Heritage

New Evidence Suggests Jane Austen Was Poisoned to Death

Three pairs of glasses could reveal a new clue about her early death.
Comments

The death of Jane Austen has long been shrouded in mystery. The now-beloved author succumbed in 1817, at the relatively young age of 41, to an unidentified disease. Over the years, scholars have speculated that she died of cancer or tuberculosis. Others have thought that she suffered from Addison's disease (which tormented JFK as well). But now, new research from the British Library suggests that the famed author died of arsenic poisoning.

The theory stems from the examination of three pairs of eyeglasses believed to have been owned by Austen. The library had these glasses, which were found in a desk belonging to Austen, tested for the first time, and the results suggest that her vision severely deteriorated before her death, possibly due to cataracts. Yesterday, the library shared a blog post further explaining this hypothesis.


ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

If Austen did develop cataracts, said London-based optometrist Professor Simon Barnard, the cause would be accidental poisoning from a heavy metal such as arsenic. "Arsenic poisoning is now known to cause cataracts. Despite its toxicity, arsenic was commonly found in medicines in 19th-century England, as well as in some water supplies."

Crime writer Lindsay Ashford suggested the possibility of arsenic poisoning back in 2011. She pointed to a description of the "unusual facial pigmentation [Austen] suffered at the end of her life," a common trait of victims of arsenic poisoning.

However, as the New York Times explained, not all scholars are buying this theory. Austen expert Janine Barchas referred to this new speculation as a "quantum leap," and the library's announcement as "a smidgen reckless."

If you'd like to draw your own conclusions, the glasses are currently on display at the British Library.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Comments
View More Articles About:
Recommended Videos
About The Author
Caroline Hallemann
View Other Articles From Caroline Hallemann
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
It’s never a dull moment with your family, but that doesn’t mean you should succumb to becoming the entertainment.
 
Share
She's part of a rare breed of dedicated restaurant pastry chefs in the metro, and her future's looking pretty sweet.
 
Share
Queen Victoria was the first monarch to purchase Patek Philippe watches and started a trend among royals shortly after.
 
Share
Two luxury hotels in Athens and Crete offer the perfect late summer vacation-and surprising life lessons.
 
Share
The new HBO miniseries starring Helen Mirren recreates some of the Empress's famous jewels, which she used to cement her authority as an enlightened despot.
 
Share
The expected guest list for Japan's centuries-old ceremony reads like a who's who of the modern monarchy.
 
Share
They've already had their engagement party-now on to the main event.
 
Share
Tina Legarda started at a time when it wasn’t common for women to lead in the kitchen.
 
Share
Think of guilt-free snacking as your stepping stone to a healthier lifestyle.
 
Share
With the LG customization tour, the brand highlights Rene Lacoste's roots in tennis and creativity.
 
Share
Richly colored pieces are the surefire way to make your space pop.
 
Share
You don't have to dress as a 2020 candidate to have some political fun this Halloween.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US