Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
Benjamin Franklin corresponded his entire life with his youngest sister, Jane. Born in Boston into poverty, Jane married at fifteen and bore several children to a wastrel. She struggled through the deaths of many of her children, her husband’s debts, and the attack on and evacuation of Boston during the American Revolution. Throughout this turmoil, she remained steadfast and strong. Taught to read and write by her brother, she could never spell and strained to express herself in her letters. She constantly asked for books to be sent to her so she could improve her mind. She recorded births and deaths in her “Book of Ages.” She lived a long life through numerous tragedies, but her faith kept her grounded.
Jane’s life was limited due to the restrictions on women in the 18th century, but she did all she could for improvement and industry with meager resources. Her letters to Ben Franklin are presented here with all their misspellings and period jargon. Her wit and opinions shine through. Jane Franklin was a woman of substance. This tale of an “ordinary” woman of the mid-18th century, and her illustrious brother—in the wake of America’s birth—makes fascinating reading.