Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chronology of Jane Austen's Life

To continue this small series of posts on Jane Austen, today I'm going to do a chronology of her life, focusing on her writing. Was Pride and Prejudice Austen's first book, or just her most famous? Was it the first drafted? What about Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility? I feel like I've heard different accounts on the order that Austen wrote and published her books, so today I'm setting the record straight. You can find a more detailed version of this timeline in the Penguin Classics edition of Northanger Abbey.

1775 Jane Austen born on December 12th, the seventh child of Revd George Austen and Cassandra Leigh
1776 American Declaration of Independence
1787 Austen (now 11) begins writing what would later become her Juvenilia
1789 French Revolution begins
1795 Austen (now 19) writes "Elinor and Marianne," an early version of Sense and Sensibility
1796-7 Austen writes "First Impressions," an early version of Pride and Prejudice
1798-9 Austen writes "Susan," an early version of Northanger Abbey
1802 Austen (now 26) accepts a marriage proposal, but jilts the fellow the next day
1803 "Susan" sold to publisher, who does not publish it
1804 Austen writes unfinished novel "The Watsons"
1811 Sense and Sensibility published (Austen now 36)
1813 Pride and Prejudice published
1814 Mansfield Park published
1815 Emma published
1816 Austen's health begins to decline (she's now 40). She finishes writing Persuasion
1817 Austen works on Sanditon. She dies on July 18th at the age of 41. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion published in December.

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