Jane Austen was born in 1775 in the small village of Steventon, Hampshire, England. Her father was a clergyman and her mother came from a family fairly remotely connected to the aristocracy. She had five brothers and one beloved sister three years her senior. While she lived the comfortable life of a member of the eighteenth century middle classes she lived under the weight carried by all girls of her era, that of needing to marry well. Her five brothers progressed through life successfully, leading well-respected, and well-rewarded, careers in such areas as the Navy and banking, but to Jane and her sister was left the option of trying to find a suitable husband.
It is not surprising that this forms the backbone of the plot of many of Austen’s novels. Whilst examining with a sharp criticism the foibles and snobberies of the upper classes of her day, Austen described with a calm and witty eye the life of a ‘respectable’ girl.