Images of Francis 'Fly' Austen
Images of Francis ‘Fly’ Austen

The novelist Jane Austen had two seafaring brothers, Francis and the younger Charles. Francis in particular had a most distinguished naval career. Many of the personal details I ascribed to the fictitious Fly are true to the real Francis Austen (1774 – 1865). For example, his nickname was ‘Fly,’ his eyes were described as being ‘alert,’ and he did to his great disappointment miss seeing action at Trafalgar.

Still, I took literary licence with the character I ultimately created. Francis Austen did fight the Americans in the War of 1812, but not in the Atlantic, and not as the commander of a ship of seventy-four guns known as the Isabelle; in 1813, he had long since been promoted to captain. I do like to think, however, that the well-respected, intelligent, courageous, and humorous Fly Austen in my novels is very similar to the man that once was.

Historical Backdrop – Francis ‘Fly’ Austen