Jane Austen

  • Sense and Sensibility became Austen’s first published novel in 1811, selling 750 copies by July 1813.
  • The first version of the novel, entitled ‘Elinor and Marianne’, was written in 1795 as an epistolary novel.
  • She rewrote the early manuscript in 1797-98 as a narrated novel.
  • Thomas Egerton of the Military Library in Whitehall accepted the manuscript for publication: the cost being more than a third of her household’s 460 pound annual income. However, she made a profit of 140 pounds off the first edition.
  • The first edition of Sense and Sensibility only said it was written ‘by a lady’. However the second edition had the inscription of ‘by the author of Pride and Prejudice’.
  • Publishing anonymously enabled Austen to keep her privacy at a time when entering the public circle was associated with a reprehensible loss of femininity.
  • Overlooked for many years, critics and scholars finally began addressing Sense and Sensibility in the twentieth century, for its great passion, ethics and social vision.
  • More on Austen’s social background https://janeausten.co.uk/the-influence-of-jane-austens-social-background-on-two-of-her-novels/
  • Comment on social class and Austen’s view of it: Austen’s particular moment in history is an interesting one. Her novels are fascinated with the odd and peculiar interactions between people of different social levels – a relatively new development in England at the time. Her books are firmly planted in the bourgeoisie, a class that was on the up-and-up as she wrote. None of her characters inSense and Sensibility are firmly planted in the upper echelons of high society; even the wealthiest ones aren’t integrated into aristocratic social circles. Rather, the spaces in which the Dashwoods move are those of the middle classes (and believe us, there are about a million different levels of “middle class” operating here).’
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