There was nothing of the literary woman in the external affairs of her life and its conduct. Born on 16 December, 1775, at Steventon in Hampshire, of which her father was rector, and dying at Winchester on 18 July, 1817, she passed the intervening years almost entirely in the country. She lived with her family in Bath from 1801 to 1806, and at Southampton from 1806 to 1809. Later, she paid occasional visits to London where she went not a little to the play; but she never moved in “literary circles,” was never “lionised” and never drew much advantage from personal contact with other people of intellect. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon.
Sense and Sensibility was first written about 1795 as a epistolary novel entitled Elinor and Marianne. In the fall of 1797, she began to write the novel in its present form; and, after laying it aside for some years, she prepared it for publication in 1809, when she had settled at Chawton in Hampshire. The second chapter, which describes the famous discussion between John Dashwood and his wife, is perhaps the most perfect spirit of pure comedy to be found in any of her novels.
On the Sources of Happiness, 1819 — Sense and Sensibility, the composition of Miss Austen, is a novel that may safely, nay profitably, amuse the leisure of your youthful days. False and affected feelings are here held up to just reprobation, and their unwise indulgence is seen to lead to ultimate misery; while good sense and right feeling are depicted, powerfully conducing to dignity of character, and peace of mind. The story is highly interesting, although Willoughby is not altogether a consistent character; his generous warmth, on some occasions, ill agreeing with his cold-blooded selfishness on others.
Literary Gazette - "We do not know a more agreeable writer than Miss Austen. The great charm of her characters is their reality. They are the truest pictures of English middle and country life of her own time."
The Literary World, 1870 — Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, are the best of Miss Austen's works. Northanger Abbey was one of the first. Persuasion is too slight to be scarce worth reprinting, but Emma and Mansfield Park are quite worthy of the authoress's reputation. In Sense and Sensibility we see the superiority of the former to the latter.
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