Life,  Read

Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy through Her Letters: Love, Family, Writing and Advice on Marriage

Readers who are familiar with Jane Austen will not be unfamiliar with the letters. Each of Austen’s novels contains letters, and the characters in the book convey information and express their inner thoughts through letters, which truly and naturally promote the development of the story.

In the era of Jane Austen, letters were an important way of information exchange, and keeping in touch with relatives and friends through letters was also an important aspect of women’s family responsibilities. Her niece Rowling has never seen her write a novel, but she often sees her writing letters at the writing desk in the living room.

She may have written thousands of letters in her lifetime, but only 161 survived. These letters run through her life from the age of 20 to 42, including her views on love, marriage and life, as well as her thoughts on writing, illness and life. From these letters, we can see a more real and lovely Austin, and we can also glimpse her growth path and see her rich life and spiritual world.

The picture shows Jane Austen’s letter to her sister in 1798

✉️ Write a letter with my sister to make homework

“I am proud to say that I sew the most neatly of all ”

The 23-year-old Jane Austen was living in Steventon, her birthplace. At that time, she had not yet begun to write the famous novel “Sense and Sensibility”, and her daily concerns were things that young girls would care about-proms, The skirt, and the friends around me.

The correspondence between her and her sister Cassandra is all about sharing some daily chores. She is very concerned about the movements of her brothers and brothers, and she will also write about her new dress. Although there are some small complaints and pickiness, the whole is cute and kind . At that time, she was still a little girl waiting to mature.

To Cassandra Austin

Steventon , November 25, 1798


My dearest Cassandra:

I was overjoyed to receive your letter at this time. I’ll die laughing, like they used to say in school. You are truly the best comedy writer of our time.

Henry (Jane Austen’s fourth brother) is leaving us for Yarmouth tomorrow, as he is very anxious to see his doctor there, whom he has a special trust in. He was in better shape when he arrived, though definitely not great. According to his current plan, he will not go home until the 23rd. He would take three weeks off if he could, as he was particularly keen to go hunting at Godmersham, where Edward (Jane Austen’s third brother) and Elizabeth (Edward’s wife) were going in early October. If this plan remains the same, I will hardly be able to return to Steventon until the middle of that month. But if you can’t live without me, I think I can come back, and if Frank can come back, I’ll be with him. He is especially happy here because he has just learned how to work wood. He loves this job so much that he does it all day.

I’m sorry you thought my last letter was too simplistic. I’ll have to try to make amends to you when we meet, say specific details, and I’ll be able to write them right away.

My new long dress is ready and it is a wonderful coat. It’s a pity that my new colorful dress has faded in the wash, although I let everyone love it. I hope yours is the same. The weather wasn’t great when our brothers went to Godmersham as it rained most of the time they went and the whole way back.

Mr. Charles [Austen] (Jane Austen’s brother) is such a good fellow that he coaxed us into writing him two letters to Cork! I especially admire his ingenuity, especially when he is making a lot of money.

Frank (Jane Austen’s fifth brother) made a beautiful little butter churn for Fanny (third brother Edward’s eldest daughter) . I’m sure no one noticed the treasure they dropped, and I didn’t hear about the whereabouts of Anna’s gloves. In fact, I haven’t inquired about it yet.

We were busy making Edward’s shirts, and I’m proud to say I sewed the neatest of them all. They say there are lots of birds around this year and maybe I can kill a few too. I’m glad to hear Mr. Lympley and J. Lovett are doing well. I don’t know where mother’s handkerchief is, but I dare say I’ll find it soon.

i am your very beloved


✉️”Sense and Sensibility” publication:

“I can’t forget it like a mother can’t forget her baby”

In 1811, Austin’s classic book “Sense and Sensibility” was published. At that time, she didn’t know what kind of sensation this book would cause in the future.

She briefly mentioned the publication of the book in a letter to her sister Sandra Austin, expressing that she missed the follow-up progress of the book’s publication very much, but soon, she, who loved the dance, set her sights on A lively party, it seems that there are not many worries .

To Cassandra Austin

April 25, 1811, Sloane Street


My dearest Cassandra:

To be honest, I’ve never been too busy to think about S&S (Sense and Sensibility, “Sense and Sensibility”) . I can’t get over it like a mother can’t get over a baby, and I really appreciate your inquiry. There are two pages to revise, but the latter page just takes us back to Willoughby’s first appearance. Mrs. Knight regrets that she has to wait until May, which is a great honor to me, but I hardly expect it to be published in June. Henry hadn’t ignored it; he had urged the printer, saying he would see him again today. He will not stand still while he is away and will be left to Eliza.

