Jane Austen is an English novelist that still succeeds to entice the mind of readers through her work. However, not only her books are diverging from the paved paths of society, but her personal life as well. Austen died at the age of 41 on July 18, 1817 of unknown cause. After 200 years from her death, new speculations appeared to untangle the mysteries of her life. She exposed bilious attacks in her late letters. However, specialists put facial aches and fever on account of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Addison’s disease, and even stomach cancer. However, her weakened eyes might have sparked the possibility of a new speculation.
Three Newly Discovered Pairs of Spectacles
On Thursday, the national British Library published on its official site a new article that tackled the dramatic end of the life of Jane Austen. The post opens a novel thread of discussion on this topic by replacing all of the suggested causes of death with poison. However, the institution blames neither a lover nor assassin of this tragedy. Instead, it puts the blame on the times she lived in.
The new scenario revolves around Jane Austen’s pair of spectacles. Back in 1999, the great-great-great-niece of the English author, Joan Austen-Leigh, did the courtesy to donate a desk that belonged to her. The British Library discovered inside the piece of furniture three pairs of glasses. Two of them were tortoiseshell, and one was wire-framed. Based on their inspections, they found that Jane Austin was a farsighted wearer.
“The variations in the strength of the British Library’s three pairs of spectacles may indeed give further credence to the theory that Austen suffered from arsenic poisoning, albeit accidental.”
Weakened Eyes Might Have Been a Symptom of Cataracts
However, the glasses had different diopters. This would not be unusual if the differences between them were not so large. Because of this, Jane Austen might have had her eyesight so affected in a short period of time, that she needed to change her glasses quickly. This can point at a rapid evolution of a case of cataracts. This eyesight issue can appear due to an accumulation of arsenic.
Other evidence to support this scenario was provided by Jane Austen herself. She did complain of a major discoloration of her skin. This can be taken as an additional symptom of arsenic poisoning. During those times, arsenic was a normal presence in everyday life. Manufacturers used it in insecticides, but also in medicine, beer, wine, wrapping paper, clothing, and others.
On the other hand, her need to fix her weakened eyes might have urged her to pick any pair of glasses that she encountered just to help her continue her work. Thus, the three pairs might not have been the result of a doctor examination and a prescription, but a mere chance. Thus, the mystery of Jane Austen’s death continues to fuel the imagination of experts.
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