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Jane Austen Life Timeline

Authored By Renee Warren | Last Updated: 1/25/2014

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.

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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.

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1775
(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.
Age 0
1782
The first theatrical presentation is performed by the Austen family in their home.
Age 6
1783
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.
Age 7
1784
The Austen family performs Sheridan's The Rivals.
Age 8
1785
Jane and Cassandra arrive at the Abbey School in Reading.
Age 9
1786
Jane and Cassandra arrive back home from school, having completed their formal education.
Age 10
1787
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.
Age 11
1790
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.
Age 14
1793
Jane begins to write and later abandons a short play entitled Sir Charles Grandison or the Happy Man, a six act comedy.
Age 17
Jane pens Lady Susan, an epistolary novel.
Age 17
(Monday, June 3rd) Jane pens the poem "Ode to Pity" for her Juvenilia.
Age 17
1795
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.
Age 19
(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.
Age 20
1796
(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.
Age 20
(August) Jane begins penning First Impressions. This work would go on to become her most famous piece known more as Pride & Prejudice.
Age 20
(December) Jane and sister Cassandra arrive back home for good from their formal education at boarding school.
Age 21
1797
Work is completed on the first draft of First Impressions.
Age 21
(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).
Age 21
(November) Jane redirects her efforts to revise Elinor and Marianne.
Age 21
(November) The Austen girls pay a visit to their brother James and his wife at Bath.
Age 21
1798
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.
Age 22
Jane begins work on Northanger Abbey though it is initially known by the names of Susan and, later, Catherine.
Age 22
1799
Continues working on, and eventually revises, Northanger Abbey.
Age 23
(May) Mother and Jane visit Bath.
Age 23
1800
Jane returns to Steventon and completes her short play Sir Charles Grandison or the Happy Man.
Age 24
Work is completed on Susan.
Age 24
(December) Jane's father - George Austen - unexpectedly announces his retirement from the ministry. He uproots the family from Steventon and heads to Bath.
Age 25
1801
(January) Jane visits good friends Catherine and Alethea Bigg in Hampshire at Manydown Park.
Age 25
(May) Mr Austen moves the family (mother, Jane and Cassandra) to Bath.
Age 25
(October) The Austen's return from holiday in Sidmouth, Colyton and Steventon.
Age 25
1802
(September) Charles, Jane and Cassandra leave for Godmersham.
Age 26
(October) Charles, Jane and Cassandra arrive home from their trip to Godmersham.
Age 26
(Thursday, November 25th) Jane and Cassandra visit friends Catherine and Alethea Bigg at Manydown Park.
Age 26
(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.
Age 26
(December) Jane works on revising Susan.
Age 27
1803
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.
Age 27
(September) Mr. Austen and family (mother, Jane and Cassandra) once again spend time at Godmersham.
Age 27
(October) The Austen's return to Bath from Godmersham.
Age 27
1804
Jane begins work on the novel The Watsons. It would go unfinished.
Age 28
Jane and family spend the summer months in Lyme Regis.
Age 28
(Sunday, December 16th) Friend and mentor, Madam Lefroy, is killed in a freak horse riding accident. This is also Jane's 29th birthday.
Age 29
1805
(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.
Age 29
(March) Mrs. Austen, Jane and Cassandra move to 25 Gay Street.
Age 29
Jane finishes writing Lady Susan.
Age 29
1806
(February) Jane and Cassandra visit Manydown Park.
Age 30
(Wednesday, July 2nd) The Austen girls leave for Bath.
Age 30
(Friday, August 5th) The Austen girls join Mrs. Austen's cousin in Warwickshire.
Age 30
(Thursday, August 14th) The Austen women leave Warwickshire.
Age 30
(October) The Austen sisters and mother, along with friend and widow Martha Lloyd, move to Southampton to live with newly married brother Frank.
Age 30
1807
(March) The group moves within Southampton to the Castle Square house.
Age 31
1808
(January) Yet another visit to see the Bigg family. Jane takes part in one of the family theatricals called "School for Scandal".
Age 32
(Friday, July 8th) Jane is in Godmersham.
Age 32
(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.
Age 32
1809
(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.
Age 33
Edward has Chawton Cottage remodeled for the Austen girls.
Age 33
(May) The Austen women visit Edward in Godmersham.
