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Gentle Readers: David Shapard, author of five annotated editions of Jane Austen’s novels – all but Mansfield Park, which is due out next year – will be joining the JASNA Vermont Region next week at the Burlington Book Festival. He will be speaking on “The World of Jane Austen and her Novels,” offering us a peek into the society of early 19th-century England that dominates her novels, with a focus on the position and customs of the controlling landed elite, and the role of women in this society. 

I welcome David today for a Q&A about his love of Jane Austen and his excellent annotated editions. If you have any questions for him, please do comment at the end of this post – but better yet, if you are in the area next weekend, please join us at his talk – Saturday September 20, 2014, 1:30-2:45 at the Fletcher Free Library, 235 College St, Burlington VT. [for more info: September 2014 flyer]

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So welcome David – thank you for being so gracious in answering all my questions! 

annot-S&SJAIV: To start off, why do you think Jane Austen still speaks to us 200 years after she first published her Sense and Sensibility in 1811? 

DS: I think Jane Austen interests us partly because she is so good, i.e. quality will out. I believe she is the best novelist in the English language, and that gives her a bedrock appeal, one she has had for a very long time (even if she has not always been the object of as much enthusiasm as today). With her you have well-constructed plots, brilliantly delineated characters, interesting and profound themes, and superb language – meaning excellence in all the major elements of a novel. One symptom of this is the variety of reasons people have for appreciating Austen: people, in giving their reasons, have cited, among other things, her comedy, her poignant romances, her keen insight into human psychology, her careful depiction of society, and her moral messages. With so many strong elements, she can appeal to an array of tastes and interests.

Another reason is that, even though her novels are set firmly within her own time, she was looking at many matters that transcend that time. Her focus is on basic matters that people always have to deal with, whom to marry, how to relate to other people, how to judge right and wrong, how to cope with the difficulties of life. Her characters personality traits, feelings, relationships, and moral dilemmas are all ones that are still frequently found today, so the insights and lessons presented in her novels can still ring true today.


JAIV: Whatever got you so interested in Jane Austen to first take on annotating Pride and Prejudice (in 2004)? 

DS: I had long loved Jane Austen, for many of the reasons described in my previous answer. But there were several precipitating factors that spurred me to attempt an annotated version of her novel. In the six months or so preceding the decision I had begun to read and sometimes participate in an online forum devoted to Jane Austen, The Republic of Pemberley. This, in addition to being very enjoyable, helped me appreciate how much interest and discussion even very specific points in Austen could generate. That eventually gave me the idea of doing a running commentary on her novels, in which various passages would be examined and elucidated. One feature of Austen is that she is a very subtle author, who makes many of her points quietly and unobtrusively; she also is one who is especially good in the details. For this reason the standard format for analysis of a novel, an article or book examining it as a whole, and looking at the overall theme, would inevitably miss much of what makes her so worth reading. But these elements could be brought out through a more minute analysis of the entire novel.

At that time this idea was simply one for the indefinite future. But soon after events occurred that convinced me that I was unlikely to procure a annot-P&Ppermanent, full-time position teaching at a college or university, the profession I had been pursuing for a number of years. I decided to turn to writing, which I had long seen as my principal alternative. I had a longstanding idea for a book, but work on it soon persuaded me that it was the great idea I had earlier thought. While casting around for other ideas I suddenly thought again of my Austen project. I had seen annotated versions of other classic works, and liked them. I also knew there was a large market for anything related to Austen. So I decided to try this, and I quickly realized that I had made an excellent choice.

JAIV: We think so too! ~ Which novel is your favorite? And why? And did your favorite change after your in-depth readings and the historical research?  

DS: Mansfield Park is my favorite overall. I like what I consider its density, the many story lines and the many different complex subjects it explores. At the same time, while the plot is very eventful, it does not rely at all on improbable coincidences, as others of Austen do to some degree. Finally, it has four different characters – Fanny, Edmund, Mary, and Henry – whose inner life is shown, who change over the course of the novel, and who experience serious inner conflicts. In other Austen novels there are only one or two characters about whom that could be said.

This has not really changed because of my doing the annotated books. The main change that brought about was simply to increase my appreciation for each one; this was especially true for the four I consider her strongest, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, and Mansfield Park (I am only part way through doing the last).

