As most would know, Jane Austen is my favorite author of all time. I absolutely love her novels, her attention to details, her honesty regarding the lives of her characters, and her relatable moments about life that encompass every part of her stories. As a writer myself, I cannot even fathom the depths of her brilliant imagination. For Jane, each stroke of her pen brought even more ingenuity to the page, because her stories were her heartbeat. She wrote what she knew and what she witnessed around her. In her own way, she gave her readers part of her own self, because whether it be Emma, Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, Lydia, or even Wickham, each person represented something she knew or experienced in life. She taught us many things about life, people, and even ourselves throughout the pages of her novels, yet there is still so much I would love to know about this inspiring author who lived in England during the late 18th century.
Many historians and scholars have uncovered truths about her life, but there is still so much we do not know. We know some information about her family, such as her father was a vicar and he and his wife married in Bath. Jane had six brothers and one sister, Cassandra, who was her closest friend. And I also know that Jane did not care for Bath, which is something I came to agree with her on when I visited there several years ago. Bath is a unique city, but considering the architecture and its history, the city of Bath is not overly warm and inviting. Perhaps that is what Jane felt when she lived there. She did not write as much when she resided in Bath, but instead helped and cared for her family.
Even Jane’s health is a bit of a mystery. There were periods in her life where she wrote so much that she exhausted her creative talents, but there also were spans of time which included no cleverness at all. Of course, many artists find themselves in this predicament many times over, and I wonder if her circumstances in life had anything to do with these moments of restlessness. Upon reading her books, you can see she knows much about the human heart. She seems to know people so well that perhaps it was difficult to make friends or fall in love, since she already knew what the outcome would be. Why you may wonder? Because she had already covered those scenes within the pages of her novels.
Jane was proposed to once, but little is known about the man or Jane’s true feelings. Yet it is probable to assume she would not marry unless love was a part of her marriage. She even gave this same advice to her niece, Fanny. Besides, how could Jane Austen, the writer of such amazing love stories, not require the same for her own life. How sad to know the neither her sister or Jane every found love–at least the love they hoped for in life. Yet again, there is so much we do not know, and even though biographies, films, and researchers try to uncover more facts about her life, there is only so much we can discover and understand. This is true of so many beloved authors. Who were these individuals? And how amazing would it be if we could ask them various questions today. Jane Austen and so many of her writing successors set the stage for each piece of great literature that was to come throughout the centuries. And yet, how many of these talented individuals thought their writing was subpar. As an artist, it becomes all too easy to compare one’s work with others, and then suddenly you feel as though your art does not measure up. If only they could have understood how great their work truly was and that it would inspire generations to come. I am confident that many authors and writers, including myself, were influenced and inspired by the beautiful stories written by Jane Austen. Upon reading her words, it would be impossible not to be.
I wish I knew more about her life, and yet I am so happy to have had the wonderful opportunity of taking a closer look at her life and walking where she walked in England. Spending time in Bath and her home in Chawton gave me a greater glimpse into her extraordinary life and world. I am so grateful to have been introduced to her work so many years ago. My love of literature started with her novels, which began a life long journey into the lovely world of books and writing, and is also one of the main reasons I started studying English so many years ago.