Austen coat of arms: “Who envies is lesser.” Jane was the seventh child (out of eight) and the second daughter (out of two), of the Rev. George Austen, 1731-1805 (the local rector, or Church of England clergyman), and his wife Cassandra, 1739-1827.
The 12th century Church, where the Austens were rectors and Jane worshipped, stands little changed from their day.
Despite having a respectable income for the time, £600 a year, Jane’s father was by no means rich (especially with eight children), and couldn't have given his daughters much to marry on. Much like Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. (equivalent to approx. £38,000 today, which is $62,277 USD)
Her childhood has been compared to Catherine Moreland in Northanger Abbey. Catherine enjoys "rolling down the green slope at the back of the house" and prefers cricket and baseball to girls' play. In 1783, Jane and her older sister Cassandra went briefly to be taught by a Mrs. Cawley (the sister of one of their uncles).
In 1785-1786 Jane and Cassandra went to the Abbey boarding school in Reading, which apparently bore some resemblance to Mrs. Goddard’s casual school in Emma. (Jane was considered almost too young to benefit from the school, but their mother is reported to have said that “if Cassandra’s head had been going to be cut off, Jane would have hers cut off too".) This was Jane Austen's only education outside her family. Within their family, the two girls learned drawing, to play the piano, etc. Reading shown within Berkshire.
Jane Austen enjoyed social events, and her early letters tell of dances and parties she attended in Hampshire, and also of visits to London, Bath, and Southampton, where she attended plays and such. Jane Austen enjoyed social events, and her early letters tell of dances and parties she attended in Hampshire, and also of visits to London, Bath, and Southampton, where she attended plays and such.
There is little evidence of any serious relationships with men. There was Thomas Lefroy but he couldn’t afford to marry Jane. Jane wrote of Tom in a letter to Cassandra from January 14 th and 15 th 1796 (Jane was 20 years old) "Tell Mary that I make over Mr. Heartley and all his estate to her for her sole use and benefit in future, and not only him, but all my other admirers into the bargain wherever she can find them, even the kiss which C. Powlett wanted to give me, as I mean to confine myself in future to Mr. Tom Lefroy, for whom I do not care sixpence. Assure her also, as a last and indisputable proof of Warren's indifference to me, that he actually drew that gentleman's picture for me, and delivered it to me without a sigh. Friday. -- At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will be over. My tears flow at the melancholy idea." Although not a biopic, the movie “Becoming Jane” focuses on the relationship between Jane and Tom.
After moving to Bath in 1800, there is a family story of a suitor who was in love with Jane. He died unexpectedly. Dec. 2, 1802, Jane accepted the proposal of a younger man that she did not love, Harris Bigg-Wither. The next day, she thought better of it. Jane never married. High Street Bath, England
In 1803 Jane sold Northanger Abbey for £10. But the publisher decided not to publish it. In January of 1805, Jane’s father died and Mrs. Austen and her two daughters became largely dependant on the Austen brothers. In the years following, the ladies moved around. In 1810, Sense and Sensibility was accepted by a publisher and published in 1811. It was anonymous and the author was listed as “By a Lady.” She made £140 in the first edition.
In Nov. 1812, Jane sold Pride and Prejudice, outright for £110. 1813, Second printing of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibilty 1814, Mansfield Park sells out in 6 months Dec. 1815, Emma published 1816, second printing of Mansfield Park is unsuccessful Aug 1816 Jane finishes Persuasion, her health is declining. April 27, 1817 Jane writes her will. Friday, July 18, 1817 Jane dies at 41 years old in Winchester. Cause of death is unknown but likely to be Addison’s disease.
In memory of JANE AUSTEN, youngest daughter of the late Revd. GEORGE AUSTEN, formerly Rector of Steventon in this County. She departed this Life on the 18th July 1817, aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and the hopes of a Christian. The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her, and the warmest love of her intimate connections. Their grief is in proportion to their affection they know their loss to be irreparable, but in the deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her REDEEMER.
I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like. - Jane Austen
Emma is 20 years old when the story begins. She is handsome, clever and rich. Emma has had some success as a matchmaker with her governess and friend, Miss Taylor, and is looking for others to 'help out' in a similar way. Emma can be a little over zealous in her matchmaking attempts, but her good intentions as well as her kindness to her father fully redeems her character.
While she is in many ways mature for her age, Emma makes some serious mistakes, mainly due to her conviction that she is always right and her lack of real world experience. Although she has vowed she will never ever marry, she delights in making matches for others.
He is a close friend of Emma, and her only critic, though he cares deeply for her. Mr. Knightley is the owner of the neighboring estate of Donwell Abbey, which includes extensive grounds and a farm. He is the elder brother of Mr. John Knightley —the husband of Emma's elder sister Isabella.
Knightley warns Emma against matchmaking. He is suspicious of Frank Churchill and his motives.
Mr. Frank Churchill Frank Churchill is the son of Mr. Weston by his first marriage. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle as a child after his mother died. He has much of his father’s good nature, and is generally well liked, including by Emma.
Frank enjoys dancing and music and living life to the fullest. Frank may be viewed as a careless but less villainous version of characters from other Austen novels, such as Mr. Wickham from Pride and Prejudice or Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility.
Harriet becomes the subject of some of Emma's misguided matchmaking attempts. Harriet initially rebuffs a marriage proposal from farmer Robert Martin because of Emma's belief that he is beneath her, despite Harriet's own doubtful origins. Harriet is too easily led by Emma.
Mr. Woodhouse Emma’s elderly father. He considers himself to be an invalid. He worries about everyone’s health.
Miss Taylor Mrs. Weston: Emma’s governess and later friend and companion. When she marries, at the beginning of the novel, Emma is need of companions. Mr. Weston: Marries Emma’s governess. He is father to Frank Churchill. Mr. Elton: Ambitious young vicor. Emma tries to match him with Harriet. Mrs. Elton (Miss Hawkins): Boasting woman, married to Mr. Elton Miss Bates: Friendly spinster, aunt to Jane Fairfax
Isabella Knightley (Woodhouse): Emma’s older sister. Married to John Knightley. Five children (Henry, John, Bella, Emma, and George) Mr. John Knightley: Isabella’s husband and George’s younger brother. Jane Fairfax: Orphan. Niece to Miss Bates, grand-daughter to Mrs. Bates. Destined to become a governess. Robert Martin: Farmer, wishes to marry Harriet
Storyline Emma’s governess and companion has recently married, leaving Emma with only her elderly father as a companion. She befriends Harriet and begins meddling in her romantic life. Emma’s matchmaking continually backfires. Emma must admit she has been wrong and see everyone clearly- Harriet, Robert Martin, Frank Churchill, Jane Fairfax, and even Mr. Knightley!
Themes Marriage (and Society) : The characters are defined by their marriage or lack of or their prospects of marriage. Women at this time could not improve their station through education and hard work. They were dependant on a good marriage. Emma does not need to marry. She is wealthy enough to not worry about making a good match.
Themes Marriage (and Happiness) : What makes a happy marriage? Would Harriet be happiest in a marriage above her? With Mr. Elton or even Mr. Knightley? Or with a farmer? Mr. Weston was happier in his second marriage that was closer to his station.
Themes Women : Emma is bored. She has little to fill her time, but her idleness is more desirable than slave like work. Women have no control in their life, except in the rituals of courtship. Woman are confined by the rules of society.
Themes Imagination v Reason : Emma is intelligent but has little life experiences. The decisions she makes initially are based on her imagined ideas not on reality. When Emma reflects on her belief that Mr. Elton was in love with Harriet, “[s]he had taken up the idea, she supposed, and made everything bend to it.”