On this day, Jane Austen‘s birthday, it is interesting to reflect upon Jane’s birth. She was born in the December cold of 1775, sixteenth of December in the little village of Steventon, in Hampshire in England. She was her mother’s seventh child and she was born at home, without a doctor but with the help of a sister-in-law. Perhaps surprisingly for us, and our assumptions of the past, and to the delight of today’s breast feeding adherents, she was Continue reading
Tag Archives: Jane
Filed under Childhood
An aunt is a ‘person of consequence’
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, Continue reading
Filed under Family, Uncategorized
What about Cassandra’s first and only love?
More successful than Jane’s first love but with a tragic outcome was Jane’s sister Cassandra‘s love affair with Tom Fowle. Tom was a friend of the family having spent time as a pupil in Mr George Austen’s school. In some ways these young adults grew up together. The school was part of the house and George Austen’s pupils joined the Austen family, both the brothers and the sisters in family life.
Cassandra became engaged to Tom in 1792, but there was no money and so rather than a marriage, Continue reading
Filed under Romance and Marriage
Do children need to be geniuses to ensure a happy life?
Today we are bombarded in the news by research findings that tell us how to help our children reach their potential. We can apparently grow our children’s IQ a number of notches by playing Mozart to them in and out of the womb, breastfeeding them and reading to them as babies. We can begin them on Gymberoo and Little Maestros at a very young age and start them using a mouse on the computer before four. Now this is not undesirable, indeed it is to be admired. But does this make them happy?
The simple answer is we don’t know. But beware of geniuses. They are often spoon fed on their own importance and become prima donnas before you can get them into a school uniform. What on earth would Jane have to say about such modern little tykes? Continue reading
Filed under Childhood
Was Austen’s life sheltered?
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
Filed under Resilience
Why are men with babies chick magnets?
This is a long shot but being good to your family and being seen to be good to your family is attractive; those that care for others and treat their own with respect win the prize in the love stakes in the Austen world. (Maybe this sentiment lies behind the fact that men with babies appear attractive.) Beware of anyone who denigrates their own family. It is a warning bell loud and clear. This is not to say that one should be loyal to your family under any circumstances. One wouldn’t want to be like the Mafia! But it is a basic test when looking for friends or partners that Continue reading
Filed under Family
Jane’s mother’s little helper at Jane’s birth – Philadelphia Austen Hancock
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
Filed under Feminism