Persuasion is the last novel completed by Jane Austen. It was published on December 20, 1817, along with Northanger Abbey, six months after her death, although the title page is dated 1818.
The story concerns Anne Elliot, an Englishwoman of 27 years, whose family moves to lower their expenses and reduce their debt by renting their home to an Admiral and his wife. The wife's brother, Captain Frederick Wentworth, was engaged to Anne in 1806, but the engagement was broken when Anne was persuaded by her friends and family to end their relationship. Anne and Captain Wentworth, both single and unattached, meet again after a seven-year separation, setting the scene for many humorous encounters as well as a second, well-considered chance at love and marriage for Anne.
The novel was well-received in the early 19th century, but its greater fame came later in the century and continued into the 20th and 21st centuries. Much scholarly debate on Austen's work has since been published. Anne Elliot is noteworthy among Austen's heroines for her relative maturity. As Persuasion was Austen's last completed work, it is accepted as her most maturely written novel, showing a refinement of literary conception indicative of a woman approaching 40 years of age. Her use of free indirect speech in narrative was in full evidence by 1816.