Sense and Sensibility

1811 novel by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility is a novel by Jane Austen. It was her first novel, and was published in 1811. The novel is mostly about two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, and their life and loves. The story takes place in southern England in the 1790s.

The three volumes of the first edition of Sense and Sensibility, 1811

Austen paid to have the book published. The publisher got a commission on sales.[1] She made a profit of £140 (almost £5,000 in 2008 currency) on the first edition,[1] which sold all 750 printed copies by July 1813. A second edition was advertised in October 1813.

Characters in Sense and Sensibility

A 19th century illustration showing Willoughby cutting a lock of Marianne's hair
  • Henry Dashwood – a rich gentleman who dies at the beginning of the story. He is not able to leave an inheritance to his second wife and their three daughters. He asks John, his son by his first wife, to help provide some money for them to live on.
  • Mrs. Dashwood – the second wife of Henry Dashwood. She is now left very poor when her husband dies. Much like her daughter Marianne, she shows her emotions easily.
  • Elinor Dashwood – the sensible and quiet oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood. She becomes fond of Edward Ferrars, the brother-in-law of her older half-brother, John. She feels responsible to take care of her family, so she thinks about them more than about herself.
  • Marianne Dashwood – The romantic and eagerly expressive second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood. She is the object of the attentions of Colonel Brandon and Mr. Willoughby. She is attracted to the young and good-looking Willoughby and does not think much about the older, more reserved Colonel Brandon.
  • Margaret Dashwood – the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood. Also romantic and well-tempered but not expected to be as smart as her older sisters when she grows older.
  • John Dashwood – the son of Henry Dashwood by his first wife.
  • Fanny Dashwood – the wife of John Dashwood, and sister to Edward and Robert Ferrars.
  • Sir John Middleton – a distant relative of Mrs. Dashwood who, after the death of Henry Dashwood, invites her and her three daughters to live in a cottage on his property. Middleton, his wife, and their children are visited by his mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings. He and Mrs. Jennings are a jolly and gossipy pair, taking an active interest in the romantic affairs of the young people around them and trying to encourage good matches for them.
  • Lady Middleton – The proper and idle wife of Sir John Middleton, she is mostly concerned with mothering her four spoiled children.
  • Edward Ferrars – The elder of Fanny Dashwood's two brothers. He forms an attachment to Elinor Dashwood. Years before meeting the Dashwoods, Ferrars proposed to Lucy Steele, the niece of his tutor. The engagement has been kept secret because he is expecting that his family would not allow him to marry Miss Lucy Steele.
  • Robert Ferrars – the younger brother of Edward Ferrars and Fanny Dashwood.
  • Mrs. Ferrars – Fanny Dashwood and Edward and Robert Ferrars' mother. A bad-tempered, vain woman who embodies all the foibles demonstrated in Fanny and Robert's characteristics. She is determined that her sons should marry well.
  • Colonel Brandon – a close friend of Sir John Middleton. In his youth, Brandon had fallen in love with his father's ward, but was prevented by his family from marrying her because she was intended for his older brother. He was sent abroad to be away from her, and while gone, the girl suffered numerous misfortunes partly as a consequence of her unhappy marriage, finally dying penniless and disgraced, and with a natural daughter, who Colonel Brandon takes in.
  • John Willoughby – a nephew of a neighbour of the Middletons, a dashing figure who charms Marianne.
  • Charlotte Palmer – the daughter of Mrs. Jennings and the younger sister of Lady Middleton, Mrs. Palmer is very pretty and cheerful but empty-headed and laughs at inappropriate things, such as her husband's continual rudeness to her and to others.
  • Mr. Palmer – the husband of Charlotte Palmer who is running for a seat in Parliament in spite of his idleness and rudeness.
  • Lucy Steele – a young, distant relation of Mrs. Jennings, who has for some time been secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars. She carefully develops her friendship with Elinor Dashwood and with Mrs. John Dashwood. She is manipulative and scheming
  • Anne/Nancy Steele – Lucy Steele's elder sister.
  • Miss Sophia Grey – a rich heiress who Mr. Willoughby marries after he is disinherited in order to retain his comfortable lifestyle.
  • Lord Morton – the father of Miss Morton
  • Miss Morton – a rich woman whom Mrs. Ferrars wants her eldest son, Edward, to marry
  • Mr. Pratt – an uncle of Lucy Steele.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jane Austen's World. Pride and Prejudice economics: or why a single man with a fortune of £4,000 per year is a desirable husband. 2008.

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