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All Things Austen — Dear Aunt Jane — 32 Comments

  1. It took a bit of doing, but I managed to decipher the letter. The thought of the field day spell check must have had with it made me smile.

    • The surprise, Florence, was that spell check actually accepted some of the backwards words as real words! (os, ew, od, ym, fo si, sah) Not so on this site, though. Lots of red squiggly underlines as I type them. 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness! I was able to read it from your transcription, Shannon, but haven’t even attempted to try translating from Jane’s cursive script.

    I do indeed have a very special Aunt. It was actually her birthday yesterday and she’s now 82 years of age and though her health isn’t the best, she still lives alone (Uncle died some years ago) and manages to get out and about in her little car. My Dad was her older brother and we sadly lost him when he was only 67 so she’s doing pretty well. Auntie is the only member of that generation of my family that we have left as Mum died the same year as my Dad, so you can imagine how special she is to us.

    I have a very special niece too, just the one. She’s expecting what we hope will be her first child later this year. Sadly, she lost two babies during pregnancy last year so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed for her and her husband that things will turn out well third time around.

    • Thanks for your story, Anji. Yes, aunts can become more precious to us when our mothers are gone. For me, it was a great aunt that filled the place of a grandmother.

  3. Those of you who read my comment on who introduced me to be Austen may guess my favorite aunt! Her name is Rosalyn, and she is my mother’s older sister (she is ninety). Aunt Roz has been enjoying her retirement from the advertising industry (she worked for Clairol, Lord & Taylor, and others), though she has now slowed down some.

    Like Austen, my aunt never married. She was, and is still, fiercely independent, living on her own in Queens, New York. Auntie has traveled extensively, and her last huge trip, taken as part of a group but unaccompanied, was to Costa Rica to go birdwatching.

    As you might expect, she is an avid reader. She also loves the stage and dance. Many in her circle of friends have season tickets to NYC venues and she will get a call “Roz, we can’t use our tickets to the Met this coming Friday, do you want them?” And off she goes! On one of those occasions she got a chance not to see a ballet, but a rehearsal. I think she appreciated that more than the show itself.

    A great lady, a great aunt, and a great friend.

  4. No special aunt in my life but I would like to think that I was a special Aunt to my nephews and niece when they were young taking time to play with them and talk.

  5. I have been thinking a lot recently about aunts and uncles in general and feeling rather sad about one sister who is a terrible aunt to my daughters. Mostly, it is because she just doesn’t get that everything isn’t all about her and that one has to participate in their lives. I guess when I truly think about it, she is rather more like Lady Catherine and thus misses out on so much!
    Thanks for the trouble you went to to delight us with JA’s letter.

    • You’re very welcome, Theresa! How sad about your sister. Maybe she will realize what she messed someday, but it may be too late by then.

  6. I am fortunate to be called the beloved Aunt by my nieces and nephews. I wear the many names they have given me proudly. With much love I have spent time with them helping with school projects, having sleepovers, baking, doing arts and crafts and so much more. I would send cards on all holidays, enclosing a dollar bill. Many a postcard was sent from my travels. I never did a backwards letter but I did write it all in a circle from the center out and sometimes in a square around the page! There were movie dates and weekends trips, many with my father along as well. The richness they brought to my life and from what they tell me, the richness I brought to theirs is something I treasure. Having nieces and nephews that come to visit on their college breaks, ask me to make their wedding cakes, make a christening gown and house hunt with is a measure of the love we have for our family. I now get to repeat these joys with my grandchildren and having bought the house across from our daughter means we get to do this every day!

    • Sounds like you’re richly rewarded for all your time and attention, Constance. Love your letters in circles/squares!

  7. I couldn’t imagine trying to attempt to write a backwards letter let alone in cursive! I was able to decipher your translation too. As for a favourite Aunt, it would have to be my Aunt Sylvia in Northern Ireland. She is the youngest daughter of 11 children my grandmother had. My oldest aunt died just last March at 97! I don’t get to see her often but we correspond regularly. She is just 74 and plays alot of golf. She is always so immaculately dressed as well and has a great sense of humour. Going over for a visit this October and can’t wait to see her and the rest of the family.

  8. Once I got the hang of it, not too difficult to read. But just having the idea and ability to do it so seamlessly… wow. Even capitalizing properly. Inspiring.

  9. Oh what fun! It took me a bit to figure it out (Thank you for the transcription). Once I figured it out it was like I was reading a normal letter. It’s amazing how the brain can do things like that.
    What fun that must have been to get a letter like that.

    • Yes, Sarah, it is amazing how quickly our brains adjust. I hope you will look at the related posts I linked to at the end for more of the same sort of fascinating stuff.

  10. oh my goodness. How very creative is Jane Austen? Once, I tried to do like Jane to my sister. But my handwriting was not as neat as Jane’s. In fact, it was horrible. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. Reading backwards and upside down when sitting across the table from my students made this a little easier to decipher. Clever

  12. I do like and play mind games often. This letter was easy IF you took it one word at at time. But very clever and time consuming. I do word jumbles daily so that helps.

  13. I had a favorite aunt who would plan special day trips to historic places when I visited her in Germany. I would help her around the apartment.

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