Portal:Jane Austen/Selected biography

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Selected articles

These are selected articles related to Jane Austen which appear on Portal:Jane Austen.




Elizabeth Bennet, later Elizabeth Darcy, is the protagonist in the 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She is often referred to as Eliza or Lizzy by her friends and family. Elizabeth was portrayed by Greer Garson in the 1940 film adaptation of the novel, by Elizabeth Garvie in the 1980 BBC mini-series, by Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 television series, and by Keira Knightley in the 2005 film adaptation.

Elizabeth is the second child in a family of five daughters. Though the circumstances of the time and environment require her to seek a marriage of convenience for economic security, Elizabeth wishes to marry for love. She is regarded as the most admirable and endearing of Austen's heroines.

Elizabeth Bennet has become one of the most famous heroines in the history of English literature, known for her intelligence and independent thinking from the expected ambitions of her society. Austen herself described Lizzy "as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print." These qualities and her timeless romance with the proud Mr. Darcy have carried over into various theatrical retellings. (more...)



Anne Elliot is the protagonist of Jane Austen's sixth and last completed novel, Persuasion (1818). She is the overlooked middle daughter of a narcissistic and extravagant baronet, Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall. Unique among Jane Austen heroines, she is 27 years old and seemingly a confirmed spinster. With few to appreciate her sweet nature and refined, elegant mind, Anne is somewhat isolated, living in a narrow social sphere where she "was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way; she was only Anne."

Persuasion manifests a significant shift in Austen's attitude toward inherited wealth and rank. Elsewhere in her writing, salvation for the heroine comes in the form of marriage to a well-born gentleman, preferably wealthy and at least her equal in social consequence. Elizabeth Bennet, for example, who has little money of her own, marries Mr. Darcy, who has a great estate, a Norman-sounding name, and ₤10,000 a year. Anne Elliot's "true attachment and constancy" to Captain Wentworth, a dashing, self-made young outsider, distinguishes her from all her sister Austen heroines. (more...)



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Rear Admiral Sir Charles John Austen CB (1779 – 7 October 1852) was an officer in the Royal Navy. He served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and beyond, eventually rising to the rank of rear-admiral. Charles was born in 1779 as the sixth and youngest son of the Reverend George Austen. His elder brother, Francis Austen also joined the navy and eventually rose to be Admiral of the Fleet. Their sister was the famous novelist Jane Austen. Charles joined the Royal Naval Academy in July 1791, and by September 1794 he had become midshipman aboard HMS Daedalus. He subsequently served aboard HMS Unicorn and HMS Endymion. While serving aboard the Unicorn Austen assisted in the capture of the 18-gun Dutch brig Comet, the 44-gun French frigate Tribune and the French transport ship Ville de l'Orient. (more...)



Emma Woodhouse is the 20-year old protagonist of Jane Austen's novel Emma. She is described in the novel's opening sentence as "handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition."

Emma is an independently wealthy twenty-year-old woman who lives with her aging father in the English countryside near the village of Highbury. The novel concerns her attempts to be a matchmaker among her acquaintances and her own romantic misadventures.

Although Emma professes that she does not ever wish to marry (as she has no financial need to, having a large inheritance) she finds herself falling in love with her friend George Knightley. (more...)



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Fitzwilliam Darcy, generally referred to as Mr Darcy, is one of the two central characters in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. He is an archetype of the aloof romantic hero, and a romantic interest of Elizabeth Bennet, the novel's protagonist. The story's narration is almost exclusively from Elizabeth's perspective; she is portrayed as the sympathetic figure, and Darcy hardly so until the later chapters of the novel—as knowledge and ironic events are revealed to Elizabeth. Usually referred to only as "Mr. Darcy" or "Darcy" by characters and the narrator, his first name is mentioned twice in the novel. The character of Fitzwilliam Darcy has appeared in and inspired numerous works in a variety of genres and mediums. He and Elizabeth are featured in Philip Jose Farmer's 'Wold Newton family' and Pamela Aidan's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, among others; Helen Fielding has admitted she "pillaged her plot" for Bridget Jones's Diary from Pride and Prejudice, developing the character of Mark Darcy (played by Colin Firth, who also played Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 1995 production). (more...)



