It’s funny that when writers, who we deem as great today, wrote their books, they had no idea they would live for many years and even centuries to come. Classic books have a captivating charm that takes you back in time, where you sense and see everything while vicariously reading each page. Books by Jane Austen can have this exact effect on you even long after you finish them.
One of the exciting facts about Austen is that she started her writing career at the very age of 11. She was a unique child with an eccentric brain who understood women’s rights in society and grew to defend them through her stories. Feminism is one of the significant themes that Jane Austen’s novels tackle.
Her books were characterised by portraying sturdy female characters with far more depth than typical romantic storylines. The way she put her characters’ traits together received an appeal from audiences of that generation and others that came long after. Jane became a significant writer by writing only six books, yet she witnessed the publishing of only four of them during her lifetime.
What Makes Jane Austen’s Books So Popular?
Jane Austen lived back in the 18th century and is one of the world’s most renowned English authors of all time. She only had six full-length novels, which makes her career volume relatively thin, yet she received the same popularity as authors with much bigger chunks of work.
A lot of people have wondered what that element makes her novels stand out that much, especially after her death. Well, the uniqueness of Austen’s books lies in their being timeless. They were written during and for a particular time; however, the portrayal of her characters and profound perceptiveness have very much appealed to people from different eras.
Readers of different ages have found themselves quite relating to Austen’s characters, paving the way for seeing bits and pieces of oneself on every page. Jane Austen was also good at narrating her plots with a comedic twist. People found it interesting to get the jokes she threw between the lines, creating a suitable ironic feel without turning into a complete parody.
Austen’s Adaptations on the Big Screen
It was crystal clear that Jane Austen was fond of writing about women’s independence, freedom, and the significance of education. These elements were rare currencies at the time when she lived, yet she managed to write them with great brilliance. Therefore, Austen inspired many directors and movie creators, turning her novels into movies and series.
Sadly, Jane Austen didn’t live to see all of her works getting published. Interestingly, she never knew that her novels had received great admiration from people of different ages. Here is an enjoyable list of all the movies and series of Jane Austen’s most famous novels:
1. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Pride and Prejudice is one of the famous novels written by Jane Austen, dating to 1813. It was made into a movie that took the cinema world by storm upon its release in 2005. Women fell in love with the fictional Character of Mr Darcy, who had to sacrifice to end up with the love of his life, Elizabeth Bennet.
It is an excellent story about a couple who learned to overcome their biases and pride and accept one another for who they were. How Austen tackled the issue between different social classes is another factor that put the novel on a pedestal. The development of characters throughout the story is a pure fascination that keeps the readers and spectators hooked up.
2. Emma (2020)
Emma is another famous novel by Jane Austen, published two years after Pride and Prejudice in 1815. Austen outdid herself in combining several themes, including social status, marriage and love, and satire. She tackled the social issues that Emma faces during her self-proclaimed matchmaking job, where her meddling skills lead to finding her true love.
This novel was adapted into several movies throughout the years, with Gwyneth Paltrow portraying the main character in the 1996 version. A newer film was released in 2020, starring Anya-Taylor Joy, Johnny Flynn, and Mia Goth. The two movies have led fans to set many comparisons, yet both have unique elements that align with the times in which each was released.
3. Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Jane Austen always includes love stories and marriages in her novels. After all, marriage was seen in a different way when Austen lived. However, she had an uncanny way of portraying her female characters as strong and independent rather than helpless and clueless women waiting for their knights to save them.
It is an 1811 novel, but the movie was released in 1995, starring Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, and the beloved late actor Alan Rickman. In Sense and Sensibility, we see women’s strength despite going through tragic grief after losing a father and a brutal heartbreak.
This story narrates the challenges the Dashwood girls faced after their father’s passing. The two oldest sisters, Marianne and Elinor, took the responsibility of providing for their family, who, in the end, married their love interests and led a much better and happier life.
4. Mansfield Park (1999)
Mansfield Park was published in 1814 and was the third full-length novel that Jane Austen had written and published during her lifetime. This novel remained anonymous among reviewers for almost seven years after its release. However, it seems to have gained more recognition in modern times, turning into various movie adaptations.
Although Mansfield Park got many adaptations, with the oldest one being released in 1983, the 1999 remake was more popular. It is one of the rare times when Austen portrays her main female character, Fanny, as an obedient and quiet woman. However, she still had the wits of Elizabeth Bennet, the most decisive female lead Austen ever depicted.
