#1
A new theory has claimed Jane Austen was almost totally blind at the end of her life, as a result of being poisoned by arsenic.

The Pride And Prejudice author died in 1817, aged 41, and tests on three pairs of glasses that have been handed down through her descendants show that her eyesight grew increasingly poor as she grew older.

Was Jane Austen poisoned by ARSENIC? Studies of her glasses show she was virtually blind and experts say toxic heavy metals used to treat her rheumatism may be to blame


Tests have been carried out on three pairs of glasses by The British Library

It shows that she may have developed cataracts, which can be caused by arsenic

She is already known to have had another symptom, unusual skin pigmentation

Heavy metal arsenic was found in 19th Century water supplies and medicines

By Paddy Dinham For Mailonline
11 March 2017


Arsenic poisoning may have caused Jane Austen to be nearly completely blind before she died

A new theory has claimed Jane Austen was almost totally blind at the end of her life, as a result of being poisoned by arsenic.

The Pride And Prejudice author died in 1817, aged 41, and tests on three pairs of glasses that have been handed down through her descendants show that her eyesight grew increasingly poor as she grew older.

She is known to have referenced her frustration at her lack of vision in several letters.

Based on a description of unusual pigmentation on her face, crime writer Lindsay Ashford speculated she may well have suffered from arsenic poisoning.

The conclusion is made more likely by the fact the substance was commonly found in water supplies and medicines in those times.

It is suggested that it she may well have ingested the heavy metal through medication for rheumatism, which she is also known to have suffered with.

And the spectacles, which have been tested for the first time by the British Library, reveal she had convex lenses - used by longsighted people - and may have suffered from cataracts, which can be developed from arsenic poisoning.

Two tortoiseshell glasses and a wire-framed pair were examined by London-based optometrist Simon Barnard, that latter pair earlier in her life, and the former two as her condition worsened.

Austen's family passed the glasses to the British Library in 1999, but it has taken almost two decades for any real study to be done on them.


The wire-framed glasses (left) and two tortoiseshell pairs that were tested by the British Library

The library's Lead Curator, Sandra Tuppen, has published a blog (external - login to view) on the discovery and said: 'The variations in the strength of the British Library’s three pairs of spectacles may indeed give further credence to the theory that Austen suffered from arsenic poisoning, albeit accidental.'

She told MailOnline: 'The prescription of the strongest pair would suggest that she suffered from significant eye problems.

'Hopefully this will give us an avenue for further research.'

She added, however, that it still has not been confirmed whether she bought them, and they may have been bought without proper testing being done on her eyes, so they may have been too strong.


The new English and Welsh £10 note, featuring Jane Austen, enters circulation in September


Read more: Was Jane Austen poisoned by ARSENIC? | Daily Mail Online
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter (external - login to view) | DailyMail on Facebook (external - login to view)