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Catherine Anne Hubback (1818 -1877)

“Now that you are become an Aunt, you are a person of some consequence & must excite great Interest whatever you do. I have always maintained the importance of Aunts as much as possible…” Jane Austen to her niece, Caroline Austen October 30, 1815 Catherine Anne Hubback Catherine Anne Hubback (nee AUSTEN) was the daughter of Sir Francis William Austen (1774 -1865), Admiral of the Fleet, and niece of  author Jane Austen (1775 -1817) Catherine Anne Hubback was the eighth child and fourth daughter off the eleven children born to Sir Francis Austen and his first wife, Mary Gibson. Catherine never knew her “Aunt Jane” as she died the year before Catherine Anne was born, but she grew knowing her celebrated  aunt’s work through her Aunt Cassandra, Jane Austen’s sister who was a frequent visitor Catherine met John Hubback (1811 -1885) , a barrister from a North country mercantile family at her father’s house, Portsdown Lodge, near Portsmouth. They were married in 1842 and had four children. The eldest, Mary, lived only long enough to be christened in 1843. They then had three sons, John Henry (1844 -1939), Edward Thomas (1846 -1924), and Charles Austen (1847 – 1924), perpetuating the great literary family name.  The couple lived at Malvern, then Wales, and later Birkenhead.  In 1847  John Hubback suffered a complete mental breakdown brought on by intense overwork and was committed to Brislington House Asylum in 1850 where he was to spend the rest of his life until his death in 1885. (more…)
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The Life and Crimes of Jane Leigh-Perrot

“Bath is a charming place, sir; there are so many good shops here. We are sadly off in the country. . . . Now, here one can step out of doors, and get a thing in five minutes.” Northanger Abbey Jane Austen’s first entrance into Bath was facilitated by a visit to her Uncle and Aunt, James and Jane Leigh-Perrot. Wealthy and childless, Uncle James was the older brother of Cassandra Leigh Austen, Jane Austen’s mother. In a turn of events, not unlike what would later happen to Austen’s own brother, Uncle James inherited a fortune from another childless relative. Upon inheriting the Northleigh Estate (which was promptly demolished and sold) James added the surname of his late Uncle Perrot to his last name, becoming James Leigh-Perrot. He then went on to build a new home in Berkshire, which he named “Scarlets”. For many years the Leigh-Perrots were quite happy spending their summers at Scarlets and their winters in Bath. From their home at Number One, the Paragon, they were able to enjoy society, take the waters, and offer their nieces from Steventon a chance at seeing something of the world. Surely young Catherine Morland’s visit to Bath in Northanger Abbey is taken from Jane Austen’s own first visit there in 1797. Soon after that visit, an incident took place which would cast a pall over the Leigh-Perrots stay in the City and bring Aunt Jane into the annals of history. In August, 1799, Mrs Leigh-Perrot had stopped in at (more…)
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Frederic and Elfrida

To Miss Lloyd MY DEAR MARTHA As a small testimony of the gratitude I feel for your late generosity to me in finishing my muslin Cloak, I beg leave to offer you this little production of your sincere Freind THE AUTHOR Chapter the First THE Uncle of Elfrida was the Father of Frederic; in other words, they were first cousins by the Father’s side. Being both born in one day & both brought up at one school, it was not wonderfull that they should look on each other with something more than bare politeness. They loved with mutual sincerity, but were both determined not to transgress the rules of Propriety by owning their attachment, either to the object beloved, or to any one else. They were exceedingly handsome and so much alike, that it was not every one who knew them apart. Nay, even their most intimate freinds had nothing to distinguish them by, but the shape of the face, the colour of the Eye, the length of the Nose, & the difference of the complexion. Elfrida had an intimate freind to whom, being on a visit to an Aunt, she wrote the following Letter. To Miss Drummond Dear Charlotte I should be obliged to you, if you would buy me, during your stay with Mrs. Williamson, a new & fashionable Bonnet, to suit the complexion of your E. FalknorR Charlotte, whose character was a willingness to oblige every one, when she returned into the Country, brought her Freind the (more…)
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A Poem to Francis Austen on the Birth of his Son

Jane Austen was, by all accounts, a doting Aunt. This letter, written in verse form to her brother Francis Austen, celbrates the birth of his son on July 26, 1809. My dearest Frank, I wish you joy Of Mary’s safety with a boy, Whose birth has given little pain, Compared with that of Mary Jane. May he a growing Blessing prove, And well deserve his Parents Love! Endow’d with Art’s & Nature’s Good, Thy name possessing with thy Blood; In him, in all his ways, may we Another Francis William see! — Thy infant days may he inherit, Thy warmth, nay insolence of spirit; — We would not with one fault dispense To weaken the resemblance. May he revive thy Nursery sin, Peeping as daringly within, (His curley Locks but just descried) With, ‘Bet, my be not come to bide.’ Fearless of danger, braving pain, And threatened very oft in vain, Still may one Terror daunt his soul, One needful engine of controul Be found in this sublime array, A neighbouring Donkey’s aweful Bray! — So may his equal faults as Child Produce Maturity as mild. His saucy words & fiery ways In early Childhood’s pettish days In Manhood shew his Father’s mind, Like him considerate & kind; All Gentleness to those around, And eager only not to wound. Then like his Father too, he must, To his own former struggles just, Feel his Deserts with honest Glow, And all his self-improvement know. A native fault may thus give birth (more…)