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Archive for June, 2010

News Alert from Utah:  from Utah Public Radio

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has become part of the canon of Western literature, and it has a huge fan following. Why does this story still speak to us today, in both the original novel form and its many adaptations? We’ll explore the subject with four guests: two who are BYU professors and two who are integrally involved with its production at this year’s Shakespearean festival. 

 You can listen here:  Classical 89: Thinking Aloud  [click on the P&P link for June 28, 2010] 

The Utah Shakespearean Festival is staging Pride & Prejudice through August 28th, with various Austen-related events during the “Jane Austen Week” of July 19-24.  [and the JASNA Utah Region is very much involved.]

With thanks to Janeite Sylvia for this information [her son is the director!]

[Posted by Deb]

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Laurel Ann at her Austenprose blog is currently posting a month-long group read through Pride & Prejudice – do visit and join in the discussion! – she is as always an insightful reader and discussion leader, and what better way to spend the first month of summer musing on P&P and the finer points of Austen’s magic!
 
The publishing history of P&P, Austen’s most popular book, then and now, is an interesting study in the book trade of early 19th century England.  First completed in 1797 [and called First Impressions] and rejected by the publisher her father took the manuscript to, Austen reworked P&P and submitted it to Thomas Egerton, the publishing house of her Sense & Sensibility, in 1812 [published January 28, 1813].   She sold the copyright outright for £110, and did not incur other expenses in its publication, as in the three other works published in her lifetime [see links below for more information.]  How we would love to know her thoughts on this road to publication! – how we would love to have her letters written while in the process of the writing to give us some idea of her imagination at work [where WAS the model for Pemberley?  was Mr. Darcy someone REAL?  was Elizabeth Bennet her alter ego? was MR COLLINS drawn from life?], or to have the letters to her brother Henry and his to Egerton – but alas! we have nothing, just a few comments scattered among the surviving letters. 
 
Austen does not give us much in her letters as to her writing practices or narrative theory [and thus such a disappointment when they were first published, criticized for their "mundaneness," their focus on domestic nothings and neighborhood gossip!] – but if you dig for diamonds you will find them, and these scattered mentions are certainly diamonds – it is the feeling of having her right over your shoulder when you read that she is “disgusted” with the way her mother is reading her book aloud, or that she REALLY likes this earning money for her labors, or being miffed [but also full of pride!] with Henry for telling her Secret to one and all – we see Jane Austen here in her own words – the funny, ironic, brilliant Jane Austen – never enough, but this is as good as it is going to get. 
 
So in this post I offer all the references she makes to Pride & Prejudice, her “own darling Child” – read them and enjoy!
[NOTE:  page references are to Deirdre Le Faye, ed., Jane Austen's Letters, 3rd ed., Oxford, 1997;  all abbreviations and spelling errors are retained]
 
Letter 17. January 8-9, 1799 to Cassandra, from Steventon
 
I do wonder at your wanting to read first impressions again, so seldom as you have gone through it, & that so long ago. [page 35]
 
[Le Faye notes that this is the first surviving mention of Austen's literary work, this prototype of P&P having been finished in August 1797; Note, p. 366]
 
Letter 21. June 11, 1799,  To Cassandra, from Bath
 
I would not let Martha read First Impressions again upon any account, & I am very glad that I did not leave it in your power. – She is very cunning, but I see through her design; – she means to publish it from Memory, & one more perusal must enable her to do it.  [p.44]
 
Letter 77.  November 29-30, 1812, to Martha Lloyd from Chawton
 
P.& P. is sold. – Egerton gives £110 for it. – I would rather have had £150, but we could not both be pleased, & I am not at all surprised that he should not chuse to hazard so much. – It’s being sold will I hope be a great saving of Trouble to Henry, & therefore must be welcome to me. – The Money is to be paid at the end of the twelvemonth. [p. 197]
 
 
Letter 79.  January 29, 1813, to Cassandra from Chawton    
 
I want to tell you that I have got my own darling Child from London; – on Wednesday I received one Copy, sent down by Falknor, with three lines from Henry to say that he had given another to Charles & sent a 3d by the Coach to Godmersham; just the two Sets which I was least eager for the disposal of.  I wrote to him immediately to beg for my own two other Sets, unless he would take the trouble of forwarding them at once to Steventon & Portsmouth – not having any idea of his leaving Town before today; – by your account however he was gone before my Letter was written.  The only evil is the delay, nothing more can be done till his return.  Tell James & Mary so, with my Love. – For your sake I am as well pleased that it shd be so, as it might be unpleasant to you to be in the Neighborhood at the first burst of the business. – The Advertisement is in our paper to day [the Morning Chronicle of January 28, 1813]. – 18s – He shall ask £1-1- for my two next, & £1-8 – for my stupidest of all. I shall write to Frank, that he may not feel himself neglected.  Miss Benn dined with us on the very day of the Books coming, & in the eveng we set fairly at it & read half the 1st vol. to her – prefacing that having intelligence from Henry that such a work wd soon appear we had desired him to send it whenever it came out – & I beleive it passed with her unsuspected. – She was amused, poor soul! that she cd not help you know, with two such people to lead the way [JA and her mother]; but she really does seem to admire Elizabeth.  I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know. – There are a few Typical errors – & a “said he” or a “said she” would sometimes make the Dialogue more immediately clear – but “I do not write for such dull Elves” “As have not a great deal of Ingenuity themselves.”  [from Scott's Marmion] – The 2d vol. is shorter than I cd wish – but the difference is not so much in reality as in look, there being a a larger proportion of Narrative in that part.  I have lopt & cropt so successfully however that I imagine it must be rather shorter than S. & S. altogether. – Now I will try to write of something else; – it shall be a complete change of subject – Ordination. [p. 201-2]
 
 
 
Letter 80.  February 4, 1813, to Cassandra from Chawton
 
Your letter was truely welcome & I am much obliged to you all for your praise; it came at a right time, for I had had some fits of disgust. – our 2d evening’s reading to Miss Benn had not pleased me so well, but I beleive something must be attributed to my Mother’s too rapid way of getting on – & tho’ she perfectly understands the Characters herself, she cannot speak as they ought. – upon the whole however I am quite vain enough & well satisfied enough. – The work is rather too light & bright & sparkling; – it wants shade; – it wants to be stretched out here & there with a long Chapter – of sense if it could be had, if not of solemn specious nonsense – about something unconnected with the story; an Essay on Writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or a history of Buonaparte – or anything that would form a contrast & bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness & Epigrammatism of the general stile. -  I doubt your quite agreeing with me here – I know your starched Notions. – The caution observed at Steventon with regard to the possession of the book is an agreable surprise to me, & I heartily wish it may be the means of saving you from everything unpleasant; – but you must be prepared for the Neighbourhood being perhaps already informed of there being such a Work in the World, & in the Chawton World! Dummer will do that you know. – It was spoken of here one morng when Mrs. D. [Digweed] called with Miss Benn. – The greatest blunder in the Printing that I have met with is in Page 220 – Vol.3 where two speeches are made into one. – There might as well have been no suppers at Longbourn, but I suppose it was the remains of Mrs. Bennet’s old Meryton habits. [p. 203]

