Lady Susan is a short epistolary novel by Jane Austen, possibly written in 1794 but not published until 1871.
The main character, at around 30 to 40 years old, she is a widow of just a few months, who is known to flagrantly manipulate and seduce single and married men alike. She uses flirtation and seduction to gain her way through life. As a widow and a mother, her main goals are to quickly marry off her daughter Frederica (whom she despises and regards as stupid and stubborn) to a rich enough man, and to marry an even better match herself. Mrs. Vernon describes her as "...really excessively pretty. I have seldom seen so lovely a woman as Lady Susan. She is delicately fair, with fine grey eyes and dark eyelashes; and from her appearance one would not suppose her more than five and twenty, though she must in fact be ten years older. I was certainly not disposed to admire her...but I cannot help feeling that she possesses an uncommon union of symmetry, brilliancy and grace." Lady Susan is extremely cold towards her daughter, for whom she feels little or no affection: she calls her "a stupid girl, and has nothing to recommend her." It is possible that Jane Austen drew on the character of the mother of her neighbour, a beautiful Mrs. Craven, who had actually treated her daughters quite cruelly, locking them up, beating and starving them, till they ran away from home or married beneath their class to escape There is an ironic contrast between the beautiful but determinedly chaste Susannah of the Old Testament and Lady Susan.