Jane Austen's first major novel was written in 1798-99, when she was in her early twenties. It is a comic love story set in Bath about a young reader who must learn how to separate fantasy from reality. Miss Austen sold the novel (then entitled Susan) to a publisher in 1803, and the work was advertised but never published. She bought it back many years later, and her brother Henry Austen published the novel as Northanger Abbey after her death in 1817.
Sense and Sensibility was the first of Jane Austen's novels to be published. She began to write it sometime around 1797, and she worked on it for many years before its publication in 1811. The title page said that it was written "By a Lady", and only her immediate family knew that Jane Austen was the author. Impetuous Marianne Dashwood tumbles into a fairytale romance that goes sour, and her practical older sister Elinor copes with the family's financial problems while hiding her own frustrated romantic hopes. The book was a success, and it even earned a profit!
Pride and Prejudice was first written in the late 1700's, then rewritten in 1811-1812 and finally published in early 1813. It is probably the most-read of all of Jane Austen's novels and is a popular favorite among many. Originally entitled First Impressions, the novel deals with the misjudgments that often occur at the beginning of an acquaintance and how those misjudgments can change as individuals learn more about each other.
Mansfield Park was written between February, 1811 and the summer of 1813. It was the third novel Jane Austen had published and it first appeared on May 4, 1814. During her lifetime, it was attributed only to "The author of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice", and the author's identity was unknown beyond her family and friends. It is Jane Austen's most complex novel and deals with many different themes, from the education of children, to the differences between appearances and reality. The version of the novel housed here at Austen.com is slightly annotated.
Lovers' Vows: This is the play that the Bertrams wish to enact in the first volume of Mansfield Park. In addition to the text of the play, a synopsis is provided here, as well as a short analysis explaining some of the objections to the play within the novel and a cast list.
Emma was written in 1814-1815, and while Jane Austen was writing it, it was suggested to her by a member of the Prince Regents' household that she dedicate it to His Royal Highness. Austen took the suggestion as it was intended--as a command--and Emma was thus dedicated, but the dedication itself is rather slyly worded. Emma deals with a young woman's maturation into adulthood and the trouble she gets herself into along the way. The version of the novel housed here at Austen.com is slightly annotated.
Persuasion was written in 1815-1816, while Jane Austen was suffering from her fatal illness. She was still working on some revisions at the time of her death in 1817. The novel was published posthumously by her brother, Henry Austen. Persuasion is a novel of second chances, expectations of society, and the constancy of love. You can also read the preface which Henry wrote telling the world of his sister's authorship, life, and untimely death: A Biographical Notice of the Author.
Jane Austen's works from her childhood are full of enthusiasm, humor, and very creative spelling. We do not host the texts of the Juvenilia or her uncompleted works at Austen.com. See the excellent Jane Austen Information Page for the e-text of the major works from her juvenilia, some of Jane Austen's letters, biographical information, and much more.
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