Mrs. George Austen

 
I had a letter from Henry yesterday, written on Sunday from Oxford; mine had been forwarded to him… he says that copies were sent to S. [Steventon] & P. [Portsmouth] at the same time as the others. [p. 204]
 
 
Letter 81.  February 9, 1813, to Cassandra from Chawton
 
I am exceedingly pleased that you say what you do, after having gone thro the whole work – & Fanny’s praise is very gratifying; – my hopes were tolerably strong for her, but nothing like a certainty.  Her liking Darcy & Elizabeth is enough.  She might hate all the others, if she would. I have her opinion under her own hand this morning, but your transcript of it which I read first, was not & is not the less acceptable. – To me, it is of course all praise – but the more exact truth which she sends you is good enough. [p. 205]
 
Yes, I beleive I shall tell Anna – & if you see her, & donot dislike the commission, you may tell her for me.  You know I meant to do it as handsomely as I could.  But she will probably not return in time [p. 205, referring to telling her niece Anna that she is the author of S&S and P&P, note p. 414]
 
…- there is still work for one evening more. [p. 206, to finish reading P&P aloud, note p. 414]
 
 
Letter 85.  May 24, 1813, to Cassandra from London
 
…Henry & I went to the Exhibition in Spring Gardens.  It is not thought a good collection, but I was very well pleased – particularly [pray tell Fanny] with a small portrait of Mrs. Bingley, excessively like her.  I was in hopes of seeing one of her Sister, but there was no Mrs. Darcy; – perhaps however, I may find her in the Great Exhibition which we shall go to, if we have time; – I have no chance of her in the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Paintings which now is shewing in Pall Mall & which we are also to visit. – Mrs. Bingley is exactly herself, size, shaped face, features and sweetness; there never was a greater likeness.  She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I have always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her.  I dare say Mrs. D. will be in Yellow. [p. 212] 
 
 [Portrait of a Lady, by J.F.M. Huet-Villiers]
a.k.a. Mrs. Bingley
 
 
I am very much obliged to Fanny for her Letter; – it made me laugh heartily; but I cannot pretend to answer it.  Even had I more time, I should not feel at all sure of the sort of Letter that Miss D. would write… [p. 213, referring to a letter from Fanny written to and expecting a response from Georgiana Darcy - Note p. 417]
 
We have been to both the Exhibition & Sir J. Reynolds’, – and I am disappointed, for there was nothing like Mrs. D. at either. – I can only imagine that Mr. D. prizes any Picture of her too much to like it should be exposed to the public eye. – I can imagine he wd have that sort [of, omitted] feeling – that mixture of Love, Pride & Delicacy. [p. 213]
 
 Letter 86.  July 3-6, 1813, to Francis Austen from Chawton
 
You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S.&S. is sold & that it has brought me £140 – besides the Copyright, if that shd ever be of any value. – I have now therefore written myself into £250. – which only makes me long for more. – I have something on hand – which I hope on the credit of P. & P. will sell well, tho’ not half so entertaining… [referring to Mansfield Park] [p. 217]
 
 Letter 87.  September 15-16, 1813, to Cassandra from London
 
Lady Robert [Kerr, nee Mary Gilbert] delighted with P. & P – and really was so I understand before she knew who wrote it – for, of course, she knows now. – He [Henry] told her with as much satisfaction as if it were my wish.  He did not tell me this, but he told Fanny.  And Mr. Hastings – I am quite delighted with what such a Man writes about it. – Henry sent him the Books after his return from Daylesford – but you will hear the Letter too.  // Let me be rational & return to my two full stops. [p. 218]
 
I long to have you hear Mr. H’s [Warren Hastings] opinion of P&P.  His admiring of Elizabeth so much is particularly welcome to me. [p. 221]
 
 
Letter 89.  September 23-24, 1813, to Cassandra from Godmersham Park
 
Poor Dr. Isham is obliged to admire P.&P. – & to send me word that he is sure he shall not like Mde. Darblay’s new Novel half so well. - Mrs. C. [Cooke] invented it all of course. [referring to Frances Burney's The Wanderer, published in 1814] [p. 227]
 
 
Letter 90.  September 25, 1813, to Francis Austen from Godmerhsam Park  
 
I thank you very warmly for your kind consent to my application & the kind hint that followed it. [asking Frank if she can use the names of his old ships in her her current work, MP] - but the truth is that the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret now – & that I beleive whenever the 3d appears I shall not even attempt to tell Lies about it. – I shall rather try to make all the Money than all the Mystery I can of it. – People shall pay for their knowledge if I can make them. – Henry heard P. & P. warmly praised in Scotland, by Lady Robt Kerr & another Lady; – and what does he do in the warmth of his Brotherly vanity & Love, but immediately tell them who wrote it! – A Thing once set going in that way – one knows how it spreads! – and he, dear Creature, has set is going so much more than once.  I know it is done from affection & partiality – but at the same time, let me here again express to you & Mary my sense of the superior kindness which you have shewn on the occasion, in doing what I wished. – I am trying to harden myself. – After all, what a trifle it is in all its Bearings, to the really important points of one’s existence even in the World!  [p. 231]

Henry Austen

 
There is to be a 2d Edition of S.&S. Egerton advises it. [p. 232, referring to her publisher]
 
 
Letter 104.  August 10-18, 1814, to Anna Austen from Chawton
 
Now we have finished the 2d book – or rather the 5th – I do think you had better omit Lady Helena’s postscript; to those who are acquainted with P.&P it will seem an Imitation. [p. 268, referring to Anna's manuscript sent to JA for advice]
 
  
Letter 128.  November 26, 1815, to Cassandra from London
 
Mr. H is reading Mansfield Park for the first time & prefers it to P&P. [p. 301, referring to Mr. Haden, London surgeon, "who brought good Manners & clever conversation" ]
 
  
Letter 132(Draft).  December 11, 1815, to James Stanier Clarke from London
 
My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work [Emma] shd not disgrace what was good in the others.  But on this point I will do myself the justice to declare that whatever may be my wishes for its’ success, I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who preferred MP. very inferior in good sense… [p. 306]
 
 
Letter 134(A).  December 27, 1815, from the Countess of Morley to JA at Chawton
 
I am most anxiously waiting for an introduction to Emma…. I am already become quite intimate in the Woodhouse family, & feel that they will not amuse & interest me less than the Bennetts [sic], Bertrams, Norriss & all their admirable predecessors – I can give them no higher praise- [p. 308]
 
************************************
 [a letter-writing Fanny Austen-Knight by Cassandra]
Ah! indeed! – no higher praise…
 
 
Further reading:

[Posted by Deb]

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Just to share several sites / posts recently discovered / re-discovered:

Tony Grant at his London Calling blog has written another two posts on Jane Austen:  Jane Austen and the Vicars and The Cobb and the Undercliff at Lyme Regis, complete with great photographs and Tony’s commentary.  [Visit his blog and search "Jane Austen" for his other photographic treks to Austen sites.] 

