Jane was close to her siblings and her siblings’ children. Her first nieces, Fanny and Anna, held a special place. Fanny was “almost another sister”.
Jane Austen took being an aunt seriously. When writing to a younger niece Caroline, in her later life she says,“Now that you are become an aunt, you are a person of consequence”.
Is Austen, recognising something that psychologists and social scientists are now revealing in their research? That having a significant role model like an aunt or uncle, can make a difference in young people’s lives.
She enjoyed being part of the large extended family. While visiting Edward she writes to Cassandra,
“it is pleasing to be among people who know one’s connections & care about them”.
Being an aunt is such a special connection. It is a privilege to be allowed the opportunity to be important in others’ lives. In the west, since the 1950s we have often emphasised the nuclear family, while other cultures have held on to the extended family. Now that the emphasis on the small nuclear family is waning, aunts and uncles (along with friends and all other connections) can be appreciated for the important role they play.
- All About Aunts (wordwenches.typepad.com)
- Book Diva Review: A Memoir of Jane Austen (bookdiva.wordpress.com)
2 responses to “An aunt is a ‘person of consequence’”
So true. Even if a nuclear family does exist, people still need the relationships with extended family, including aunts/uncles. Role models are essential for young people. From my personal experience, I love the relationships I have my nieces & nephew. Can’t wait to see them this weekend!
Absolutely! I was thinking of all the people I know who are wonderful aunts and uncles. They make such a contribution. Lets lobby for a “thank an aunt or uncle in your life” day!