Wednesday 18th May 2016 - Life and Times of Jane Austen

JANE AUSTEN was born at the Rectory in Steventon, a little village in north-east Hampshire, on 16th December 1775. She was the seventh child and second daughter of the rector, the Revd George Austen, and his wife Cassandra Leigh. Of her brothers, two were clergymen, one inherited rich estates in Kent and Hampshire from a distant cousin and the two youngest became Admirals in the Royal Navy; her only sister, like Jane herself, never married.

Steventon Rectory was Jane Austen's home for the first 25 years of her life. From here she travelled to Kent to stay with her brother Edward at Godmersham Park near Canterbury, and she also had some shorter holidays in Bath, where her aunt and uncle lived. During the 1790s she wrote the first drafts of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey; her trips to Kent and Bath gave her the local colour for the settings of these last two books.

In 1801 the Revd George Austen retired, and he and his wife, with their two daughters Jane and Cassandra, left Steventon and settled in Bath, taking holidays to West Country seaside resorts, including Lyme Regis in Dorset - this was to give Jane the background for Persuasion.

After her father’s death in 1805, Jane moved with her mother and sister first to Southampton, then in 1809 to Chawton, where they had a cottage on one of Edward's Hampshire estates. Here Jane was at leisure to devote herself to writing, and between 1810-1817 she revised her three early novels and wrote another three - Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. She died in the summer of 1817.

about our lecturer:

Jane Tapley lives in Bath and is the Special Events Organiser at Theatre Royal Bath – frequently interviewing actors, writers and directors, as well as co-hosting events at the Jane Austen Festival and Bath Literature Festival

She is a West Country Tourist Board Registered Blue Badge Guide/lecturer and has acted as a consultant for various productions of Jane Austen's novels as well as cooking period meals for literary groups in her Regency house.

She lectures regularly to theatre going societies, the National Trust, History and Fine Arts groups including NADFAS.