Novelist Suggests Jane Austen Died of Arsenic Poisoning

Jane Austen Family Portrait Circa 1790 - P
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Crime writer Lindsay Ashford says it's "highly likely" that the "Emma" and "Pride & Prejudice" author was dosed with the toxin.

Crime writer Lindsay Ashford believes that British novelist Jane Austen died of arsenic poisoning in 1817.

Ashford points out that the toxin was readily available for medicinal purposes at the time and that Austen's description of her appearance is in line with arsenic's side effects.

Austen wrote before her death, "I am considerably better now and am recovering my looks a little, which have been bad enough, black and white and every wrong colour." That coloring, Ashford told The Guardian newspaper, is a major clue into the Pride & Prejudice writer's health, "When you look at her list of symptoms and compare them to the list of arsenic symptoms, there is an amazing correlation.

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"As a crime writer I've done a lot of research into arsenic, and I think it was just a bit of serendipity, that someone like me came to look at her letters with a very different eye to the eye most people cast on Jane Austen. It's just luck I have this knowledge, which most Austen academics wouldn't."

Austen's July 18, 1817 death has previously been attributed to a number of difference causes including cancer, lupus and Hodgkin's disease.

Her work has been adapted numerous times into feature films and projects such as Emma, Persuasion, Sense & Sensibility, and Mansfield Park.