36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Block 25: Anna’s Choice for Anna Austen

25. Anna’s Choice for Anna Austen, Jane’s Niece, by Becky Brown

Jane Anna Austen LeFroy (1793-1872)

Jane Austen’s sister-in-law Anne Mathew Austen died in 1795, leaving brother James with two-year-old Jane Anna, called Anna. In Jane Austen's England, single fathers were considered unqualified to raise young children, so Anna went to live with her Austen grandparents at the Steventon rectory. Jane and Cassandra were in their early 20s when Anna came to stay.

Fashion Plate, 1809

Jane was writing Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice in the two years that Anna lived with them. Anna later told her daughter she remembered the aunts reading the manuscripts aloud.  

Anna drew this picture of the Steventon Rectory from memory.
 Collection  of the Jane Austen Memorial Trust.

When her father married Mary Lloyd, four-year-old Anna returned to their home. James and Mary had two more children James and Caroline. Mary may have favored her own children over her stepdaughter, another possible reason for Jane’s impatience with her new sister-in-law. (See Block 19.)

Anna later remembered her stepmother as "abrupt & sharp....She did not love her stepdaughter & she slighted her...."

Anna's Choice by Dustin Cecil

Aunt Jane’s letters to Anna survive and although she told her niece, “One does not care for girls till they are grown up,” Jane developed strong affection for her young niece. Anna took up novel writing as an adolescent and her Aunt Jane patiently criticized her drafts.

The Anna we see in letters earned a reputation as a difficult teenager. According to Aunt Jane, she had “much unsteadiness” in her temperament, becoming engaged at 18 against James and Mary’s wishes. The engagement was broken and the girl was sent off to her aunts in Chawton in 1813.

Anna's Choice by Georgann Eglinski

She soon contracted another engagement, this one to Ben LeFroy, who also fell short of her parents’ standards. Aunt Jane wasn’t enthusiastic either. The problem wasn’t Ben, the son of Jane's late friend Anna LeFroy of Ashe and first cousin to Jane’s one-time beau Tom LeFroy. Jane realized that dreams of writing would be lost in being anyone’s wife because of “the business of mothering.”  “Poor Animal, she will be worn out before she is thirty,” she wrote during Anna’s third pregnancy.  

Anna gave birth to eight children. After her husband's death when she was in her thirties, she became a published writer with a few novellas in periodicals. Anna, however, was never the author her aunt was (Who was?) so perhaps she made the right choice in the conventional choice of marrying Ben LeFroy.

BlockBase 1141a

Anna’s Choice was given the name in the Kansas City Star in 1941. It's pieced of one patch, a right-angle triangle in different shades.

A – Cut 16 squares 3-7/8” of four different shades. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.
You need 32  triangles.


A variation on Anna's Choice by Bettina Havig.
She likes the Y-Seams!

Read Mary Hamilton “by a niece of the late Jane Austen” at Google Books by clicking here:

And read more about Anna here:

1 comment:

  1. Well that clears things up. Jane did not want children and considered pregnancy and childbirth "animal" functions that wore out one's body. She was right about that for her times when married women could not control how often they would be pregnant. And Jane may have instinctively known she had only limited time allotted. Fortunately for us she used it for her great talent. And she doesn't seem to have felt she missed anything by not being a mother.