A new biography says it’s more likely she had sex with a woman than with a man.
Michaela Morgan

31 May 2017 - 3:59 PM  UPDATED 31 May 2017 - 4:04 PM

A BBC presenter and historian says that the iconic novelist Jane Austen could well have had lesbian sex, the Independent reports. 

Lucy Worsley is the author of Jane Austen at Home: A Biography—a new book in which she contemplates the sex life of the Pride and Prejudice writer.

“People often long to know if the eternal spinster Jane Austen ever had sex with a man," Worsley says.

"The answer,” she concludes, “is almost certainly not.”

Worsley says that as far as heterosexual sex was concerned, Austen was in a “tricky position in society” because of the risks involved.


“For a female member of the gentry, or pseudo-gentry, a pregnancy outside marriage would have been world shattering," she explains.

However, when it came to lesbian sex, Worsley says that “the stakes would have been much lower”.

“Yes, it was frowned on by society," she continues, "but this was an age where women very often shared beds, and Jane herself frequently records sleeping with a female friend”.

She adds: “It wasn’t pursued in the law courts, or policed against by the matrons of polite society.”

Worsley goes on to say that lesbian sex incurred less of a risk because many believed it was a myth anyway.

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“This was not least because many of them didn’t quite believe that it was even possible," she says, “So that door of possibility may remain ajar. People were much less worried about lesbian sex in general”.

Worlsey says Austen would have known “more than many people realise about what was considered at the time to be deviant sex”.

“Jane was a writer of the late Georgian period, a much bawdier age,” says Worsley.

This July marks 200 years since Austen died at age 41 in Winchester, England.