Tag Archives: Austen

Was Austen’s life sheltered?

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often when reading excerpts about Austen’s life, there is a sense that Austen lived a sheltered life; that somehow she was immune to the difficulties of life. In reading about her life it is insightful to learn just how tricky Continue reading

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Jane would recommend just one true attachment forever and ever wouldn’t she?

English: "To enquire after Marianne was a...

English: “To enquire after Marianne was at first his excuse” – Willoughby comments on his visits to the Dashwood cottage. Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. London: George Allen, 1899, page 50. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just in case you might be ready to throw up after last week’s post, here is another facet to the Austen Six that  shows the grittiness of life even it is not central stage. It is true that the Austen Six end with the happy couplings of a series of characters. And of course we expect that these characters will be soul-mates forever. Yet, life was precarious in the 18th century for an innumerable  number of reasons (death by childbirth is just one example); and there were many relationships that did not last the distance. The Austen universe is peopled with characters that have second attachments. And there are many instances where characters must learn to move on. They may have found that the love they had put their faith in has found a better offer.  But Austen shows the value of moving on. The past is a different set of circumstances but there are similarities to today.

 Pining after a lost love can be romantic but Jane often recommends a new attachment. Fed on a diet of Hollywood romances we can place too much emphasis Continue reading

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Jane’s mother’s little helper at Jane’s birth – Philadelphia Austen Hancock

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Jane’s birthday was yesterday and in her honour I ask: who was with Jane’s mother, when Jane was born? Interestingly it was her sister-in-law Philadelphia Austen Hancock, George Austen’s sister. From this we can assume that Phila, as she was called, was a well liked and trusted sister-in-law. George, Phila and Leonora were left orphaned and penniless but with family connections – their mother had been a baronet’s daughter. George used education as an avenue for advancement but this was not an option for Phila.  Denied an education as a path to advancement she initially stayed living in London with an aunt. She had no dowry and so had to work for a living, hence she was apprenticed to a milliner in Covent Garden. It must have been a big step down for this baronet’s granddaughter. At that time, many milliner shops around Covent Garden were actually Continue reading

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