Jane Austen Timeline
How It All Went Down
Jane Austen Born
Jane Austen is born in Steventon, England. She is the seventh of eight children born to William and Cassandra Austen, and one of only two daughters. Throughout her life, her older sister, also named Cassandra after her mother, is her closest friend.
Cassandra and Jane Austen are sent to Oxford, England to be educated by a private tutor named Ann Cawley. Both girls contract typhoid fever during an outbreak and return home to Steventon.
Austen enrolls in boarding school at Abbey School in Reading.
The family's money runs out and Austen returns to Steventon from boarding school. The rest of her education is completed at home from her father's voluminous library. Austen lives with her parents and sister for the rest of her life.
Austen begins Lady Susan, a novella told in the form of a series of letters. She works on it for two years.
Austen's First "Love"
Austen meets Tom LeFroy, an Irish law student who is the nephew of her neighbor. Austen and LeFroy spend time together during his month-long visit to Steventon. He leaves in January 1796 and soon becomes engaged to someone else, ending whatever relationship they had. Austen writes affectionately of LeFroy to her sister, prompting later speculation that he is the real-life inspiration for her male characters.
First Novel Attempt
Austen completes the first draft of First Impressions, the novel that later becomes Pride and Prejudice.
Austen Family Moves to Bath
Austen moves with her parents to the resort town of Bath, England, after her father's retirement from clergy.
An Indecent Proposal
Just before her 27th birthday, Jane Austen receives her only marriage proposal. A recent Oxford grad named Harris Bigg-Wither proposes to Austen while she is visiting his sisters. Realizing that the marriage would be good for her family's circumstances, Austen accepts. The next morning, however, she changes her mind and withdraws her acceptance. Bigg-Wither marries two years later; Austen never does.
Austen sells a novel called Susan to a publisher for £10. But the book is never published, and Austen's family later buys back the rights to the work.
Austen Falls on Hard Times
Jane's father William George Austen dies, leaving his wife and sisters financially dependent on his sons. The Austen women first rent a house in Bath, then move in with Jane's brother Frank and his wife.
Jane and Cassandra Austen and their mother move into Chawton Cottage, a home on an estate owned by their brother Edward.
Sense and Sensibility
Austen publishes Sense and Sensibility, whose author is identified on the cover only as "a Lady." Austen's name is not attached to any of the novels she publishes during her lifetime.
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is published.
Mansfield Park is published.
An Awkward Request
The librarian of the Prince Regent (later King George IV), a big fan of Austen's work, invites her to the prince's London home and suggests that she dedicate her soon-to-be-published book to him. Austen is not a fan of the prince, but is unable to say no. Emma is published the next month with a dedication to the prince. It is the last novel published in her lifetime.
Austen Falls Ill
Austen begins to feel the first signs of a long, progressive illness that saps her energy. She continues to work on two novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, but is delayed by her illness and by financial troubles caused by the failure of her brother Henry's bank.
Death Draws Near
A bed-ridden Jane and Cassandra Austen move to Winchester in order to be closer to Austen's doctor.
Jane Austen Dies
Jane Austen dies at the age of 41. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
Austen's final novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (a rewrite of the unpublished novel Susan), are posthumously published together in one volume. A biographical note by her brother Henry publicly identifies her for the first time as the author of her previous novels.
A Legacy Revived
Austen's nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh publishes a biography of his aunt entitled A Memoir of Jane Austen. The memoir sparks renewed interest in the writer.
The first popular editions of Austen's novels are published, sparking Austen fandom that continues to this day. Critic (and father of Virginia Woolf) Leslie Stephens calls her rabid following "Austenolatry."