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Jane Austen was born December 16th, 1775 at Steventon, Hampshire,
England (near Basingstoke). She was the seventh child (out of eight)
and the second daughter (out of two), of the Rev. George Austen,
1731-1805 (the local rector, or Church of England clergyman), and
his wife Cassandra, 1739-1827 (née Leigh). (See the silhouettes
of Jane Austen's father and mother, apparently taken at different
ages.) He had a fairly respectable income of about £600 a
year, supplemented by tutoring pupils who came to live with him,
but was by no means rich (especially with eight children), and (like
Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice) couldn't have given his daughters
much to marry on.
More than one reader has wondered whether the childhood of the
character Catherine Morland in Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey
might not reflect her own childhood, at least in part -- Catherine
enjoys "rolling down the green slope at the back of the house"
and prefers cricket and baseball to girls' play. More...