Jane Austen’s Work in Detail

English author Jane Austen (1775-1817) wrote six major novels, one novella, minor works and juvenilia that are available for our enjoyment today. Her first novel to be published during her lifetime was Sense and Sensibility (1811) followed by Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumously after her death in 1817.

The following is a directory to additional information on Jane Austen’s novels and minor works including a brief introduction, characters lists, plot summaries, quotes & quips and resources. This online resource is a work in progress and not all of the novels and minor works have been completed yet. Click on a live link to take you to the corresponding information.

Main menu to Jane Austen’s Work in Detail

Major Works

Sense and Sensibility (1811)

Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility is a wonderfully entertaining tale of flirtation and folly that revolves around two starkly different sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. While Elinor is thoughtful, considerate, and calm, her younger sister is emotional and wildly romantic. Both are looking for a husband, but neither Elinor’s reason nor Marianne’s passion can lead them to perfect happiness-as Marianne falls for an unscrupulous rascal and Elinor becomes attached to a man who’s already engaged.

Pride and Prejudice (1813)

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ Thus memorably begins Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, one of the world’s most popular novels. Pride and Prejudice – Austen’s own ‘darling child’ – tells the story of fiercely independent Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters who must marry rich, as she confounds the arrogant, wealthy Mr. Darcy. What ensues is one of the most delightful and engrossingly readable courtships known to literature, written by a precocious Austen when she was just twenty-one years old.

Mansfield Park (1814)

From its sharply satiric opening sentence, Mansfield Park deals with money and marriage, and how strongly they affect each other. Shy, fragile Fanny Price is the consummate ‘poor relation.’ Sent to live with her wealthy uncle Thomas Bertram, she clashes with his spoiled, selfish daughters and falls in love with his son. Their lives are further complicated by the arrival of a pair of witty, sophisticated Londoners, whose flair for flirtation collides with the quiet, conservative country ways of Mansfield Park.

Emma (1816)

Thinking herself impervious to romance of any kind, the handsome, clever and rich Miss Emma Woodhouse tries to arrange a wealthy marriage for her poor friend Harriet Smith, but refuses to recognize her own feelings for here gallant neighbor Mr. Knightley. What ensues is a delightful series of scheming escapades in which every social machination and bit of “tittle-tattle” is steeped in Austen’s delicious irony. Ultimately, Emma discovers that “Perfect happiness, even in memory, is not common.”

Northanger Abbey (1817)

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old girl from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.

Persuasion (1817)

Persuasion follows the romance of 27 year-old spinster Anne Elliot and a handsome naval officer Captain Frederick Wentworth. They were happily engaged until Anne’s friend, Lady Russell, persuaded her that Frederick was “unworthy.” Now, eight years later, Frederick returns, a wealthy captain in the navy, while Anne’s aristocratic family teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, retrenching to Bath . They still love each other, but their past mistakes threaten to keep them apart.

Minor Works


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