Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels which interpret, critique and comment upon the life of the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Her most highly praised novel during her lifetime was Pride and Prejudice, her second published novel. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security.
The author's major novels are rarely out of print today, although they were first published anonymously and brought her little fame and brief reviews during her lifetime. A significant transition in her posthumous reputation as an author occurred in 1869, fifty-two years after her death, when her nephew's publication of A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider audience. Austen's most successful novel during her lifetime was Pride and Prejudice, which went through two editions at the time. Her third published novel was Mansfield Park, which (despite being largely overlooked by reviewers) was successful during her lifetime.
All of Austen's major novels were first published between 1811 and 1818. From 1811 to 1816, with the publication of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published author. Austen wrote two additional novels (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818) and began another, eventually titled Sanditon, before her death.
During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries Austen's writings have inspired a large number of critical essays and literary anthologies, establishing her as a British author of international fame. Her novels have inspired films, from 1940's Pride and Prejudice starring Laurence Olivier to more recent productions: Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Kate Beckinsale in Love & Friendship (2016).