Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Jane Austen, a great reason why I’m so fascinated by the British Regency era, an author whose works I adore, was born on December 16, 1775 in the parsonage at Steventon, Hampshire.

Today is her 236th birthday.

Jane was the seventh of eight children born to the Rev. George Austen and his wife Cassandra. Jane had five older brothers and one older sister, Cassandra, who was Jane’s best friend. A younger brother followed in 1779.

Jane died in 1817, at 41, leaving the world with only six completed novels and two incomplete ones as well as her letters and her Juvenilia, the works she wrote when she was in her teens.

I think the first time I heard of Jane Austen was sometime in the 6th grade. I didn’t read Austen until junior high, when I took a crack at Pride and Prejudice and couldn’t quite get through it. This is the same time that I tried reading Jane Eyre and threw that to the side about 150 pages in, but read all through Wuthering Heights multiple times.

I have read P&P, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Emma now–and I’ve seen a lot of the movie and TV adaptions of these books–and they move more deeply as the years pass on and I’ve developed the patience and insight to read and enjoy Jane’s works. I think of them as quiet genius.

Does anybody out there have a favorite Austen? When did you first read Jane Austen’s works? What was the impression they made on you?

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