Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Jane Austen

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Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

Jane Austen
b. 1775, Steventon, Hampshire, England; d. 1817, Winchester, England

Ranked among the greatest literary geniuses of the English language, Jane Austen wrote six novels that have gained in popularity and critical respect far surpassing the moderate level of success they enjoyed in her lifetime. Austen received an uncommonly advanced education for a woman of her era, which may have influenced her decision to become an author. Her novels, published anonymously, made ordinary domestic life a compelling subject for fiction. Drawing on her own experiences among the English gentry, she cast a sharp eye on the social mores and courtship rituals that regulated women's lives. Her own life, on the other hand, was spectacularly ordinary: she never married and lived quietly with her family in Hampshire and then in Bath, a common setting for her novels. The numerous film and television adaptations of her works attest to their continuing appeal; her best-known and most reproduced novel is the astute comedy of manners, Pride and Prejudice (1813).

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