What we owe Cassandra...
Written by Mandy N
(8/30/2005 1:41 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Letters as Gifts, penned by Robbin
What interesting questions !
May I just comment that Cassandra is often blamed for the way she hndled Jane Austen's estate after her death.
Others consider her the prudish older sister who frowned on Jane's gaity and occassional flightiness.
Some blame her for that rather unflattering watercolour of her sister.
In reality, most of what we know of Jane Austen, we owe to Cassandra.
She gave us the only two authenticated likenesses of Jane and presumably an oral record about Jane with her family to supplement the letters.
She did destroy many of the letters but she preserved the majority of her sister's writings. Most importantly, it was to Cassandra to whom the letters were written.
I can't comment on the collection of letters or leaving letters as gifts. Possibly it was a custom to give letters to close relations or family friends so they had a personal token to remember a friend who has passed away.