Winter 1956 • Vol. XVIII No. 1 Nonfiction |

Pride Unprejudiced

Jane Austen was born in 1775, the daughter of the rector of Steventon, and she lived in this quiet village in its quiet Hampshire landscape until she was twenty-six years old. She was one of seven children, five brothers and a sister, Cassandra. Her father was a bookish man who presided amiably over this unusually devoted family. Close knit, deeply involved in one another's interests, without recorded conflicts, perhaps a little insular in the degree of their familial loyalties, their pleasures were derived from the activities of a sharply circumscribed society, local gossip, their own conversation, letter writing, and a good deal of reading. Spinsterhood and literary composition were not implausible consequences. That the literary composition, in the kind that it is, should have proved to be among the greatest achievements of the English novel, is not entirely the accident of genius. Jane Austen's reading appears to have been moderately wide but chiefly it was in the literature

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