Jane Austen Google Doodle
The 16th December 2010 saw the Google Doodle team pay tribute to what would have been the 235th birthday of one of England’s finest female novelist. The author in question was Jane Austen. The Jane Austen Google Doodle featured the Google logo placed on a traditional English country landscape. In the forefront of the Jane Austen Google Doodle were a male and female couple. After the Jane Austen Google Doodle’s release there was much discussion as to the identity of the couple. Were they the characters of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” in the Jane Austen Google Doodle? Or were they Emma Woodhouse and George Knightly from her novel “Emma” in the Jane Austen Google Doodle? The Google Doodle team provided no Jane Austen Google Doodle answers.
Jane Austen was born on December 16th 1775, her parents George and Cassandra Austen were wealthy members of England’s aristocracy. She was part of a large family and had six brothers, James, George, Edward, Henry Thomas, Francis William and Charles John, she also had one sister, Cassandra Elizabeth. Austen was sent to Oxford to be educated with her sister in 1783, later in the year the siblings moved with their tutor, Mrs. Ann Crawly to Southampton.
Following the tutorage the siblings were sent to a boarding school in 1785. However, they were withdrawn from the school in December 1786, as their parents were unable to afford the educational fees required for them both. Following this, the remainder of Austen’s education was self-taught, from reading books under the supervision of her liberal father.
As a young adult, Austen continued to live at the family home performing the roles expected of woman of her standing by society. These activities included playing the fortepiano, providing assistance to her mother in the supervision of the servants and visiting friends and relatives during childbirth and on their deathbeds. She penned her earliest novel, “Lady Susan”, during the two year period between 1793 and 1795. Lady Susan, a short epistolary novel, is unlike much of the novelist’s later books and is often hailed as her most sophisticated and ambitious literary outing.
Following the completion of Lady Susan, Austen began work on her first full length novel under the title of “Elinor and Marianne”. The novel was never published. In 1796 Austen began to write her second novel “First Impressions”, the first draft of which she had completed by August of 1797 aged just 21. First Impressions later became “Pride and Prejudice”.
Following the completion of the first draft, Austen’s father began to make efforts to get the transcript published. He wrote to an established London based publisher, Thomas Cadell. The letter was quickly returned, marked with the stamp “Declined by Return Stamp”. During the period between November 1797 and mid-1798, Austen spent much time editing the transcript of Elinor and Marianne. She abandoned the novel’s epistolary format in favour of a third person narrative and the early transcript began to resemble what would later become “Sense and Sensibility”.
After spending a number of months revising the transcript for Elinor and Marriane, Austen began to write her third novel. It was entitled “Northanger Abbey” and was a satire on the Gothic novels which were popular at the time. The novel was completed during 1799. During 1803 Austen was approached by the established publisher Benjamin Crosby. Crosby purchased the copyright for Northanger Abbey and promised Austen that he would provide an early publication and generate publicity through advertisements in the national press. Unfortunately for Austen, Crosby did little after purchasing the novel’s copyright, the novel’s manuscript remained unpublished in Crosby’s possession for thirteen years, until in 1816, when Austen repurchased the rights to the book.
In 1800 Austen moved to Bath, following her father’s decision to retire from the ministry. Austen was shocked at the decision, the shock impacted on her creativity and she was unable to recreate the productivity she had enjoyed during the years 1795 to 1799. Whilst living in Bath, she edited the manuscript for Lady Susan and began working on a new novel, “The Watsons”, which she later abandoned. The Watsons marked the plight of an invalid, penniless clergyman and his four daughters. A number of historians of Austen’s life, such as Tomalin, claim that Austen abandoned the book following her father’s death as her life had begun to resemble the plight of the books characters.
In 1802 Austen received her only known marriage proposal. The suitor was Harris Bigg-Wither, a recent graduate from Oxford. Initially Austen accepted the proposal on purely pragmatic grounds. Whilst Bigg-Wither was unattractive he provided Austen and her close family with many financial advantages, due to being heir to multiple family estates. Following a night’s sleep, Austen realised she had made an error accepting the proposition and withdrew her acceptance.
Austen’s brother Edward provided Austen, her sister and her mother a stable life in Chawton, following the financial instability which came in the wake of her father’s death. Whilst here, Austen began to regain her previous writing productivity. It was during her Chawton years that she became a published author and successfully published four novels. Through her brother, Henrys’ connections she met the publisher Thomas Egerton who agreed to publish Sense and Sensibility. Unlike Crosby he delivered on his agreement and the novel was published in October 1811. The novel was well received and the first publication had sold out by the end of 1813. Following the success of Sense and Sensibility, Egerton published a revised version of First Impressions, under the title of Pride and Prejudice in January 1813. The novel became an instant success sealing Austen’s name as a contemporary novelist.
Following on her previous literary success, Egerton decided to publish Mansfield Park in May 1814. Whilst the book was widely read publically it was largely ignored by literary reviewers. Following this slump in her success, Austen changed publishers to John Murray, who was a more widely known London publisher.
Murray published “Emma” during December of 1815, the book was an instant success. However, this success was overshadowed by the failure of a second publication of Mansfield Park. These two books were to be the last which were published during her lifetime. Two of Austen’s novels were published posthumously by Murray. The publication was arranged by her sister Cassandra and her brother Henry. The two novels, “Persuasion” and “Northanger Abbey” were published as a set in December 1817 and were instantly successful.
During the early part of 1816 Austen began to become unwell. It was an illness with which she would suffer until her death the following year. She attempted to continue writing despite the illness, however over time it began to incapacitate her, to the extent that by April 1817 she was bedridden. There is much debate as to the specifics of the illness, explanations include, Addison’s disease, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and bovine tuberculosis. Austen died aged just 41 in Winchester on July 18th 1817. This is not the first time the Google Doodle team have paid tribute to a great novelist with a Jane Austen Google Doodle. Other novelists to receive Doodles tributes include Mark Twain, H G Wells and Oscar Wilde.