Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle
Jane Austen is an iconic figure in the literary world who has shaped the genre of romance and social critique through her insightful and witty novels. This article presents a comprehensive journey through all of Jane Austen books in order, beginning from her early, incomplete pieces to her celebrated novels that have sealed her place in literary history. This guide aims to provide fans and literary enthusiasts an opportunity to delve deeper into Austen’s progression as a writer, to better comprehend and appreciate her lasting impact on literature. So join me on this fascinating journey through time as we unravel the layers of Austen’s literary legacy.
The Early Works
Before delving into Austen’s renowned novels, it’s crucial to step back into her early years and explore the roots of her literary genius. Jane Austen’s earliest writing dates from when she was just eleven years old, and she began writing poems, stories, and plays for her family’s amusement. Though not as fully realized as her later novels, these early works, often written in her signature satirical tone, offer a glimpse into the budding talent that would later astonish the literary world. Now, let’s journey through these initial pieces, which are lesser-known but nonetheless pivotal in Austen’s writing evolution.
Jane Austen’s Early Writings
Jane Austen’s early works can be found in the beautiful Penguin Clothbound edition Love and Friendship: And Other Youthful Writings. This edition includes all of Austen’s juvenilia, including her “History of England” and the novella “Lady Susan,” in which the anti-heroine schemes and cheats her way through high society. With a title that captures a young Austen’s original idiosyncratic spelling habits and an introduction by Christine Alexander that shows how Austen was self-consciously fashioning herself as a writer from an early age, this is a must-have for any Austen lover.
The early works that can be found in this volume include:
Volume the First
- Frederic and Elfrida
- Jack and Alice
- Edgar and Emma
- Henry and Eliza
- The adventures of Mr Harley
- Sir William Mountague
- Memoirs of Mr Clifford
- The beautifull Cassandra
- Amelia Webster
- The Visit
- The Mystery
- The Three Sisters
- Detached pieces
- To Miss Jane Anna Elizabeth Austen
- A beautiful description of the different effects of Sensibility on different Minds
- The Generous Curate
- Ode to Pity
Volume the Second
- Love and Freindship
- Lesley Castle
- The History of England
- A Collection of Letters
- The female philosopher
- The first Act of a Comedy
- A Letter from a Young Lady
- A Tour through Wales
- A Tale
Volume the Third
- Catharine, or the Bower
In Jane Austen’s novella, “Lady Susan,” we meet the recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon. Determined to secure a profitable match, she navigates high society with cunning and deceit. Alongside her schemes, Lady Susan also strives to find a suitable husband for her unfortunate daughter. Through a series of letters, Austen presents a subversive and charming tale, showcasing a protagonist unlike any other in Austen’s works.
Though Austen’s earlier works laid the groundwork for her later achievements, her novels are where she truly shines as a literary genius. With complex characters, intricate plots, and remarkable social commentary, Austen’s novels have stood the test of time and continue to captivate readers’ hearts. Let’s dive into each of these masterpieces in chronological order to fully appreciate Austen’s literary prowess.
Completed Jane Austen Books in Order
- Sense and Sensibility
- Pride and Prejudice
- Mansfield Park
- Northanger Abbey
Sense and Sensibility
“Sense and Sensibility,” published in 1811, was Austen’s first published novel. It follows the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as they navigate love, heartbreak, and societal expectations. The novel addresses themes of family dynamics, class distinctions, and gender roles, all while showcasing Austen’s trademark wit and insight into human nature. Despite its serious undertones, “Sense and Sensibility” remains a delightful read with lovable characters and a satisfying ending.
Pride and Prejudice
“Pride and Prejudice” is arguably Austen’s most famous novel, published in 1813. It tells the story of the sharp-witted Elizabeth Bennet and her tumultuous relationship with the proud Mr. Darcy. Through their journey, Austen explores themes of societal expectations, marriage, and personal growth while delivering iconic lines that have become part of our cultural lexicon. With a perfect balance of romance, satire, and social commentary, “Pride and Prejudice” continues to be a beloved novel over 200 years after its first publication.
Interested in popular quotes from Pride and Prejudice? The 31 Best Pride And Prejudice Quotes Of All Time.
“Mansfield Park,” published in 1814, is a complex and controversial novel that delves into topics such as slavery, morality, and education. The story follows Fanny Price, a poor young woman who goes to live with her wealthy relatives at Mansfield Park. As she navigates the intricate dynamics of her new family and society, Fanny learns about love, loyalty, and finding one’s place in the world. Despite its polarizing reception at the time of its publication, “Mansfield Park” remains a thought-provoking and compelling read.
“Emma” is a novel that showcases Austen’s mastery of character development and ironic wit. Published in 1815, it follows the story of Emma Woodhouse, a wealthy and self-assured young woman who takes on matchmaking as her new hobby. Through Emma’s misguided attempts at love connections, Austen offers sharp commentary on societal norms and expectations, ultimately leading Emma to self-awareness and personal growth. With a charming cast of characters and comedic moments, “Emma” remains a beloved novel in Austen’s canon.
