New information on Jane Austen

January 5 2012

Image of New information on Jane Austen

Picture: Guardian/Dr Paula Byrne (detail)

Dr Paula Byrne, the Jane Austen scholar who featured in the BBC2 show on the possible portrait of Jane, has been in touch with an interesting new fact, not broadcast in the programme. Jane's brother, Francis Austen, was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in September 1815. Now the chapel of the Order is the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey. So this could mean that the view of Westminster Abbey seen in the drawing does have a connection to Jane's life, which was one of my main questions over the picture. One of Jane's visits to London was in late 1815. Furthermore, Francis Austen was officially gazetted as Francis Austin.

My other questions on the picture remain, and it seems that perhaps the view in the background is centred more on St Margaret's than the Abbey. But it means I was wrong to state below:

The main clue in the drawing, the very obviously placed background showing Westminster Abbey and St Margaret's, Westminster, bears no relation to anything in Jane's life.

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