My dear Cassandra…This display brings together three objects that link Cassandra with Jane’s legacy and show the deep love and lifelong friendship between the two sisters, as well as a newly acquired letter from Jane to Cassandra.
‘She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, & it is as if I had lost a part of myself.’
Cassandra Austen, 29 July 1817
After Jane’s early death in 1817, her beloved older sister Cassandra did much to protect her personal and literary legacy. She dealt with her will, distributing locks of hair and personal items to friends and family. Along with her brother Henry she looked after Jane’s literary estate, arranging for the publication of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. She also took the decision to destroy many of Jane’s surviving letters, leaving only the 161 known today. Whilst the letters that were lost could have provided more information about Jane’s life and personality, today most critics believe that Cassandra’s decision to destroy them was made out of respect for her sister’s privacy and to prevent some of Jane’s less favourable opinions about friends and family causing offence.
In this display we show three objects that link Cassandra with Jane’s legacy and demonstrate the deep love and lifelong friendship between the two sisters, as well as a newly acquired letter from Jane to Cassandra.
This display is part of our Year of Cassandra, celebrating the life of Cassandra Austen on the 250th anniversary of her birth.