English writer Jane Austen

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English writer Jane Austen
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Topicality: English writer, who first gave the novel its modern character through the treatment of everyday life. Although Austen was widely read in her lifetime, she published her works anonymously. The most urgent preoccupation of her bright, young heroines is courtship and finally marriage. Austen herself never married. Her best-known books include PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1813) and EMMA (1816). Virginia Woolf called Austen "the most perfect artist among women." Jane Austen focused on middle-class provincial life with humor and understanding.

She depicted minor landed gentry, country clergymen and their families, in which marriage mainly determined women's social status. Most important for her were those little matters, as Emma says, "on which the daily happiness of private life depends." Although Austen restricted to family matters, and she passed the historical events of the Napoleonic wars, her wit and observant narrative touch has been inexhaustible delight to readers. Of her six great novels, four were published anonymously during her lifetime.

Austen also had troubles with her publisher, who wanted to make alterations to her love scenes in Pride and Prejudice. In 1811 he wrote to Thomas Egerton: "You say the book is indecent. You say I am immodest. But Sir in the depiction of love, modesty is the fullness of truth; and decency frankness; and so I must also be frank with you, and ask that you remove my name from the title page in all future printings; 'A lady' will do well enough." At her death on July 18, 1817 in Winchester, at the age of forty-one, Austen was writing the unfinished SANDITON.