The income is still the same as before, but if possible I will make some changes. I am very grateful to Mrs. Knight for taking an interest in this book, and however much she likes it, I sincerely hope that her curiosity will be satisfied sooner than it so far appears. I think she will like my Eleanor, but otherwise I cannot be sure.

Our party went really well. Of course there were many demands, worries and annoyances before it started, but in the end it all went well. The house is decorated with flowers and so on, which looks very beautiful. The mirror over the mantel was borrowed, and the person who lent it to us is remaking it. Mr. Egerton and Mr. Walter arrived at half-past five, and the party began with a pair of extremely fine plaice.

At half-past seven the musicians arrived in two cabs, and at eight o’clock the Lord and his guests began to appear. The first to arrive were George and Mary Cook, with whom I enjoyed most of the evening. The living room quickly became too hot, and we walked over, where it was relatively cooler and allowed us to listen to music and watch the newcomers from a more comfortable distance.

The music is fantastic. (Tell Fanny) The opening song is “Strike the Harp, Praise Bragira” and the other choruses I remember are “Quiet Love Songs” “Rosa Bell” “Red Cross Knight” and “Poor Insects” . Between the tracks there is harp playing or harp and piano, and the harpist is Vipat, who seems to be famous, but I don’t know him. There was a diva, a little Miss Davies, who came before the crowd in a blue dress, and was said to have a very fine voice; Never put on airs. No amateur wants to try acting.

The room was not empty until 12 o’clock. If you want to hear more, you have to ask your questions, but I seem to have finished the topic and have nothing more to say.

your beloved


✉️Write to my sister during the trip:
“I am especially delighted by the incredible love for Elizabeth”

In the summer of 1813, Jane went on a trip with her relatives and friends. She enjoyed the beautiful natural scenery and enjoyed a feast with the people she knew. She is immersed in joy, and also cares about the situation and interesting things of the people around her.

Although she had written the most famous “Pride and Prejudice” at this time, she was still as enthusiastic about discussing beautiful clothes in front of her sister as before. During this time, she seemed to be more interested in hats. And she is still like an immature adult, saying to her sister, ” Instead of saving my excess wealth for you, I am going to use it up and treat myself. ”

To Cassandra Austin

September 15th – September 16th, 1813

Henrietta Street


My dearest Cassandra:

We had a great trip, the weather and roads were excellent. The first three trips cost 1 shilling and 6p, and our only misfortune was a quarter of an hour delay at Kingston for a change of horses, and had to endure a passenger and their driver from a hired buggy, leaving Lizzie on four wheels. There were no seats in the carriage, and she had to end her last journey in the manner in which she had begun; in the end all four of us sat in it, so it was somewhat crowded.

…Seth arrived safely about half past six. At seven o’clock we rode to the theatre; returned home about four and a half hours later; drank soup, wine, and water, and returned to our lair.

Edward (third brother) finds his place cozy and quiet. I have to get a softer pen. This one is too hard. I am in pain. I haven’t seen Mr. Crabbe yet. Martha’s letter has been posted.

I intend to write only short sentences. There must be two periods on each line.

Mrs. Robert likes P&P (Pride and Prejudice, “Pride and Prejudice”) very much. As far as I know, she really liked it. When she didn’t know who the author was, she certainly knows now. Henry (fourth brother) told her contentedly, as if I wanted him to. …

I’d love to hear what Mr. Black [Stings] has to say about P&P. I was especially delighted by his immense affection for Elizabeth.

Instead of saving my excess wealth for you, I am going to spend it and treat myself. I hope, at least, that I can find some poplin at Leyton and Hill that will entice me to buy. If it can be found, it will be sent to Jodon, because half is for you; I am sure you will accept it kindly, and that is the main point. It would make me very happy. Needless to say. I just wish you could pick too. I will send 20 yards.

May you and me, travelers and everyone have clear weather. You’re going for a walk this afternoon, so… [End of letter missing]

✉️Sue my brother for spending money indiscriminately:

“If he just exchanged the bonus for gifts for his sisters, what’s the use of more money?”

