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Jane Austen

Born in 1775, Jane Austen was one of eight children born to a middle class family in a village in Hampshire, southeast England. Her books are often called ‘novels of manners’ because they’re based on carefully observed and satirised details of social interaction. Although Austen was living through a turbulent period, with the Napoleonic wars and the American struggle for independence in the background, in her books she makes almost no reference to these conflicts. Instead, she focuses on social rather than military manoeuvres and the high drama that can take place in the ballroom, or while visiting someone for tea.
Written over two hundred years ago, Jane Austen’s novels continue to delight readers with their romance, gossip, and, above all, humour.
All the books follow the same basic plot: young women looking for husbands. The characters, like Austen herself, are members of the English gentry, or middle class. Most of the female protagonists don’t work and so are dependent on marriage for their financial security. This means that the goal of (almost) every young woman in the novels is to find a husband, who will bring with him stability, sufficient wealth and social status. And, of course, the best place to find a man is at a ball, the highlight of the social calendar. It’s interesting to note that Jane Austen herself chose not to marry, although she did receive at least one offer that we know of.