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.

6 comments:

Hazel said...

I believe the green paint used in wallpaper was made of arsenic, which could leach into the air if it was damp enough, and England probably is. (I'm not sure when it was made that way, though.)

Kitty said...

Well, anything is possible... Like what you said, things back then weren't safe. ):

Anonymous said...

Arsenic used to be used for cosmetics and medicine back in the early 1800's. And sometimes it just gets into water from wells. Even today, arsenic compounds do have a few medical uses. I'm not smug about this -- I'm pretty sure the place I'm living in now was built with wood treated with an arsenic and copper compound.

Robert in San Diego

Rachel said...

Interesting..............

The 355 said...

what an awesome idea for a period detective piece. But yes arsenic and even opium was used every were even in food!

Ju L. said...

Fascinating. Great idea for a book!