This page includes 50 of the most famous Jane Austen quotes from her novels and personal correspondence.

Jane Austen stands as one of the great humourist writers in British culture. It is her quiet irony, sometimes savage in its effects, that characterises her writing. Her technique of moving smoothly in and out of a range of points of view allowed her to make powerful statements about general behavior, and always with tongue in cheek. For example, when she opens Pride and Prejudice with this sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife she not only states the theme of the novel in a few words, but she places her reader right inside the anxious minds of all the women with multiple daughters, whose sole aim in life is to find a man to marry them. To them, it’s obvious that a wealthy man has to have a wife. And guess whose daughter each one is thinking of as that wife. The story goes from there. It is rightly recognised that that sentence is amongst the most brilliant openings of a novel ever.

Closeted in a small cottage for most of her short life, (she died in 1817 aged 41) and remaining a spinster, it’s amazing that anyone living this kind of life could have had the wisdom she demonstrated in her novels. She observed the minutia of the life of a small community and used those observations to bring her characters to life and make universal statements. So, here are 50 of those observations, in the form of quotes from Jane Austen’s writing:

1. The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

Northanger Abbey

2. Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

Mansfield Park

3. Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.

Mansfield Park

4. An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.

Pride and Prejudice

5. A ladys imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.

Pride and Prejudice

6. 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

7. Nobody minds having what is too good for them.

Mansfield Park

8. A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.

Mansfield Park

9.Is not general incivility the very essence of love?

Pride and Prejudice

10. Nothing ever fatigues me, but doing what I do not like.

Mansfield Park

11. 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

12. You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.

Pride and Prejudice

13. Those who do not complain are never pitied.

Pride and Prejudice

14. It isnt what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.

Sense and Sensibility

15. One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.

Emma

16. How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!

Persuasion

17. There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.

Emma

18. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn?

Pride and Prejudice

19. To flatter and follow others, without being flattered and followed in turn, is but a state of half enjoyment.

Persuasion

20. Business, you know, may bring you money, but friendship hardly ever does.

Emma

21. Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.

Pride and Prejudice

22. There are certainly not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.

Mansfield Park

23. I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other.

Emma

24. My sore throats are always worse than anyones.

Persuasion

25. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.

Pride and Prejudice

26. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of.

Pride and Prejudice

27. Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.

Emma

28. To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.

Pride and Prejudice

29. To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.

Mansfield Park

30. One cannot have too large a party.

Emma

31. Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.

Pride and Prejudice

32. It is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage.

Emma

33. There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.

From personal correspondence

34. One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.

Pride and Prejudice

35. The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!

Sense and Sensibility

36. Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

Mansfield Park

37. It is very difficult for the prosperous to be humble.

Emma

38. Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.

Northanger Abbey

39. I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.

From personal correspondence

40. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then.

Pride and Prejudice

41. Without music, life would be a blank to me.

Emma

42. Those who do not complain are never pitied.

Pride and Prejudice

43. Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.

Pride and Prejudice

44. Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.

Mansfield Park

45. There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.

Emma

46. I have not the pleasure of understanding you.

Pride and Prejudice

47. Marriage is indeed a manoeuvring business.

Mansfield Park

48. They are much to be pitied who have not been given a taste for nature early in life.

Mansfield Park

49. One man’s style must not be the rule of anothers.

Emma

50. It’s been many years since I had such an exemplary vegetable.

Pride and Prejudice

And that’s your lot for Jane Austen quotes, though if you’re after more info we do have a great biography of Jane Austen here. What do you think of the quotes – any we’re missing? Let us know in the comments below!

Jane Austen quote on sunset purple backgorund -


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