Jane Austen’s birthday

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in rural Hampshire, England. She had little formal education, never traveled outside England, and never married. She published four novels – Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). She died at the age of 41. Two other novels. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published after her death.

Although the couples Jane Austen created are among the best-known pairs in English literature, in my experience, men and women react differently when Jane Austen’s name is mentioned. The gender which is more likely to sneer at those who admire Jane Austen’s characters, is also the gender which is less likely to have actually READ any of her novels (by read I mean not watched a movie, nor read an excerpt or a Wikipedia article).

Here are three examples of the banter her couples exchanged. At the end are the names of the corresponding novels.

  1. “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”
    “My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the mastery manner which I see so many women’s do. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault – because I would not take the trouble of practicing. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman’s of superior execution.”

  2. “I’m ready,” said Emma, “whenever I am wanted.”
    “Whom are you going to dance with?” asked Mr. Knightly.
    She hesitated a moment, and then replied, “With you if you will ask me.”
    “Will you?” said he, offering his hand.
    “Indeed I will. You have shown that you can dance, and you know we are not really so much brother and sister as to make it at all improper.”
    “Brother and sister! No, indeed.”

  3. “You have not been long enough in Bath,” said he, “to enjoy the evening-parties of the place.”
    “Oh! no. The usual character of them has nothing for me. I am no card-player.”
    “You were not formerly, I know. You did not use to like cards; but time makes many changes.”
    “I am not yet so much changed,” cried Anne, and stopped, fearing she hardly knew what misconstruction.

  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. Emma
  3. Persuasion
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