Stepping through the life of Jane Austen offers the reader a unique look at the woman behind the books, her life showcasing as many trials as one of own characters.
Though Ms. Austen never married, her life showcased plenty of important dates covering pivotal moments in her life. In fact, her very life reads as something straight from her own works. Like those before and after her, Jane lived, breathed, loved and died as anyone else would throughout youth and adulthood. The timeline below puts the life of Jane Austen into a perspective that helps the reader understand what a very common and everyday person Ms. Austen may have been in her own time. Much care has been taken to make this list as comprehensive and accurate as possible with days of the week having been provided when possible.
(Saturday, December 16th) Jane Austen is born to George and Cassandra Austen at Steventon rectory. She is the seventh child and second daughter behind brothers James, George, Charles, Francis, Henry, Edward and sister Cassandra (not to be confused with her mother, also named Cassandra.
The first theatrical presentation is performed by the Austen family in their home.
Jane and elder sister Cassandra leave for Mrs. Crawley's boarding school in Oxford for their formal education. The school is then moved to Southampton where Typhoid Fever breaks out. The girls are returned home.
The Austen family performs Sheridan's The Rivals.
Jane and Cassandra arrive at the Abbey School in Reading.
Jane and Cassandra arrive back home from school, having completed their formal education.
It is believed that at about this time, Jane begins to write short stories and poems that later are collectively referred to as the Juvenilia and consists of three bound notebooks of works.
Jane pens Love and Friendship and dedicates the work to cousin Eliza. It is believed that at about this time, she makes the conscious decision to write-for-profit and become a professional writer.
Jane begins to write and later abandons a short play entitled Sir Charles Grandison or the Happy Man, a six act comedy.
Jane pens Lady Susan, an epistolary novel.
(Monday, June 3rd) Jane pens the poem "Ode to Pity" for her Juvenilia.
It is believed that before 1796, Jane read aloud to the Austen family her story entitled Elinor and Marianne. The versed Austen reader would know these to be the main characters in Sense & Sensibility.
(December) Nephew of nearby neighbor's Tom Lefroy places a visit to Steventon. It is believed that Jane very much fell in love with Tom based on her letters to Cassandra, indicating that the two had been spending a lot of time in one another's company. Tom is studying in London to become a barrister.
(January) Tom Lefroy is taken away from Steventon and Jane by his family as the marriage arrangement is deemed highly impractical as both have no money. Jane will never see Tom again in her life.
(August) Jane begins penning First Impressions. This work would go on to become her most famous piece known more as Pride & Prejudice.
(December) Jane and sister Cassandra arrive back home for good from their formal education at boarding school.
Work is completed on the first draft of First Impressions.
(Wednesday, November 1st) Jane's father George Austen attempts to have one of Jane's works published for the first time. It is unknown whether Jane knew of this attempt but the request is denied by the publisher Thomas Cadell (of London).
(November) Jane redirects her efforts to revise Elinor and Marianne.
(November) The Austen girls pay a visit to their brother James and his wife at Bath.
Jane completes her revisions of Elinor and Marianne. This revision removed the epistolary point of view and stages the story in the more traditional 3rd person perspective.
Jane begins work on Northanger Abbey though it is initially known by the names of Susan and, later, Catherine.
Continues working on, and eventually revises, Northanger Abbey.
(May) Mother and Jane visit Bath.
Jane returns to Steventon and completes her short play Sir Charles Grandison or the Happy Man.
Work is completed on Susan.
(December) Jane's father - George Austen - unexpectedly announces his retirement from the ministry. He uproots the family from Steventon and heads to Bath.
(January) Jane visits good friends Catherine and Alethea Bigg in Hampshire at Manydown Park.
(May) Mr Austen moves the family (mother, Jane and Cassandra) to Bath.
(October) The Austen's return from holiday in Sidmouth, Colyton and Steventon.
(September) Charles, Jane and Cassandra leave for Godmersham.
(October) Charles, Jane and Cassandra arrive home from their trip to Godmersham.
(Thursday, November 25th) Jane and Cassandra visit friends Catherine and Alethea Bigg at Manydown Park.
(Thursday, December 2nd) Jane Austen receives her only proposal of marriage from Harris Bigg-Wither, an "unattractive" Oxford educated young man and childhood friend and heir to a large family estate. Jane accepts the proposal for practical reasons. The very next day, however, Jane withdraws her acceptance, feeling it to be a mistake.
(December) Jane works on revising Susan.
With Jane's permission, brother Henry submits Susan to publisher Benjamin Crosby of Crosby & Company in London who buys the copyright for the work for 10 pounds. Crosby promises the book will be published but never fulfills his obligation.
(September) Mr. Austen and family (mother, Jane and Cassandra) once again spend time at Godmersham.
(October) The Austen's return to Bath from Godmersham.
Jane begins work on the novel The Watsons. It would go unfinished.
Jane and family spend the summer months in Lyme Regis.
(Sunday, December 16th) Friend and mentor, Madam Lefroy, is killed in a freak horse riding accident. This is also Jane's 29th birthday.
(Monday, January 21st) Jane's father George Austen dies suddenly from an illness, taking the family by complete surprise. Jane consciously stops work on The Watsons. The Austen brothers agree to help support the mother and sisters. The Austen girls are now forced to rent living quarters.
(March) Mrs. Austen, Jane and Cassandra move to 25 Gay Street.
Jane finishes writing Lady Susan.
(February) Jane and Cassandra visit Manydown Park.
(Wednesday, July 2nd) The Austen girls leave for Bath.
(Friday, August 5th) The Austen girls join Mrs. Austen's cousin in Warwickshire.
(Thursday, August 14th) The Austen women leave Warwickshire.
(October) The Austen sisters and mother, along with friend and widow Martha Lloyd, move to Southampton to live with newly married brother Frank.
