Let’s Invent Some Jane Austen Epilogues! What Happens After “The End”?

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What happens after “The End” in Jane Austen’s famous novels? Here are our made-up Jane Austen epilogues for Austen’s six completed novels!

Pink background with the text "Jane Austen Endings: What (Might've) Happened Next," along with a movie still from the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, showing Charlotte, Lizzie, and Jane at the ball.

We all know that Jane Austen’s novels inevitably end in marriages (or pending weddings) for the main characters. But Austen’s protagonists–with few exceptions–are also very young. The wedding is really only their ushering into adulthood and the conclusion of their youthful maidenhood or bachelorhood, as they’ve come to a better understanding of themselves and where they can fit into society.

So have you ever wondered: what comes afterward? What’s next for these characters who are beginning the rest of their lives? Austen gives us a few glimpses into the future…just enough to spark the imagination and remind us that they do have a lot of life ahead of them.

I thought it would be great fun to share a few of my imagined outcomes for some of Jane Austen’s characters. I also asked Tea and Ink readers to make up their own Jane Austen endings, and several people sent in suggestions. I LOVE what they came up with!! If any of these inspire you to imagine your own Austen epilogues, please do share in the comments section below the post!

Now before we begin, it goes without saying that there are light spoilers here for things that actually happened in Austen’s novels, so bear that in mind.

Dashwood sisters seated in the parlour in the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Jane Austen Epilogues: What (Might’ve) Happened Next

Sense and Sensibility

My epilogue: Elinor and Edward, Marianne and Colonel Brandon remain close in distance as well as friendship. The Ferrars have two sons, who thankfully are much better friends and confidants than Edward and Robert. One of the boys grows up to marry the Brandon’s daughter Felicity (don’t look at me…cousins did that in Austen’s day, okay?) Meanwhile, the youngest Dashwood sister, Margaret, marries a Scottish sailor whom she meets at a dance.

After marrying off her three daughters, much to those daughters’ surprise (and delight), Mrs. Dashwood herself gets remarried. Her husband is an easy-going and kindly old gentleman, who, while not excessively wealthy, has enough money to occasionally spoil his wife and allow her to live out her days comfortably. After they marry and move to his small estate, Margaret and her husband continue living in Barton Cottage.

Here’s what other Tea and Ink readers imagined:

I imagine Margaret to have a sweet young teenager romance (like, 15, 16-ish)  with someone named Frederich (German, I guess! 🙂 ) And, while she was young in the book, I imagine she would be the one to grow up and have a lot of children.

As for Lucy and Robert, I imagine in the end, they sort of become like Mrs. and Mr. Lammle in Our Mutual Friend, though not quite that drastic.

And Elinor and Edward would always want a lot of children, but would only be able to have one, a girl.

Not quite sure about Marianne and Colonel Branden. I guess they just lived “happily ever after!”

– Carrianna A.

I like to envision that Margaret Dashwood ran away to sea when she was older to explore the world she saw through her atlas, and met a dashing pirate 🙂

– Rebecca M.

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy at dawn in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film
Photo credit: Focus Features

Pride and Prejudice

My epilogue: Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy raise four children at Pemberley–two boys and two girls–who revel in the wide expanses of the estate and enjoy hunting, fishing, and walking, as well as the more refined arts of dancing and improving their minds by extensive reading. The Darcy children are fast friends with their Bingley cousins–a sister and brother who come to visit often.

I have two endings I’d love to see. I always imagine Mary meeting the new clergy at Pemberly and marrying him. Kitty meets someone at a ball Bingley throws, he’s worth a lot less than both Darcy and Bingley but he has enough money to please Mrs. Bennet, and for Kitty to live comfortably. Mary and Kitty get a lot less silly after spending time with their brothers-in-law and their sisters.

– Holly L.

Because of Mr. Darcy’s wealth, Mary Bennet goes to a ladies college. There she meets and marries her theology teacher, Mr. Mason, whom she has much in common with.

Lydia Bennet leads a sad life. About five years into marriage, she finally realizes her husband doesn’t love her. They have an unhappy marriage with their four children, and often had to be helped out with, again, Mr. Darcy’s wealth. The family didn’t see Lydia and Wickham often, except Mrs. Bennet, who remains Lydia’s only “friend.”

Jane and Bingley live at Netherfield for the remainder of their lives, hardly going anywhere unless to Pemberly or a few trips to London. They lead a quiet, modest life, being friendly with everyone. They have several dear little children. Miss Bingley makes quarterly visits to Netherfield. These are endured with great patience. Eventually, though, Miss Bingley marries a rich American man, and she goes back to New York with him. So Jane is left in peace.

I asked my mom what she thought, and she had a good ending for Mary Bennet. She says Mary Bennet turns out the best of the three younger sisters. She marries a cheerful minister who appreciates her. The minister’s cheerfulness causes Mary to mellow out a bit and not be so stern. 

– Carrianna A.

Two years after the weddings of Elizabeth and Darcy, and Jane and Bingley, Mr. Bennet unexpectedly, but peacefully, passes away. His death triggers the entail of Longbourn to Mr. Collins.  

Mrs. Bennet’s grief at her husband’s death, and outrage over the entail, are quickly assuaged by her move to the commodious dower house at Netherfield with Mary and Kitty. Frequent visits to the manor house are welcomed by the ever-patient Jane and Bingley whenever the couple return from their second home near Pemberley.

As Charlotte and Mr. Collins prepare to move to Longbourn, Mr. Collins visits Rosings to offer his heartfelt parting remarks to Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter. Seeking to reinforce his reverence, Mr. Collins backs out of the room while bending low at the waist. Unfortunately, a corner of a carpet, left turned during the morning’s cleaning, upends Mr. Collins by catching his heel. Shockingly, Mr. Collins strikes his head on Rosing’s chimney-piece, which is worth at least eight hundred pounds, and is killed instantly.

