2. Jane Austen
Jane Austen was born in England in 1775, during the political turmoil caused by the rebellious American colonies. From the age of 11 she loved to write, poems and prose, and small stage plays and skits, all for the entertainment of family and friends. During her lifetime she produced six major novels, though published anonymously. Her work did not bring her fame during her lifetime, and little in the way of financial remuneration. Among the works she produced in the early 19th century are Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. During her lifetime British law prohibited women from signing legal contracts. British society looked down on women who wrote for publication, considering them as violating their proper role as a wife and mother.
More than a decade after her death in 1817, Austen’s major works appeared in sets. Formerly published as “Written by a lady” her name appeared on her works beginning in 1833. They have never been out of print since that year. Since then they have been the subjects of academic studies and interpretation and adapted into films, television miniseries, plays, and radio programs. The BBC created several adaptions of her work, popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2017, Jane Austen’s image replaced that of Charles Darwin on the UK’s ten-pound note. Her collective works gain a new set of fans and followers with each succeeding generation, as they have for over a century.