10 Jane Austen Facts for Austen in Autumn


Austen in Autumn has just begun, and we’re already having a lot of fun. Here are some fun facts about Jane Austen, the author who inspired us to host Austen in Autumn.

  1. Jane Austen never finished her basic schooling. She and her sister, Cassandra, stopped going to school during a Typhoid outbreak and never returned.
  2. Austen never married. However, she was proposed to by the brother of a friend and even said “yes.” But after sleeping on it, she changed her mind and rescinded her acceptance.
  3. While several people have gotten rich off of the Jane Austen cottage industry, Austen was not one of them. She received 110 pounds for writing Pride and Prejudice and 150 pounds for Sense and Sensibility. Even taking into account inflation, that’s still a paltry sum considering the popularity and influence of her work.
  4. Austen wrote anonymously because some still found women writing unseemly during her lifetime. Sense and Sensibility had the byline “by a lady” and Pride and Prejudice was credited “to the author of Sense and Sensibility.” Her brother outed her as an author after she passed away at the age of 41 when he posthumously published her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
  5. Jane Austen died at 41 and her exact cause of death has never been identified. Some think she died from Addison’s Disease, a failure of the adrenal glands. Others suggest she may have died from arsenic poisoning. (Before she died, Austen wrote a letter that described some symptoms that fit arsenic poisoning — specifically, discoloration. Of course, they fit other things, as well.)
  6. Not much of Austen’s personal life is known from Austen herself. In part because Cassandra, her sister, burned a number of the letters she and Jane wrote to one another before she died.
  7. When Austen died, she left behind an unfinished novel called The Waltons. Three Austen family members have since tried their hands at completing it. Catherine Anne Hubback, her niece, used it as the basis for The Younger Sister. Then Hubback’s granddaughter, Edith Brown, wrote another version: also called The Watsons. Finally, in 1977 another version of The Watsons was released — credited to Jane Austen & Another. This “another” was distant relation David Hopkinson.
  8. Several famous authors have also tried their hand at revisiting Austen’s work. A. A. Milne, the author behind Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too, wrote Miss Elizabeth Bennet: A Play from ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in 1936. Then, in 1940, Aldous Huxley of Brave New World fame cowrote a Pride and Prejudice movie.
  9. This latest Austen revival saw a distinct uptick in 1995: the year of Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility and the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. In the pre-Colin Firth era, publishers released about 10 Jane Austen-centric books (either revisions, unauthorized sequels or books with Austen as a character) per year. In 2012, there were more than 100 published.
  10. Austen’s prodigous influence essentially stems from six novels — the aforementioned four, as well as Emma and Mansfield Park — which were published from 1811 to 1817. These have spawned hundreds, even thousands, of books, articles, films, plays and more. For example, Stephanie Barron has written more novels starring Jane Austen as a detective (11) than Austen wrote in totality.

If you want to know more about Austen, check out all of our Austen in Autumn programs. You could also visit your local library. We have her books, biographies, movies and more.

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