Age 33
(Friday, July 7th) Mother Cassandra, sister cassandra and Jane move into Chawton House to a more quiet and settled life.
Age 33
(August) Jane tackles Sense & Sensibility once more.
Age 33
1810
(July) Jane and Cassandra visit the Biggs in Manydown once more.
Age 34
Sense & Sensibility is accepted for publishing by Thomas Egerton.
Age 34
1811
(February) Jane works on Mansfield Park.
Age 35
(March) Jane visits Henry and wife Eliza in London.
Age 35
(Wednesday, October 30th) Sense & Sensibility is published by Thomas Egerton with Henry Austen acting as literary agent. The novel is greeted with favorable reviews.
Age 35
The last additions to the Juvenilia notebooks are believed to have been made at about this time.
Age 35
Extensive revisions take place on First Impressions.
Age 35
1812
Much of the year is spent revising First Impressions.
Age 36
(November) The copyright to First Impressions is sold to Thomas Egerton for publication for the sum of 110 pounds.
Age 36
1813
(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.
Age 37
(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.
Age 37
(Saturday, May 1st) Jane leaves her brother's side.
Age 37
(June) Mansfield Park is believed to have been completed around this time.
Age 37
(September) Jane visits Godmersham for the last time.
Age 37
(October) A second edition of Pride & Prejudice is printed.
Age 37
(Saturday, October 2nd) Sense & Sensibility in first edition form sells out completely, forcing a second edition to be printed.
Age 37
Egerton takes on Mansfield Park for publication.
Age 37
1814
(January) Jane begins writing Emma.
Age 38
(March) Jane, escorted by brother Henry, visit London where they catch "The Merchant of Venice" at the theater.
Age 38
(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.
Age 38
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.
Age 38
(October) All copies of Mansfield Park are sold making this the most profitable work of Austen's career thus far.
Age 38
1815
(Wednesday, March 29th) Jane completes Emma.
Age 39
(Tuesday, August 8th) Jane begins writing Persuasion.
Age 39
Henry and Jane head to London to negotiate with famed publisher John Murray for the publication of Emma.
Age 39
(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.
Age 39
(Saturday, December 16th) Jane returns to Chawton (on her birthday).
Age 40
(December) Emma is published by John Murray. The book is well received and sales thrive. The novel is dedicated to the Prince.
Age 40
1816
(January) Henry Austen purchases the copyright to Susan back from Benjamin Crosby. The title is changed to Catherine.
Age 40
A second edition of Mansfield Park is published by John Murray.
Age 40
(February) Sales of the second edition of Mansfield Park do not meet expectations, negating the earnings from Emma that same year.
Age 40
(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.
Age 40
At some point during the year, Jane becomes ill but disregards it to continue her work, namely on The Elliots.
Age 40
(May) Cassandra takes Jane to Cheltenham to seek medical care.
Age 40
(June) Cassandra and Jane return from Cheltenham. Jane continues work on The Elliots.
Age 40
(Thursday, July 18th) Jane completes a first draft of The Elliots (later to become Persuasion).
Age 40
Jane's health declines enough for her family to begin noticing she is unwell.
Age 40
(Tuesday, August 6th) Jane rewrites the concluding two chapters of The Elliots and finishes the work.
Age 40
1817
(January) Jane begins work on The Brothers (later published under the name of Sanditon).
Age 41
(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.
Age 41
(April) Jane's illness ultimately confines the author to her bed.
Age 41
(Sunday, April 27th) Jane pens a short will.
Age 41
(Friday, July 18th) Jane Austen dies in Winchester during the early part of the day.
Age 41
(Thursday, July 24th) Jane is buried, at her brother Henry's direction, in an aisle of the nave at Winchester Cathedral.
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(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.
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1820
John Murray destroys the remaining unsold copies of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
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1832
Richard Bentley purchases all of the remaining copyrights to Jane Austen's works.
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(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.
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1833
Bentley publishes the collected works of Jane Austen for the first time. Jane Austen's novels would never go out of print again.
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1870
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.
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