It is a truth universally acknowledged that . . . people love Jane Austen quotes. Though, if you love Jane Austen, your head helpfully supplied the proper end to that famous first line of Pride and Prejudice. Before we share some of the best Jane Austen quotes though, let’s take a look at the author herself.
All About Jane Austen
Born in England in 1775, Jane Austen lived a short life. Like the lives of her protagonists, it was a quiet life. The daughter of a country rector, Austen enjoyed dancing and parties. She was extremely close with her only sister, Cassandra, and the two wrote many letters when apart. Cassandra, who survived Jane, would go on to burn most of this correspondence before her own death, but the remaining letters reflect Jane Austen’s strong and playful personality.
Although writing was not viewed as an acceptable occupation, Austen wrote determinedly, but her early publishing attempts were thwarted. Finally, at 35, Austen published Sense and Sensibility. Instead of a name, the author was merely “A Lady.” Austen would continue to publish under this pseudonym, but due to her growing success, her third published novel, Emma was dedicated “To his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent . . . . by His Royal Highness’s Permission.” While Austen’s letters reveal a strong distaste for the Regent, she recognized the power of his endorsement in her dutiful dedication.
Although Jane Austen’s literary life was cut short —she died at 41 from what many believe to be Addison’s disease— she left six novels that have all become classics as well as other writings and correspondence. The following are some of the best Jane Austen quotes from her novels.
The Best Jane Austen Quotes
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.Northanger Abbey, 1817
Readers will recognize the humor in this quote since Northanger Abbey’s protagonist, Catherine Morland, suffers from an overactive imagination thanks to her reading habits! One could almost say,
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn?Pride and Prejudice, 1813
While neighbors feature in all of Jane Austen’s novels, Emma takes the most probing look at them since its sheltered protagonist doesn’t see much of the world, thanks to her hypochondriac of a father.
Jane Austen Quotes: Emma
One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.Emma, 1815
Emma certainly struggles to understand or feel empathy for others, and her personality gathers both admirers and critics. You might have seen this next saying quoted, ironically, during the pandemic.
Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.Emma, 1815
Of course, it does not make sense without this quote —lest you imagine Emma to be a homebody:
One cannot have too large a party.Emma, 1815
The younger Bennet sisters of Pride and Prejudice would heartily agree with this quote, provided there would be dancing. For as Austen shrewdly observes:
To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.Pride and Prejudice, 1813
However, she didn’t just focus on life’s pleasures and neighbors, and her philosophy can be fun to quote.
Jane Austen quotes about friendship
It’s such a happiness when good people get together.Emma, 1815
Though often quoted, this line ironically falls in the midst of a long stream of rather boring conversation as the talkative Miss Bates chatters on. But, as Austen would observe,
Resignation to inevitable evils is the duty of us all.Pride and Prejudice, 1813
On the other hand, when resignation will not do,
There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.Pride and Prejudice, 1813
If you’re like this writer, you can definitely relate to that sentiment! Though as we close, let us finish with this advice from another favorite Jane Austen novel.
Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.Sense and Sensibility, 1811
Happiness, patience, and hope. These and many more emotions, including laughter can be gained within the pages of Jane Austen’s novels. Though Jane Austen, listening, would add with a smile,
How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.Persuasion, 1817
While these are some of the best Jane Austen quotes, what others would you add? Comment below to share! Also, if this list inspired you to read, remember that Good Writers are Readers. If you’re in the mood for more quotes, don’t miss our Best G. K. Chesterton Quotes.