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Jane Austen - Creativity and WritingJane Austen - Creativity and Writing


Jane Austen (1775-1817)


English novelist (pictured right).

She lived most of her life in Hampshire, where her father was a Church of England minister.

Her books are seen consistently on film and TV.


Her most famous books are...

Sense and Sensibility (1811). 

Pride and Prejudice (1813). 

Emma (1815).

Persuasion (1818).


Why was she so creative?


1. Inspiration and perspiration

She got moments of inspiration from her:

  • vivid imagination.
  • daydreaming (e.g. about possible husbands).

But often her writing was hard work, and she wished that her ideas “would flow as fast as the rain”.

All her great books were re-written and edited several times

Only Emma was written with confident speed.


2. Patience

She spent many years writing before her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published in 1811.

It was sold for 75p ($1) in three volumes!

Her best books also took years to be published

Northanger Abbey was published in 1817, 14 years after it was first sent to a publisher!


3. Determination

She overcame:

  • unreasonable criticism of her work (with humour).
  • depression (which she fought all her life).

She had the courage to continue writing, even when she was depressed or dying.

Jane Austen - Creativity and Writing 

4. Happiness

She wrote best, when she was happy, particularly in her family’s first home (pictured right) in a lovely rural village, Steventon in Hampshire.

It was an ideal place to think and remove herself from reality into the world of her imagination.

Her family’s move to Bath in 1801 and subsequent depression stopped her writing for 10 years until 1809.


5. Originality

Despite critical reviews of her books, she stuck to her own way of writing.

“I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way”, she wrote in 1816.

She didn’t copy anyone else, but used different styles for different books.


6. Reading

From childhood, she:

  • was a great reader.
  • got many ideas from books.

The title, Pride and Prejudice, came from a book she read after the she discovered her first title (First Impressions) had been used by somebody else.


7. Love of writing

She didn’t make much money from writing, despite the success of Pride and Prejudice.

But she:

  • loved to write.
  • was always totally absorbed in her work.

She said of Sense and Sensibility

“I can no more forget it than a mother can forget her sucking child”.

Writing was more important to her than fame (she wrote under the anonymity of a pseudonym).

 Jane Austen - Creativity and Writing

8. Experience

She wrote of the world she knew in middle class, rural England.

Her heroines often reflected her own character

  • Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, had her wit, intelligence and restless spirit (played by Keira Knightley, pictured right, in the 2005 film).
  • Fanny Price in Mansfield Park had her solemnity
  • Emma Woodhouse in Emma had her pride.

But Anne Elliot in Persuasion came closer to her than anybody else.

 Jane Austen - Creativity and Writing

9. Leisure

She always made time for the people she loved, particularly her sister, Cassandra (pictured right).


10. Natural talent

She was only 15 when she wrote her first great book, Love and Friendship.


Key quote on success

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend it, than any other can be, Mansfield Park


Key quotes on happiness

A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of, Mansfield Park.

Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often happiness is destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!, Emma.


Key quotes on knowledge

The most valuable knowledge we could any of us acquire - the knowledge of ourselves and of our duty, Mansfield Park

Where an opinion is general, it is usually correct, Mansfield Park.


Key quote on influencing people

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart, Emma.


Key quote on friendship

Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love, Northanger Abbey.


Key quote on careers and work

I am afraid that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety, Sense and Sensibility.


Key quote on men

If there is anything disagreeable going on, men are always sure to get out of it, Persuasion.

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