never known any other home than the one she was raised in, she experienced a certain sort of dry period in her writing as she attempted to adjust. She was proposed to by Harris Big-Wither in 1802. She accepted, due to the fact that the arrangement would be beneficial for her family. Though the next day, upon realizing her mistake, she withdrew the acceptance.

In her later years of life, following her father's death, Jane moved with her mother and her sister to a cottage supplied by one of her brothers in Chawton. Here she published a number of novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. In 1816, she fell ill and it gradually worsened. It is thought that she contracted Addison’s Disease, though it is said that her death was a result of her contraction of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Her condition continuously worsened, but she failed to reveal the true severity to family and friends. Jane died on July 18th, 1817 at the age of 41. Though she passed on more than a century ago, her works continue to be discussed, analyzed, and read by millions of adoring fans.

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