James Austen

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James Austen
Born 1765
Died 1819 (aged 53–54)
Nationality United Kingdom
Occupation clergyman
Known for Jane Austen's eldest brother

James Austen was an English clergyman, best known for being the eldest brother of celebrated novelist Jane Austen.[1] His father's living had been in Steventon, Hampshire, and James succeeded him in this position, in 1801.

Austen's mother, formerly Cassandra Leigh, was a member of a promient Oxford family, and was a descendant of one of the founders of St. John's College.[2] Cassandra's family connection entitled her sons to be legacy students, who did not have to compete for admission, and who were entitled to attend tuition free. Austen attended Oxford University and his younger brother Henry both attended, and shared accommodation.[3]

LIke his more famous sister, Austen was a writer.[4] According to Felicity Day, writing in The Telegraph, for a year in the 1790s, he published a weekly periodical called The Loiterer, and wrote much of its content. He published several pieces by his brother Henry, and Day speculated that he may have published one piece by his teenage sister Jane.[3] Day says the satirical pieces in The Loiterer resembled the unpublished juvenilia the teenage Jane wrote for her family.

James and his brother Henry were both romantically interested in their cousin, Eliza Hancock.[3] Eliza married Henry.[4]

Austen married at 27, and was widowed when he was 30.[4] His first wife bore him a daughter, Anna.[5] His second wife, bore him at least two more children, James Edward and Caroline.


  1. Meredith Hindley (January/February 2013). "The Mysterious Miss Austen: Two hundred years ago, Pride and Prejudice was anonymously published.". Humanities 34 (1). Archived from the original on 2020-12-17. https://web.archive.org/web/20201217010057/https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2013/januaryfebruary/feature/the-mysterious-miss-austen. Retrieved 2021-02-20. "James, the eldest, succeeded his father as the parson of Steventon.". 
  2. Marilyn Butler (2010-01-07). "Austen, Jane: (1775–1817)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Archived from the original on 2020-11-12. https://web.archive.org/web/20201112021625/https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-904. Retrieved 2021-02-20. "The boys qualified, on Cassandra's side, as ‘founder's kin’ at St John's College, which entitled them against competition to free tuition." 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 J. David Grey (1984). "Henry Austen: Jane Austen's 'perpetual sunshine'". Persuasions Occasional Papers, Jane Austen Society of North America (1): pp. 9-12. Archived from the original on 2021-01-26. https://web.archive.org/web/20210126124559/http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/opno1/grey.htm. Retrieved 2021-02-20. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Felicity Day (2020-01-20). "Why did Jane Austen’s talented brother end up forgotten by history?". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2020-08-12. https://web.archive.org/web/20200818210400/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/did-jane-austens-talented-brother-end-forgotten-history/. Retrieved 2021-02-20. "I’ve always felt sympathy for one of Jane Austen’s brothers. James, the so-called writer of the family, was not the author’s confidant like Cassandra, not her favourite brother, not even the most professionally distinguished. He was, like Mary, outdone by his siblings on almost every count." 
  5. "Jane Austen's Brothers and Sister". Archived from the original on 2020-11-27. https://web.archive.org/web/20201127013726/https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/janelife.html#janesibl. Retrieved 2021-02-20. 
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