About the Author
After a career in academia, sheila pursued her fascination with literature, in particular the novels of jane austen
Sheila was born and raised in land locked London, Ontario, Canada; and now lives by the Atlantic Ocean in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto, she worked for forty years in the Philosophy Department of Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, teaching Critical Thinking and Bioethics. However, her interest in Philosophy never precluded a fascination with literature, in particular the novels of Jane Austen.
Sheila’s curiosity about Austen and her family took a new direction when she discovered that her brother Charles had spent considerable time in Halifax during his early naval career. Further sleuthing revealed the story Sheila really wanted to tell. She discovered the love match between Charles Austen and Bermuda - born Fanny Palmer and their life together. Intrigued by Fanny Austen’s articulate and candid letters, written from Halifax, Nova Scotia and England, Sheila researched her extraordinary naval life with Charles Austen on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean during the later years of the Napoleonic Wars. The result is the award-winning, best-selling book, Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017).
Sheila has made a series of invited presentations about the nomadic naval life of the genteel Fanny Austen and echoes of it to be found in Jane Austen’s female naval characters, and has spoken to audiences in Canada, Bermuda, USA and UK. Sheila did a book tour in Australia in February 2019 .
Sheila is a member of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, the Jane Austen Society of North America, the Jane Austen Society UK and the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society.