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Biography of Care Experienced People

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Jane Austen at Home: A Biography

Lucy Worsley


In this biography, we find out that Jane Austen (1775-1817) was in foster care as a small child. Cassandra Austen apparently weaned her babies as soon as possible and then sent them to a foster mother (probably a Mrs Littleworth) who cared for them until they were walking and talking.

The children’s parents visited the children daily, and sometimes the infants returned to the rectory for a visit too. But their home was in foster care.

Lucy Worsley argues there were benefits to this arrangement in that all the children survived. However, the bonds between the children and their mother were weakened so much that her children barely noticed when Mrs Austen was absent from the rectory.

Because Jane Austen also went to boarding school, Worsley estimates she spent nearly 5 of her first 11 years away from home.

There are other Care Experienced family members too, as Jane Austen’s father was an orphan, her brother George lived in foster care all his childhood, and her brother Edward was adopted by the Knight family when he was 16.

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