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Jane Austen's entire body of published work is comprised of a mere six novels. Faithful readers have read them all. In fact, they've read them all more than once. In fact, they reread them on an annual basis. For those who see more, here in this book you will find quotes from your favorite characters, the barbed wit of Jane herself, trivia and tidbits from Jane's life and times, and a peek at the world of film and print that pays homage to Jane.
On December 16, 1775, Jane Austen, one of the world's greatest novelists, was born. She was the seventh child born to Reverend George Austen and his wife, Cassandra. Having produced only six novels, she is nonetheless regarded as one of the most popular authors ever to come from England. Her novels, letters, and minor works have both touched the hearts of casual readers and exercised the brains of scholars. She is at the same time both accessible and untouchable, and she has inspired a veritable industry of sequels, adaptations, movies, and miniseries.
"She was very attractive; her figure was rather tall and slender, her step light and firm, and her whole appearance expressive of health and animation. In complexion she was a clear brunette with a rich colour; she had full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and well formed, bright hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close round her face."
-James Edward Austen-Leigh, describing his aunt Jane
The Juvenilia Love and Freindship [sic] (written between 1790 and 1792) is a parody of society's enthusiasm for sensibility in which characters suffer great emotional outbursts and fatal fainting fits. The story opens with a letter from Isabel to Laura: "How often, in answer to my repeated entreaties that you would give my Daughter a regular detail of the Misfortunes and Adventures of your Life, have you said 'No, my freind [sic], never will I comply with your request till I may be no longer in Danger of again experiencing such dreadful ones.'"
"We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be."
-Fanny Price in Mansfield Park
During the Regency period, use of laudanum was quite rampant. Jane Austen showed the ill effects of drug abuse by the upper classes in the form of the perpetually doped, comically loopy Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park. The Prince Regent was also known to be fond of laudanum, imbibing about 250 drops a day!
Further Reading for Those Who Can't Get Enough
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife
Darcy & Elizabeth by Linda Berdoll (2004 and 2006)
These sequels to Pride and Prejudice offer an intimate look at life at Pemberley in an epic, romantic, and often funny way. With lots of sex and some violence, they may be a bit risqué for Austen purists, but the realistic, human view of the Darcys makes each a great read.