Reading Matters

Jane Austen: ‘I drank too much wine’

Jane Austen not only wrote novels – anonymously – she was also a prolific and entertaining letter writer. Most of those letters were burned by her sister and closest friend Cassandra before Austen’s death in 1845. Only 200 survive. The one mentioned below was mailed to Cassandra in 1800 when Jane was but 24 years old.

“My Dear Cassandra: Your letter took me quite by surprise this morning; you are very welcome, however, and I am very much obliged to you. I believe I drank too much wine last night at the Hurstbourne; I know not how else to account for the shaking of my hand to-day. You will kindly make allowance therefore for any indistinctness of writing, by attributing it to this venial error.”

Jane is describing to her sister a ball she attended the night before.

“There were very few beauties, and such as there were were not very handsome. Miss Ironmonger did not look well, and Mrs. Blount was the only one much admired. She appeared exactly as she did in September, with the same broad face, diamond bandeau, white shoes, pink husband and fat neck.”

From the book: Letters of Note, Volume 2, An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience, Compiled by Shaun Usher.

Dannye: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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