5 Pieces of Trivia about Jane Austen’s Life

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  1. She had a brother before she was born called George, who under mysterious circumstances, disappeared before she ever got to know him on a more personal level. Some critics say he suffered from a mental disability, while others say he had a hearing impairment both which might have caused a restriction to the progress of his other siblings in the house. Thus he was decidedly sent away by his parents and to this day one has never fully discovered as to what really happened to him.
  2. Contrary to the the popular image we have of a very modest and moral Jane, a lady (Mrs Mitford) in her society in Steventon once described Jane to be ‘the prettiest, silliest, most affected husband-hunting butterfly she ever remembered’.
  3. In her Sister in law Anne Lefroy’s earliest accounts about the memories of Jane Austen she mentioned that Cassanda Austen (Jane Austen’s mother) once stated how ‘if Cassandra’s (her sister) head had been going to be cut off Jane would insist on having hers cut off too’. This was in response to her protests of being sent to school with her sister in Reading, as the idea of separating from her was unbearable for Jane. This was one of the few initial examples of the closeness between Jane and her sister Cassandra which carried on till the very end of her life.
  4. Her short story ‘Henry and Eliza’ that she composed during her early teenage years portrayed the protagonist heroine’s starving children ‘biting off two of her fingers’ in order to feed themselves.  There is a somewhat perturbing quality to her story, and the earliest signs of Jane having extremely wild and unconventional ideas. This kind of imagination cannot simply justify a kind of pastoral or societal domestic life portrayed in most of her later published novels, and there is definitely more of a metaphorical or allegorical meaning to her books.
  5. Her interaction with her cousin and later sister in law Eliza might have been the reason she was familiarised with the world of high society life, of flirtation and marriage. It was also probably the reason behind her very expressive wit and irony for this kind of a society, which she at the same time found very intriguing indeed. Whilst visiting Eliza in London she wrote to her sister Cassandra ‘and I begin already to find my morals corrupted’. This may have been considered a joke, but on the other hand it also showed her sheer enjoyment in being at the heart of a city much delighted for its eclectic social life.
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