Mr. Grant has recently joined the Jane Austen Today blog as a weekly columnist – he has written on Jane Austen being fit and the recent post on Jane Austen’s World Cup football team [and thankfully we tied with the UK in the first game, though they may have won if they had had Mr. Darcy as the "goalscorer supreme'!]

Tony also alerted me to the website Geograph Britain and Ireland – a collection of photographs that represent every square kilometer of the UK.  You can search any town relating to Jane Austen and find numerous current depictions of the area:  Steventon, Lyme Regis, London, Bath, Chawton, etc… [Tony has contributed a number of his photographs as well...]

Worting House in Hampshire

[see below for the Austen connection*] 

Janeite Marti sent me this link to the Two Nerdy History Girls  post on the history of chocolate – there is a link to a video from American Heritage Chocolate on how chocolate was made in Colonial Williamsburg… YUM! -  subscribe to the “two nerdy girls” [both historical fiction writers] blog for other great articles…

Here is a great blog idea – “letters written to fictional characters by actual people” – visit the blog at Letters with Character - visit here for two Austen-related letters:  one to Elizabeth and one to Mr. Darcy. [what would YOU write to an Austen character?? ]

When Masterpiece Theatre produced and aired the Jane Austen programs two years ago, they also created “The Complete Guide to Teaching Jane Austen” which is available in a 24-page pdf file on their website – a wonderful resource for viewing and discussing all the films, not just the 2008 versions.  Print it out and settle in for another marathon film adventure!

This guide offers ideas and tips on how to teach the works of Jane Austen, using film as another avenue into her world. The guide has been organized so it can easily be adapted for various needs. Sections that explore universal themes—Novel to Film, the Art of Adaptation, Self-Discovery, Society and the Self, Satire and Irony—provide questions and activities that can be used for any of Austen’s works. Before and After Viewing questions have been provided for each film so you can thoroughly explore whatever title you choose to teach. Other features include an essay about Austen’s continued popularity, biographical information, and an exploration of the role of biography in an author’s work.

[from the PBS / Masterpiece Theatre website]

The Dolphin Hotel in Southampton where Jane Austen danced away in the “Assembly Room” has been refurbished as the Mercure Southampton Centre.  There is a “Jane Austen function room” suitable for weddings, etc., if you would like to celebrate in the same space Austen did on her 18th birthday in 1793.  Austen lived in Southampton from 1805-1809 prior to her move to Chawton in 1809.

Robert Rodi at the Bitch in a Bonnet blog that I alerted you all to awhile back, has finished his summing up of Pride & Prejudice - lovely final words, worthy of a repeat:

Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I laugh.  It’s the laughter of philosophy; the clear, cold laughter of those who reside in the abyss but are untouched by its sweat-soaked, writhing tumult.  We laugh, because Austen lifts us above the fray and nimbly escorts us to a farther shore, where there are kindred spirits waiting.  We can’t stay there long; but we can return whenever we like…again, and again, and again, and again. 

…makes you want to run right to your bookshelf and begin it all again, doesn’t it?

And speaking of P&P, Laurel Ann at Austenprose starts her month-long reading [no mash-ups, zombies, vampires, slashing heroines for Laurel Ann - yea!! - back to the real thing for her, thank goodness...] – it all starts on June 16th, so begin your reading of chapters 1-7 NOW and join in the analysis and discussion…

Visit Gillray’s Printshop of Historical Absurdities of the 18th and 19th centuries – there are many of them, so an endless treasure chest of information…

And finally, for the fashion-conscious, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich Connecticut has a new exhibit on The Dressmaker’s Art:

The Bruce Museum’s major summer exhibition, The Dressmaker’s Art: Highlights from the Bruce Museum’s Costume Collection, organized by guest curator Adrienne Saint-Pierre, features twenty-four elegant gowns and dresses along with displays of lavishly embellished accessories and underpinnings such as taffeta and lace petticoats, primarily taken from the collection of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. Additional items are on loan from the Fairfield Museum and History Center.

[Ball gown, c1895, Worth, Paris]

The earliest gown is from 1820 and the exhibit displays fashions through the early 20th century – visit the Museum’s website for more information – a delight to have this exhibit here in New England!

*Jane Austen and Worting House:  A visit by Jane Austen, probably one of many unrecorded, paid on the evening of Thursday December 20 1798 and mentioned by her in a letter dated December 24 to her sister Cassandra. In it she described a ball of the Basingstoke Assembly for which the authoress to be, then in her dancing days, was staying at Manydown with her friend Catherine Bigg – one of Squire Bigg-Wither’s seven daughters.  She wrote:

I spent my time very quietly and pleasantly with Catherine. Miss Blachford is agreeable enough. I do not want People to be very agreeable as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.- I found only Catherine and her when I got to Manydown on Thursday. We dined together and went together to Worting to seek the protection of Mrs Clarke with whom Lady Mildmay, her eldest son, and a Mr and Mrs Hoare………. Our ball was very thin, but by no means unpleasant………There were 31 People and only 11 Ladies out of the Number, and but five single women in the room….There were twenty dances, and I danced them all, and without any fatigue………My black cap was openly admired by Mrs Lefroy, and I secretly imagine by everybody else in the room.

[Letter 15, December 24-26, 1798, Jane Austen's Letters, ed. Deirdre Le Faye, quoting the Bigg-Wither - Worting  House website]

[Posted by Deb]

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Three days left to listen to the BBC Radio 4 program of Jane Austen’s Ipod [first heard in January and now repeated] – here’s the link:

BBC Radio 4 Programme  – Jane Austen’s Ipod

A rare insight into the family life of Jane Austen through her favourite songs. She collected songs all her life, but many of them have only just come to light, in manuscripts inherited by one of her descendants. Jazz singer Gwyneth Herbert performs some of these songs.

Professor Richard Jenkyns inherited a pile of music manuscripts which are only just being looked at by the Austen scholars. He shows us what he found: some have been laboriously copied out by Jane herself – among the music manuscripts in Jane’s handwriting is a piano piece which he believes she composed.

David Owen Norris brings him together with scholars Deirdre Le Faye and Samantha Carrasco at Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, Hampshire. Together they cast a new light on one of our best-loved and most enigmatic writers.