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Eliza Hancock (22 December 1761 - April 1813), then Eliza de Feuillide after her first marriage, to a French nobleman in 1781, and later Eliza Austen after her second marriage in 1797, was the cousin of novelist Jane Austen.

Fourteen years older than her sister Jane, Eliza was the daughter of George Austen’s sister Philadelphia, who had gone to India to marry Tysoe Saul Hancock in 1753.

With her glamorous personality, Eliza Hancock is believed to have been inspirational for a number of Austen's works, such as Love and Freindship (sic), Henry and Eliza, Lady Susan and Mansfield Park, and she may have been the model from whom the character of Mary Crawford is derived. (more...)



Elinor Dashwood is a fictional character and the main protagonist of Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility.

In this novel, Austen analyses the conflict between the opposing temperaments of sense [logic, propriety, and thoughtfulness, as expressed in Austen's time by neo-classicists], and sensibility [emotion, passion, unthinking action, as expressed in Austen's time by romantics]. In this conflict, Elinor, a reserved, practical, and thoughtful young woman who embodies the "sense" of the title, is juxtaposed to her flightly younger sister Marianne who embodies "sensibility". Elinor appears to be vaguely based on the author's older sister, Cassandra Austen.

Elinor is described as possessing a coolness of judgement and strength of understanding which qualifies her to be her mother's frequent counsellor, and sometimes she shows more common sense than her mother, whose judgment is shown to be flawed by her exaggerated notions of romantic delicacy. Her mother is more often preoccupied with Marianne and her problems. Although Austen writes that Elinor's feelings are just as passionate and deep as Marianne's, she knows how to govern them better, as she is more aware of the demands society makes upon women and more prepared to compromise. She is described as having a delicate complexion, regular features, and a remarkably pretty figure—although less striking than Marianne, more "correct"—which Austen uses as a good overall summary of their characters as well as their physical appearance. (more...)



As seen in this 19th century illustration, Marianne's joys, loves, and sorrows know no restraint, opposed to her sister Elinor's 'propriety.'
Marianne Dashwood is a fictional character in the Jane Austen novel Sense and Sensibility. The 17-year-old second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood, she embodies the ‘sensibility’ of the title, as opposed to her elder sister Elinor’s ‘sense.’ She embraces spontaneity, excessive sensibility, love of nature, and romantic idealism. When she is helped by the dashing John Willoughby, she falls deeply and sincerely in love with him, abhorring all society's demands, and ignoring her sister’s rational warnings that her impulsive behavior leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. His painful spurning of her, and the shocking discovery of his dissipated character, finally causes her to recognize her misjudgment of him. She acts exactly as she feels, thus making herself and everyone around her miserable when Willoughby leaves her. (more...)



Fanny Price is the heroine in Jane Austen's 1814 novel Mansfield Park. Austen describes Fanny Price as "extremely timid and shy, shrinking from notice", and repeatedly reinforces that Fanny is shy, timid, and afraid of everyone and everything.

Fanny is the eldest daughter of an obscure and poor retired Marine lieutenant in Portsmouth, who is father to eight other children. Fanny's mother's sisters, the wealthy Lady Bertram and Mrs Norris, offer to take her in and bring her up at Sir Thomas Bertram's estate, Mansfield Park in Northamptonshire. Upon her first arriving in Mansfield, she is intimidated by her new home and her cousins (Thomas, Edmund, Maria and Julia), and is very homesick. None of her cousins are very obliging to her except Edmund, the younger son, who befriends her and helps her adapt to her new life. Mrs Norris, who prefers her richer cousins, constantly emphasises her inferiority, while Fanny's female cousins make fun of her apparent ignorance. As she grows, she finds Edmund to be a considerate companion and confidante, and she also becomes attracted to him. (more...)



Edward Ferrars is a fictional character in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. He is the elder of Fanny Dashwood's two brothers and forms an attachment to Elinor Dashwood.

As first described in Sense and Sensibility: "Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good opinion by any peculiar graces of person or address. He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome, his behaviour gave every indication of an open, affectionate heart. His understanding was good, and his education had given it solid improvement. But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition to answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed to see him distinguished—as—they hardly knew what." (more...)