“Northanger Abbey” was the first of Austen’s novels to be completed but the last one published in 1817. It is a playful parody of Gothic fiction, following Catherine Morland as she navigates her first trip to Bath and her infatuation with the charming but seemingly mysterious Henry Tilney. Through Catherine’s romantic fantasies and misunderstandings, Austen pokes fun at the popular literary genre of her time while also exploring themes of love, friendship, and societal expectations.
“Persuasion,” published posthumously in 1818, is Austen’s final completed novel. It tells the story of Anne Elliot, a woman who is persuaded by her family to break off her engagement with Captain Wentworth due to his lack of social status and wealth. Years later, when they meet again, Anne must confront her regrets and fight for a second chance at love. “Persuasion” is a poignant and bittersweet tale of love, regret, and second chances that showcases Austen’s maturity as a writer.
The Incomplete Works
Even in her unfinished works, Austen’s talent for storytelling, character development, and social commentary shines through. Two of these, “The Watsons” and “Sanditon,” provide a fascinating glimpse into Austen’s writing process and the themes she might have further explored had she completed them.
Incomplete Jane Austen Books in Order
- The Watsons
“The Watsons” is an unfinished novel started by Austen around 1803. It revolves around the Watsons, a family fallen on hard times, and their four daughters who are seeking good marriages. The story is centered on the youngest daughter, Emma, who returns home after being raised by a wealthy aunt. The novel brims with Austen’s usual wit and insight into societal norms and familial dynamics. Despite being incomplete, “The Watsons” has generated multiple continuations and adaptations by other writers and remains a significant part of Austen’s oeuvre.
“Sanditon” is the last novel Austen began writing before her death in 1817. It marks a departure from Austen’s other works, delving into the issues of health, hypochondria, and the impact of commerce on society. The story is set in a developing seaside resort, Sanditon, and introduces a larger cast of characters than found in her completed novels. Although the narrative breaks off before any of the plot lines are resolved, “Sanditon” has been completed by several authors and adapted into a TV series, demonstrating the enduring appeal of Austen’s storytelling.
Frequently Asked Questions
What order should I read Jane Austen books?
The order in which you read Jane Austen’s books can vary based on personal preference. However, a common approach is to start with her completed novels in the order they were published:
- Sense and Sensibility
- Pride and Prejudice
- Mansfield Park
- Northanger Abbey
Once you’ve completed these, you can move on to her unfinished works, “The Watsons” and “Sanditon.” This order allows you to first appreciate Austen’s fully realized stories, while the unfinished novels will give you a unique perspective on Austen’s writing process and themes she was exploring near the end of her career.
What is the best Jane Austen book to read first?
If you only have time to pick up one book, the best Jane Austen book to read first is Pride and Prejudice. It’s a classic romantic comedy that follows Elizabeth Bennet as she navigates the world of marriage in 19th-century England. The novel has been adapted into numerous films, television series, and plays and is sure to captivate any reader! But reader beware, after reading Pride and Prejudice you just might go down the rabbit hole and read all her other novels.
What are the best Jane Austen books?
The best Jane Austen books are also the books on my must read books list: Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Emma. These three novels showcase Austen’s talent for storytelling, wit, and social commentary. Plus each of these books offer some thing different. With Pride and Prejudice you will get the romance, Northanger Abbey will provide the gothic mystery and Emma will provide the comedy. So all three books are must-reads for any Austen fan or lover of classic literature.
What is the best book of Jane Austen?
The “best” book of Jane Austen can vary greatly depending on individual preference, as each of her novels possesses unique qualities that make it endearing to different readers. However, “Pride and Prejudice” is often celebrated as Austen’s crowning achievement. It perfectly encapsulates Austen’s talent for developing complex characters, exploring societal norms, and injecting humor into her storytelling. The romantic tension between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy has made “Pride and Prejudice” a timeless classic that continues to captivate readers with its wit, charm, and insightful commentary on the human condition.
How many Jane Austen books are there?
Jane Austen wrote a total of six complete novels: “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park,” “Emma,” “Northanger Abbey,” and “Persuasion.” In addition to these, she started but did not finish two additional novels, “The Watsons” and “Sanditon.” Plus there are numerous works from her early years, including “Love and Friendship” and “Lesley Castle.”
How many Jane Austen novels are there?
There are six completed novels by Jane Austen and two incomplete novels. In total, there are eight novels attributed to Austen. However, some of her early works were published posthumously and may have been written for amusement rather than publication. Therefore, the number can vary depending on how one defines a “novel.”
Jane Austen’s literary legacy is a rich tapestry woven from both her completed and incomplete novels. Her completed works, with their incisive social commentary, vivid characterization, and timeless themes, have secured Austen’s place among the literary greats. Meanwhile, her unfinished novels provide a tantalizing glimpse into the evolution of her writing and the thematic directions she might have pursued had she lived longer. Both completed and incomplete works are a testament to Austen’s remarkable skill as a novelist, her unique insight into human behavior, and her enduring influence on literature. Despite the constraints of her time, Austen’s works transcend the ages, speaking to readers across centuries with their wit, wisdom, and profound understanding of the human condition.
Have you read any books by Jane Austen?
What is your favorite Austen book? What book is on your TBR? Did you know about all of Jane Austen’s works? Let’s talk about all things Austen in the comments below!