After the untimely death of her husband, Charlotte Lucas Collins retires to Longbourn to peacefully raise her son. She was beloved by all in the neighborhood, except Mrs. Bennet.

– Janis M.

Fanny Price sitting at her writing desk in the 1999 Mansfield Park movie
Photo Credit: Miramax

Mansfield Park

My epilogue: Fanny and Edmund live cozily in the parsonage at Mansfield and have an “alarming” (according to Lady Bertram) number of children–having five of their own as well as adopting two of their nephews, when Fanny’s brother Sam perishes at sea (his wife had died earlier of consumption). After a dearth of true female friends growing up, Fanny finds a dear friend in Cassandra, a new parishioner who settles in the neighborhood with her husband.

Fanny takes delight in tending her garden, and also begins writing devotional poetry, which Cassandra sets to music; the hymns are sung in Edmund’s church. Fanny’s children–initially to her trepidation–put on a number of lively theatricals, but at the approbation of old Sir Bertram (who makes an enthusiastic audience), Fanny enjoys the productions and acknowledges that such entertainments, in the proper context, do indeed have their place.

Gwyneth Paltrow playing Emma in the 1996 movie adaptation - Emma holding a bouquet of flowers
Photo credit: Miramax

Emma

My epilogue: Old Mr. Woodhouse gets the pleasure of living to see two more grandchildren–the son and daughter of Emma and George Knightley. Emma devotes herself to many projects in Highbury–some of which endure longer than others–including founding a yearly flower show to raise funds for charity, establishing a small circulating library, and holding an annual ball at Donwell Abbey. When old Mrs. Bates dies, Emma and Mr. Knightley assist Miss Bates in setting up a tasteful confectionary shop on the main street of Highbury. This allows Miss Bates a genteel way of supplementing her meager income–as well as giving her many welcome opportunities to chat with her neighbors! 

Emma and Mr. Knightly live at Hartfield until Mr. Woodhouse’s death seven years later. During that seven years, three children were born, Isabelle, Alfred and Edwin. Once Mr. Woodhouse died, John and Isabella came back for the funeral, and told Emma and Mr. Knightly that they were coming back to Highbury to live. Emma and Mr. Knightly move back to Donwell, and John and Isabella take up Hartfield. Harriet and Robert Martin often visit Emma and Mr. Knightly, as well as Frank and Jane, who moved to London after their first child was born, but often come back to Highbury. Miss Bates goes to London to live with Jane after Mrs. Bates dies.

– Carrianna A.

Miss Bates eventually meets and is courted by a widowed farmer. She starts to get cold feet when she realizes she’s getting older and that she’s never been courted before, and she’s confused as to why anyone could be interested in her. She’s later on encouraged by Emma to allow herself to be pursued (even though Mr. Knightly tells Emma not to interfere), and it ends with her marrying the farmer and getting a happily ever after of her own.

– Holly L.

Movie still of Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland in the 2007 film of Northanger Abbey
Photo credit: ITV Studios

Northanger Abbey

My epilogue: Catherine and Henry Tilney have three daughters: Ruth, Emily (named after Mrs. Radcliffe’s heroine), and Catherine. Although tempered by maturity, Catherine (the elder) never loses her imaginative streak, and puts it to good use by becoming an acclaimed novelist. As her daughters grow older, Catherine finds them excellent confidants and first readers for her novels, and discovers that they are brimming with ideas for making each book better.

Sally Hawkins as Anne in the 2007 Persuasion film
Photo credit: ITV Studios

Persuasion

My epilogue: Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth purchase a comfortable home by the sea, with a lovely park and grounds, which Anne comes to love even more than Kellynch Hall. Although they are unable to have children of their own, Anne and Frederick are a popular aunt and uncle to their nieces and nephews, as well as the Harville children. Like Mrs. Croft before her, Anne accompanies her husband on many sea voyages. On one of these voyages, a young boy comes under the Wentworth’s protection, and they later adopt him. He grows up to marry the daughter of Captain Benwick and Louisa.

After many long, happy years of marriage, Admiral Frederick Wentworth passes away one afternoon while seated in his favourite armchair at a window looking out to sea. Anne finishes her life as serenely as ever, cherishing the memories of her years with Frederick and finding pleasure in watching her grandchildren grow up.

Your turn: Do you think these Jane Austen endings sound fitting? What endings do you imagine for Jane Austen’s characters?

Need to add Jane Austen to your home library? This hardcover Penguin clothbound boxed set includes all six completed novels, as well as a volume of her juvenilia and unfinished novels. Each volume includes notes, an introduction, and appendices. If you want to support independent bookstores, here’s the same set on Bookshop.org.

And if you’re on a tighter book budget but still want a boxed set, this collection from Arcturus is a lovely option! Here’s the same set on Bookshop.org.

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4 Comments

    1. Thank you! I can imagine the Tilneys having a very lively household…Catharine and Henry are both just so pleasant and fun!

  1. Oh this is delightful! I laughed so hard at the idea of Mr. Collins’ death by chimney-piece! A fitting end… I love the idea of the Darcys having two boys and two girls. I would love to read a spin-off novel about their growing up years at Pemberley with their nearby Bingley cousins! Miss Bates opening a confectionary shop sounds like a perfect outlet for her gregarious nature. That’s another spin off I want to read! I also love thinking of Fanny as a poet, a kind of Christina Rossetti of her era! I think she would be an amazing mother, too. I could totally see Catherine Tilney as a novelist! That’s too funny about her daughter named Emily.

    1. Yes, I think Christina Rossetti is a great comparison to the kind of poetry Fanny might write! Fanny does feel things so deeply…I think poetry would help her express it.

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