Saturday, July 18, 2009


No, it's not what you thought. I'm not burnt out on Austen and ready to put her to rest now that I've finished my dissertation on her works. Today is the anniversary of her death--July 18, 1817. Austen died at the young age of 41, most likely of Addison's disease, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral. Here's a picture of her tombstone:

In memory of
youngest daughter of the late
formerly Rector of Steventon in this County.
She departed this Life on the 18th July 1817,
aged 41, after a long illness supported with
the patience and the hopes of a Christian.

The benevolence of her heart,
the sweetness of her temper, and
the extraordinary endowments of her mind
obtained the regard of all who knew her, and
the warmest love of her intimate connections.

Their grief is in proportion to their affection
they know their loss to be irreparable,
but in the deepest affliction they are consoled
by a firm though humble hope that her charity,
devotion, faith and purity have rendered
her soul acceptable in the sight of her

If you'll notice, her epitaph never even mentions that she was an author.


Alex said...

In reference to your final comment: is that a good or bad thing that her vocation was never mentioned, in your opinion?

Stephanie said...

Rather than good or bad, I think it's a sad thing. There's lots of conjecture about why it's not mentioned, but I think it probably has a lot to do with how people of that era thought of women writers. It was still a little scandalous, a little "forward" for a woman to publish. None of her novels were published listing her name as the author until Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published posthumously with an epitaph written by her brother naming her as author.