Jane Austen was born on a snowy winter’s night at Steventon Rectory at Hampshire, on 16 December 1775. She was the daughter of clergyman George Austen and Cassandra Leigh, who had eight children: James, George, Edward, Henry, Francis (Frank), Cassandra, Jane and Charles.
The rectory at Steventon had a front door which opened into a small parlour, where Mrs Austen sat busily making and mending clothes. A dining or common sitting-room was at the front of the house, and George Austen had a study overlooking the garden.
Jane was very happy living at Steventon. She had the run of her father’s extensive library (over 500 volumes), and her family encouraged her to write - Austen’s juvenilia and early satirical works are full of fun. Early versions of her novels Sense & Sensibility (Elinor and Marianne), Pride and Prejudice (First Impressions), and Northanger Abbey (Susan) were all written at Steventon.
Jane shared a bedroom with her sister Cassandra upstairs, where there was another small sitting-room or ‘dressing-room’ which, Jane’s niece Anna Lefroy recalled, ‘opened into a smaller chamber in which my two aunts slept. I remember the common-looking carpet with its chocolate ground, and painted press with shelves above for books, and Jane’s piano, and an oval looking-glass that hung between the windows; but the charm of the room with its scanty furniture and cheaply painted walls must have been... the flow of native wit, with all the fun and nonsense of a large and clever family’ (W. & R.A. Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters, Smith, Elder & Co., 1913).