Jane Austen Prescribed To Treat Shell Shock


Doctors treating WWI victims of shell shock prescribed Jane Austen novels to help their patients cope with the horrors of war.  It was found that their romantic storylines had a soothing effect on the men.  Her fiction allowed the soldiers to remove themselves from the war, if even for a bit.

Dr Paula Byrne, an Oxford fellow and writer, has revealed that the author’s works were able to give veterans a sense of security and comfort because of their soothing effect.

Speaking to The Telegraph, she said: ‘Jane Austen was prescribed to shell shock victims after the First World War as an antidote to mental trouble.

‘She was read in the trenches. She was a prescribed script for tortured, troubled souls.

‘She’s always been adored by the academic community and the popular community and there are few people who do inspire that kind of devotion.’

For those of us that are fans of Downton Abbey and Jane Austen understand this all too well.  For even an hour we can forget the dishes in the sink, the bills needing to be paid, and even the pain of a recent loss.



  1. Love this 🙂 Jane is a hero!

  2. This is a very interesting fact about Jane Austen I did not know. I knew she had a soothing effect on my mind when I read what I consider to be her best novel, Pride and Prejudice, but I did not know that was universal. And in the part of the world I live in, men usually don’t read Jane Austen. I find it so wonderful that it helped soldiers who were psychologically scarred by a war so terrible as World War One. I wonder if this would work for today’s soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan?

    • I wondered the same thing. I think the books just point to a simpler time and that’s always soothing.

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