Watercolour miniature of Catherine Hubback

Object name: Watercolour miniature of Catherine Hubback

Object number: CHWJA:JAH442

Category: Object

Description: Watercolour miniature of Jane Austen’s niece Catherine Hubback, née Austen, as a young woman.

Made: c1840

Context: Catherine was the eighth of the eleven children born to Jane Austen’s brother Frank and his wife Mary. She was born at Chawton Great House in 1818, almost a year after Jane’s death, so never knew her aunt.  She was however very familiar with Jane’s novels as they were regularly read at home.

In 1842, Catherine married a barrister, John Hubback, and over the next six years the couple had three sons. Unfortunately John suffered a complete mental breakdown in 1847 and three years later, with little hope of recovery, he was committed to an asylum. Catherine returned to her father’s home, Portsdown Lodge, with her three small sons. To support herself and her children, she embarked on a career as a novelist.

Her first novel, The Younger Sister, was a completed version of Jane’s unfinished novel, The Watsons. Cassandra had been a frequent visitor to her brother’s home during Catherine’s youth and had outlined the plot Jane had intended, which Catherine used to complete the book.  The novel was published in 1850 and over the next 13 years she published nine more novels to popular acclaim.

In 1870, she emigrated to California where she settled with her second son Edward. She died in 1877 at the age of 58.

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