Jane Austen's earliest writing dates from when she was just eleven
years, and already shows the hallmarks of her mature work.
Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon, near Basingstoke, the seventh child of the rector of the parish. In her youth she wrote many burlesques, parodies and other stories, including a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan. The novels published in Austen's lifetime include Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816). Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815-16, and was published, together with Northanger Abbey, posthumously in 1818. Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817. Christine Alexander is Scientia Professor of English at the University of New South Wales, general editor of the Juvenilia Press and co-editor of The Child Writer from Austen to Woolf (2005).
Spirited, easy, full of fun, verging with freedom upon sheer
nonsense . . . At fifteen she had few illusions about other people
and none about herself -- Virginia Woolf
[Her] inspiration was the inspiration of Gargantua and of Pickwick; it was the gigantic inspiration of laughter -- G. K. Chesterton