Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Classics Challenge: Jane Austen

"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." ~ Jane Austen

Moving right along to authoress number three in the Classics Challenge! An interesting pattern to notice is that Ms. Austen, as well as Emily Bronte and Louisa May Alcott, never married. 

Jane Austen's childhood was filled with sibling adventures and creative pursuits. Ms. Austen's father encouraged his children to read, opening up his extensive library to their young minds. Ms. Austen grew very close to her older sister Cassandra. They were sent away to boarding school together only to come home with typhus. Ms. Austen almost died from it! Imagine a world without her novels! No Mr. Darcy? Gasp!

Ms. Austen's first story was Love and Friendship, written in a series of letters that parodied romantic fiction. Some of her most popular works were Elinor and Marianne, First Impressions, and Susan.
Oh, wait. 

You don't recognize the names? Probably because the titles were changed in publication! Elinor and Marianne became Sense and Sensibility. First Impressions was christened Pride and Prejudice (a novel Ms. Austen called her "darling child"). Susan was renamed Northanger Abbey.

After her father's death, Ms. Austen and her family struggled financially. They moved from relatives' homes to a rented flats and back again. They finally established security after moving in with Ms. Austen's cousin. At this point, at the age of thirty, Ms. Austen began publishing her works under a pseudonym until her death in 1817.

Writerly Things to Learn from Jane Austen

1. It takes time to cultivate popularity. While Ms. Austen was alive, her books were popular, but nowhere near the acclaim they have today. Furthermore, no one outside her family even knew she wrote novels like Pride and Prejudice or Emma! It wasn't until after her death that the "secret" was revealed!

2. Write what you know--or at least have experience with--and enjoy. Ms. Austen's stories revolved around the most difficult game of her time: romance. Her wit and observation blended with the society around her to create darling books that are popular in various medias today.

3. Physical condition doesn't dominate your imagination. Even while suffering what some believe to be Addison's Disease (which eventually claimed her life), Ms. Austen continued to write and edit her older works. She didn't give up until physical infirmity forced her pen to still.

4. Reading is an important part of writing. Jane Austen read extensively as a child--and it shows!

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