This letter is from Bath. In 1801, Jane Austen’s father decided to pass on the pastorship and family residence to his eldest son James, and he moved to Bath with his wife and daughter. The city has found a home. Jane didn’t want to leave her hometown, she was so sad that she fainted after hearing the news.

In a letter dated 5 May 1801, Jane Austen told her sister of her disappointment and loss when she entered Bath. In the last two years of her life, she gave the same feeling to Anne in “Persuasion.”

The first sight of Bath in good weather didn’t meet my expectations; I thought it would be better to see through the rain. The sun was completely behind, and from the top of Kingsdown Hill everything was dank, hazy, dazed, chaotic.

In the letter, dated 26 and 27 May, Jane describes a property with a dank kitchen, reflecting the darker side of life in Bath at the time for her. ” I have nothing more to say on the subject of the house ,” she added wearily.

For the sake of economy, Jane wrote an epilogue upside down between the lines on the first page, counting 5 lines from the footer and writing down. She wrote about her younger brother Charles, then a junior naval officer, “criticizing” him for buying his sisters “gold chains and amber crosses” with the prize money for capturing an enemy ship. ( This method of communication was very common in Britain at that time. At that time, the British carriage and road system developed rapidly, and the postal industry was already very efficient. However, because the postage was not low and charged per page, it was paid by the recipient. In order for the recipient to Feeling their money’s worth, letter writers usually fill the front and back of their letters in the smallest possible font, without breaking them into paragraphs to save space.)

To Cassandra Austin
May 26-May 27, 1801


My dear Cassandra:

We have another party on Friday with some people you don’t know – the Brayshaws and the Greaves, they’re in-laws, and I hope the Pickfords will be there too. Mrs. Evelyn, who called politely on Sunday, told us that Mr. Evelyn had met Mr. Phillips, owner of GPB 12, and said that Mr. Phillips would love to raise the foundation of the kitchen, but I fear it will all be in vain. Although the water flow is not visible, it does not disappear, and the negative effects of nearby water cannot be ruled out. I have nothing else to say on the subject of houses, except that a house in Seymour Street was oriented wrongly, not due west, but north-west.

Your beloved JA

Wednesday —I have just returned from a drive in my charming carriage, and was not ready to go until I received a note from Mr. Edwards shortly after breakfast. We went to the highest point in Kingsdown, and it was a very pleasant trip, with pleasant things to follow. When I got back I saw your and Charles’ letters on the table. I think it is not necessary to repeat your letter to you, but to thank you for it.

The Endymion has been ordered to take troops to Egypt – and I shall not like it at all if Charles cannot leave the ship before sailing. He said he did not know his destination at all, but wished me to write at once, as the Endymion might sail in three or four days. He will have today the letter I sent yesterday, and I will send him another letter by this post, praising him and blaming him.

Everything will be fine with us. I have already made arrangements for you on Thursday, June 4th. If my mother and aunt don’t go to see the fireworks (to celebrate George III’s birthday) , I dare say they won’t, and I’ve promised to go with Mr. Evelyn and Miss Wood. Miss Wood has lived with them, you know, “since my son died.”

I made an appointment with Mrs. Marcel as you suggested. She made my black dress very well, so I wish I could make her yours too. But she didn’t always have success with light colors, and I had to make many changes to the white one. Unless something special happens, I won’t write any more.

The letter of 26 May also introduced several balls and the people at the balls in Bath, mentioned the pleasant trip, and then stopped abruptly, until Jane wrote to inform Frank of his father’s death on 21 January 1805. Life in Bath was not pleasant for Jane Austen. She disliked the wet weather, the hustle and bustle of society, and the people there, and neither her sister nor her sister had been able to get the love of her life in Bath as her parents wanted, or as Anne had.

✉️To Brother Francis

“Hope you stay handsome, remember to comb your hair, but don’t comb it all out”

Jane Austen was no stranger to publishing; she was even a shrewd businesswoman, and the success of Pride and Prejudice ( published in 1813) led her to pursue an even more ambitious writing career, which she wrote about The value is also full of confidence.

Jane Austen ends her letter dated 3rd July 1813 by telling her brother Frances that S&S sold them all, bringing her £140, ” I have therefore already got £250 from writing, which will only leave me wanting more ” , while mentioning that she ” has a book in hand that she hopes will sell well on the strength of P&P’s reputation, although that book is not half as interesting as this one “.

