There was nothing of the literary woman in the external affairs of her life and its conduct. Born on 16 December, 1775, at Steventon in Hampshire, of which her father was rector, and dying at Winchester on 18 July, 1817, she passed the intervening years almost entirely in the country. She lived with her family in Bath from 1801 to 1806, and at Southampton from 1806 to 1809. Later, she paid occasional visits to London where she went not a little to the play; but she never moved in “literary circles,” was never “lionised” and never drew much advantage from personal contact with other people of intellect. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon.
Persuasion may be regarded as Jane Austen’s most characteristic novel. If it lacks the sharp wit and the high spirits of Pride and Prejudice, and the wide scope of Mansfield Park, it reveals more than they do of the interest which the seeing eye may find in ordinary people. Therein lies Jane Austen’s individual quality. The tone of the novel, as a whole, is graver and tenderer than that of any of the other five; but woven in with its gravity and tenderness is the most delicate and mellow of all Jane Austen’s humour. In Persuasion, Jane Austen accomplishes more perfectly than in any other of her novels the task of revealing the interest which lies in the interplay of ordinary persons.
In the earlier novels, her wit diverts her readers with its liveliness; her later work shows a tenderer, graver outlook and a deepening of her study of character. Through all alike, there runs the endearing charm of a shrewd mind and a sweet nature.
Letitia Elizabeth Landon in "Romance and Reality", Chapter 17, 1831: ― I had not read Persuasion when the above was written. Persuasion, in my very humble opinion, is one of the most touching and beautiful tales in our language..
Charlotte Brontë (Letter to W. S. Williams, 1850): Whenever you send me a new supply of books may I request that you will have the goodness to include one or two of Miss Austen's - I am often asked whether I have read them, and I excite Amazement by replying in the negative - I have read none except Pride and Prejudice. Miss Martineau mentioned Persuasion as the best.
Stevenson has read all of Austen's novels for audiobook, in abridged or unabridged versions, and her experience shows in this delightful production. Though dominated by the intelligent, sweet voice of Anne Elliot the least favored but most worthy of three daughters in a family with an old name but declining fortunes Stevenson provides other characters with memorable voices as well. She reads Anne's haughty father's lines with a mixture of stuffiness and bluster, and Anne's sisters are portrayed with a hilariously flighty, breathy register that makes Austen's contempt for them palpable. Anne's voice is mostly measured and reasonable an expression of her strong mind and spirit but Stevenson imbues her speech with wonderful shades of passion as Anne is reacquainted with Capt. Wentworth, whom she has continued to love despite being forced, years before, to reject him over status issues. Listening to Stevenson, as Anne, describe a sudden encounter with Wentworth, one hardly needs Austen's description of how Anne grows faint Stevenson's perfectly judged and deeply felt reading has already shown that she must have. Even those who have read Austen's novels will find themselves loving this book all over again with Stevenson's evocative rendition ringing richly in their ears.