‘Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers’: proof copy

Object name: Proof edition of Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers by John & Edith Hubback

Object number: CHWJA:JAHB105

Category: Book

Description: Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers being the adventures of Sir Francis Austen, G.C.B., Admiral of the Fleet and Rear Admiral Charles Austen by J.H. & Edith C. Hubback.  Proof edition with annotations, notes and later sketches. Published by John Lane.

Made: 1906

Context: Two of Jane’s brothers, Frank and Charles, had successful careers in the Royal Navy, Frank rising to become Admiral of the Fleet and Charles a Rear Admiral.  Although the brothers were frequently away from home – sometimes for years at a time – Jane kept up a regular correspondence with them, their experiences providing her with valuable background material for her ‘naval novels’, Persuasion and Mansfield Park.  In James Edward Austen-Leigh’s memoir of his aunt, he recorded:

‘With ships and sailors she felt herself at home, or at least could always trust to a brotherly critic to keep her right.’

In 1906, John Hubback and his daughter Edith collaborated to write a biography of the two Austen sailor brothers.  John was Frank’s grandson and had been brought up in his grandfather’s household after his mother, Catherine, returned to her father’s home with her three young sons when her husband became very ill.

Drawing on papers and letters in the possession of the wider Austen family, the book details the brothers’ naval careers, their relationship with their famous sister, and the impact they had on her writing.

This proof copy was donated to the Museum by Edith Hubback’s daughter, Helen Margaret Brown.

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