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Written by Cinthia
(2/4/2003 11:21 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Some scattered notes about the Austens.., penned by Leif G-n
I'm very intrigued for Mr. Austen's younger sister, her's is a short and sad story.
We had almost no information of her. Claire Tomalin says of her that she was not clever as his brother George and her sister Philadelphia and about her death unremarked "it was easy for the unsuccesful to drop out of sight and one way or another she had ceased to count", in Le Faye's Jane Austen's Family Record, Leonora is mentioned as the "peniless dependant" and compared with the more enterpreneur Philadelphia who travelled to India to find a husband.
The last reference about Leonora is from Tysoe Hancock, Philadelphia's husband in 1770, apparently offering to take financial responsability for her, but then nothing more is said aferwards (thus probably JA never knew about her).
More likely, Leonora worked as companion for old ladies.
All these brief facts about Leonora makes me more glad than usual that I live in these times.
I'm sure her's is one story the majority of women in those times. I pity her and do not dare to call her not clever. So little is known about her that I prefer to think she was a little bit weak in health and therefore not as adventurous as Philadelphia, who is admired by JA's biographers for taking the courage to take that voyage to the East. But from another perspective, it is also very courageous to prefer to stay home in England and brave all the difficulties of being a "financial dependant" and a companion, than search for a marriage of interest as Philadelphia did. But perhaps I also believe this because in our era to work is not only preferable but it has become a respectable and admirable option.
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