Today is the 235th birthday of British writer Jane Austen b.1775 – 1817. Austen is one of the most well-known female author of English Literature. Her shrewd observations, wry wit and social commentary give us an insight into Georgian society. She came from a close large consisting of Father George Austen, mother Cassandra Leigh and six brothers and one sister, Cassandra b. 1873. Much has been written about the author and her life on the fabulous Pemberley website
Jane Austen 1870 1869 engraving showing an idealized, young Jane Austen, based on a sketch by Cassandra Austen
Austen started writing when she was young but it wasn’t until 1811 that she achieved any success (Sense and Sensibility) this was followed by perhaps her most popular novel ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ 1813, then Mansfield Park 1814. Emma followed in 1816 and this was followed by Northanger Abbey and Persuasion which were both published posthumously in 1818. She began another book Sanditon but died before it was finished.
“As to my aunt’s personal appearance, hers was the first face I can remember thinking pretty. Her face was rather round than long, she had a bright, but not a pink colour a clear brown complexion, and very good hazel eyes. Her hair, a darkish brown, curled naturally, it was in short curls around her face. She always wore a cap.”
Recollections of Aunt Jane by Caroline Austen
It is impossible to really know exactly what Jane Austen looked like. Etchings and paintings have all been based upon this rudimentary sketch by Cassandra the authors sister. People who knew Jane are divided: some thought the sketch generally unlike her. However, in 2002 Forensic artist Melissa Dring attempted a definitive portrait of the author, which was unveiled at the Jane Austen centre in Bath, with this result:-
Jane Austen by Melissa Dring
In creating this work, Ms. Dring explains, “The natural starting point, then, had to be Cassandra’s sketch, which I reversed, as I decided to have Jane looking the other way, and also I needed to make her look a few years younger. Cassandra drew Jane at 35, and I had to make her aged 26-31, during her years in Bath. Above all, though, I wanted to bring out something of Jane’s lively and humorous character, so evident in her novels and all contemporary accounts of her. Cassandra’s drawing may have been quite like Jane physically, but has failed to catch her sparkle.”*
I suppose we’ll never know for sure what Jane Austen really looked like, but it’s fun to speculate 🙂
Meanwhile over on Bookstains – there are MORE Austen Celebrations plus a Poll!
Lots more portraits and info from here
Find out about Jane Austen the author here
Images from here here
video by ewell01 Thanks!