Jane Austen was a unique and gifted writer whose classic novels about 18th century English life still inspire both readers and authors today.

Her six major novels, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park give a unique look into society at that time, using humor, irony, and sarcasm.

While Jane only experienced moderate financial success and little fame during her lifetime, her works gradually gained wider interest and appreciation from critics, scholars, and popular audiences.

While any writer’s short and long-term success can depend on many factors, there are several things about Jane’s decisions and circumstances that contributed to her work’s praise, wide acceptance, and ultimate longevity.


Here are five of the secrets to Jane’s success:

1)  She listened to her own instincts

Many of her contemporaries wrote in a romantic and sentimentalist style that Jane resisted.    Despite pressure, she stuck to her instincts and wrote using realism and satire, and created more complex characters than was the norm at that time.

She was also one of the first authors to consistently use a style of third-person narration called “free indirect speech” to bring voice to her characters.   This was uncommon in literature at that time.


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 2)  She slowed down enough to let her imagination bloom

Jane produced much of her best work during periods in her life when she had less going on socially.   In particular, her years living in the small country village of Chawton, England, where her life was quieter, allowed her to more fully focus on and develop her craft.   She published 4 of her novels during her 8 years living in this rural area.


3)  She took calculated risks

Despite the obstacles of being a woman writer in the early 1800’s and the high costs of publishing at that time, Jane pushed to get her work into print.   She believed in her novels enough to publish “on commission”, which essentially put most of the financial risk on herself rather than the publisher if the book didn’t sell well.   She also printed in larger quantities than was customary at that time, which was a risk if she didn’t sell enough copies, but it allowed her to reach more people and it paid off.



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4)  She had high standards of excellence for her work

Jane continued to edit and revise many chapters of her novels until she was satisfied.  Even as she become debilitated with illness (long thought to be Addison’s disease or Hodgkin’s lymphoma), she rewrote the final ending chapters of Persuasion.  She kept writing until just a few months before her untimely death at age 41.


5)  She embraced her powerful support system to help her

Although some scholars have debated how much of Jane’s family hardships may have been downplayed or sanitized, there are documented aspects of her home life that supported her ability to emerge as a writer.

As a child, Jane had a father who supplied expensive paper for writing and drawing that encouraged her creativity.  She enlisted her family to listen while she read drafts of her writing aloud.  She got her brother and father to help advocate for her works to get published.  She relied on her loving sister to help manage much of the day-to-day functioning of her household so she could be free to write.

All of these elements helped Jane develop her skills and feel more confident in her voice as a writer.

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