Many of us have seen the Jane Austen books at the movies but how many of us have read the books? We thought we would find the free E-books of her best known novels and provide you with a summer/fall reading list!
Before we share the links to the E-books, we thought we would share a biography we found online about Jane Austen. Like the characters in her books, she had a storied life!
Jane Austen was born in the Hampshire village of Steventon, where her father, the Reverend George Austen, was rector. She was the second daughter and seventh child in a family of eight—six boys and two girls. Her closest companion throughout her life was her elder sister, Cassandra; neither Jane nor Cassandra married. Their father was a scholar who encouraged the love of learning in his children. His wife, Cassandra (née Leigh), was a woman of ready wit, famed for her impromptu verses and stories. The great family amusement was acting.
Jane Austen’s lively and affectionate family circle provided a stimulating context for her writing. Moreover, her experience was carried far beyond Steventon rectory by an extensive network of relationships by blood and friendship. It was this world—of the minor landed gentry and the country clergy, in the village, the neighbourhood, and the country town, with occasional visits to Bath and to London—that she was to use in the settings, characters, and subject matter of her novels.
Her earliest known writings date from about 1787, and between then and 1793 she wrote a large body of material that has survived in three manuscript notebooks: Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third. These contain plays, verses, short novels, and other prose and show Austen engaged in the parody of existing literary forms, notably the genres of the sentimental novel and sentimental comedy. Her passage to a more serious view of life from the exuberant high spirits and extravagances of her earliest writings is evident in Lady Susan, a short epistolary novel written about 1793–94 (and not published until 1871). This portrait of a woman bent on the exercise of her own powerful mind and personality to the point of social self-destruction is, in effect, a study of frustration and of woman’s fate in a society that has no use for her talents.
In 1802 it seems likely that Jane agreed to marry Harris Bigg-Wither, the 21-year-old heir of a Hampshire family, but the next morning changed her mind. There are also a number of mutually contradictory stories connecting her with someone with whom she fell in love but who died very soon after. Since Austen’s novels are so deeply concerned with love and marriage, there is some point in attempting to establish the facts of these relationships. Unfortunately, the evidence is unsatisfactory and incomplete. Cassandra was a jealous guardian of her sister’s private life, and after Jane’s death she censored the surviving letters, destroying many and cutting up others. But Jane Austen’s own novels provide indisputable evidence that their author understood the experience of love and of love disappointed.