Articles and Features

Jane Austen's Birthday

December 16, 1775

Week of 12\15\97

I'm not a frilly girl. I don't like dresses or pretty things. I fantasize about setting fires more than men. I enjoy learning about hoaxes and scams much more than learning about manners and correct speech. I find no interest in romance, because I'm too busy accruing interest in finance. I enjoy my life as a woman who can do whatever she wants in this world. Why, then, do I like Jane Austen's novels?

I believe that the appeal of her work to me is the incredible wittiness of her women. I try to be funny, but fail most of the time. I find the notion of wonderfully witty women in a society where politeness is crucial so pleasing that I have read many of her novels more than once. I'm hoping to catch her characters making fools of others to their faces, with humor and hidden rancor, in ways I didn't notice before. Here are a few of the best quotes from Jane Austen in celebration of her birthday.

Introduction and quote compilation by Laura S. Moncur, Staff Writer.

"I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress."
letter to James Stanier Clarke, 11 Dec 1815
"Why not seize the pleasure at once, how often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparations."
"I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me that trouble of liking them a great deal."
letter to her sister, Cassandra, 24 Dec 1798
"One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty."
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Pride and Prejudice, 1813
"It was a delightful visit - perfect, in being much too short."
Emma, 1815
"Real solemn history, I cannot be interested in...The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all."
Northanger Abbey, Chapter 14
"'I am afraid,' replied Elinor, 'that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince it propriety.'"
Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 13
"You have delighted us long enough."
Pride and Prejudice, 1813
The nicest way to say, "Shut up," I've ever read.
"Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does."
Emma, 1815
"[Miss Austen] had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-Wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me."
Walter Scott, Journal entry, 14 March 1826
"Just the omission of Jane Austen's books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it."
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
I guess not everyone loves her the way I do.
For more information about Jane Austen, try these links:
  • Jane Austen Film & Television Adaptations - A site with lovely pictures from the film versions of Jane Austen's work. There are many images to download and a list of other links.
  • The following books and tapes are available through
    • Best of Jane Austen boxed paperback set that includes: Emma, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. A good starting set.
    • The Illustrated Letters of Jane Austen Paperback by Jane Austen, Penelope Hughes-Hallett (Editor). Beautiful pictures accompany Jane Austen's letters. She was rather candid in her letters to her sister Cassandra, which are the best.
    • Jane Austen's Little Advice Book Hardcover by Jane Austen, Cathryn Michon, Pamela Norris, David Johnson. Quotations from Jane Austen regarding Men, Women, Money, Marriage, and Social Life. If you liked her quotes, you'll love this book with additional witty commentary from the authors listed above.
    • Pride and Prejudice VHS Video Edition, Published by A & E HOME VIDEO. I must admit that this rendition of Pride and Prejudice is what started it all for me. Seeing Jennifer Ehle play the feisty Elizabeth Bennett made me love Jane Austen. Colin Firth plays a dark and brooding Mr. Darcy with curly locks and glaring glances. I bought this set at full price and it was well worth it. is offering it for $10 buck cheaper at $89.99.
  • Jane Austen Home Page - a collection of links and the actual works of Jane Austen available for download.
  • Jane Austen Information Page - A huge collection of texts of Jane Austen's works, commentary, silly jokes and pictures of the authoress. This site is enormous, but doesn't take itself too seriously.
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