Obituary for Mrs Anne Lefroy, 21 December 1804

Object name: Obituary for Mrs Anne Lefroy copied from The Sun newspaper 21st December 1804 by Jane Austen

Object number: CHWJA:JAHLTR38

Category: Manuscript

Description: Obituary for Mrs Anne Lefroy titled ‘Extract from the Sun of Dec 21st 1804’ all in Jane Austen’s hand.

Made: December 1804

Context: Jane Austen’s ‘beloved friend’ Anne Lefroy (often referred to as Madam Lefroy) was the vivacious, charming and intelligent wife of Rev. George Lefroy, the Rector of Ashe, a small village just two miles from Steventon. Although 27 years Jane’s senior, a friendship sprang up between Mrs Lefroy and Jane, the older woman encouraging the youthful Jane in her love of poetry and literature.   According to Mrs Lefroy’s brother Egerton Brydges:

‘The nearest neighbours to the Lefroys were the Austens of Steventon.  I remember Jane Austen, the novelist, a little child; she was very intimate with Mrs Lefroy and much encouraged by her.’

On 16th December 1804, Jane’s 29th birthday, Mrs Lefroy was killed falling from her horse when it bolted. Her funeral service was conducted by Jane’s eldest brother James.

An announcement of her death and a brief obituary appeared in The Sun (a daily evening newspaper printed between 1792 and 1876) on 21st December 1804, which Jane copied out into this manuscript.

Five years later, Jane wrote a poem in memory of her friend; its tone of love, loss and grief make it perhaps the most emotional and personal of Jane’s writings.

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