At the time of her death, Jane Austen left behind a manuscript of the novel that came to be known as Persuasion. She had not yet titled the work, nor had she completed revisions of it. Nonetheless, as a result of the continued interest in the author and her work, her family decided to publish the novel posthumously.
Persuasion differs significantly from her earlier novels. The heroine, Anne Elliot, is older, past the first bloom of life. She is also a member of the aristocracy, albeit a younger daughter of a baronet who is strapped for funds and who does not travel in the highest of social circles. But even more significant than the difference in her heroine is the difference in her hero. Captain Wentworth is a navy captain. His family, unlike those of Austen's earlier heroes, does not own property. His brother is a clergyman, and his sister is married to a fellow navy man, Admiral Croft.
In Austen's final novel, the importance of earning one's own place in the world is much more significant than in the earlier novels. All of the admirable male characters in Persuasion are self-made naval men, representing the new nineteenth-century concept of meritorious conduct over situation of birth. Admiral Croft, Captain Wentworth, Captain Harville, and Captain Benwick all are discussed in terms of their meritorious activity in the war. Their fortunes are won in battle and their place in society is determined, in large part, by those actions. The old ways of establishing one's place through inheritance and patronage is represented most strongly by the Elliot men, Sir Walter Elliot and his