Some of the songs included are:

  • A romantic song by Robert Burns, to which she changed the words, so that the final words referred to herself -”the charms of your Jane.”
  • A tragic French song, “Les Hirondelles”, which ends with imprisonment and death. Jane’s sister in law Eliza had lived in France, and her first husband was guillotined in the Terror.
  • “The Ploughboy” – a popular song of the time, witty, and with a politically subversive message about corrupt politicians who are only interested in money, and manage to buy their way into power.
  • “Goosey Goosey Gander” – Jane had a lot of nursery rhymes, and was constantly surrounded by boisterous nephews and nieces.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

[Image and text from the BBC site]

[Posted by Deb, with thanks to Janeite Kerri]

…AND if you happen to be around the University of Southampton on June 30th, don’t miss this Jane Austen program at Turner Sims:

Calling all Jane Austen enthusiasts!

Discover the music that influenced Jane Austen whilst writing her classic novels, as pianist David Owen Norris explores the nine newly-discovered volumes of the Austen family music collection. Entertaining Miss Austen is on Wednesday 30 June at 8pm.

David Owen Norris is Professor of Musical Performance at the University of Southampton, an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, an Educational Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and an authority and leading performer on early pianos and rare piano concertos. Joined by soprano Amanda Pitt, David sheds unique light on the musical loves of Jane Austen and her family.

This fascinating recital includes favourite airs and dances – and the only piece of music actually mentioned in Jane’s novels; Kiallmark’s ‘Robin Adair’, which is performed expertly by Jane Fairfax in Emma.

Tickets are £10 and free to Friends of Turner Sims.

[from the Turner Sims website]

 

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YOU’RE INVITED TO WATCH JANE AUSTEN’S FAVORITE PASTIME …

 

YOU’VE READ ABOUT ENGLISH COUNTRY DANCING
IN AUSTEN’S NOVELS ~ 
YOU’VE SEEN IT IN FILMS LIKE  “PRIDE & PREJUDICE”~
NOW YOU CAN SIT ON STAGE TO LISTEN TO THE BEAUTIFUL LIVE MUSIC,
WATCH THE COSTUMED DANCERS
(MANY DRESSED IN AUSTEN-ERA GARB),
AND, IF YOU LIKE, INDULGE IN TASTY REFRESHMENTS AT THE BREAK

ACROSS THE LAKE
An English Country Dance Gala
on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain

SATURDAY, JUNE 12, 2010
8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Elley-Long Music Center
223 Ethan Allen Ave.
Colchester, VT
(in Fort Ethan Allen, off Route 15) 

Prompting by Orly Krasner
Music by Earl Gaddis ~ violin
Mary Lea ~ violin & viola
Jacqueline Schwab ~ piano
Wayne Hankin ~ woodwinds & more

SPECTATOR’S PRICE, AT THE DOOR:
$10 with sumptuous refreshments at break, $5 without

 

Website: www.burlingtoncountrydancers.org  
just click on Across the Lake for all the details!

[Image from the Hamilton English Dancers  website]

[From Janeite Val]

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The set of Jane Austen’s novels published by Bentley in 1833 and up for auction at Bonham’s sale today [June 8, 2010] has come under the gavel and has sold for £3,360  [= @ $4827.] [the estimate was for  £2000 - £3000 ]

Here are the details:

AUSTEN, Jane. Works, Bentley’s Standard Novel edition, 6 vol. in 5, 5 engraved frontispieces and additional titles, some light spotting to first and final few leaves, small corner tear to printed title “Pride and Prejudice”, without half-titles, ownership inscription of Eularia E. Burnaby (1856) on printed titles, bookplate of Henry Vincent, bookseller’s label of H.M. Gilbert, Southampton, uniform contemporary half calf, red and dark green morocco labels, extremities lightly rubbed [Gilson D1-D5], 8vo, R. Bentley, 1833

 Sold for £3,360 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium 

Footnote:

“No English reissue of JA’s novels is known after 1818 until in 1832 Richard Bentley decided to include them in his series of Standard Novels” (Gilson, p.211). See illustration on preceding page.

  • See the Bonham’s site here for details and other auction items in this ‘Printed Books, Maps and Manuscripts’ auction [Sale No. 17809]
  • See Laurel Ann’s post analyzing this set [along with her super sleuthing as to the provenance!] at Austenprose

Someone has gone home very happy today!  [and hopefully this has gone to either a fine institution or a fine home with an Austen-loving owner...] 

[Posted by Deb]

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When I wrote the previous post on the Steventon Parsonage, I looked in vain for a copy of a pamphlet I have [or was sure I had!] titled Steventon and the Austens:  Jane Austen bi-centenary 1775-1975, written by Keith Irons.  This is the souvenir booklet and programme for the July 18- July 27, 1975 Jane Austen celebration in Steventon.  Well, I could not find it, and thus did not have much data on the new Rectory that was built by Edward Knight for his son William Knight, the rector who took over the curacy from Henry Austen in 1823, or the Manor House referred to in various sources. – but as always one finds things when not actually looking for the particular item madly searched for a week ago – and so here it is, on my reading table, and has been there for a bit, out of place, but now happily found…

So I can give more information on the new Rectory that was built in 1826 after the demolition of Austen’s own home, and the subject of the auction sale in the news article found in my book.  But as you will see, I am more confused than ever! I quote from this pamphlet directly:

Edward Knight remained in possession of the estate until 1855 [Edward Knight died in 1852] when he sold it to the second Duke of Wellington, who in turn sold it in 1877 to a Mr. Henry Harris.  Mr. Harris, a man of considerable wealth, farmed the estate himself and built a substantial new manor house of red brick with cottages surrounding it, and a new farm house and outbuildings now known as Home Farm.  Before this the estate had been farmed by the Digweed family who had been tenants and had lived at the old manor house for nearly 100 years.  The estate remained in the possession of the Harris family until 1910 when it was sold to Mr. Robert Mills.  In 1932 the brick manor house was damaged by fire with the residential quarters being completely gutted.  The then owner, Mr. Onslow Fane, decided to add a new wing to the old Tudor manor rather than to rebuild the Victorian one.  [This old Tudor manor was called Steventon Manor House, and the Digweeds lived here  – Edward Knight owned it as it was part of the estate…David Cecil has a picture of this house in his Portrait of Jane Austen, but it is also misnamed as the Chawton Great House (p.159)…] 

He [Mr. Fane] lived in it briefly before the house was requisitioned by military authorities during the war, but it was never reoccupied afterwards which contributed largely to its decay, leading to its eventual demolition [in 1970].  The servant’s wing of the Victorian manor, undamaged by the fire in 1932, still stands, but it is now used only as a machinery store and barn; although it will have one brief period of glory again when it serves as a threatre during the Jane Austen bi-centenary celebrations.  [Irons, Steventon and the Austens, 1975]

 Irons says the new rectory that Edward Knight built in 1826 was on the other side of the valley on an elevated site, so this is the reference as in the previous post that is the house for sale last October.  There is mention also of the cottages that “straddled the lane toward the village” and home to Mrs. Littlewort, Jane Austen’s Nanny and mentioned in her letters.  Anna LeFroy also sketched these cottages, but they, according to Irons “disappeared in the mid 1820s, demolished for spoiling the view from the new Rectory, it would seem.”  

