An astonishing new report out of Britain claims that something may have killed Jane Austen that no one before thought of.
An incredible new report from researchers in the UK claims that famous author Jane Austen may have been killed by something that caught many people by surprise: her spectacles, which may have poisoned her with arsenic. Not everyone is buying into this theory, saying she likely died of cataracts, but it’s certainly gotten the literary world talking.
Sandra Tuppen, the lead curator British Library’s Modern Archives & Manuscripts 1601-1850, claimed in a blog post on Thursday that arsenic poisoning from her own glasses is what killed her. Austen, who was born in 1775 and died in 1817, wrote the novels “Emma” and “Pride and Prejudice,” to name a few. Three pairs of glasses she apparently wore that are in the care of the British Library are central to the curator’s claim of arsenic poisoning.
She noticed that Austen’s glasses had tremendous variation in prescription strength. Arsenic poisoning is certainly known to cause cataracts, she noted. But what is it arsenic? She makes the case that it was based on a variety of circumstantial evidence, but scholars reject the claim by and large.
“The British Library has for the first time had the spectacles tested,” the blog post states. “Our Conservation department was involved from the start, to ensure that no harm would come to them. The company Birmingham Optical kindly supplied us with a lensmeter to measure their strength, and their specialist staff undertook the tests. The tests revealed that the three pairs of spectacles are all convex or ‘plus’ lenses, so would have been used by someone longsighted. In other words their owner needed glasses for close-up tasks, such as reading. Interestingly, ‘tortoiseshell pair B’ is much stronger than the others.”