Tomorrow is Jane Austen‘s birthday.
She was a pioneer in so many arenas. She unknowingly developed the modern novel as we know it to be today. She was a feminist without overtly wearing the label of feminism. Unlike other women who quietly followed the rules of the period without question, Jane asked the questions, both in her fiction and in her own life.
For my birthday a few weeks ago, I received a magnet that states “nasty women make history”. Jane Austen was a nasty woman. She had a sharp tongue, a quick mind, loved to laugh, loved to have a good time and most of all, never went along with the crowd just because everyone else was doing it. It would have been easy for her to follow the path in life that according to her society was pre-ordained (i.e. marriage and children), but she didn’t. Jane Austen knew that marriage for marriage’s sake was not what she wanted. Marriage, in her eyes, was for love, not to fulfill an obligation that she was told to fulfill.
Instead, she chose to remain single. While her ring finger was never covered in gold, she had children: her books. Referring to them as her own darling children, Austen published six of the greatest books in English literature: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
Jane Austen will always be one of my heroes. As a writer and a woman, she paved the way for future generations of women to not only break from the expected roles of wife and mother, but she also paved the way for women to be themselves without having to put on a mask to be liked.
Happy Birthday Jane.