40 Quotes from Jane Austen

Jane Austen. Need I say more? If you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, perhaps I do. 

Easily one of the most recognizable names in English literature, Jane Austen (1775-1817) wrote six novels in her lifetime: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816). Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published after her death. She had been writing Sandition when she passed away, leaving the work unfinished. 

Jane Austen’s stories provide social commentary on life in Regency England, particularly for the landed gentry. Her stories explore situations where unmarried, young women are dependent on male guardians and marriage for security and standing in society. These themes provide the backdrop for some of literature’s most timeless love stories, which could only be teased to life through Austen’s sparkling wit, distinctive style, and preference for realism. 

Her books have spawned and inspired movies, television shows, books, and even a whole genre, Regency romances. While her works have captured the hearts of millions since her death, Jane Austen wasn’t as appreciated during her lifetime. Her books, written under a pseudonym, saw modest success and earned her little fame, even if the Prince Regent, the future King George IV, did own a set of her novels. 

Jane Austen left more than six novels. She left two unfinished works, juvenilia, and letters to family and friends. It’s from these sources that we get little Austenian nuggets of wisdom, wit, romance, and hope for future generations. Here’s a few for your reading pleasure. 

“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.” – Persuasion

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Pride and Prejudice

“Angry people are not always wise.” – Pride and Prejudice

“Time will explain.” – Persuasion

“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.” – Sense and Sensibility

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” – Pride and Prejudice

“There is safety in reserve, but no attraction. One cannot love a reserved person.” – Emma

“Nothing ever fatigues me, but doing what I do not like.” – Mansfield Park 

“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.” – Letter to her sister, Cassandra, 1798

“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.” – Emma

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” – Pride and Prejudice 

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” – Persuasion

“I will be calm. I will be mistress of myself.” – Sense and Sensibility

“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” – Mansfield Park 

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” – Northanger Abbey

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” – Pride and Prejudice 

“A woman is not to marry a man merely because she is asked, or because he is attached to her, and can write a tolerable letter.” – Emma

“The Rich are always respectable.” – Letter to sister, Cassandra, 1798

“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.” – Persuasion

“Wisdom is better than wit, and in the long run will certainly have the laugh on her side.” – Letter to her niece, 1814

“Those who do not complain are never pitied.” – Pride and Prejudice 

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do. – Sense and Sensibility

“Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.” – Mansfield Park 

“Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.” – Northanger Abbey

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” – Pride and Prejudice 

“I do think that men can forget a lost love quickly. I know that women would find it much harder.” – Persuasion

“To love is to burn, to be on fire.” – Sense and Sensibility

“An artist cannot do anything slovenly.” – Letter to Cassandra, 1798

“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 

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” – Pride and Prejudice 

“Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.” – Persuasion

“I must make use of this opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other novels. I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their merits. My greatest anxiety at present is that this fourth work should not disgrace what was good in the others.” – Letter to a librarian, 1815


Emma by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Sandition by Jane Austen

Price and Prejudice by Jane Austen

North Anger Abbey by Jane Austen

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Memorable Jane Austen Quotes From Her Novels and Letters by Taylor Jasmine, Literary Ladies Guide

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