Dear Jane Austen I had no idea…

April 7, 2010

Dear Jane Austen I had no idea…

…that you died when you were only 41. Why I’ve lived, well, many years beyond that and I still think I’m young. Okay, maybe not young-young, as in supple, because I have noticed rust in my eaves and a gathering of rain on my roof, yet I believe I still have creative potential or at least a couple good thoughts left in the hopper.

…that you wrote the first draft of Pride and Prejudice by the time you were 20. What a great reminder not to underestimate the offerings of the young. It’s not so much what age we attain but how we use the gift within us. That’ll preach.

…that your first book was published when you were 35. That means you had six short years to experience a smidgen of your market success. True some people never know the contribution they’ve left society, but you left us such flourishing beauty and romance I wish you could have experienced more of the fruit of your labor. Perhaps though your fruit was the personal satisfaction of having completed your stories and maybe the joy of your efforts was in the well-constructed sentences that flowed brilliantly from your pen?

…you died from a wasting disease. Hmm, that suggests your years of becoming known were bitter sweet. Just the term wasting disease makes me ache. Had you lived today medical science probably could have helped you. But then would todays society have tainted your innocent love stories? You may have read our daily news and lost your tender nature and your genteel pen….and we would have lost a look into your delicate heart. Of course in your days you were thought to be a bit bold with your comedic bent and your non-traditional realistic approach. (Hooray for you.)

…that many say your finest work was Emma. I wonder if you would have agreed? Or if another story tucked in closer to your writing affections? Public work brings about public opinion…but it remains just that.

…that thousands of letters you wrote mostly to your sister were destroyed after your death by family. What a shame? Or was it? While, I confess, I’m curious as to their content, your personal life was just that…personal.

Dear Jane, I had no idea your adult life was riddled with financial instability leaving you and your family at the graces of others. I wish you could have enjoyed the benefits others do today off your work. But perhaps your hardships kept your pen sharp and your wit keen? Who’s to say?

I always want to “fix” the stories of others and remove the very parts that probably made them who they became, robbing us all. Perhaps that is why we have an “Author and Finisher” of our story…Who is never surprised by the twists and turns of our lives…and our hearts. And who is “in” on every “inconvenience” we suffer that they might be used for good, both seen and unseen.



  1. Wow, Patsy! I had no idea. So glad we have a personal Author and Finisher and Fixer-Upper.

  2. I agree — wow. Your last paragraph says it all.. like you, I want to fix the personal stories of others, and yet I know that in doing so… I may alter who they become as a result. We do have the perfect Author and Finisher of our faith. Easter is a blessed reminder that we (I) live in His resurection. So glad you are writing. I really like your voice.

  3. Jane Austen is my favorite author. What simple but insightful truths these are. Thx for sharing

  4. I’m just finished reading “Becoming Jane” and finding a lot of surprising things about her myself.. I still can’t believe that she outright sold Pride & Prejudice because she needed the money and had way to negotiate. She seemed like a pretty private person and probably would hate to see so much fuss made about her, let alone her books. I think the reason we’re probably so fascinated w/ her books is not just because they’re good, but because we don’t really know much about her. Thank you for your blog!

  5. Jane had so much to say in her lovely romances. She addressed many social issues in such a lovely manner. I adore her work and I loved your insight today into it.

  6. I love Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book. She had a short life, but in many ways so full. Reminds us to live each day to the fullets.

  7. What a wonderful blog. I knew most of the facts included (BTW, the reason her sister burned her letters is actually because Jane asked her to…I agree though, would love to know the content but respect the fact she wanted her private life just that) but I loved hearing your thoughts on them. What a wonderful woman you are!

  8. Wow…I didn’t know that about Jane Austen….I just purchased a book of her stories at Barnes and Noble this weekend because her stories just move me and I love the time era that most of her stories take place, nothing like today….she was, I mean is, one great author. Thank you for sharing this info.

  9. Hi Patsy…It’s Debbie/DeBonair…Oh how I miss seeing you. Loved seeing you a couple of months ago although it certainly wasn’t the best of circumstances. I would love to be able to stay in touch with you and I’ve included my email. You are still just the cutest and sweetest little bit of nothing and I miss you!
    Debbie Childers-Viverito dviverito@debonaircleaningfrisco.com

  10. P-

    I can so relate to what you are saying here..not that I plan to die at 41…but sometimes in the mist of our troubles God shines through..and in a quirky way he surprises us in the mist of our troubles..keep writing Pasty..lovin it. 🙂

  11. You know it’s interesting, my husband and I were discussing the other day how our experiences (good or ill) define the people we become today. You pointed out things about Jane Austen I never knew (and like you would love to have seen “fixed” in her life so she could have lived longer, been happier, etc) but perhaps her stories would not have enjoyed the impact they do if her circumstances had been different. As you so rightly point out, the Author and Finisher of our faith has a much better idea of each individual’s story than we do.

  12. I could read your words Patsy all day. I have had the divine privelage to listen to you speak several times in a crowd full of other women. You captivate me and I can hear your voice as you write. I just love that!

  13. Watched Pride & Prejudice twice yesterday! Best remedy for sinus headache I’ve ever had. Thanks for the bio Pasty! I wish I could have met her.

  14. Louisa May Alcott is another delightful writer who lived in difficult circumstances and died young. I think you’d enjoy reading about her life, also. She and Jane are my favorite writers. God bless you, Patsy!

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