For over 150 years, Pride And Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen herself called this brilliant work her "own darling child." Pride And Prejudice, the story of Mrs. Bennet's attempts to marry off her five daughters is one of the best-loved and most enduring classics in English literature. Excitement fizzes through the Bennet household at Longbourn in Hertfordshire when young, eligible Mr. Charles Bingley rents the fine house nearby. He may have sisters, but he also has male friends, and one of these—the haughty, and even wealthier, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy—irks the vivacious Elizabeth Bennet, the second of the Bennet girls. She annoys him. Which is how we know they must one day marry. The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and Darcy is a splendid rendition of civilized sparring. As the characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, Jane Austen's radiantly caustic wit and keen observation sparkle.
Though the domain of Jane Austen's novels was as circumscribes as her life, her caustic wit and keen observation made her the equal of the greatest novelists in any language. Born the seventh child of the rector of Steventon, Hampshire, on December 16, 1775, she was educated mainly at home. At an early age she began writing sketches and satires of popular novels for her family's entertainment. As a clergyman's daughter from a well-connected family, she had ample opportunity to study the habits of the middle class, the gentry, and the aristocracy. At twenty-one, she began a novel called "First Impressions," an early version of <i>Pride and Prejudice. </i>In 1801, on her father’s retirement, the family moved to the fashionable resort of Bath. Two years later she sold a first version of <i>Northanger Abbey </i>to a London publisher, but the first of her novels to appear was <i>Sense and Sensibility</i>, published at her own expense in 1811. It was followed by <i>Pride and Prejudice</i> (1813<i>), Mansfield Park</i> (1814), and <i>Emma</i> (1816).<br><br>After her father died, in 1805, the family moved first to Southampton, then to Chawton College in Hampshire. Despite this relative retirement, Jane Austen was still in touch with a wider world, mainly through her brothers; one had become a rich country gentleman, another a London banker, and two were naval officers. Though her novels were published anonymously, she had many early and devoted readers, among them the Prince Regent and Sir Walter Scott. In 1816, in declining health, Austen wrote Persuasion and revised Northanger Abbey. Her last work, <i>Sanditon</i>, was left unfinished at her death, on July 18, 1817. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral. Austen’s identity as an author was announced to the world posthumously by her brother Henry, who supervised publication of <i>Northanger Abbey</i> and <i>Persuasion</i> in 1818.
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