decorated initial 'C'atherine-Anne Hubback, née Austen, was the eighth child and fourth daughter of (Sir) Francis Austen (1774-1865), one of Jane Austen’s brothers, a successful naval officer who became Admiral of the Fleet and G.C.B. His first wife, Mary Gibson, bore him eleven children. Five years after her death in 1823, he married Martha Lloyd, who had long lived with old Mrs Austen and her unmarried eldest daughter. Born in 1818, Catherine never knew her Aunt Jane. However, Cassandra, Jane Austen’s elder sister, was a frequent visitor, introducing Frank’s children to the works of their Aunt Jane, to the history of her life, and also to her unpublished writings. In Jane Austen; her Life and Letters, a Family Record, first published in 1913, William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh have confirmed that Cassandra not only read Jane Austen’s novels aloud to Frank’s daughters Cassy-Eliza, Catherine-Anne and Fanny-Sophia Austen, who were still at home at the time of her visits, but that she also took with her the untitled manuscripts of what have come to be known as The Watsons and Sanditon (242). Catherine apparently made copies for herself, one of which she was later to use in order to write the first completed continuation of Jane Austen’s novels, The Younger Sister, published in 1850.

In 1842 Catherine married the barrister John Hubback. They had three children, but in 1847 her husband suffered a mental breakdown and after three years of repeatedly disappointed hopes of his recovery he was committed to an asylum, and Catherine consequently returned to her parents’ house. In order to support herself and her three boys, she started writing fiction. Following her second son, who had left England to seek his fortune in California, she emigrated to America in 1870. Her letters from Oakland to her family are held in the Bodleian Library and have been the subject of recent research. Catherine Hubback died in 1877.

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References

Austen-Leigh, William and Richard Arthur, Jane Austen; her Life and Letters, a Family Record [1913], revised and enlarged by Deirdre Le Faye. London: The British Library, 1989.


Victorian Web Overview Catherine Hubback

Last modified 3 December 2002