The Naval Career of Jane Austen’s Brother

Francis Austen served throughout the Napoleonic Wars and, writes David Hopkinson, lived until the age of ninety-one; an Admiral of the Fleet.

Students of Jane Austen’s life and work have frequently noted her family loyalty and the close-knit pattern of Austen family life. Brother and sister relationships are explored in several of the novels. In Mansfield Park they are of particular importance; it is there that she sums up fraternal love as ‘sometimes almost everything, at others worse than nothing’ - a way of putting it that seems to suggest personal experience of some force.

Her close attachment to Francis, the brother nearest to herself in age, is mirrored in that book by the relationship between her heroine, Fanny, and William Price, whose promotion to the rank of lieutenant in the Navy is an event of the utmost importance to Fanny and consequently to the development of the plot.

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