Born: 16 December 1775
Died: 18 July 1817
Birthplace: Steventon, England
Best known as:
The author of Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen's novels were witty, warm and ironic portraits of the privileged classes of 18th- and 19th-century England. Her best-known works are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), and Emma (1815). Jane Austen was one of eight children of an English clergyman, and given her literary accomplishments she lived a remarkably quiet and domestic life in the rural south of England. She never married and was only 41 when she died. (Curiously, due to the lack of acceptance of women authors at the time, her major novels were published anonymously, and Jane Austen was not associated with them until after her death.) The Pride and Prejudice heroine Elizabeth Bennet -- smart, witty and independent -- and her dashing suitor Mr. Darcy are one of the more famous couples in English fiction.
Jane Austen's stories have long been favorites in Hollywood. The many screen adaptations include Pride and Prejudice (both a 1995 BBC TV production with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, and a 2005 feature film with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet); Emma (1996, with Gwyneth Paltrow); and Sense and Sensibility (1995, with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet). The 1995 Alicia Silverstone movie Clueless is a whimsical takeoff on Emma... Jane Austen herself was played by Anne Hathaway in the 2007 film Becoming Jane... The exact cause of Jane Austen's early death has never been clear. In the last year of her life she suffered from fatigue, back pain, nausea and fevers as she gradually faded away. Addison's disease, Hodgkin's disease and tuberculosis have all been suggested as possible causes by modern-day scholars.
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