Category Archives: Austen family

This lonely kind of life

Jdad Yesterday was the anniversary of Jane’s birth during the cold winter of 1775 in the little village of Steventon.  In honor of that, here’s one of my favorite Austen family quotes.  This is George, Jane’s father, writing to his sister-in-law.  Cassandra Austen had gone to help her sister in childbirth.  George writes from his now-quiet rectory,

“I don’t much like this lonely kind of Life.”

And when he talked about the family possibly paying a visit, he said,

“I say we, for I certainly shall not let my Wife come alone, & I dare say she will not leave her children behind her.”

I love this.  You can just see the country rector, who didn’t marry until he was almost thirty-three, in his rather plain small house, missing his dear wife.

This lovely image of Jane and her dad is from Jane Odiwe’s web site, Austen Effusions, and is available as a gift card.

Quote is from Deirdre Le Faye’s Jane Austen: A Family Record, p. 23.

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Filed under Austen family, Family, father George, Marriage, mother Cassandra, Motherhood

Nobody brilliant

“A handsome young Man certainly, with quiet, gentlemanlike manners.–I set him down as sensible rather than Brilliant.–There is nobody Brilliant nowadays.”

letter to Cassandra, about John Plumptre, one of her niece Fanny’s love interests
September 23, 1813 [89]

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Filed under Austen family, Letters, Men, niece Fanny Knight, On being a gentleman

A great hurry

“I have received a letter from Frank . . . he is in a great hurry to be married, & I have encouraged him in it.”

letter to Cassandra
August 24, 1805 [45]

Jane’s brother Frank was in the navy–a regular Horatio Hornblower–he married Mary Gibson of Ramsgate the following July.  They had been engaged since 1804, but waited until he won a little more prize money to marry.  They had eleven children before Mary died.

Image from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. See their Austen family info.

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Filed under Austen family, brother Frank, Letters, Marriage

So many dear friends…

“My Uncle & Aunt drank tea with us last night, & in spite of my resolution to the contrary, I could not help putting forward to invite them again this Evening.  I thought it was of the first consequence to avoid anything that might seem a slight to them.  I shall be glad when it is over, & hope to have no necessity for having so many dear friends at once again.”

letter to Cassandra
April 23, 1805 [44]

It seems that one of the reasons Jane disliked Bath was the increased social obligations.  She preferred her quiet country life.

The silhouette is of Jane’s aunt, Mrs. Leigh-Perrot, from the Jane Austen Society of Australia web site.

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Filed under Austen family, Austen's friends, Letters, uncle and aunt Leigh-Perrot

Animated fooleries

” . . . there I was, & my Cousin George was very kind & talked sense to me every now & then in the intervals of his more animated fooleries with Miss Bendish, who is very young & rather handsome . . .”

letter to Cassandra, about a morning engagement in Bath
April 21, 1805 [44]

Not much here in this quote, but I love that phrase, “animated fooleries.”  This pic is my favorite tea room in Bath, the Bath Bun (across from Sally Lunn’s).

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Filed under Austen family, Flirting, Letters

Are there really such men in the world?

I want to post more from Mansfield Park, for Luciana’s sake, but I’ve been reading through Jane’s letters again and had to share this.

One of my favorite sets of letters is to Jane’s niece Fanny, as she is trying to decide whether or not to marry one very good but evidently slightly boring guy.  Here’s a snippet:

There are such beings in the World, perhaps, one in a Thousand, as the Creature You & I should think perfection, where Grace & Spirit are united to Worth, where the Manners are equal to the Heart & Understanding, but such a person may not come in your way, or if he does, he may not be the eldest son of a Man of Fortune, the Brother of your particular friend, & belonging to your own County.”

letter to Fanny Knight
November 18, 1814 [109] (emphasis mine)

I believe that guys like this are out there, but perhaps they may not come my way as often as I would like.


Filed under Austen family, Letters, Love, Men, Money, Money and Marriage, niece Fanny Knight

My own darling child

My boxes of books arrived Friday!

“I want to tell you that I have got my own darling Child from London;–on Wednesday I received one Copy, sent down by Falknor, with three lines from Henry to say that he had given another to Charles & sent a 3d by the Coach to Godmersham.”

letter to Cassandra, on receiving her first copy of Pride and Prejudice
January 29, 1813 [79]

(Unfortunately, I left my camera at my parents’ this weekend, so I’ve not been able to take pictures.)


Filed under Austen family, Letters, Pride and Prejudice, Writing

The Beautifull Cassandra

Yesterday was Labor Day here in the States — a day in which, in honor of work (or, rather, in honor of the common laborer), everyone takes the day off.  😉

More from Jane’s Juvenilia today.  This is her introduction to her sister for the story “The Beautifull Cassandra.”  This is from Volume the First (there are three in all), so Jane was somewhere between 12 and 15 when she wrote this.


You are a Phoenix.  Your taste is refined, your Sentiments are noble, and your Virtues innumerable.  Your Person is lovely, your Figure, elegant, and your Form, magestic.  Your Manners are polished, your Conversation is rational and your appearance singular.  If therefore the following Tale will afford one moment’s amusement to you, every wish will be gratified of
Your most obedient
humble servant
The Author”

I love this — “Madam You are a Phoenix.”  Is that really a compliment?  You certainly see Jane’s spirit here.

Thanks to for the silhouette of Cassandra Austen.


Filed under Austen family, Juvenilia, On being a lady, sister Cassandra, The Beautifull Cassandra

Jane on Mansfield Park

“Henry’s approbation hitherto is even equal to my wishes; he says it is very different from the other two, but does not appear to think it at all inferior.  He has only married Mrs. R.  I am afraid he has gone through the most entertaining part.–He took to Lady B. & Mrs. N. most kindly, & gives great praise to the drawing of the Characters.  He understands them all, likes Fanny & I think foresees how it will all be.”

letter to Cassandra
March 2, 1814 [97]

Jane had just come to London with her brother Henry, and they had read Mansfield Park along the way.  The previous two books she refers to are Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, which were published first.

Jane was writing from Henry’s home here at Henrietta Street in Covent Garden — now a clothing store.

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Filed under Austen family, brother Henry, Letters, Mansfield Park, Writing

In Memoriam

Img_0631_2Jane died on July 18, 1817, at this house on College Street in Winchester.  She was forty-one.  Jane and Cassandra were staying on the first floor (what we Americans would call the second floor) with the bay window.  The house is now a private home. (And I have been told that if you are ever in Winchester, please don’t knock and ask to see the room where Jane died — the couple who owns the house are tired of getting inquiries like that!  I can’t say that I blame them.)

This is from a letter Jane wrote to a dear friend a couple months before she died:

“In short, if I live to be an old Woman I must expect to wish I had died now, blessed in the tenderness of such a Family, & before I had survived either them or their affection.–You would have held the memory of your friend Jane too in tender regret I am sure.–But the Providence of God has restored me–& may I be more fit to appear before him when I am summoned, than I should have been now!”

letter to Anne Sharp
May 22, 1817 [159]

Ms. Place at Janites on the James has posted more information about Jane’s death, including a picture of her memorial in Winchester Cathedral.

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Filed under Austen family, Austen's friends, Christianity, Letters