Saturday, 9 January 2010

On this day...

Cassandra Austen, beloved sister of Jane, was born in 1773. Two years older than Jane, the sisters were inseparable during their early years and were sent to be educated together, despite Jane being possibly too young to benefit from it. Her mother later said of the incident, 'if Cassandra's head had been going to be cut off, Jane would have hers cut off too'. In 1794, Cassandra became engaged to Thomas Fowle, yet it was to end in tragedy; he died three years later of Yellow Fever in the Caribbean, leaving Cassandra £1000. She was said never to recover from such a blow and, like Jane, did not marry. Many believe that such a loss of love by an older sister are reminiscent of a Jane Bennet or a Elinor Dashwood. Indeed Jane appeared much influenced by her sister, and it was during their living together in Chawton, that Jane penned five of her six most famous novels. Cassandra died in 1845, at the age of 72, outliving her sister by 28 years, on whose death she said; 'I 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, and it is as if I had lost a part of myself'

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