Logo: The Walrus and the Carpenter, from the illustrations to Lewis Carroll's "Alice Through the Looking-Glass", 1872
Image: Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Illustrated by Hugh Thomson.
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Northanger Abbey was written in 1798, although it was not published until after her death. On the other hand, Persuasion was her final novel, written between 1815 and 1816, and published incompletely but revised immediately after her death with Northanger Abbey.
Northanger Abbey is notable for being a fierce parody of the late 18th century Gothic style's fainting heroines, 'terror' (giving hints of something fantastic but dreadful, only to quash it later with mundane truth) and haunted medieval buildings. It concerns a typical Austen heroine, the young Catherine Morland who is taken to the fashionable resort of Bath with the her friends the Allens. From there she travels to the eponymous medieval abbey, the seat of the Tilneys. As an impressionable girl, Catherine becomes obsessed with the possible atrocities going on at Northanger Abbey. As is her style, Austen spices it with a little romance where she puts Captain Tilney under the spell of the unpleasant, scheming Isabella Thorpe.
Persuasion concerns the social issues of Austens time and particularly the matter of class. The story begins with the letting of Sir Walter Elliot's seat, Kellynch Hall, to his annoyance as a man of self-aggrandising and showy tendencies. Persuasion is the tale of the romance between his pretty and friendly younger daughter Anne who meets the novel's hero, Captain Wentworth and in spite of social barriers and the rival Musgrove sisters - Louisa and Henrietta - pursues his affection having once turned him down as a spouse.
Born on December 16th, 1775; Jane Austen was the 7th child among 8 children of Rev. George Austen, and Cassandra Leigh. Jane Austen's only sister, Cassandra, was her closest confidante and friend throughout her life, and the other sibling closest to Jane Austen was her brother Henry, a banker and later Anglican clergyman. Henry also acted as her literary agent and it was through his circle of friends (bankers, merchants, publishers, painters, and actors) Jane Austen formed her views about the social worlds.
Jane Austens father tutored her early education until she left for boarding school with her sister. After returning from boarding, Jane Austen continued her education under her fathers and brothers tutelage. Her father was quiet liberal on his childrens upbringing and even encouraged Jane Austen and her sister to continue writing (hardly considered an ideal trait in women of those days)
Jane Austens writing started during her teenage years, which was later compiled as Juvenilia. Jane Austen's first novel, 'Sense and Sensibility', appeared in 1811, and was followed by the favourably reviewed 'Pride and Prejudice' (described by her as her "own darling child") in 1813. 'Mansfield Park' published in 1814, was a huge hit in the public, and was followed by 'Emma' in 1816. All of Jane Austen's novels were published anonymously (her name being revealed after the publication of her nephew's A Memoir of the Life of Jane Austen, in 1870). 'Persuasion' and 'Northanger Abbey' were published posthumously and a final novel, Sanditon was left incomplete.
One of the most studied and debated pieces of literature, Jane Austen's works still have a tremendous fan following and are regularly adapted in various forms of media.
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