Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, to the Reverend George Austen and his wife, Cassandra Leigh Austen, in the village of Steventon in Hampshire, England. Though her mother was from a family of gentry, Jane's father was not well off, and the large family had to take in school boarders to make ends meet. The second youngest of the Austens' eight children, Jane was very close to her elder, and only, sister, Cassandra, and neither sister ever married. Both girls were educated at home, as many were at that time.
From a young age Jane wrote satires and read them aloud to her appreciative family. Though she completed the manuscripts of two full-length novels while living at Steventon, these were not published. Later, these novels were revised into the form under which they were published, as Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, respectively.
In 1801, George Austen retired from the clergy, and Jane, Cassandra, and their parents took up residence in Bath, a fashionable town Jane liked far less than her native village. Jane seems to have written little during this period. When Mr. Austen died in 1805, the three women, Mrs. Austen and her daughters, moved first to Southampton and then, partly subsidized by Jane's brothers, occupied a house in Chawton, a village not unlike Jane's first home. There she began to work on writing and pursued publishing once more, leading to the anonymous publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813, to modestly good reviews.
Known for her cheerful, modest, and witty character, Jane Austen had a busy family and social life but very little direct romantic experience. Her last years were quiet and devoted to family, friends, and writing her final novels. In 1817 she had to interrupt work on her last and unfinished novel, Sanditon, because she fell ill. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, where she had been taken for medical treatment. After her death, her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, together with a biographical notice, due to the efforts of her brother Henry. Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.