Catherine Anne Hubback was born in 1818 on the 7th of July, in Chawton, East Hampshire District, Hampshire, England. She was the daughter of, Sir Francis Austen (1174-1865), who was a Royal Navy Officer and, Mary Gibson, mother of Catherine and the first wife of Sir Francis.
They had 10 children and Catherine was 8th child and 4th daughter. After this Mary died, in the year 1823. Five years later, in 1828, Sir Francis Austen married to Martha Llyod.
How was Catherine’s childhood?
In her childhood, her aunt Cassandra Austen used to visit frequently. Cassandra was the elder sister of Jane Austen (1775-1817), An English Novelist. Jane Austen was the sibling of Sir Francis and hence Catherine’s aunt. Jane was very famous and wrote many novels and left some unfinished work too. As Jane died in the year 1817, Catherine never met her and didn’t know her personally.
But her aunt Cassandra used to bring her elder sister’s, Jane’s, novels with them. It was a tradition in the Austen family started by Cassandra, to read Jane’s work to her nieces. Cassandra not only brought her novels but also some of her unfinished work to her nieces.
Catherine married to the barrister John Hubback, in the year 1842. They had 4 children, a daughter, and three sons. Five years later, in the year 1847, John had a mental breakdown, probably because of work and due to continuous breakdowns, in the year 1850, he was sent to Brislington House asylum, where he spent the rest of his life until he died in the year 1885, 24th February, at the age of 74.
His burial took place in Saint Luke’s Churchyard, Brislington. His gravestone has printed
“ALSO IN MEMORY OF CATHERINE ANNE, HIS WIFE DAUGHTER OF SIR F.W AUSTEN GCB, ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET SHE DIED IN VIRGINIA, USA, 25TH FEBRUARY 1877”
“AND THERE WAS NO MORE SEA”
Catherine then moved to her father’s house. To support her family she started writing fiction, in the year 1850. From Cassandra (Aunt and elder sister of Jane), Catherine had copies of Jane’s unfinished work, The Watsons and Sandition. Catherine’s son (Edward Hubback) left England afterward, to make his fortune in California, United States.
Literary Career of Catherine Hubback
In the year 1850, after her husband died, she started writing fiction. She began with The Younger Sister, her best-known work ever, which was the completion of her Aunt Jane’s unfinished work, The Watsons.
The Watsons is considered a very promising work by Jane Austen, which she began in the year 1804, and was interrupted unfortunately in the year 1805, probably because of her father’s death. Catherine completed nine more novels after the completion of The Watsons, in the upcoming 13 years, till 1863.
Catherine’s work was very popular and much admired by the young middle-class ladies. Her novels were very popular at that time. They are rarely read now and not very easy to obtain.
Famous Works of Catherine Hubback
The Younger Sister
The Younger Sister written by Catherine was the completion of Jane Austen’s work, The Watson. Catherine started writing this novel soon after her husband died. She moved to her father’s home and started writing fiction.
The first novel written by Catherine was The Younger Sister. She started this novel in the year 1850 and finished in 1851. It is assumed that this novel is written by Catherine and not copied from her aunt’s novel which might have existed and Catherine had a copy of that.
The Younger Sister was dedicated to her aunt, Jane Austen. Catherine wrote, “Though too young to have known her personally, was from early childhood taught to esteem her virtues and admire her talents”. It is said by many people that Catherine did capitalize on her relationship with her aunt, whom she never knew personally.
The first five chapters of The Younger Sister resumes from The Watsons, in some manner. If point by point comparison is done between both of them it shows a very high resemblance, although some names are changed. Although, there was a change in Jane’s elegant style. Catherine’s style used in this novel was different, as compared to The Watsons.
More Works of Catherine Hubback
The Younger Sister: a novel (1850)
The Wife’s Sister, also known as, The Forbidden Marriage (1851)
May and December: a tale of wedded life (1854)
Love and Duty
Agnes Milbourne, also known as, Foy pour devoir (1856)
The Old Vicarage: a novel (1856)
The Rival Suitors (1857)
Mistakes of a Life (1863)
Later Life and Death
In the year 1870, Catherine moved to California, US, where her son (Edward Hubback) was settled in Oakland. Next year, in the year 1871, Catherine wrote to her son, John Hubback “I mean in future to have my name printed as Mrs. C. Austen Hubback and make-believe the A stands for that. I have written it at length so nobody knows and Austen is a good nom de plume”.
Catherine Hubback was a spirited, ardent, and very imaginative woman. John used the word “vivid” to describe her. At the age of 53, in the year 1871, Catherine went to her son, John, who came to the USA and became a successful grain merchant and settled there.
In the year 1876, Catherine moved to Gainsville, Virginia in the home of her son, Charley, who also moved to the United States of America. She died there on 25th February 1877, at the age of 59, from pneumonia. Her burial took place in Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church Cemetery Haymarket, Prince William County, Virginia, USA.