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Jane Austen’s Brothers

Jane Austen’s brothers

“A Family of [Eight] children will always be called a fine family, where there are head and arms and legs enough for the number. ”
-Jane Austen

Jane Austen had six brothers– each with different talents, each contributing to her work in some way.

James (1765-1819)

Often thought by the family to be the “literary one” (see his poem on Sense and Sensibility), one of Austen’s brothers James followed in his father’s footsteps attending Oxford university at the age of 14 in 1779. After his ordination in 1787, he and his brother Henry edited a university magazine called The Loiterer, which ran for sixty issues. (Some issues of The Loiterer are available on-line.) After his marriage, he became his father’s curate at Deane, and after his retirement, He took on the duties of the Steventon as well.

James was not Jane Austen’s favorite brother, though she did call him “good and clever”. He seems to have had a bit of melancholy about him, uncharacteristic of the other Austens. Perhaps it was turning from the excitement of Oxford to the retired life of a country Vicar. Perhaps it was seeing his literary pretensions lived out through his sister or the wealth acceded to by his younger brother. It is true that his life was not untouched by sorrow, as well. His first wife died when their daughter, Anna (1793-1872), was but two years old.

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