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. She is considered to be one of the most beloved British authors.Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction set among the gentry have earned her a place as one of the most widely read and most beloved writers in English literature. She was born in Steventon rectory on 16th December 1775. Her family later moved to Bath and then to Chawton in Hampshire. She wrote from a young age and Pride and Prejudice was begun when she was twenty-two years old. It was initially rejected by the publisher she submitted it to and eventually published in 1813 after much revision. All four of her novels - Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815) published in her lifetime were published anonymously. Jane Austen died on 18th July 1817. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (both 1817) were published posthumously.
James Chandler is the Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and chair of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism, also published by the University of Chicago Press.