When did she live?
Jane Austen was born in Steventon, Hampshire, England, on 16 December 1775. She died on 18 July 1817.
Why is she famous?
Jane Austen is one of England’s most famous writers. She is also possibly the most famous female writer from a time when very few women were published.
Austen wrote 6 novels, 4 of which were published whilst she was alive. ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and ‘Emma’ are her most well-known.
What was her mark on history?
Austen’s works remain some of the most loved examinations of English 18th Century upper-middle class life. Her stories and details about the social manners and expectations, especially those placed upon women, are held up as important commentaries on the advantages and problems of the class system of the time.
Rather than dramatic incidents, Austen’s work focused on family dynamics and social pressures: the need families felt to hold a position; the belief children had to fulfil certain expectations; the manner in which class overrode matters of love and friendship; the emphasis of women doing right by parents and husbands rather than being educated or free.
Jane Austen had six brothers and 1 sister. This large family helped her understand family dynamics and the social expectations placed on the different genders and children of different ages.
Austen’s popularity exploded in the late 20th century thanks to a BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. This 6-part series sold around the world, made a star of Colin Firth, and led to a rush of costume dramas about English aristocracy and relationships.
Jane Austen is on the Bank of England £10 note issued since 2017.