(March) The group moves within Southampton to the Castle Square house.
(January) Yet another visit to see the Bigg family. Jane takes part in one of the family theatricals called "School for Scandal".
(Friday, July 8th) Jane is in Godmersham.
(Monday, October 24th) Frank offers up a six-bedroom cottage (known as Chawton House) in Chawton near his estate for the women to permanently move into as their own home.
(Wednesday, April 5th) Jane writes an angry letter (under the pseudonym Mrs. Ashley Dennis = M.A.D.) to publisher Benjamin Crosby and offers up a revised version of the manuscript for Susan to force Crosby's hand in publishing the work or returning it to her possession. Crosby claims that no timeline was ever set for the book's publication and as such Ms. Austen can continue waiting or purchase back the copyright for the novel. Without the means to do so, Jane cannot purchase the copyright.
Edward has Chawton Cottage remodeled for the Austen girls.
(May) The Austen women visit Edward in Godmersham.
(Friday, July 7th) Mother Cassandra, sister cassandra and Jane move into Chawton House to a more quiet and settled life.
(March) Jane visits Henry and wife Eliza in London.
(Wednesday, October 30th) Sense & Sensibility is published by Thomas Egerton with Henry Austen acting as literary agent. The novel is greeted with favorable reviews.
The last additions to the Juvenilia notebooks are believed to have been made at about this time.
Extensive revisions take place on First Impressions.
Much of the year is spent revising First Impressions.
(November) The copyright to First Impressions is sold to Thomas Egerton for publication for the sum of 110 pounds.
(Thursday, January 28th) Pride & Prejudice is published by Thomas Egerton with Henry Austen acting as literary agent. Thanks to a large amount of resources put into advertising the piece, the novel is an instant success.
(Thursday, April 22nd) Jane leaves for London to attend to an ailing Eliza. Eliza dies just three days later, leaving Austen brother Henry a widower.
(Saturday, May 1st) Jane leaves her brother's side.
(June) Mansfield Park is believed to have been completed around this time.
(September) Jane visits Godmersham for the last time.
(October) A second edition of Pride & Prejudice is printed.
(Saturday, October 2nd) Sense & Sensibility in first edition form sells out completely, forcing a second edition to be printed.
(March) Jane, escorted by brother Henry, visit London where they catch "The Merchant of Venice" at the theater.
(Monday, May 9th) Mansfield Park is Published by Thomas Egerton. Largely ignored by professional reviewers, the novel is nonetheless another success in the public square. The first edition sells out in a short six months.
Jane writes a letter to her niece, Fanny Knight, in response to relationship advice. Jane advises not to marry if the affection is not there.
(October) All copies of Mansfield Park are sold making this the most profitable work of Austen's career thus far.
(Wednesday, March 29th) Jane completes Emma.
(Tuesday, August 8th) Jane begins writing Persuasion.
Henry and Jane head to London to negotiate with famed publisher John Murray for the publication of Emma.
(Monday, November 13th) Jane is invited to admirer Prince Regent's London residence at Carolton House by his librarian, James Stanier Clarke. The Prince makes a mention that Jane should include him in the dedication of her next work despite her (private) disgust of his moral character. With little choice, she reluctantly agrees to do so.
(Saturday, December 16th) Jane returns to Chawton (on her birthday).
(December) Emma is published by John Murray. The book is well received and sales thrive. The novel is dedicated to the Prince.
(January) Henry Austen purchases the copyright to Susan back from Benjamin Crosby. The title is changed to Catherine.
A second edition of Mansfield Park is published by John Murray.
(February) Sales of the second edition of Mansfield Park do not meet expectations, negating the earnings from Emma that same year.
(Saturday, March 16th) Henry Austen's bank venture fails, forcing the Austen family into financial uncertainty and delaying the publications of The Elliots and Catherine. In addition to this, investments in a venture by brothers Edward, James and Frank are also lost.
At some point during the year, Jane becomes ill but disregards it to continue her work, namely on The Elliots.
(May) Cassandra takes Jane to Cheltenham to seek medical care.
(June) Cassandra and Jane return from Cheltenham. Jane continues work on The Elliots.
(Thursday, July 18th) Jane completes a first draft of The Elliots (later to become Persuasion).
Jane's health declines enough for her family to begin noticing she is unwell.
(Tuesday, August 6th) Jane rewrites the concluding two chapters of The Elliots and finishes the work.
(January) Jane begins work on The Brothers (later published under the name of Sanditon).
(Tuesday, March 18th) Despite completing some 12 chapters of The Brothers, Jane is forced to stop due to her ever-increasing illness. Walking becomes a chore and nothing can be done without great difficulty and loss of energy.
(April) Jane's illness ultimately confines the author to her bed.
(Sunday, April 27th) Jane pens a short will.
(Friday, July 18th) Jane Austen dies in Winchester during the early part of the day.
(Thursday, July 24th) Jane is buried, at her brother Henry's direction, in an aisle of the nave at Winchester Cathedral.
(December) Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are published through John Murray as a set thanks to the direction of Henry and Cassandra. Henry pens a biographical note for the piece identifying for the first time that Jane Austen is the author of these works. Sales start strong but tail off.
John Murray destroys the remaining unsold copies of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
Richard Bentley purchases all of the remaining copyrights to Jane Austen's works.
(December) After a 12 year hiatus of no Austen works in publication, Bentley publishes all of the works in a collection of illustrated five-volume series known as the Standard Novels.
Bentley publishes the collected works of Jane Austen for the first time. Jane Austen's novels would never go out of print again.
Nephew James Austen publishes his memoirs entitled "A Memoir of the Life of Jane Austen" and brings Jane Austen's life and works to a greater audience, solidifying her place in literary history.