Jane Austen was born in 1775 in the Hampshire village of Steventon in southern England.
The seventh child of a country clergyman, she grew up in a warm and lively household. Her formal
education ended at age nine, but she continued to study at home, taking advantage of her father's
extensive library. A sharp observer of human nature, in her early teens she began writing plays and
literary parodies to entertain her family. She started writing novels in her 20s and finished early
versions of three of them (Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice)
In 1801 she moved with her parents and sister to the resort town of Bath, where four years
later her father died. Austen then lived with her mother and sister, Cassandra, in temporary lodgings
or with relatives until 1809, when her brother Edward offered them Chawton Cottage on his estate in
Hampshire. From this point she flourished as an author. She revised the novels that she had written
earlier and in 1811 published Sense and Sensibility at her own expense. Pride and Prejudice
came out two years later, followed the next year by Mansfield Park. Although Austen insisted on
publishing her work anonymously, she took great pleasure in the popular and critical success of her novels.
Sir Walter Scott was among her admirers, as was the Prince Regent (later King George IV), to whom she dedicated
Emma (in response to a thinly veiled request conveyed by the prince's chaplain). In 1816 Austen became
ill (it is now believed that she suffered from Addison's disease). She died in 1817 and was buried in
Winchester Cathedral. Her brother Henry supervised the publication of Persuasion and Northanger
Abbey and revealed her identity.