Posted on 06/19/2021 at 04:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Earlier this year, the folks who run Jane Austen’s House had to set the record straight about their updates to displays in the museum.

Yes, they were adding information about Austen’s father’s role as a sugar plantation trustee; no, they weren’t calling real or fictional people out for drinking tea, a plant dependent on enslaved labor.

Now scholars have new — and flattering — information to share about the Austen family in relation to slavery.

Specifically, according to professor and author Devoney Looser, there are records indicating that Austen’s brother Reverend Henry Thomas Austen was an abolitionist.

Another Austen brother, Francis, was already known to have mentioned his opposition to slavery in his personal diaries, but the revelation about Henry lends more support to those who wish to see the Austens as anti-slavery.

That said, Looser also cautioned in the Times Literary Supplement against trying to view the Austens — who, yes, had that tie to a plantation — as clearly pro- or anti-slavery.

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