Author Grahame-Smith insists, perhaps tongue in cheek, that Austen originally meant Pride and Prejudice to be a tale of the undead. “You have this fiercely independent heroine,” he writes, “you have this dashing heroic gentleman, you have a militia camped out for seemingly no reason whatsoever nearby, and people are always walking here and there and taking carriage rides here and there . . . It was just ripe for gore and senseless violence. From my perspective anyway.”

Jane suffered from a mysterious disease that was never diagnosed accurately, starting around 1816 until her death in 1817. Today it is believed that she suffered from Addison’s Disease, a rare chronic endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce sufficient steroid hormones – an illness that also affected President John F. Kennedy.

Her novels have been continuously in print since 1833. She has never been more popular in America than today. Candidates on both sides of the political divide vie with one another to quote her in their speeches. "And you know what?" a top Republican candidate told a group. "Jane Austen loved Iowa every bit as much as I do."

On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton has shown herself eager to invoke Austen's name. "If Jane Austen can win the heart of Minnesota, then so – with your help – can I!"

Jane passed away at the age of 41 in the arms of her sister Cassandra. "He is rich, to be sure,” she once wrote, “and you may have more fine clothes and fine carriages than anyone. But will they make you happy?”

She was buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus