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McGill-Queen's University Press Backlist Bestsellers

Jane Austen's Transatlantic Sister
The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen
By (author): Sheila Johnson Kindred
Sheila Johnson Kindred


McGill-Queen's University Press



Product Form:



Higher Education
Oct 27, 2017
$34.95 CAD


229 x 152 x 27.94 mm | 630 gr

Page Count:

312 pages


24 colour, 10 b&w photos, 1 map
McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Short Description
A revealing account of a naval officer's young wife, her life during the Napoleonic Wars, and her influence on Jane Austen's fiction.
A revealing account of a naval officer's young wife, her life during the Napoleonic Wars, and her influence on Jane Austen's fiction.

In 1807 genteel, Bermuda-born Fanny Palmer (1789–1814) married Jane Austen's youngest brother, Captain Charles Austen, and was thrust into a demanding life within the world of the British navy. Experiencing adventure and adversity in wartime conditions both at sea and onshore, the spirited and resilient Fanny travelled between Bermuda, Nova Scotia, and England. For just over a year, her home was in the city of Halifax. After crossing the Atlantic in 1811, she ingeniously made a home for Charles and their daughters aboard a working naval vessel and developed a supportive friendship with his sister, Jane. In Jane Austen's Transatlantic Sister Fanny's articulate and informative letters – transcribed in full for the first time and situated in their meticulously researched historical context – disclose her quest for personal identity and autonomy, her maturation as a wife and mother, and the domestic, cultural, and social milieu she inhabited. Sheila Johnson Kindred also investigates how Fanny was a source of naval knowledge for Jane, and how she was an inspiration for Austen's literary invention, especially for the female naval characters in Persuasion. Although she died young, Fanny's story is a compelling record of female naval life that contributes significantly to our limited knowledge of women's roles in the Napoleonic Wars. Enhanced by rarely seen illustrations, Fanny's life story is a rich new source for Jane Austen scholars and fans of her fiction, as well as for those interested in biography, women's letters, and history of the family.

Sheila Johnson Kindred taught in the Department of Philosophy at Saint Mary's University. She writes about Jane Austen's fiction and family, and lives in Halifax.

"The way in which Jane Austen's observations on Charles and Fanny's relationship and family affairs are explored and extended makes compelling reading. The close relationship between the two women is discussed persuasively. Other gems include a fascinating, detailed analysis of Fanny's pocket book entries and Charles' enduring grief on his wife's death, recorded in personal diaries." Newsletter, The Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom

"A firm grasp of a woman's life writing is the foundation for Sheila Johnson Kindred's biography of Jane Austen's Transatlantic Sister. Like all good biographical studies, it touches upon many topics and offers various delights. I particularly enjoyed fol

"With an abundance of illustrations, appendixes, extensive notes, and bibliography, this is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a 19th-century naval wife. Fans of Jane Austen are likely to find some interest in the family relationships and the probable

"Sheila Kindred's vivid and detailed portrayal, based on solid evidence, really brought home to me the lives and living conditions of the people concerned." Maggie Lane, author of Getting Older with Jane Austen and On the Sofa with Jane Austen

"This affectionate and enlightening portrait of the young woman who married Jane Austen's youngest brother is sure to find an enthusiastic readership in North America. Sheila Johnson Kindred's intimate and sensitive biography traces the relationship throu

"Those of us who are fascinated by every aspect of Jane Austen's experience, and how it feeds into her imagination and understanding of the world, must feel grateful to Sheila Kindred for writing Jane Austen's Transatlantic Sister, a topic no-one had thou

"Jane Austen's Transatlantic Sister offers readers not only a fascinating biography [of Fanny Palmer Austen], but also an engaging account of British naval history, transatlantic travel, letter-writing, and women's domestic roles. As an added bonus, Kindred gives us fascinating details about Jane Austen's life and the gift of "speculating" how Fanny's life "influenced [Jane Austen's] creative genius." Misty Krueger, Eighteenth Century Studies

"The reader feels Kindred's deep affection for Fanny and those connected to her, which animates the larger stories that roll along underneath naval life and the world of the Austens. Kindred's book is a nice addition to scholarship on the lives of naval wives and will, one hopes, prompt further studies of the place and role of these women. It also adds another strand into the tapestry of influences upon Jane Austen." Journal of British Studies

"This is a meticulously researched, learned and well written book. It provides a fascinating insight into the all-to-short life of Jane Austen's seafaring sister-in-law. For those with a primary interest in Austen and her inspirations, the chapter which explores possible links between Fanny and the novels is undoubtably the most satisfying of the book and demonstrates Kindred's depth of expertise as a scholar of both literature and history." Journal for Maritime Research

"Jane Austen's Transatlantic Sister is a fascinating and accessible account of the life and letters of a brave woman which will broaden understanding of the challenges facing naval wives in the early nineteenth century It is a welcome addition to our knowledge of Jane Austen's family circle and her depictions of the naval community in her late fiction." Victoriographies

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