Pride and Prejudice

Austen, Jane

Jane Austen (ô´stən), 1775–1817, English novelist. The daughter of a clergyman, she spent the first 25 years of her life at "Steventon," her father's Hampshire vicarage. Here her first novels, Pride and Prejudice,Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey, were written, although they were not published until much later. On her father's retirement in 1801, the family moved to Bath for several years and then to Southampton, settling finally at Chawton Cottage, near Alton, Hampshire, which was Jane's home for the rest of her life.

Northanger Abbey, a satire on the Gothic romance, was sold to a publisher for £10 in 1803, but as it was not published, was bought back by members of the family and was finally issued posthumously. The novels published in Austen's lifetime were Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816). Persuasion was issued in 1818 with Northanger Abbey. The author's name did not appear on any of her title pages, and although her own friends knew of her authorship, she received little public recognition in her lifetime.

Jane Austen's novels are comedies of manners that depict the self-contained world of provincial ladies and gentlemen. Most of her works revolve around the delicate business of providing husbands for marriageable daughters. She is particularly noted for her vivid delineations and lively interplay of character, her superb sense of comic irony, and her moral firmness. She ridicules the silly, the affected, and the stupid, ranging in her satire from light portraiture in her early works to more scornful exposures in her later novels. Her writing was subjected to the most careful polishing. She was quite aware of her special excellences and limitations, comparing herself to a miniaturist. Today she is regarded as one of the great masters of the English novel. Her minor works include her Juvenilia, the novel Lady Susan, and the fragments The Watsons and Sanditon.

See her letters (4th ed., ed. by D. La Faye, 2011); biographies by J. A. Hodge (1972), J. Halperin (1986), P. Honan (1988), V. G. Myer (1997), D. Nokes (1997), C. Tomalin (1997), C. Shields (2001), and P. Byrne (2013); studies by A. W. Litz (1965), F. W. Bradbook (1966), A. M. Duckworth (1971), K. Kroeber (1971), F. B. Pinion (1973), S. M. Tave (1973), C. Johnson (1988), C. Harman (2010), and R. M. Brownstein (2011).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen; James Kinsley.
Oxford University Press, 1980
Student Companion to Jane Austen
Debra Teachman.
Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Pride and Prejudice (1813)"
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1987
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Understanding Pride and Prejudice: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents
Debra Teachman.
Greenwood Press, 1997
"Disarming Reproof": Pride and Prejudice and the Power of Criticism. (Conferance Papers)
Gilman, Priscilla.
Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Vol. 22, Annual 2000
Refiguring the Father: New Feminist Readings of Patriarchy
Patricia Yaeger; Beth Kowaleski-Wallace.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Humiliation of Elizabeth Bennet"
A Companion to Jane Austen Studies
Robert Thomas Lambdin; Laura Cooner Lambdin.
Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Oppositional Reader and Pride and Prejudice" and Chap. 4 "Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen and Her Readers"
Recreating Jane Austen
John Wiltshire.
Cambridge University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Pride and Prejudice, Love and Recognition"
Jane Austen: New Perspectives
Janet Todd.
Holmes & Meier, 1983
Librarian’s tip: "'Pictures of Perfection' at Pemberley: Art in Pride and Prejudice" begins on p. 155, and "Pride and Prejudice: The Eyes Have It" begins on p. 187
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