Jane Austen (1775–1817)
Jane Austen was born December 16, 1775, in England, the youngest daughter of a Hampshire clergyman. Her six novels were set in the world in which she lived, that of the comfortable, rural middle class, and were often based on her observations of people she knew and her assessments of human character. The novels depict young women entering society, many of whom make mistakes or become confused but ultimately find their way to a happy marriage.
Austen began writing as a teenager and initially shared her writing only with family and friends. When she eventually published, she did so anonymously. Not well known in her own time, she soon garnered a reputation for her precision, irony, and delicate touch as a writer. Her best-known works are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), and Emma (1816). She influenced many later writers, including Charles Dickens, W. M. Thackeray, and Anthony Trollope, as well as George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell. Austen’s books have endured to the present day as some of the few “classics” widely read for pleasure. She died from illness on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, England. William Blake (1757–1827)
Artist and visionary poet William Blake, born November 28, 1757, in London, England to a hosier, was apprenticed at age fifteen to engraver James Basire, for whom Blake made drawings at Westminster Abbey. In 1783, Blake’s Poetical...
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