To Francis Austin

Jordon, July 6, 1813


My dearest Frank:

Our cousins ​​Thomas Austen and Margarita are going to Ireland with the army, and Lord Whitworth will go with them as Lord Captain, a good appointment for both. God bless you. I hope you stay handsome and remember to comb your hair, but don’t comb it all out. Our love knows no bounds.

your dear jane austen

You’ll be happy to hear that S&S sold out every single copy, bringing me £140 and still have the rights, if that’s of any value at all. So I already got £250 for writing and it just makes me want more. I have a book in my hands that I hope will sell on P&P’s reputation, although that book is not half as interesting as this one. By the way, would you object to me mentioning elephants in it, and two or three other old ships of yours (the names of the ships in “Mansfield Park”)? I’ve done that, but don’t talk about it all the time to make you angry – they were mentioned a while ago.

✉️ Response to Clarke’s suggestion for writing the next book about English priests:
“I can’t do it” “I am the most uneducated and poorly educated woman among women writers”

Jane Austen had no shortage of readers, and even George IV, then Prince Regent, was obsessed with her works. Yet even she received advice on how to improve her writing.

At that time Austin had several correspondences with the Prince Regent’s librarian, James Staniel Clarke, and the publisher, John Murray, about dedicating “Emma” to the Prince Regent and about publishing it.

In the letter, Clark praised “Mansfield Park” and suggested that Jane Austen describe an English priest like Beatty’s bard in the next book. Jane confessed that she ” couldn’t do it “, saying that she was ” perhaps up to the comic part of the character, but not in integrity, warmth, and literature “. For Clark’s reminder that she could create a historical legend, she expressed her gratitude in a “self-deprecating” way.

To James Staniel Clark

Hansplatz, December 11, 1815


Dear Sir:

My Emma is about to be published, and I therefore feel obliged to inform you that I have not forgotten your kind suggestion that I send the printed copy to Carlton Hall as soon as possible, and that Mr. Murray has promised to send it to the Prince Regent, upon official publication. Shipped to you three days ago. Dear Sir, I must take this opportunity to thank you for your very high appreciation of my other novels. I am too conceited to persuade you to think that your compliments are exaggerated. My greatest anxiety at this point is to hope that this fourth work will not damage the brilliance of the other works. But on this point, I can fairly say that, however much I wish it to be a success, I am concerned that it will appear unintelligent to readers who love Pride and Prejudice and love Mansfield Park. readers will find it unprincipled. However, even so, I still hope you will appreciate it.

Mr. Murray will arrange delivery. It is a great honor that you think I can describe a priest as you briefly described in your letter of November 16th. But I’m going to tell you I can’t. I may be up to the comic part of the character, but not the integrity, warmth, and literature. The talk of such a man must at times have to do with science and philosophy, of which I know nothing; or at least sprang up occasional references and allusions to others, and a woman like me who knows only her mother tongue and reads little of those, unable to write. In my opinion, a classical education, or reading a good deal of English literature, both ancient and modern, is essential to writing well the priest you want. I think, with all my ego, I can boast that I am the most uneducated and poorly-learned woman who dared to be a woman writer.

Believe me, dear sir.

You are grateful for your loyal and humble servant

Jane Austin

✉️How about writing about the royal family?

Again: “I can write neither epic nor legend.”

Clark suggested to her again: Why not write a novel about the royal family for the next work? No doubt, Austen bit the bullet again, defending his style, “I can’t write epics and I can’t write romances ,” better at handling “village family life images” by comparison .

As you can see, the reply, though brief, is one of the most important statements we have about how she sees her own art of writing.

To James Staniel Clark

Chorton, April 1, 1816


my dear sir:

I am deeply honored by the Prince’s thanks, and thank you yourself for your kindness in mentioning this work, and to let you know that you will receive a letter from Hansplatz. I assure you that I am very grateful for the friendly tone of your letter, and I hope you will interpret my silence as a reluctance to waste your time with frivolous thank yous, which it does.

Your own talent and literary prowess have placed you in various interesting circumstances and have been appreciated by the Prince, for which I wish you my best wishes. Hope your latest appointment will bring better results. In my opinion, the service to the royal family is hardly perfect, because it necessarily requires a huge investment of time and emotion.

You kindly reminded me of the kind of work I should perhaps be doing at this time, knowing full well that a historical romance, set in a Saxburg estate, might benefit or be more appreciated than my pictures of country family life. welcome. But I can write neither epics nor legends. I cannot sit down and write a serious romance unless my life is at stake. If I had to be serious and never laugh at myself or others lightly, I would have hanged myself before finishing the first chapter.

