7 interesting facts about Jane Austen

jane-austen-250.jpgA descendant of celebrated English author Jane Austen is launching a new foundation named after her relative to support literary projects.

Austen is the fifth great aunt of Caroline Jane Knight, who was born and raised in Chawton, Hampshire, England, which was the home of the Pride and Prejudice author for the last eight years of her life.

The Jane Austen Literary Foundation is a collaboration with the World Literacy Summit 2014, and will "raise money to promote literacy around the world," Knight said.

Austen, who is consistently recognized as one of the most important English-language literary voices in history, came of age in England's Georgian era, a time of immense social and artistic change. Here are seven interesting facts you may not know about Austen's life.

•    Austen was one of eight children -- she had six brothers and one sister, Cassandra, who was one of her closest friends.
•    As a youth, she caught typhus and almost died.
•    By age 23, Austen had finished the original versions of Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice.
•    Austen never married, but she once accepted a marriage proposal from the wealthy brother of a close friend. She turned him down the following day after coming to terms with the fact that she didn't love him.
•    Austen died at age 41 of illness after a slow, painful decline in physical condition. The type of illness has never been confirmed, but researchers have speculated Hodgkin's lymphoma, bovine tuberculosis, or a delayed relapse of epidemic typhus as strong possibilities.
•    In Austen's lifetime, all her works were published anonymously. Her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, was credited "By a Lady." Her next book, Pride and Prejudice, was credited to "The Author of Sense and Sensibility."
•    The title of Pride and Prejudice was inspired by the book Cecilia by Fanny Burney. One of the characters says, "The whole of this unfortunate business," said Dr Lyster, "has been the result of pride and prejudice. [...] if to pride and prejudice you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to pride and prejudice you will also owe their termination.'