Because so little is known about Jane Austen's life compared to other great authors, much information about her life and character remains a mystery. A wish has been granted to you, and you have been given one opportunity to meet Jane. During which stage of her life would you choose to meet her?
Jane was a precocious young girl, always telling stories, writing them down, and reading them to her family. She loved her brothers and sister, who amused themselves by putting on plays and charades. Bright and sparkling, she loved her life in Steventon Rectory and had looked forward to a promising future, which included meeting the right man and starting her own family. She wrote her juvenilia, which included Love and Freindship and a History of England, a cheeky account of English monarchs. Would you like to meet this precocious and talented young lady?
Jane loved to walk and dance and spend time with her friends. She was tall, graceful, and outgoing, and was reckoned to be a pretty, flirtatious girl by those who knew her. She even had a two-week summer romance with a dashing young Irishman named Tom Lefroy. During this period, Jane never stopped writing, producing Susan (Northanger Abbey), First Impressions (Pride and Prejudice) and Sense and Sensibility. Would you like to meet this promising and engaging young woman?
Mysterious middle years
After moving to Bath, Jane's life becomes largely a mystery. She began The Watsons , which remains a fragment, and perhaps rewrote her first three novels. Susan was also sold during this period of her life, but this book languished on the shelves and would not be published after her death. During this time her father died and her financial circumstances were severely reduced. Would you like to learn more about these lost years and why Jane's creative juices seemingly stopped?
Productive last years
When Jane and her family moved into Chawton Cottage, her creativity reemerged. During this time she published Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, and wrote Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. She had taken to wearing caps and had become a confirmed spinster, but her wit was as lively as ever, and she spun glorious tales for her nieces and nephews, none of which have survived. Jane's books began to be noticed by the public, and she was in full command of her writing talent when illness felled her. As she struggled with her health, she wrote about the more ridiculous side of hypochondria in the fragment of her last novel, Sanditon. Would you like to meet Jane while she lived in Chawton Cottage?