It is a truth universally acknowledged -- or nearly so -- that Jane Austen, the author of "Pride and Prejudice," died of a rare illness called Addison's disease, which robs the body of the ability to make critical hormones.
Katherine White doesn't believe it. White, herself a sufferer of Addison's disease, has studied Austen's own letters and those of her family and friends, and concluded that key symptoms just don't match what's known about the illness.
The disease -- a failure of the adrenal glands -- was unknown in Austen's day, first having been identified nearly 40 years after she died in 1817 at the age of 41.
White is not the first to dispute the theory that Addison's disease killed Austen. British biographer Claire Tomalin suggested in a 1997 book that lymphoma was the culprit.
White finds that, too, unlikely. She suspects the answer is much simpler: tuberculosis.