Henry Thomas Austen

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Henry Thomas Austen (1771 – 12 March 1850) was a militia officer, clergyman, banker and the brother of the novelist Jane Austen.[1]

Henry Thomas was born at Steventon, Hampshire, the fourth of the eight children born to Rev. George Austen and Cassandra Leigh. He had five brothers; James (1765–1819), George (1766–1838), Edward (1768–1852), Francis William (Frank) (1774–1865), Charles John (1779–1852), and two younger sisters, Cassandra and Jane.

He matriculated at St John's College, Oxford in 1788[1] and received an MA in 1793. In 1789-90, he edited and published with his brother James a literary magazine, The Loiterer.[2] In 1793 he joined the Oxfordshire Militia, rising to captain before resigning in 1801. In 1804 he founded, with two associates, the bank of Austen, Maude and Tilson in Covent Garden, London. It went bankrupt in 1816.[3]

He entered the church that same year and was made curate of Chawton, Hampshire. In 1820 he was made Rector of Steventon. He arranged the publication of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion after Jane Austen's death in 1817. He is believed to have published the first biographical notice of her, which prefaces those novels. [4] He revised and expanded that short memoir for the republication of her novels in 1833. This made him a central figure in the management and curation of Jane Austen's early posthumous public image.[5]

He died in 1850 and was buried in Woodbury Park Cemetery, Tunbridge Wells.[6] He had married twice; firstly his cousin, Eliza Hancock, Comtesse de Feuillide, a widow, and secondly Eleanor Jackson.


  1. ^ a b HENRY AUSTEN: JANE AUSTEN'S "PERPETUAL SUNSHINE". J. David Grey, Jane Austen Society of North America. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  2. ^ Litz, W.. (1961). "The Loiterer: A Reflection of Jane Austen's Early Environment." The Review of English Studies, 12(47), 251–261. First page retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/512931
  3. ^ "Jane Austen's Siblings – Rev. Henry Thomas Austen 1771-1850". Austenprose. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  4. ^ Juliette Wells, “A Note on Henry Austen’s Authorship of the ‘Biographical Notice,’ Persuasions, Vol. 38, no. 1 (2017) http://www.jasna.org/publications/persuasions-online/vol38no1/wells/.
  5. ^ Looser, Devoney (2017). The Making of Jane Austen. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 6. ISBN 1421422824.
  6. ^ "Henry Thomas Austen". findagrave. Retrieved 21 September 2015.