Released by Thomas Egerton in 1811, Sense and Sensibility was Austen’s first published novel, written in its initial draft as many as thirteen or fourteen years previously. The essential plot concerns the varying love interests of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne disadvantaged by a vindictive disinheritance after the death of their father. In particular, should Marianne marry the gentlemanly Colonel Brandon or the dashing John Willoughby.
The title makes reference to the two sisters, noting the distinction between living a sensible life – Elinor – and one ruled by sensibility – Marianne. In some ways it serves to contrast the Romantic age denoted by Marianne with a more logical staid existence, though whether this was Austen’s intention is a point for discussion.