Jane Austen's life is striking for the contrast between the great works she wrote in secret and the outward appearance of being quite dull and ordinary. Austen was born in the small English town of Steventon in Hampshire, and educated at home by her clergyman father. She was deeply devoted to her family. For a short time, the Austens lived in the resort city of Bath, but when her father died, they returned to Steventon, where Austen lived until her death at the age of 41. Austen was drawn to literature early, she began writing novels that satirized both the writers and the manners of the 1790's. Her sharp sense of humor and keen eye for the ridiculous in human behavior gave her works lasting appeal. She is at her best in such books as Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816), in which she examines and often ridicules the behavior of small groups of middle-class characters. Austen relies heavily on conversations among her characters to reveal their personalities, and at times her novels read almost like plays. Several of them have, in fact, been made into films.
Margaret Drabble was born on June 5, 1939 in Sheffield, England. She attended The Mount School in York and later Cambridge University. Her novel "The Millstone won the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize and she was the recipient of the James Tait Black and E. M. Forster awards. She was also awarded a Society of Authors Travelling Fellowship in the 1960s and the CBE in 1980.
Romance author Stephanie Laurens was born in Sri Lanka, which was at the time the British colony of Ceylon. Her family moved to Melbourne, Australia where she eventually received a Ph.D in Biochemistry. She and her husband moved to London for four years where they worked as research scientists. They returned to Melbourne where she worked in the field of cancer research and eventually ran her own research laboratory. She began writing romance novels as a hobby, but due to her success she became a full-time novelist. She is the author of the Cynster Family series and the Bastion Club series.