Deb at Jane Austen in Vermont commemorates the passing of Jane Austen 194 years ago today. R.I.P. gilder of every pleasure.
via Jane Austen in Vermont
Vic at Jane Austen’s World remembers Jane Austen’s life with a book giveaway of In the Garden with Jane Austen.
You can also read my previous posts of Jane Austen’s passing:
© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Much has been written on the cause of Jane Austen’s lingering illness and untimely death in Winchester on 18 July 1817. I have a stack of biographies that I perused in search of a poignant passage that would express the tenor of this solemn day. Her great biographers Claire Tomalin, David Nokes and Elizabeth Jenkins give detailed accounts from family in attendance and their own conclusions. I find her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh’s interpretation from his A Memoir of Jane Austen simple and touching. Even though it is not elaborate or detailed, it is the only version from the view point of someone who actually knew her, and I find that unique and invaluable.
Throughout her illness she was nursed by her sister, often assisted by her sister-in-law, my mother. Both were with her when she died. Two of her brothers, who were clergymen, lived near enough to Winchester to be in frequent attendance, and to administer the services suitable for a Christian’s death-bed. While she used the language of hope to her correspondents, she was fully aware of her danger, though not appalled by it. It is true that there was much to attach her to life. She was happy in her family; she was just beginning to feel confidence in her own success; and, no doubt, the exercise of her great talents was an enjoyment in itself. We may well believe that she would gladly have lived longer; but she was enabled without dismay or complaint to prepare for death. She was a humble, believing Christian. Her life had been passed in the performance of home duties, and the cultivation of domestic affections, without any self-seeking or craving after applause. She had always sought, as it were by instinct, to promote the happiness of all who came within her influence, and doubtless she had her reward in the peace of mind which was granted her in her last days. Her sweetness of temper never failed. She was ever considerate and grateful to those who attended on her. At times, when she felt rather better, her playfulness of spirit revived, and she amused them even in their sadness. Once, when she thought herself near her end, she said what she imagined might be her last words to those around her, and particularly thanked her sister-in-law for being with her, saying: ‘You have always been a kind sister to me, Mary.’ When the end at last came, she sank rapidly, and on being asked by her attendants whether there was anything that she wanted, her reply was, ‘Nothing but death.’ These were her last words. In quietness and peace she breathed her last on the morning of 18 July, 1817.
On the 24th of that month she was buried in Winchester Cathedral, near the centre of the north aisle, almost opposite to the beautiful chantry tomb of William of Wykeham. A large slab of black marble in the pavement marks the place. Her own family only attended the funeral. Her sister returned to her desolated home, there to devote herself, for ten years, to the care of her aged mother; and to live much on the memory of her lost sister, till called many years later to rejoin her. Her brothers went back sorrowing to their several homes. They were very fond and very proud other. They were attached to her by her talents, her virtues, and her engaging manners; and each loved afterwards to fancy a resemblance in some niece or daughter of his own to the dear sister Jane, whose perfect equal they yet never expected to see. 
In celebration of the upcoming bicentenary decade of Jane Austen’s published works (1811-2011), a new permanent exhibit will open on April 10, 2010 at her resting place Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, England. The exhibit will reveal the renowned British author’s life and times in Hampshire and focus prominence to her grave site in the cathedral’s north aisle of the nave where she was buried on July 24th, 1817, five days after her death in Winchester at age 41.
The exhibition, which will document Jane’s home and social life, will be supported by a mix of permanent and rolling exhibits borrowed from collections around the world. From 10 April until 20 September items from Winchester Cathedral’s and Winchester College’s archives will be on display. Some of these items have rarely, if ever, been displayed publicly before and include her burial register, first editions and fragments of Jane’s own writing.
There will also be guided tours, specific exhibitions and talks taking visitors through her life and works to mark her legacy and set the stage for Jane’s bicentenary. Highlights include:
- 1 May: Special Evensong to mark Jane Austen’s life, and place in the Cathedral’s history
- 16-18 July: Jane Austen Weekend (including Regency Dinner) which coincides with the Jane Austen Society AGM
- 5-6 August: Outside theatre production of Pride and Prejudice
- Extended tours which take visitors beyond the Cathedral to see Jane’s final home just beyond the Cathedral Inner Close.
