Updated: March 26, 2017 6:15:54 pm
When it comes to romance in classic novels, there’s none like Jane Austen. Her prolific women-centric novels with complexities in relationships and themes surrounding love and marriage in 18th-century England are relevant even now. In Austen’s creations, where strong female characters speak their mind fearlessly and even had a say in choosing their partners — they were quite ahead of time. And as it is often argued that Austen’s own life and surrounding affected her writings, recent discoveries suggest that she was as adventurous as her protagonists.
According to reports, the ‘Sense and Sensibilities author created fictitious entries in a marriage register linking herself with two separate men. Yes, not once but twice! Newly discovered documents, held by Hampshire Archives, reveal the author faked documents to announce her impending marriage to two separate men while a teenager in Hampshire in the late 18th century.
The unearthed documents show Austen created the fake entries in the Steventon marriage register for 1755-1812. While one fictitious entry in the register shows records between Henry Frederic Howard Fitzwilliam of London and Jane Austen of Steventon, another entry details the marriage between Jane Austen of Steventon and Edmund Arthur William Mortimer of Liverpool. Researchers believe that the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ author had well access to the register as her father George Austen was a rector at the local parish. It seems, not little, the Emma author was twice naughty than any of her characters combined!
The handwritten notes presenting a rather ‘mischievous side’ of the author appear in the specimen entries in the front of the book. The documents will be up for public display in Hampshire in May as part of the “Mysterious Miss Austen exhibition” at Winchester’s Discovery Centre, which marks 200th death anniversary of the author. Earlier many reports also suggested that arsenic poisoning could have been responsible for the ‘Persuasion’ novelist who died at the age of 41.
According to a BBC report, Hampshire County Council’s culture spokesman Andrew Gibson said: “Jane would have been in her teens when she wrote these fake marriage entries, and some could say it reveals a mischievous side during her younger years.”
Austen’s most famous character Elizabeth Bennett who would only marry Mr Darcy after she was certain she is marrying for love and nothing else, it seems like Austen’s reflection. It’s quite paradoxical how her books centre around love and marriage while Austen herself remained single all her life but was believed to be engaged just for a day. However, it must be noted that marriage in her books was not just about candescent romanances but also highlighted the position of 18th-century women for whom marriage was often a necessary means of financial security.
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