From Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam to Emma and George, it seems like Jane Austen loved to give her characters a happy ending, but did the author every find love of her own? Her heroines usually found worthy husbands and lasting love, but was Jane Austen ever married herself? She might have know great love, but she never officially said "I do."
Born in 1775, Jane Austen lived during the Regency period in England, an era where it was very uncommon for a woman to go her whole life without getting married. Despite the expectations of her time, Austen died at age 41 without having ever taken a trip down the aisle. As reflected in her letters, many of which she wrote to her beloved sister and trusted confidant, Cassandra, Austen thought very practically about marriage and its benefits, and she even carried a flame for a few different men, but neither her heart nor her mind convinced her to become a wife. Instead, Austen stayed with her family her entire life, first living with her parents, and later, after her father's death, her brother. When she died in 1817, Austen was 41, unwed, and childless. While she might not have left a family of her own behind, she did leave a literary legacy for readers to enjoy for centuries to come.
Just because Jane Austen never married, doesn't mean she didn't know romance. Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about the author's love life, because unlike her famous heroines, her life was not an open book.
1. She Had A Flirtation With Thomas Lefroy
While it wasn't exactly as steamy as it seemed in the Anne Hathaway movie Becoming Jane , Jane Austen and Irish politician Thomas Langlois Lefroy are said to have had a romance, but nothing ever came of it. Lefroy even named his eldest daughter Jane, but whether her namesake was Austen or Lefroy's mother-in-law isn't entirely clear. What is clear is that there was something between these two, but their love was not meant to be.
2. Money Influenced Her Romantic Decisions
While Austen was a romantic writer, her own attitudes towards marriage were much more practical. On more than one occasion, Austen made comments to her sister in letters that made it clear she saw the benefits of marriage from a financial standpoint. It was also well known that one of the reasons Austen didn't marry Lefroy because he didn't have the money to wed. Sometimes, the brain trumps the heart.
3. A Potential Suitor Mysteriously Died
When their father retired in 1800, the Austen family relocated to Bath. During her time their, Jane met and fell in love with a young man who intended to marry her. Unfortunately for Austen, their romance was doomed, and the young mysterious man died before they could be together.
4. She Was Engaged — For A Day
While staying with the Bigg family with her sister Cassandra in December of 1802, Harris Bigg-Wither asked for Jane's hand in marriage. Initially, she accepted his proposal, but after a sleepless night of regret, Austen fleed the estate after breaking it off. She was engaged for less than a day.
5. Jane And Her Sister Remained Unmarried
Like her book characters, Jane Austen was very close with her sister. They spent most of their lives together, and were each other's closest confidants. Although their brothers married, neither of the Austen sisters ever did. Cassandra was engaged, but her fiance, Thomas Fowle, died of yellow fever abroad before they could wed.
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