One of my favorite quotes to celebrate Jane Austen is from Rudyard Kipling's short story The Janeites:
Jane lies at Winchester – blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made!
The world would indeed be a poorer place without the existence of Jane Austen. She has changed the course of literature and even the world with her gifts and talents – this unknown young woman from a tiny village in the English countryside who loved her work and had faith enough to send it out into the world 200 years ago!
The winter of 1775 was frosty and gloomy, but on the 16th of December the naturalist Gilbert White, who lived in the nearby village of Selbourne, recorded, "Fog, sun, sweet day." Could there have been more perfect perfect weather for the birth of the girl who would grow into one of the most clear-sighted and affectionate people, bringing sunshine into the lives of those who knew her and those millions of people who would fall in love with her stories?
Her father, the Reverend George Austen, wrote in a letter that, "everything was soon happily over" and that she was to be "a present plaything for her sister Cassy and a future companion. She is to be Jenny."
Jane Austen wrote the most brilliant novels in the world, but she did so much more than that. As her father had predicted, she was a companion to her sister, and grew to be a wise and loving woman – which may be why her writing is still so beautifully deep and clear today.