Happy birthday, Jane Austen!

Jane Austen in an 1869 watercolor portrait.
(Sotheby’s Press Office / EPA)
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Jane Austen was born on this day in 1775. Happy 238th birthday, Jane Austen!

Austen, of course, was the author of novels that have endured and delighted for centuries. Her biggest hits are “Pride and Prejudice,” “Emma” and “Sense and Sensibility” -- lasting stories of young women coming of age in Edwardian England. Less well-known, but no less Austen-y, are “Mansfield Park,” “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion.”

Born into an affluent family, Austen had a comfortable upbringing not unlike her characters’: She learned to play piano, visited friends, attended dances. She also, from a young age, wrote. Her first published work was “Sense and Sensibility,” published in three volumes; it was originally published anonymously, identifying Austen only as “A Lady.”

Austen lived to be 41, with two of her books, “Persuasion” and “Northanger Abbey,” published posthumously. She is now buried in Winchester Cathedral and a plaque in her memory is in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.


Last week, an 1869 watercolor portrait of Austen sold for more than $270,000. In 2016, her face will begin appearing on the 10-pound note in the U.K. Meanwhile, her books grace shelves all over the world.


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