 I also quote here Constance Hill’s description of Steventon, the Rectory and the Manor House, in her book Jane Austen, Her homes and Friends [London 1904] – [and also titled Jane Austen: her Houses and Haunts] – the full-text of the 1923 edition is available online at A Celebration of Women Writers – read this book if you can – it is a delightful account of traveling to various Austen sites, coupled with references to Austen’s letters and works:  here is a portion of the Steventon chapters, complete with drawings: 

Leaving the park, the road turns abruptly to the right, and we find ourselves entering the sunny village of Steventon, which lies in a gentle hollow. We alight from our chaise and walk between the gardens of pretty cottages that border the road. These cottages, it seems, form the village, and passing them we proceed along Steventon Lane. A knoll, on the left, is surmounted by the new rectory, and on the right, green fields and woods cover a hillside, on the top of which, we are told, we shall find the church. Presently we reach a meadow at the foot of the hill and notice that the ground slopes up to a grassy terrace. This is the place! We cannot mistake it. This is the site of the old parsonage-house where Jane Austen was born! For her nephew tells us that “along the upper or southern side of the garden ran a terrace of the finest turf.” There is the very terrace described! We know that the house stood between it and the lane, but what is the exact site? Can no one tell us? May there not be some person yet living who remembers the parsonage pulled down in 1826?

Inspired by this idea, we hurry back to the cottages and speculate upon each open door as to what might be gained from its dark interior. At last we see an old man leaning on his garden-gate.

“Can you tell us,” we anxiously inquire, “where the old parsonage stood in which the Austen family lived long ago?”

“Ay, that I can,” he exclaims: “maybe you’ve seen the field at the corner where the church lane cooms out o’ Steventon Lane? Well, if you saw that, did you notice a pump in the middle o’ the field?”

“Yes, yes!”

“Well, that pump stood i’ the washhouse at the back o’ the parsonage. There’s a well under the pump. The Austens got their water from that well. I was a little ‘un when the old house was pulled down, but I well recollect seeing all the bricks and rubbish lyin’ about on the ground.”

“The house faced the road, did it not?” we ask.

“Yes; and the gates o’ the drive were at the corner o’ the field, between the church lane and Steventon Lane. I remember when you could make out the line o’ the drive quite well, ’cause the grass grew poor and thin where the gravel had been.”

Presently we learn that our informant’s grandfather, whose name was Littlewart, was coachman to Mr. James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother.

” I used to hear a deal about the Austens when I was a lad,” continued our friend. “from my mother, for she was a god-daughter o’ Miss Jane’s. People tell me now that Miss Jane wrote some fine stories, and I’ve just seen her name in a newspaper. I’ll go and fetch the paper for you to see.” And the old man hurries into his cottage.

Whilst he is away I refer to a volume of Jane Austen’s Letters which I carry under my arm [don’t we all do this!], to see if, by chance, the name of Littlewart occurs in any of them. Yes! here it is in one dated November 1798. Jane is writing from Steventon to a sister-in-law, and after telling her that “their family affairs are somewhat deranged” owing to illness among the servants, she goes on to say “You and Edward will be amused, I think, when you know that Nanny Littlewart dresses my hair.” It was evidently this Nanny Littlewart’s daughter that was godchild to Jane Austen. So we have been actually talking to the son of her god-daughter!

After showing proper appreciation of the newspaper paragraph, we return to the meadow where the parsonage stood. My companion sits down on a bank to sketch the terrace and the pump, for the pump, barely noticed before, has become interesting now as the only visible relic of the Austens’ home.  Meanwhile I wander over the field endeavouring to

“Summon from the shadowy past
The forms that once have been.”

I can now picture to myself the exact spot where the parsonage stood, and can fancy the carriage drive approaching it “between turf and trees” from the gates at the corner of the two lanes. I can even fancy the house itself, being familiar with two old pencil views of it taken by members of the Austen family. These show that the front had a latticed porch, and that the back

                    STEVENTON PARSONAGE (FRONT VIEW)

had two projecting wings and looked on to the garden which sloped up to the terrace “walk.” In both sketches fine trees are introduced, and as I saunter about I notice some great flat stumps of elm-trees in the grass. The sight of these brings to mind a letter of Jane’s, written in November 1800, in which she says: “We have had a dreadful storm of wind in the fore part of this day, which has done a great deal of mischief among our trees. I was sitting alone in the dining-room  when an odd kind of crash startled me; in a moment afterwards it was repeated. I then went to the window, which I reached just in time to see the last of our two highly-valued elms descend into the Sweep!!!! The other, which had fallen, I suppose, in the first crash, and which was the nearest to the pond, taking a more easterly direction, sank among our screen of chestnuts and firs, knocking down one spruce fir, beating off the head of another, and stripping the two corner chestnuts of several branches in its fall. This is not all. One large elm, out of the two on the left-hand side as you enter what I call the elm walk, was likewise blown down; the maple bearing the weathercock was broke in two, and what I regret more than all the rest is, that all the three elms which grew in Hall’s meadow, and gave such ornament to it, are gone; two were blown down, and the other so much injured that it cannot stand. I am happy to add,” she continues, “that no greater evil than the loss of trees has been the consequence of the storm in this place, or in our immediate neighbourhood. We grieve therefore in some comfort.”[1]

The “elm walk” alluded to, which is sometimes called the “wood walk” in the “Letters,” extended from the terrace westward and led to a rustic shrubbery. The shrubbery has disappeared, but there are groups of trees on the slope of the terrace that may have shaded the “walk.” One group is especially beautiful. It consists of tall sycamores with their pale grey stems and dark green foliage, among which an old thorn has entwined its branches. We read in one of the “Letters” from Steventon: “The bank along the elm walk is sloped down for the reception of thorns and lilacs.”

Perhaps these features of her home may have been in the author’s mind when she described “Cleveland” in “Sense and Sensibility.” “It had no park, but the pleasure grounds were tolerably extensive . . . . It had its open shrubbery and closer wood walk . . . . The house itself was under the guardianship of the fir, the mountain ash, and the acacia.”

The ground between the house and the terrace “was occupied by one of those old-fashioned gardens in which vegetables and flowers are combined, flanked and protected on the east by one of the thatched mud walls common in that country, and overshadowed by fine elms.”[1] I look on the sloping grass “where once this garden smiled,” and fancy I see fruit-trees and flowers and that I even catch a glimpse of two girlish forms moving among them – those of Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra; that only sister so dear to the heart of Jane, of whom she spoke, “even in the maturity of her powers, as of one wiser and better than herself.”

