As a reader, Jane Austen is a name known to many book lovers all over the world. Her writing has inspired millions of people to pursue their passions of reading and writing. Her novels are staples in every library, and I will admit that I own a few. They are mostly romantic fiction set during the times that she lived, showing the differences in social class and the dependence of women on marriage and social standing.
Her novels centered around realism and romance, but her writing style contains a great biting wit and some serious comedy. Despite being a household name today, she never experienced personal fame during her life.
A Short Biography
Jane Austen lived her whole life surrounded by her family, of which there were father, mother and seven children in all. Theirs was a household of openness and creativity. Despite the times and what was expected of women, her family was incredibly supportive of her decision to become a writer.
The only record of a marriage proposal for Jane was in December of 1802 by a man name Harris Bigg-Wither. She accepted the proposal, but many believed she did so because he was well-off. She and her family would be supported for a long time. But, like so many of the characters in her novel, she breaks her engagement because she had no love for him. I always found this small bit of information fascinating, as her beliefs resonate with what her characters have always felt.
”Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor. Which is one very strong argument in favor of matrimony.” – Jane Austen
She died quietly on July 18th, 1817 without ever marrying or bearing children, but she managed to complete six novels, two of which were published posthumously. She didn’t become one of the “great English writers” until near the 1940s, and today, her fans are known as Janeites. This article explains Janeite culture much better than I ever could.
Jane Austen-Inspired Book List
Obviously, I promised a book list. As you read above, there are only six completed novels by Jane Austen, and I’m sure most of you have read them all. But, despite only publishing six books, there are an endless number of modern retellings of her novels. Check some of them out below!
- Longbourn by Jo Baker: Think Downton Abbey meets Pride and Prejudice. Juicy!
- Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman by Maria Hamilton: Ever wonder what was going through Darcy’s head after Elizabeth’s rejection? Find out!
- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen: Think The Walking Dead meets Pride and Prejudice. I love me some zombies!
- Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James: A murder mystery for Elizabeth and Darcy!
- The Forgotten Sister: Mary Bennet’s Pride and Prejudice by Jennifer Paynter: Want to know more about middle sister, Mary Bennet? Here’s your chance!
- Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd: Murder and mayhem, this time for Fanny Price and Mary Crawford!
- Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice!
- The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick: Based on a Youtube series, a modern Lizzie Bennet story!
Despite writing her novels 200 years ago, they are still wonderfully relevant and popular. I have managed to read ALL of her novels, but mostly because they were required reading in high school. I have read two of them more recently to refresh my memory, and I plan to read the other four again in the future.
These posts have been SO MUCH FUN to write! This is my third installment, and my other two On This Day blog posts were November 7th and November 23rd. I LOVE researching and finding books inspired by a historical event. Obviously, I love everything about history, so this series is very near and dear to my heart. Do you have any favorite Jane Austen retellings? What about your favorite Jane Austen-inspired TV shows or movies? Let me know!