Jane Austen (1775–1817) was an English novelist known for Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Though she published her works anonymously, Austen was so successful that she enjoyed personal and professional independence uncommon to women in Georgian middle-class society.
Born into a family of modest means, Austen brought humor, intelligence and a cynical snap to her heroines and her subject matter, which subverted the expectations of the popular and sentimental romances of the era. Her audacious social commentary and sophisticated realism won Austen approval from upper-class opinion makers as well as readers.
But it was Austen’s witty and ironic observations of class and gender divisions that were so distinctive—and today, so influential and universal. With a lasting impact on popular culture, Austen’s canon of work still holds a mirror to each new generation of readers.
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