The story revolves around a poor young lady, Fanny Price, whose impoverished family sends to her aunt and uncle’s household. They wanted her to grow up in a wealthy community. This book was deemed the first mature novel for Jane Austen to write, yet it received a lot of criticism given the controversy around the story.
5. Becoming Jane (2007)
This one is not a fictional story that Austen had written, but it is a real story she lived. This movie portrays the early life of Jane Austen herself before she rose to fame. She lived a love story that didn’t end happily like the ones in her books. This film will give you a glimpse into Austen’s life, and you will start to get an idea about how she put her plots together.
The movie illustrates Jane Austen’s early life, narrating her passion for writing and how her parents only cared about wedding her to a wealthy man. Not living up to her parent’s expectations, Jane falls in love with a charming Irishman that was anything but what her parents wanted. Tom Lefroy was impoverished, but he was everything she had ever dreamed of.
Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy perfectly played the roles of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. We loved seeing them together on the screen and rooting for their relationship to work out. However, it seems that Jane’s love story didn’t have a happy ending. Jane never married throughout her life. Yet, her lover, Tom Lefroy, married Mary Paul and named their first daughter Jane.
6. Love & Friendship (2016)
Love & Friendship is based on Lady Susan, one of the successfully written works by Jane Austen that took years to make it to the light. It was a novella written in the form of letters in 1794, but it was published in 1871. This literary work received many positive reviews, especially after it was adapted into a movie, where fans loved the film big time!
The story is about Lady Susan Vernon, a woman who has an excellent marriage plan for herself right after the passing of her husband. She travels to stay at her in-laws’ estate to make her plan work. Meanwhile, she pushes her daughter towards a marriage that was set to fail but will help in bringing her own to success.
The movie gave the story the propaganda it deserves, starring Kate Beckinsale, who played Lady Susan, Chloe Sevigny, Emma Greenwell, Tom Bennet, Morfydd Clark, and Xavier Samuel. It was released in 2016, representing captivating themes that blend comedy and wit.
7. Northanger Abbey (2007)
Austen completed Northanger Abbey back in 1803. It was her very first completed novel, but it was published in 1817 with Persuasion. These two novels were Jane’s last ones, and she didn’t even get to see them published, as she passed away six months before they were published in the same year. Northanger Abbey was among the novels that captivated readers from different generations for many years.
The story is a journey of self-discovery by 17-year-old Catherine Morland, a tomboy with a penchant for Gothic novels. She is a relatively innocent young girl who attempts to see the good in people despite their malicious behaviour. Her obsession with Gothic novels led her to confusion, so she couldn’t interpret that real-life events are pretty different from fictional stories. Throughout the book, she matures into a more experienced person with a better judgement of the people around her.
This novel was made into several adaptations throughout the years, with the first film in 1987 under the same name and another release in 1993, Ruby in Paradise. A remake was released in 2007 and is nearly the most popular among them. It stars Felicity Jones, JJ Feild, Carey Mulligan, and William Beck.
8. Persuasion (2022)
Persuasion was published with Northanger Abbey in 1817 after Austen’s death. It was published in December 1817, but it was dated 1818 instead. Although it was bound in one volume with Northanger Abbey, the two stories are utterly unrelated. It received many positive reviews from readers; thus, it was made into several adaptations.
The story revolves around Anne Elliot, who fell in love with Captain Fredrick Wentworth and got engaged. However, their engagement came to an end after her family and friends persuaded her to break it off with him. Eight years later, Wentworth comes back with more wealth and higher rank, trying to pick up with Anne where they left off.
Persuasion is a great period drama with a story about second chances and true love. It was made into several movies with the same name that were released in 1971, 1995, and 2007, and the last one was released in July 2022, starring Dakota Johnson.
9. Clueless (1995)
Yes, Clueless, the popular chick flick starring America’s sweetheart Alicia Silverstone is on this list. Definitely, the great Jane Austen didn’t write the script, yet the film was based on one of the novelist’s famous books, Emma. Many people are unaware of this fact, but the movie is basically narrating the story of Emma with a modern twist that suits the 90s.
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is rich, fashionable, and the most desired girl in high school. She devotes her time to a new student, helping her become more popular by giving her a makeover and teaching her new things. Cher is also a matchmaker for those around her, including her teachers. Along the way, she discovers that she always had genuine feelings for the one person who has always been around all along, Josh (Paul Rudd).