And the answer: Jane Austen.
Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel, and she would go on to publish all of her written work anonymously while she was alive. Her work became well-known by word of mouth. After Austen's death in 1817, her brother Henry revealed to the world that she was the true author of her works.
Although Austen is now one of the most famous English authors of all time, the legendary writer was virtually unknown for her talents during her lifetime. Born in 1775 in England, Austen grew up under strict social expectations for motherhood and marriage. But that hardly stopped young Austen. Beginning at 12 years old, Austen wrote humorous works that sought to parody serious texts of the time. When Austen was 16, she wrote a series of textbook parodies titled “The History of England…by a partial, prejudiced and ignorant historian.”
By the time Austen was 23, she had already begun work on novels such as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey. Of these works, only two were published in her lifetime, as well as Mansfield Park and Emma. At just 41 years old, Austen passed away from what is now thought to be Addison’s disease, or Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. However, her death brought with it a larger recognition of her works. The timeless contemplations on missed opportunities, lost love and troubled family relationships brought Austen’s works to the forefront of the English canon, where it remains today. Many of her works have since been adapted into movies, television, and spin off works.
Learn more about Austen’s life and legacy here.