Jane Austen was born December 16, 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Her novels are praised for closing the gap between romance and real life. Her famous novels include “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility”. While she was relatively unknown in her own time, her works became wildly famous in the later 20th century. Some speculate she developed Addison’s disease, which eventually caused her to stop writing. She passed away July 18, 1817 in Winchester, Hampshire, England.
Jane was the second daughter and seventh child of George and Cassandra Austen. George was highly educated and served as the rector at the local Anglican parish. As a result, all of the children were encouraged to learn by reading the books in their father’s library. For fun, they would write and perform their own plays. Jane and her sister were both sent to a boarding school, to help further their educations. After a short while, the financial stress on the family became too much and the girls returned home.
When she wasn’t helping run the household, Jane was a social butterfly. She enjoyed playing the piano, attending church and entertaining at cotillions, which helped her become an excellent dancer. She also began writing her own stories, which she would read to her family on quiet evenings at home. She started working on a story written as series of letters, that would later be called “Sense and Sensibility”. There was also a draft she had started to work on called “First Impressions”, even though it would later be titled “Pride and Prejudice”.
In 1801, she moved with her parents and sister from their family home. Shortly after the relocation, in 1805, her father passed away after a short, sudden illness. She was very distraught at his death; she was very close to her father and shared his great love of books, which bonded them. Unfortunately, at the loss of their family leader, the ladies were forced to move between extended family members homes and other rented residences. They were finally able to settle down, living with one of their brothers.
Between the years of 1811 and 1816, when she was in her 30’s, Jane began publishing her not so soon to be famous novels. She used a pseudonym to publish both of her previously written novels, as well as “Mansfield Park” and “Emma”. Her books were her babies, and she cherished them as if they were living children. Even though she released these works before her death, many didn’t even know she was an author until after her passing.
Addison’s disease negatively affects the production of hormones in the adrenal gland. Primarily, it decreases the production of cortisol, which can cause the immune system to falter. Symptoms can include low blood pressure, fainting, muscle weakness, weight loss, pain in the legs and lower back as well as gastrointestinal distress. It is widely believed that Austen developed this degenerative disease, and that it directly contributed to her death.
In 2007, Austen found herself the topic of a worldwide experiment. Author David Lassman submitted some of her manuscripts, using a different author name of course. He titled his finding “Rejecting Jane”, as he received multiple rejection letters. She is still considered one of the greatest writers of all time. Her popularity continues to rise as there are several film and television adaptations of her famous works. Even the teenage cult classic “Clueless” starring Alicia Silverstone is based on “Emma”. It is her amazing ability to use normal people, in normal situations, while provided a beautiful romance story and graceful ending that captures the hearts of her millions of followers.