Jane Austen’s Siblings: How Jane Austen’s Siblings Influenced Her Literary Genius

Jane Austen is one of the most celebrated authors of all time, known for her witty and insightful novels that explore the social and moral issues of her era.

But did you know that she was also one of eight children, and that her siblings had a significant impact on her life and work?

In this blog post, we will unveil the lives of Jane Austen’s remarkable family, and how they inspired, supported, and challenged her as a writer.

Jane Austen Portrait
Jane Austen Portrait
Photo Courtesy: people.com


Jane Austen Childhood and Family Background

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, to George and Cassandra Austen. George was an Anglican clergyman and a scholar, who encouraged his children to read and write.

Cassandra was a descendant of a noble family, and a devoted mother who shared a close bond with Jane. Jane had six brothers and one sister, who were all older than her, except for Charles, who was born in 1779.

Her brothers were James, George, Edward, Henry, Francis, and Charles. Her sister was Cassandra, who was also her best friend and confidante.

Jane Austen’s siblings were not only her family, but also her companions, mentors, critics, and patrons. They each had their own personalities, talents, and careers, and they influenced Jane in different ways.

Some of them helped her publish her novels, some of them provided her with material for her characters and plots, and some of them challenged her views and opinions.

Jane Austen Books, Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen Books, Pride and Prejudice
Photo Courtesy: janeausten.co.uk


Jane Austen’s siblings were an integral part of her literary genius, and by learning more about them, we can gain a deeper understanding of her works and her world.

Let’s take a look at each of Jane Austen’s siblings:

James Austen (1765-1819)

James was the oldest of the Austen siblings, and the one who inherited his father’s position as the rector of Steventon.

He was a scholar, a poet, and a writer, who edited a literary magazine called The Loiterer with his brother Henry.

He also published some of his siblings’ writings, including Jane’s early pieces. James was fond of Jane, and praised her novels, but he also criticized them for being too satirical and lacking sentiment.

He married twice, and had three children, one of whom, Anna, was also a novelist and a protégée of Jane.

George Austen (1766-1838)

George was the second oldest of the Austen siblings, and the one who was most isolated from the rest of the family.

He suffered from a mental disability, and possibly from deafness and muteness as well. He was sent to live with a local family at a young age, and rarely visited by his relatives.

Jane never mentioned him in her letters, and there is little evidence of their relationship.

However, some biographers suggest that Jane may have felt compassion and sympathy for George, and that he may have inspired some of her characters, such as John Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, or John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey.

Edward Austen (1767-1852)

Edward was the third oldest of the Austen siblings, and the one who had the most fortunate fate.

He was adopted by a wealthy couple, Thomas and Catherine Knight, who had no children of their own.

He inherited their estates at Godmersham, Kent, and Chawton, Hampshire, and changed his name to Edward Knight.

Not only that, but he was generous and kind to his family, and provided them with financial support and comfortable homes.

He was especially close to Jane, who often visited him at Godmersham and Chawton, and who dedicated her novel Emma to him. He married twice, and had eleven children.


austen family tree
Austen family tree
Photo Courtesy: janeaustensworld.com


Henry Austen (1771-1850)

Henry was the fourth oldest of the Austen siblings, and the one who was most similar to Jane.

He was lively, witty, charming, and adventurous. He had various careers, such as a soldier, a banker, and a clergyman.

Not only that, but he was also Jane’s literary agent, who helped her negotiate with publishers and promote her novels. He was Jane’s favorite brother, and her most trusted confidant.

Furthermore, he married their cousin, Eliza de Feuillide, who was a glamorous and sophisticated widow, and who may have inspired some of Jane’s characters, such as Lady Susan or Mary Crawford. After Eliza’s death, he married a second wife, Eleanor Jackson, who was a friend of Jane.

Cassandra Austen (1773-1845)

Cassandra was the fifth oldest of the Austen siblings, and the only sister of Jane.

She was an artist, who drew portraits of Jane and other family members. She was also Jane’s closest friend, who shared her joys and sorrows, her secrets and opinions, her hopes and fears.

Furthermore, she was Jane’s constant companion, who accompanied her to balls, visits, and travels. She was Jane’s loyal guardian, who preserved her legacy, by editing, burning, or keeping her letters and manuscripts.

She was engaged to a clergyman, Thomas Fowle, who died of yellow fever before they could marry. Not only that, but she never married, and devoted her life to Jane and her family.

Francis Austen (1774-1865)

Francis was the sixth oldest of the Austen siblings, and the one who had the most adventurous life. He joined the navy at the age of 12, and rose to the rank of admiral.

He fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and traveled to many countries, such as India, China, and Australia. Furthermore, he was brave, patriotic, and religious.

He was proud of Jane, and read her novels to his crew. He married twice, and had eleven children, some of whom also joined the navy.

Not only that, but he lived to the age of 91, and was the longest-lived of the Austen siblings.


Charles Austen (1779-1852)

Charles was the youngest of the Austen siblings, and the one who followed his brother Francis’s footsteps. He also joined the navy at the age of 12, and became a captain.

He also fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and captured many enemy ships and prizes. Furthermore, he was cheerful, friendly, and popular. He was fond of Jane, and sent her letters and gifts from his voyages.

Not only that, but he married twice, and had six children, one of whom, Cassandra, was Jane’s goddaughter.


Jane Austen’s siblings were more than just her family, they were her inspiration, her support, and her challenge.

They each had their own stories, their own achievements, and their own failures. They each influenced Jane in different ways, and helped her shape her novels and her views.

By learning more about Jane Austen’s siblings, we can appreciate her literary genius even more, and discover new aspects of her works and her world.


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