We are told that a path called the “Church walk” started from the eastern end of the terrace and ascended the steep hill behind the parsonage to the church. It ran between “hedgerows under whose shelter the earliest primroses, anemones, and wild hyacinths were to be found.” Let us cross the meadow, gentle reader, where the path ran which the Austens must have trod each Sunday morning as they walked to church. Leaving the meadow, we enter a small wood, and, on emerging from this wood, find ourselves on high tableland. There above us stands the church, a modest edifice of sober grey, seen through a screen of great arching elms and sycamores. Behind us stretches a fertile valley fading into a blue distance. The only sounds that meet the ear on this still September day are the twittering of birds and the distant bleating of sheep. How often must Jane Austen have listened to these sounds as she passed on her way to church!

We follow a path which crosses the churchyard beneath the boughs of an ancient yew-tree, and enter the small silent church. Our attention is caught at once by the squire’s pew on the right of the chancel arch. Square and big and towering above the modern benches it stands – solid oak below, but with elegant open tracery above through which the occupants could see and be seen. In the Austens’ time a family named Digweed rented the Manor of Steventon. Its owner was Mr. Thomas Knight, a distant relative of the Rev. George Austen, but the Digweeds held the property for more than a hundred years.

After examining, with great interest, many tablets to Austens and Digweeds, we quit the dark church and step into the sunshine once more; and, passing through a wicket gate, find ourselves upon a wide spreading lawn adorned with great sycamores. Beyond the trees rises a stately mansion of early Tudor date, with its stone porch, its heavy mullioned windows, and its great chimney-stacks all wreathed with ivy – the old Manor House of Steventon.

The house is no longer inhabited, for the present owner, we learn, has migrated to a new mansion erected hard by, but the old building itself has suffered no alteration, as far as its outward walls are concerned, since the Digweeds lived there, when there was much intercourse between the squire’s and the rector’s families.

We sit down upon a grassy bank under the shade of tall limes and, looking to the right of the old grey building, we can see the corner of a gay flower garden, whose red and white dahlias and yellow sunflowers rise above a high box hedge. To our left is a bowling-green, across which the shadows of great trees are sweeping. Whilst my companion sketches the porch of the Manor House


THE OLD MANOR HOUSE

I turn over the leaves of Jane Austen’s “Letters” and my eye falls upon these playful remarks, written in November 1800 to her sister Cassandra: “The three Digweeds all came on Tuesday, and we played a pool at commerce. James Digweed left Hampshire to-day. I think he must be in love with you, from his anxiety to have you go to the Faversham balls, and likewise from his supposing that the two elms fell from their grief at your absence. Was not it a gallant idea? It never occurred to me before, but I daresay it was so.”

We are told that “Mr. Austen used to join Mr. Digweed in buying twenty or thirty sheep, and that all might be fair it was their custom to open the pen, and the first half of the sheep which ran out were counted as belonging to the rector. Going down to the fold on one occasion after this process had been gone through, Mr. Austen remarked one sheep among his lot larger and finer than the rest. ‘Well, John,’ he observed to John Bond (his factotum), ‘I think we have had the best of the luck with Mr. Digweed to-day, in getting that sheep.’ ‘Maybe not so much in the luck as you think, sir,’ responded the faithful John, ‘I see’d her the moment I come in and set eyes on the sheep, so when we opened the pen I just giv’d her a “huck” with my stick, and out a’ run.’”[1]

When evening approaches we leave the old manor house and its smooth lawns under the glowing light of the setting sun and descend the hill to Steventon Lane. There our chaise awaits us and we make our way, not back to Deane, but on to Popham Lane, the main road between Basingstoke and Micheldever, and establish ourselves at an old posting inn, called the Wheatsheaf, which we find will be within reach of many a place visited by Jane Austen as well as of Steventon.
[Hill, Jane Austen: Her Homes and her Friends, pp. 6-22]

**********************************

So one does need another trek to Steventon to place all these buildings in context – those still standing [what of the building used as the theatre in 1975?] and those now lost, but on the glebe maps to view. 

So a rather useless update here with just a little bit more information, a few more names, a few more buildings, a few lost buildings, and more questions…  anyone living in or near Steventon that sees this, please, please help me to fill in the gaps!

[Posted by Deb] 

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Well, the weather gods have not been with us [as for many of our gatherings!] – if only Friday had been Sunday, we would have had a glorious afternoon! -  so I am making the decision to have our Box Hill Picnic event inside at the college instead of in my garden – we are talking not only rain, thunderstorms and wind, but 58 degrees!, so methinks that even Frank Churchill, so easily put in a foul mood over too HOT a day, might find himself in a an even fouler mood over a bit of rain, wind and cold…and that will not do…  [and not to mention Mr. Woodhouse and what the thought of this weather might do to him...]

So we will be gathering in the Hauke Board Room – full information in the email sent to all attendees… please email me if you have questions – and remember to bring your copy of Emma with you as we celebrate at our very own Box Hill outing…

…though sadly lacking Mr. Knightley… [Mark Strong above in the Kate Beckinsdale Emma]

Click here for the previous post on our event:  “Austen / Adams: Journeys with Jane & Abigail.”

[Posted by Deb]

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Sold at Christie’s London on June 2nd:  14 of C.E. Brock’s illustrations for Persuasion [plus J.M. Dent's file copy of the 1909 edition of the novel!]

 

“I shall have no scruple in asking you to take my place, and give Anne your arm” ~ Volume II, Chapter XI (23)  [illustration from Molland's]

Lot Description

BROCK, Charles Edmund, R.I. (1870-1938). A series of fine ink and watercolour drawings for Jane Austen’s Persuasion, 1909.

14 pen and ink and watercolour drawings including one for the title-page (most c.280 x 180mm) on paper (390 x 270mm), and later mounted on card. Provenance: J.M. Dent and Co. (sold, part lot 769, 19 June 1987, £33,000).

14 ORIGINAL DRAWINGS FOR AUSTEN’S PERSUASION published by J.M. Dent and Co. in 1909. Together with J.M. Dent and Co.’s stamped file copy, in the original cloth, of a 1909 edition of Persuasion in which the drawings were published. (15)

Estimate:   £7,000 – £9,000  ($10,108 – $12,996)   

Price Realized:   £10,000 ($14,710) [Price includes buyer's premium]

Sale Information:  Christie’s Sale 7854 ,Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books , 2 June 2010 , London, King Street

Click here for further information.

There are 23 illustrations + the title page in this edition of Persuasion, so this is not a complete lot – but still I would have been happy to add all this to my Austen collection! 

