In Memory of Jane Austen ~ July 18, 1817

[I append here the post I wrote last year on this day]

July 18, 1817.  Just a short commemoration on this sad day…

No one said it better than her sister Cassandra who wrote

have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed,- She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, & it is as if I had lost a part of myself…”

(Letters, ed. by Deidre Le Faye [3rd ed, 1997], From Cassandra to Fanny Knight, 20 July 1817, p. 343; full text of this letter is at the Republic of Pemberley)

There has been much written on Austen’s lingering illness and death; see the article by Sir Zachary Cope published in the British Medical Journal of July 18, 1964, in which he first proposes that Austen suffered from Addison’s disease.  And see also Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A life, “Appendix I, “A Note on Jane Austen’s Last Illness” where she suggests that Austen’s symptoms align more with a lymphoma such as Hodgkin’s disease.

The Gravesite: 

Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral

….where no mention is made of her writing life on her grave: 

It was not until after 1870 that a brass memorial tablet was placed by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh on the north wall of the nave, near her grave:

It tells the visitor that:

Jane Austen

[in part] Known to many by her writings,
endeared to her family
by the varied charms of her characters
and ennobled by her Christian faith and piety
was born at Steventon in the County of Hants.
December 16 1775
and buried in the Cathedral
July 18 1817.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

The Obituaries:

David Gilson writes in his article “Obituaries” that there are eleven known published newspaper and periodical obituary notices of Jane Austen: here are a few of them:

  1. Hampshire Chronicle and Courier (vol. 44, no. 2254, July 21, 1817, p.4):  “Winchester, Saturday, July 19th: Died yesterday, in College-street, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen formerly Rector of Steventon, in this county.”
  2. Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (vol. 18, no. 928, p. 4)…”On Friday last died, Miss Austen, late of Chawton, in this County.”
  3. Courier (July 22, 1817, no. 7744, p. 4), makes the first published admission of Jane Austen’s authorship of the four novels then published: “On the 18th inst. at Winchester, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen, Rector of Steventon, in Hampshire, and the Authoress of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.  Her manners were most gentle; her affections ardent; her candor was not to be surpassed, and she lived and died as became a humble Christian.” [A manuscript copy of this notice in Cassandra Austen’s hand exists, as described by B.C. Southam]
  4. The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle published a second notice in its next issue (July 28, 1817, p. 4) to include Austen’s writings.

There are seven other notices extant, stating the same as the above in varying degrees.  The last notice to appear, in the New Monthly Magazine (vol. 8, no. 44, September 1, 1817, p. 173) wrongly gives her father’s name as “Jas” (for James), but describes her as “the ingenious authoress” of the four novels…

[from Gilson’s article “Obituaries”, THE JANE AUSTEN COMPANION [Macmillan 1986], p. 320-1]  

Links to other articles and sources:

Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont

7 thoughts on “In Memory of Jane Austen ~ July 18, 1817

  1. Thanks for a detailed and informative post, Deb. I didn’t know the importance of today until now. All the details, photos, and links you’ve provided here are helpful for me to read further. It’s a sad day and as I see her unfinished manuscript The Watsons fetching $1.6 million, I just feel such a loss… if only Jane had lived a few years more, if only she’d known how popular she’d be… that would have been such a relief for her, and I’m sure would drive her to write some more novels to her heart’s content, and for her posterior to enjoy.


    • Thanks Arti for stopping by! — it is difficult to watch her works fetch such large sums when she struggled during her own life to earn just a little “pewter” – and I do wish she might have finished Sanditon and The Watsons – it is such a let-down to not know how she might have worked through them – alas! why there are the continuations I suppose!

      I enjoyed your post on the visiting Duke and Duchess very much by the way – a nice personal touch – they both do seem so very personable don’t they? – and I loved that they stayed in the rustic spot rather than a grand hotel!

      My husband and I were in Tadoussac [north of Quebec City] whale-watching – then up along the fford to Saguenay – absolutely beautiful! – and almost as far away from you as can be and still be in Canada! My French is VERY rusty, and English is rarely in view up there, so we had some quite delightful encounters communicating!

      Thanks again Arti for stopping by,


      • Just found out I left out the word ‘million’… The Watsons fetched $1.6 million. And what an exciting adventure to go whale-watching in Quebec. I had thought of going on such a boat tour in Vancouver but as one who has severe motion sickness, I still haven’t mustered enough courage to go. Glad you had a swell time!


      • Hello again Arti – I added the “million” in its proper place – and did you mean a great pun with “a swell time”?! – indeed we did hit a number of swells, but none the stomach-turning ones you mention. Trust me, you will so enthralled, you will not think at all of your insides! Try it!


  2. Pingback: In Memory of Jane Austen ~ July 18, 1817 (via Jane Austen in Vermont) « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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