Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hampshire. She was one of eight children of a clergyman and grew up in a close-knit family. She began to write as an adolescent. In 1801 the family moved to Bath. After the death of her father in 1805 Jane Austen, her sister Cassandra and their mother settled in Chawton, near Steventon.
Her first novel, “Sense and Sensibility”, appeared in 1811. Her next novel “Pride and Prejudice”, which she described as her "own darling child", received very favourable reviews. “Mansfield Park” was published in 1814. “Emma”, published in 1816, was dedicated to the Prince Regent, an admirer of her work.
In 1816 she began to suffer from ill-health, most likely due to Addison's disease. She travelled to Winchester to receive treatment, and died there on 18 July 1817.
Two more novels, “Persuasion” and “Northanger Abbey” were published posthumously in 1818. Her novels have rarely been out of print, although they were published anonymously and brought her little fame during her lifetime.
Jane Austen’s novels, set among the English middle and upper classes, are outstanding for their wit, social observation and insights into the lives of early 19th century women. They often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism and social commentary, have earned her everlasting praise among critics and scholars.