Further Reading:

*Visit Molland’s to view all of Brock’s illustrations: [these links are under "e-texts"]

Illustrations for Sense and Sensibility
Illustrations for Pride and Prejudice
Illustrations for Mansfield Park
Illustrations for Emma
Illustrations for Northanger Abbey
Illustrations for Persuasion

*Visit Pemberley.com for more information on C.E. Brock.
*Keiko Parker’s
“Illustrating Jane Austen” in Persuasions 11 (1985)
*
Jane Austen’s World Blog on the Brock brothers

 

[Posted by Deb] 

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[Note:  please see an update to this post at Steventon Parsonage Redux ]

One of the things I love most about old books is what you sometimes find in them, be it bookplates, inscriptions, the odd bookmark or pictures or postcards or notes or newspaper articles, some history of the book or the owners, or something relating to the subject of the book in your hands – alas! I have never found money! [but I did find a check once and I called the person so they could have it re-issued - a corporate check from only a few years before – the  customer was thrilled! ] – so if it looks like something the previous owner might want I send it to them] – but as that is not usually the case, I find the possibilities endless – indeed I have several shoe boxes filled with the stuff, someday to be gone through in my dotage.  But I recently bought a book by R.W. Chapman [to be posted about another time], our esteemed editor and scholar of Jane Austen and in it was the following news article [dated 1931]:

The Estate market:  a link with Jane Austen

   Steventon Rectory, in Hampshire, is for sale with 20 acres of garden and pasture.  The formal notice of the auction, to be held at Basingstoke on September 9, in The Times yesterday, refers to building frontages on adjoining land, and indicates that there will be two lots.  So any admirer of Jane Austen anxious to acquire a house where the great novelist was “without impertinence” called “Jane” needs to bid only for the rectory and grounds.  A short history of Steventon speaks of Edward Knight as patron of the living in 1830.  There, for those who know Jane Austen’s family connexions, is a name that is eloquent of her life at Godmersham, near Canterbury, and Chawton House, near Alton.  Jane Austen was born in the parsonage at Steventon in 1775, her father, the Rev. George Austen, being the rector.  She lived there for 16 years.  The contemplated sale of the Steventon Rectory is by Messrs. Daniel Smith, Oakley and Garrand {Charles-street, St. James’s-square, and Rochester) and Messrs. Clutton [Great College-street, Westminster).  The freehold will be sold in low reserve, and it is worthwhile to add that private offers before the auction will be considered by Sir John Oakley’s firm.

 No date on the news-clipping, but there are a few notices on the reverse side with dates of 1931, so I am assuming this auction took place on September 9, 1931. 

Other real estate noted in this clipping [and pictures of what the houses look like now]:

Caverswall Castle, Staffs. A fortified manor house that has escaped the perils of siege and the sometimes equally defacing hand of the restorer, is for slae by Messrs Hampton and Sons (St. James’s-square).  An Edwardian tenure of the estate by Sir William de Caverswall followed that of his ancestors in the reign of Richard I….  [it is now a luxury wedding and events venue]

 

Shendish House, with 90 or 525 acres, and the rest of the 1,300 acres of Shendish estate, Kings Langley, will come under the hammer of Messrs. John D. Wood and Co (Berkeley-square) on September 15 in Watford.  There are farms of from 120 to 320 acres, two residences, and 18 cottages.  The land has frontages for development…. [now called Shendish Manor, a hotel and golf course]

 

And 

Teaninich, Cromarty Firth, is for sale by Messrs. Knight, Frank and Rutley (Hanover-square).  It includes 2,000 acres, Teaninich House, a grouse moor, and salmon and sea trout fishing in the Alness and loch trouting. [picture of an old postcard of  Teaninich House  - is this now called Teaninich Castle?,  a small hotel]

 ******************************

But what of the Steventon Rectory sale and the reference to Austen?  This auction announcement cannot be correct, as we know that the parsonage where Jane was born was demolished by her brother Edward Knight in 1826 [or 1824 - see below] – and I have not seen anything about the house that he built to replace it to serve as the rectory when his son took over the benefice from his uncle, Jane’s brother Henry Austen in 1822. 

All trips to Steventon, and books on the subject, guide you to the lonely pump sitting in a distant field that you can only document with a telephoto-lens camera – this the only remains of the rectory where Jane lived from her birth in 1775 until the move to Bath in 1801.

Old Steventon Parsonage site

[Image from Constance Hill biography]

 

But I have not seen anything about this second rectory that was built after James and Henry let the original rectory where Jane was born go to seed – that is until recently when it appeared on the market again in October 2009 [ it was on the market for £4.5 million, I can find no listing for it now, so assuming it has sold]  – see this article at Country Life as well as this blog post at Austenonly.] 

 ******************************

So this little newsprint set me to research what I could find about this house, misnamed in the 1931 announcement as the house Austen grew up in [it also states she lived there for 16 years...],  and of course what one finds is so many varying accounts of the original rectory and nothing of this newer house at all.  I first discovered the discrepancies in dates as to when Edward demolished the house, then further variances in what the house looked like in a number of sources I have.  Then a search on the JASNA.org site led me to the Linda Robinson Walker article in Persuasions On-Line [Winter 2005] – where she has meticulously reviewed all these different depictions of the rectory to understand why Jane Austen was sent from home for so many years of her childhood. 

 The varying history [some sources say the land was given to Rev. Austen by the Knight family, some say the Austen family, some say he rented the land he farmed (called Cheesedown Farm), and some say he sold that land when he moved to Bath], discrepancies in dates [the dates of the sketches, the dates the house was demolished, how long Austen lived there], various pictures [some resources show one front view, some the other, and David Cecil in his A Portrait of Jane Austen [Constable, 1978]  is wrong in identifying the rectory as Chawton Cottage!] – all this conjectural history is dizzying, and one sees the danger of interpreting such flimsy data for a biography!  [though certainly some of these discrepancies can be due to newer data coming to light at various periods…] 

What the Rectory actually looked like is by no means clear – all knowledge is based on the original drawing by Anna LeFroy [James Austen’s daughter – she lived in the house as a child when Jane was there and then later when her father took over as curate in 1801] – and information gleaned from letters and the early memoirs / biographies of the family who actually knew the rectory [i.e. Anna LeFroy, Fanny Knight, Caroline Austen, and James Edward Austen-Leigh, as well as Jane Austen’s own comments in her letters about the house].  Anna made several sketches of the house, front and back view, and a street of cottages in Steventon.  [but see:  Deirdre Le Faye in her Jane Austen: a Family Record [2nd edition, Cambridge 2004] states that for the 1870 Memoir “Anna provided a ‘little drawing of Julia’s [her second daughter] made from my description of the Parsonage: more pretty than true, yet, some thing perhaps might be made of it…’ This joint composition formed the basis for the engraving of Steventon rectory used in the Memoir, and Anna added a note to the drawing in her possession: ‘The Door should have more Glass and less wood work – The Windows were Casements.”  [Le Faye, p. 280, quoting a LeFroy letter and the LeFroy MS]