No, I have to stick to my own style and go on my own way. While I may not be able to re-succeed, I am sure that with any other style I will fail completely.

dear sir i am still

Your grateful and sincere friend

J. Austin

✉️Advice about marriage:

“Compared to a marriage without love, everything is optional or bearable”

“Compared to a marriage without love, everything can be chosen or endured” originated from “Pride and Prejudice”, which is Jane’s advice to her sister Elizabeth after she learned that she accepted Darcy’s marriage proposal. In reality, this is Jane Austen ‘s thoughts and opinions on love and marriage in a letter from November 1814 to her troubled niece Fanny .

For a young man who is outstanding in circumstances, family, friends, character, talent, etc., and at the same time deeply in love with Fanny, and Fanny once felt that he fell in love with him, Jane Austen listed this young man After all the commendable aspects, gave Ruud such advice.

To Fanny Knight

November 18-November 20, 1814, Jordan


My dearest Fanny:

…In this world there is such a person, perhaps one in a thousand, who can be regarded as perfect by you and me. His charm and courage are cherished, and his behavior is full of emotion and reason. But such a man may not come before you, or, if he does, may not be the eldest son of a rich man, a close relative of your dear friend, who lives in the same county as you.

Think of all this, Fanny. This first gentleman possessed qualities that we do not often see in the same individual. His only flaw, indeed, seems to be his humility. If he was less humble, he would be more likable, speak louder, and look more presumptuous. Is it not good character that makes humility the only fault? …do not be intimidated by the fact that your younger brothers are more witty – wit outweighs wit and will win in the long run. Don’t be alarmed by the thought that his behavior is more New Covenant than others.

Now, my dear Fanny, after having said so much on one side of the matter, I am going to change course and beg you not to get too deep into trying to accept him unless you really really like him. Everything is optional or bearable compared to a marriage without love. If his faults in manners, etc., outweigh all his good qualities to you, and if you still care deeply about them, give him up at once. The situation now forces you to make a determined choice—either you allow him to continue like this, or you coldly convince him he’s deluding himself whenever you’re together. I have no doubt that there were times when he was particularly miserable–very bitterly when he felt compelled to give up on you; but you must know that such disappointments never kill anyone, in my opinion.

you are very dear

J Austin

Regardless of the brief love and loss with Tom Lefroy at the age of 20, or the acceptance and rejection of the marriage proposal of Harris Bigger, the eldest son of a wealthy family, at the age of 27, Jane Austen always regards love as the most important foundation of marriage . She knows the horror of poverty, but she never wants to enter into a loveless marriage for the sake of a stable life. She no longer longed to meet the right person at the ball, but she still enjoyed the ball and was happy to be praised.

She gradually accepted the single life, and even felt that it was a more suitable state for her. Her creation brought her financial and spiritual independence; she didn’t want to fall into the state of endless childbirth, and thought it was impossible for her to continue literary creation in the endless family chores, but she never stopped her pursuit of true love .

In April 1815, “Emma” was completed, and the 40-year-old Jane Austen quietly started the creation of “Persuasion”. She made the twenty-seven-year-old Anne Elliot, who had lost her youthful beauty, and her lover Wentworth who broke up eight years ago meet again in Bath. They have gone through the tests of longing, misunderstanding and pain, and crossed class and wealth. , and even the obstacles of life and death, in the end the lovers finally get married.

However, this is not the relaxed, lively and brilliant fairy tale ending of Elizabeth and Darcy. “Anne’s friends hope that she will be less tender, and worry that the future war may cast a shadow on her splendid life.” However, no matter whether Captain Wentworth can return safely from the Battle of Waterloo in the near future, no matter what kind of wind and rain he experiences , Anne will be the heroine of Jane Austen who can face everything with strength.

“Persuasion” was completed in August 1816, and Jane Austen’s health was declining. In her last letter of May 28-29, 1817, she thanked her dearest sister and anxious family. Suffering from the illness, she said she “had too much to complain”. In the early morning of July 18, Jane Austen died of illness in Winchester and was buried in Winchester Church, which she admired very much.

Jane Austen only published four novels anonymously during her lifetime, and received less than £700 in royalties. At that time, she must not have dared to imagine that her works would last forever across time and space, and she herself would become a great and important writer in the world literary world.

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