It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife
What is your favourite Jane Austen moment?
Perhaps it is Mr. Darcy emerged soaking wet from the lake in the 1990s TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice ? Or John Willoughby boldly rescuing Marianne Dashwood after she has slipped and fallen in the rain in Sense and Sensibility?
Admittedly, both of these scenes owe rather more to contemporary interpretations of Austen’s works than her actual pen. But they both demonstrate a continued passion for her romances, more than two centuries after her death.
All of Austen’s six completed novels: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey Emma and Persuasion end with a wedding. Her own life did not – it’s thought that she was briefly engaged aged 21, but had second thoughts – but it was a happy one of relative independence in the Georgian era.
The seventh of eight children born to a country vicar and his clever wife, Jane and her siblings were brought up to love learning, telling stories and entertaining each other with plays. It was a happy, close family.
An avid letter-writer in her life as well as an author, her wit, acute social observations and evident delight in the absurd, shines through in her writing. Her books are appealing and accessible to fans who simply love a good book, today. Her work has inspired other writers including author Helen Fielding, who even has a Mr Darcy in her own brilliant Bridget Jones's Diary
As crime writer Val McDermid puts it: “One of the reasons we all still read Jane Austen is because her books are about universal things which still matter today – love, money, family. They haven't gone out of fashion.”
Jane enjoyed the success of four of her books in her lifetime – Pride and Prejudice became a hugely popular read. The final two were published after her death of what’s now believed to have been Addison disease – a condition which can now be treated with hormone replacement medication. She died aged just 41 and was buried at Winchester Cathedral
In 2017, Jane Austen was unveiled as the face of the new £10 note, as one of many events held to mark the bicentenary of her death.