Steventon Parsonage LeFroy sketch

Steventon Parsonage - LeFroy sketch rear view

Steventon Parsonage - Engraving in Memoir

 As you can see the two drawings of the house from the front do not compute – and Walker concludes that the engraving made from one of the drawings that was put into the 1870 Memoir was just another example of “beefing- up” Austen’s image, just as was done with her portrait – and that the smaller house was actually the rectory and Jane and Cassandra were sent from home to a boarding school to allow room for Rev. Austen’s boarding [and paying] male students.  Walker believes the larger house to be a sketch of Ibthorpe [still standing, privately owned – I was fortunate enough to have tea there during the JASNA AGM in Winchester in 2003!] and a house much visited by all the Austen family.  Walker does a most admirable job of computing all this data, based on family reminiscences, comments in letters as to location of rooms, etc. – but it is likely to be a mystery for all time, or at least a full-time research project to expand on what Walker has done.  But in the end I am inclined to concur with Tom Carpenter’s thoughts that the smaller house view is actually a side view of the rectory [Walker cites Carpenter’s opinion in her note no. 2 on page 20-21].  An aside on this:  I have the 1926 Memoir as edited by Chapman:  the frontispiece of Austen is the Victorianized / “beautified” Austen, and the parsonage is the engraving that Walker refers to.  But I also have the Folio Society edition of 1989, based on Chapman’s edition – the frontispiece is the facing-away sketch of Austen in the blue dress and the rectory is the original drawing by LeFroy of the smaller house.  Why this change in the illustrations?? Are you all sufficiently confused at this point?! It is interesting to note that David Nokes in his 1997 biography of Austen has no illustration at all of the parsonage – perhaps he saw this jumble in the making and opted out?!

As to when the original rectory was demolished and the new one built, an article in Persuasions by Patricia Jo Kulischeck [Vol. 7, 1985, pp. 39-40 ]– [the full text for this issue is not available, so I will quote from it directly] gives us the following information from land records of the time, Memorandum for a supplementary affidavit respecting Steventon Glebe Apl 1824, docketed in Edward Knight’s handwriting [text is in another hand]:

There is no rectory house in the Parish of Steventon excepting the new one now nearly finished built on a part of the land proposed to be added to the original glebe.  The former house was situated low and subject to be flooded, distant from the greater part of the village and in a dilapidated state.  The present house is placed above the valley in a more healthy spot and nearer the village.  The inhabitants are about 150 persons.  The original glebe consisting of only 3 A. OR. 23P [presumably 3 acres, or 23 parcels of land] in two disunited pieces was quite inefficient for the necessary accommodation of a resident clergyman’s family and as there are besides cottages only farm houses in the Parish and very few resident incumbents in the adjoining Parishes, it is most particularly desirable that the Rector of Steventon should reside there rather than on any other preferment he may eventually have and nothing is so likely to secure that residence as the proposed addition to the glebe which will add so materially to the comforts and in some degree to the respectability of the Rector.  There can be no doubt what ever but very sensible advantages will be felt as well in several of the adjoining Parishes as in that of Steventon by securing the residence of the Rector in that Parish.

 After the Austens moved to Bath in 1801, Rev. Austen retained the Steventon living and its income in his retirement and his son, James Austen, held the curacy, until his father’s death in 1805, when he became the Rector, and was so until his death in December 1819.  As the living was part of the Knight estate that Edward Austen owned, Henry Austen took over the living until Edward’s fourth son William Knight was old enough to take it on in 1822.  [Henry moved on to be curate of Farnham in Surrey.]    William lived here in the new rectory with his wife, Caroline Portal, who had eight children in twelve years [and died in childbirth with the last one, much like her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Knight, Edward's wife, who died after giving birth to her 12th child]– this from Claire Tomalin’s biography of Austen,  and I find nothing more mentioned about this new rectory… 

 Kulisheck also quotes from an entry in the Victoria County History of Hampshire, printed in 1911:

 St. Nicholas’ Church is on the eastern boundary of the parish.  The rectory standing in very pretty and well-wooded grounds of 53 acres is some distance north of the church…situated about 500 yards from where the old one used to stand.  At present no vestige of it remains, but up to within the last twenty years garden flowers used to bloom every season in the meadow where it formerly stood.” [Kulisheck, p. 40, quoting the History, vol. IV, p. 171.]

 The October 2009 advertisement for this property, now called Steventon House, [see picture above] says it was bought by the Duke of Wellington in 1855, sold to a Harris family in 1877 – the house remained a rectory for the village until 1930 [1931], when it sold and became a private home [and that would be the sale from the auction in the newspaper that started this whole circuitous post…] [this current information from the Austenonly blog and a number of news articles about the sale]

 So this is a very convoluted explanation of the original Steventon Parsonage where Jane Austen spent the first 25 years of her life !- the mystery remains, I feel more confused than ever! – more reading on the agenda… and certainly a required trip to the Hampshire Records Office – how awful that work gets in the way of such adventures!

Sources and further reading: 

-Austen-Leigh, James Edward.  A Memoir of Jane Austen by her Nephew.  With introduction, Notes and Index by R.W. Chapman.  Oxford, 1926. 

 -Austen-Leigh, J.E.  A Memoir of Jane Austen by her Nephew.  Introduction by Fay Weldon; based on the Second Edition of 1871 edited by R.W. Chapman for the Clarendon Press in 1926.  The Folio Society, 1989.

 -Cecil, David.  A Portrait of Jane Austen.  Constable, 1978. 

-Hill, Constance.  Jane Austen:  Her Houses and Haunts.  John Lane, 1901, rep. 1923 [available online at A Celebration of Women Writers here.] 

-Kulisheck, Patricia Jo. “Steventon Parsonage”  Persuasions, Vol. 7, 1985, pp. 39-40.

 -Le Faye, Deirdre.  Jane Austen:  a Family Record.  2nd ed.  Cambridge, 2004.

 -Todd, Janet, ed.  Jane Austen in Context.  Cambridge, 2007.

 -Tomalin, Claire.  Jane Austen:  a Life.  Viking, 1997. 

-Walker, Linda Robinson Walker, “Why Was Jane Austen Sent Away to School at Seven? An Empirical Look at a Vexing Question.”  Persuasions On-Line, V.26, No. 1 [Winter 2005]

-Wilkes, Brian.  Jane Austen.  Hamlyn, 1978.

-The Basingstoke and Deane Conservation Area Appraisal for Steventon, shows numerous homes in the area, including Steventon House.

-Austenonly Blog on the Steventon Rectory

-Jane Austen’s World Blog on the Steventon Rectory

-Steventon, Jane Austen’s Home at Hantsweb

 [Posted by Deb]

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