Early in 1817 Jane began to write Sanditon, but she became ill and the book was never finished. She was referred by her doctor to a doctor in Winchester and she moved into lodgings in College Street in Winchester (right - now a private house) with Cassandra for the last few weeks of her life. She bravely kept up her spirits until dying on 18 July, her head on Cassandra's shoulder, from what is now known as Addison's Disease, at the age of 41.
Extract from the diary of Mary Austen, nee Lloyd, (1771-1843)
17 July 1817 "Jane Austen was taken for death about ½ past 5 in the Evening"
18 July 1817 Jane breathed her last ½ after four in the morn; only Cass[andra] and I were with her. Henry came, Austen & Ed came, the latter returned home"
Hampshire Record Office ref 23M93/62/1/8
Austen is Mary's husband, James, who was an elder brother to Jane and Edward is James Edward Austen-Leigh, her nephew.
Jane's funeral was held in Winchester Cathedral and she was buried in the north aisle. Just as her novels were published anonymously, the inscription on her tomb (right) makes no mention of her literary talents:
In Memory of JANE AUSTEN, youngest daughter of the late Revd GEORGE AUSTEN, formerly Rector of Steventon in this County. She departed this Life on the 18th of July 1817, aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and the hopes of a Christian. The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her and the warmest love of her intimate connections. Their grief is in proportion to their affection, they know their loss to be irreparable, but in their deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her REDEEMER.
A brass tablet was added at a later date.
Jane Austen. Known to many by her writings, endeared to her family by the varied charms of her character and ennobled by her Christian faith and piety was born at Steventon in the County of Hants, December 16 1775 and buried in the Cathedral July 18 1817. "She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness".
A fair form, and a fairer mind
Her family mourned her loss deeply, as this extract from an original poem by her brother, James Austen, shows: "Lines to the memory of … Jane Austen, who died at Winchester July 18th 1817, & was buried in that Cathedral."
"In her, rare union, were combined a fair form, and a fairer mind;
Hers fancy quick, and clear good sense,
And wit which never gave offence;
A heart as warm as ever beat, A temper even; calm & sweet.
Though quick & keen her mental eye Poor nature's foibles to espy,
And seemed for [ever?] on the watch,
Some trails of ridicule to catch
Yet not a word she ever penned
Which hurt the feelings of a friend."