Thursday, November 17, 2011
Pride, Prejudice, and a Pinch of Arsenic
Jane Austen died of a mysterious illness at the age of 41. Some experts claim she died of cancer. Others insist it was Addison's Disease. Now the author of a new book is offering a rather novel theory. She believes Jane Austen may have been POISONED!
Jane is known for having had a pretty sharp tongue. Was it sharp enough to offend one of her neighbors? Sharp enough to drive that neighbor to . . . MURDER? (Okay, enough caps for now.)
The theory stems from a letter Jane penned a few months before she died. In it, she writes, "I am considerably better now and am recovering my looks a little, which have been bad enough, black and white and every wrong colour."
One of the symptoms of arsenic poisoning is discoloration of the skin, which develops unusual black and white patches. However, while the murder theory is very intriguing, accidental poisonings were quite common in Austen's day. (In the nineteenth century, even children's medicines contained powerful opiates or deadly poisons.)
But don't let my skepticism stop any sleuths out there. Prove Austen was murdered--and identify the culprit--and you'll have solved one of the greatest murder mysteries of all time!
Read more here.