Crime novelist Lindsay Ashford‘s new novel, The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, explores the possibility that Pride & Prejudice author Jane Austen was murdered.
According to The Guardian, Ashford read about symptoms of arsenic poisoning while combing through old volumes of Austen’s letters. A scholar told her that Austen’s hair was once tested for arsenic. Austen said she suffered from rheumatism, a disease treated with arsenic in the 1800s.
In the article, Ashford explained: “Having delved into her family background, there was a lot going on that has never been revealed and there could have been a motive for murder. In the early 19th century a lot of people were getting away with murder with arsenic as a weapon, because it wasn’t until the Marsh test was developed in 1836 that human remains could be analysed for the presence of arsenic.”
In July 1871, Austen passed away at age 41. Several theories have been put forth to identify the cause of her death from Addison’s disease to cancer.