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Cassandra Austen: Jane Austen’s Beloved Older Sister

Cassandra Austen, Jane’s beloved sister

If Cassandra were going to have her head cut off, Jane would insist on sharing her fate.”
Mrs. Austen

Cassandra Austen silhouette Cassandra Austen – middle name Elizabeth  – was born January 9, 1773, two years before her famed sister Jane. In a family of 6 boys, the girls became fast and close friends.

Education was extremely important to the Austens. The girls’ father, Rev. George Austen, ran a boarding school out of their home, the Rectory, in Steventon. In 1783, Jane and her older sister Cassandra went briefly to be taught by a Mrs. Cawley (the sister of one of their uncles). They were brought home after an infectious disease broke out in Southampton. In 1785-1786 Jane and Cassandra went to the Abbey boarding school in Reading, which apparently bore some resemblance to Mrs. Goddard’s casual school in Emma. (Jane was considered almost too young to benefit from the school, but their mother is reported to have said that “if Cassandra’s head had been going to be cut off, Jane would have hers cut off too”.) This was Jane Austen’s only education outside her family. Within their family, the two girls learned drawing, to play the piano, etc.

Steventon Church Jane and Cassandra Austen returned home and lived at the Rectory, an integral part of their community until

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