Welcome to All Things Austen in April!
Isn’t it delightful to imagine Jane Austen’s characters after their roles in her novels have ended? Well, Austen thought so, too! Read on for more…
Comment on the All Things Austen posts to be entered in the weekly giveaways. See the April 1 post (link here) for a list of the prizes. Winners will be announced on Sundays.
In this “History & Culture” snippet from Bio, authors Claire Bellanti and Iris Lutz list several intriguing facts about our dear Jane. As longtime fans of her work, many of you probably know most of these (http://www.biography.com/news/jane-austen-biography-facts) already, as did I, but the one that continually captures my interest as a writer is this one:
Jane Austen continued to imagine how the lives of her characters evolved long after she finished a novel. In A Memoir of Jane Austen, her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh wrote, “She would, if asked, tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of some of her people.” For example, Anne Steele, Lucy’s silly and vulgar sister in Sense and Sensibility, did not catch Dr. Davies after all. And, after the close of Pride and Prejudice, Kitty Bennet eventually married a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary ended up with a clerk who worked for her Uncle Philips. Some of the most interesting revelations, however, related to Emma. Mr. Woodhouse not only survived Emma’s marriage to Mr. Knightly, but also kept his daughter and son-in-law living at Hartfield for two years. Deirdre Le Faye has also noted in Jane Austen: A Family Record that “According to a less well-known tradition, the delicate Jane Fairfax lived only another nine or ten years after her marriage to Frank Churchill.”
Many of the JAFF stories that have been written over the years have had their beginnings in authors’ individual imaginings of what may have happened to Austen’s characters once the original books concluded. And haven’t we all wondered, not just about what life was like for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth five or ten years after their marriage, but what might have happened to Anne Elliot’s older sister once Anne and Captain Wentworth were wed? Or what romantic fate befell Mr. Willoughby in the years following Col. Brandon and Marianne Dashwood’s nuptials? Or what about Henry Tilney’s elder brother? Or…or…??
It’s ever fascinating to me the way characters live on in the minds of their authors—because it’s quite true for me personally. The characters I’ve created have long, rich lives that extend far beyond the scope of the novel they starred in. I’ve been asked by readers many times to tell them what happened to Ellie and Sam, my heroine and hero from According to Jane. And, while I really do believe it’s the choice of the reader to determine for herself whether the couple stayed together after the conclusion of the book, had children, moved away from home, etc., etc., I do know—and very clearly—what I believe happened to them 😛 .
So, I loved this little insight into Jane Austen as an author. Loved that she continued to think about her characters—even the more insignificant secondary ones like Lucy Steele’s sister—and keep them alive in her imagination.
What about you? Do you have any speculations about Jane’s characters beyond the original stories? Which characters’ lives most appeal to you, spike your curiosity about their future, and keep you wondering, long after the last page of the book has been turned? I’d love to know your thoughts!