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Anthea Bryant gave an enthusiastic and interesting talk, on Jane Austen in Kent, in true showbiz (...the show must go on...) fashion, due to the Slide Projector deciding not to work for the evening!

Jane was the 2nd eldest of her immediate family which was large: six brothers—James, George, Edward, Henry Thomas, Francis William (Frank), Charles John; and one sister, Cassandra Elizabeth. Jane lived at Steveton, Hampshire, for 25 years, in a friendly, family, fun loving environment. There were no railways or communal time. Ramsgate was 25 mins ahead of London, who were 25mins ahead of Bristol. Time was standardised at approx 1860. 8 million people lived in the UK.

Around this time, was a Coadestone (like marble) factory, (used for statues) run by a woman. Tolls at Sandwich ref oxen, donkey etc everything moved by water or foot.

Only picture of Jane is a Miniature of her in the National Portrait Gallery. Angelice Kaufman, born in Switzerland, looked like Jane. David Garrick – made theatre respectable for women. Importance of people - Jane – Father’s sister @ Philadelphia.

In her lifetime, a woman invented over arm bowling for cricket & sugar was valued like gold / petrol is today: big business. Her books mirrored life e.g. Northanger Abbey & her first books stressed the importance of marriage & the latter were more sensitive e.g. Mansfield Park. She had been writing her last book Sandington, when she died, so someone else had to complete it.

Jane played piano for 1 hour before breakfast each day & copied out of music books. She was also a very good seamstress.The harp was often mentioned in her books & she used an anonymous author’s name. Jane contracted Diptheria when she was young & nearly died. She had a flirtation at 25 & did have chances to marry. When her Father retired as a Clergyman, soon after the family moved to Bath, where Jane didn’t write for 4 years & the piano was sold.

Jane lived on £42p/a and one of her niece’s lived at Chilham, Kent. After Jane’s death aged 42, her sister Cassandra burnt some of Jane’s letters & her Father sold Pride & Prejudice. The Prince Regent ordered some of her books & he requested that ‘EMMA’ be dedicated to him.Jane gave ¼ of her fortune to the Church. She was 1 of 5 women buried in Winchester Cathedral, but was not mentioned as an Author, as wasn’t famous then. In Victorian times, a Plaque & window was dedicated to her, depicting St David with a harp and is mentioned in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.

There is a Jane Austen Society, for those interested.

Last Revised: 10 June 2007

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