Was Jane Austen murdered?

November 21, 2011

There has long been some mystery and uncertainty surrounding Jane Austen’s 1817 death at age 41. Most historians have attributed her demise to various diseases, but now a crime novelist named Lindsay Ashford claims that Austen may have been the victim of murder. Specifcially, Ashford says that Austen may have been poisoned with arsenic.

This theory comes about because of some lines from letters Austen wrote, in which she complains about her skin being “black and white and every wrong colour.” Ashford extrapolates that to mean Austen could have been suffering the effects of arsenic, which apparently discolors the skin in much the same way.

What possible motive could there have been to murder Jane Austen? Ashford says, “Having delved into her family background, there was a lot going on that has never been revealed and there could have been a motive for murder.” To find out more, you’re just going to have to read Ashford’s new book “The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen.”

I’m not a huge Austen fan or anything, but this book sounds like it could be interesting. I’ll check it out if my library gets it!

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