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Saturday, April 2, 2011

They lived happily ever after… and then?

As we all know, Jane Austen’s heroes and heroines all had their share of happy endings (and the villains perhaps less happy ones, deservedly). Although Jane Austen never wrote sequels to her novels and gave little indication of what would happen to her characters after the wedding, she is known to have shared these little secrets with her close friends and family, such as her nephews and nieces.

Let’s have a look at these intriguing nibbles of information!


Sense and Sensibility

Ann Steele, Lucy Steele’s older sister, who can’t stop talking about the eligible Dr Davies, never managed to catch him in the end.


Pride and Prejudice

One of the foolish younger Bennet sisters, Kitty, ended up marrying a clergyman near Pemberley, being close to Elizabeth and enjoying a wider, classier social circle.

The plain younger sister, Mary, married one of Uncle Phillips’ clerks and was content with the small social circle of Meryton.



Mr Woodhouse continued to live for 2 years after Emma’s marriage, keeping Emma and Mr Knightley from settling down at Donwell Abbey until then.

While playing the alphabet game that irritated many of those present, Frank Churchill placed some letters in front of Jane Fairfax, which she brushed aside in anguish, without reading them. These letters contained the word ‘pardon’.

The weak, poorly Jane Fairfax only lived for another 9-10 years after her wedding, succumbing to tuberculosis. 


Mansfield Park  

Aunt Norris played by Anna Massey Image

The ‘considerable amount’ of money given by the insufferable Mrs Norris to Fanny’s brother, William, was one pound.

Edmund Bertramplayed by Nicholas FarrellWilliam Priceplayed by Allan Hendrick

Jane Austen had a high regard for her heroes and felt that they were of higher calibre than the real men of her acquaintance. Edmund Bertram was along with Emma’s Mr Knightley, one of her two favourite characters.  “They are very far from being what I know English gentlemen often are”, she described (A Memoir, p. 118).

                                              *                      *                       *

Unfortunately, Jane Austen never got to share her secrets of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, as these novels were published after her death and those close to her never had the chance to give their views to the author.

If you had had the chance to meet Jane Austen, what would you have asked her about her characters?



Austen-Leigh, J-E. (2002). A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections. Oxford World Classics.

Le Faye, D. (2002) Jane Austen – The World of Her Novels. Frances Lincoln.


Images from:


  1. Anna,

    I'd like to ask her about Mr. Bennet.

  2. @Raquel: Oh yes, so would I. Will Mr Bennet outlive his wife and produce an heir to Longbourn instead of the odious Mr Collins?


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