“Hampshire offers Jane Austen admirers a wonderful window into her life, at her birthplace of Steventon, where she lived at Chawton and in Winchester, her final resting place. The Cathedral provides the perfect space to bring together each element of Jane’s life through the public exhibition and to give prominence to her ledgerstone, which lies quietly in the north nave aisle and often goes unnoticed.
“Our focus will be on Jane Austen the person, her life, family and friends. So much of daily life during the regency period is so different to today, and we know this will reveal a totally different side to Jane Austen’s fans and followers.” Charlotte Barnaville, the Cathedral’s Marketing Officer
Additional information on the exhibit and visiting details can be found at the Winchester Cathedral’s website and the official Visit Winchester travel website. Now Janeites, yet another reason to rationalize the expenditure of a trip to England! ;-)
Virginia Claire Tharrington (center) visiting Chawton Cottage (2008)
The advenure continues as intern Virginia Claire Tharrington reports in on her experience at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England.
First Trip Home (trip to Chawton)
Friday I saw one of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. My Jane Austen class went on our study trip to Winchester and Chawton. It was amazing and one of the best days of my entire time here.
Virginia in front of Jane Austen’s last home on College Street, Winchester
We started out at the house on College Street in Winchester where Jane Austen spent her last days and died in Cassandra’s arms. Though we did not get to go inside the house because it is in private hands it was interesting to see this house that she spent her last months in. Cassandra had brought Jane to Winchester in 1817 to seek medical care but the doctors could barely help with the pain much less with the real problem (which is now believed to be Addison’s disease). The house is a simple building but it is beside the College and Jane’s bedroom is supposed to have overlooked the headmaster’s garden.
Virginia at the graveside of Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral
After this we went to Winchester Cathedral to see her grave. I thought it was very interesting that only 4 people attended her funeral, 3 brothers and a nephew. Cassandra did not attend her beloved sister’s funeral because in that time it was not customary for women to attend. This struck me as very sad because the sisters were so close and loving. Jane Austen’s grave was very interesting as well because though it is a loving memorial it does not mention anything about her being a writer. It is not till later many years after her death that the plaque was added that says Jane Austen was a famous writer. We stopped at her grave and I was very touched by it if only because it is sort of ironic that at her death she was only known as a parson’s daughter but yet she was buried in one of the largest churches in England. But now her fame has risen to the height that she is the most visited person in the church. We later saw Mrs. Austen and Cassandra’s grave at the little Church at Chawton and thought I think she would better fit there; I think she would be amused at the fact that she is so popular now. Winchester was a lovely town but I was very excited to move on to see Chawton Cottage and Manor House.
Virginia visiting Jane’s desk at Chawton Cottage, Hampshire
Chawton Cottage was a lovely house though it was much bigger than we had expected. I was most excited to see the little table where Jane had written her letter. I did get to see this and I even touched (though you are not suppose to). It was amazing to see this little table on which she rewrote or composed some of the world’s greatest novels. I thought it was also interesting that Jane and Cassandra shared a room while they were at Chawton though there were 6 bedrooms. I would like to believe that these beloved sisters took so much enjoyment from one another that they could not be parted and I suspect that some of their best times were at night when it was just the two of them. The house is most wonderful and that I am so glad we got to see it.
Virginia in front of Chawton Manor, Hampshire
Chawton Manor was our next and last stop. Chawton Manor was owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward and it was passed down until it fell into disrepair after WWI. We went to see the library which has been started by an America member of JASNA. It is a fantastic library of early women writers. We saw first editions of Cecilia which is where Jane Austen could have gotten the title for Pride and Prejudice. It was a wonderful resource and I hope to one day to go back and research there.
This trip has been so wonderful. It has really been a dream come true. To see where Jane wrote and loved so dearly. I can see why she was so eager to leave Bath and go back to the country. It felt almost as if I was going home, well maybe not to my home but to Jane’s which is just as good! : )
Cheers until next week.
Virginia Claire Tharrington
Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
Read Virginia’s previous reports in the Austen Intern archives