JAIV: Why the long gap before the next annotated edition came out, Persuasion in 2010? And when does Mansfield Park come out? 

DS: I had first done Pride and Prejudice because I knew it was by far the most popular. I held off doing others until I knew how well it did, and it took a number of years before it succeeded. I wasn’t able to sell it initially, then I self-published it, then somebody at Random House noticed it and approached me about signing with them. After that came out, and did well, my editor there approached me again about doing the other Austen novels.

Mansfield Park will come out next year, probably late in the year. The gap between it and the previous one, Northanger Abbey, is the result of my having devoted much of the last year to working on a special enhanced version of Pride and Prejudice that is designed for an iPad. It comes out in a few weeks, and I am very excited about it, but it has significantly delayed Mansfield Park.

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annot-EmmaJAIV: Does Jane Austen get anything wrong? 

DC: She got very little wrong. All I have noticed is a mistake on a date of a letter in Pride and Prejudice, and two specific events, one in Emma and one in Sense and Sensibility, that are probably wrong, based on what I have read about the history of the time. There are also at least a couple places where a quotation from a poem or other writing is off. But that is really a remarkable record, especially when you consider that she didn’t have a large library to consult for quotations or other references.
 

JAIV: What do you think of the films? – do you have a favorite? Any that you find completely appalling? 

DS: I like the films overall. They are no substitute for reading the novels, since much of what is in there cannot be shown on film. But the films can do things the novels cannot, such as show houses and carriages and costumes, as well as specific places. That is something I have also done in my books, and the visual adaptations go even further in that direction. It is also nice to see the characters brought to life by real people, even though I inevitably judge them according to how well they correspond to the characters in the novel and often find them wanting, at least in certain respects.

In terms of favorites, I would probably say the Sense and Sensibility written by Emma Thompson. I also like the Persuasion with Amanda Root and the Pride and Prejudice miniseries with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I did not like overall the series of TV adaptations that appeared a few years ago, and I thought the Mansfield Park of that series was the worst of any adaptation I have seen.

JAIV: Oh! I agree with you there, though the Persuasion with Anne running around the street in a panic while reading the annot-P&PCaptain’s letter is embarrassing to watch as well!  ~ Tell us something about your writing process: when and how? 

DS: I usually start by reading through the novel several times, and as carefully as possible; while doing so I note any possible point I might wish to make or passage I wish to explore further or think about. I also listen to audio versions with the same purpose in mind, for I find that in hearing it I sometimes notice things I don’t notice when simply reading it. Then for the historical references, which is what requires the most effort, I organized all the points or topics I want to look at by subject matter, and start reading, or rereading, various books related to those topics. I also, at some point, read through commentaries on the novel to see what additional insights they offer, re-examine Austen’s letters and other biographical material to see what’s relevant there, and look at the words I might need to define; I use here a pre-existing list of words with different meanings in Austen’s time, supplemented for what I may have noticed in addition through my reading. As I do all these things I often go ahead and write the annotations appropriate to what I’ve just found. When all that is done I begin to go through the book chapter by chapter and insert whatever points have not been made. After that it’s just a series of reading over again and making corrections, by myself and by my editor, until the text is finally settled, and also adding other material like illustrations and maps.  

JAIV: How do you think your annotated editions compare to the Harvard University annotated series that began in 2010 with P&P [their Mansfield Park is due out in the Fall of 2015, edited by Deidre Lynch] 

DS: I am not that familiar with these other annotated versions. I know they are in hardcover and are significantly larger (and therefore also more expensive); they also have some color pictures. In terms of the content, my sense is that they have fewer annotations. In the case of the one that I have read, the Pride and Prejudice, it does have fewer annotations overall. Some of its annotations, especially definitions of words, are similar to mine. The principal difference is that it focuses less on historical background – there are definitely fewer annotations there – and more on literary interpretations. It has a number of annotations that explore debates between different literary scholars regarding points in the novel, something mine does not do.
 

JAIV: The covers for each work: did you choose them yourself? – and the idea of annotating them is a very good one – gets the reader right intoannot-NA ‘reading the annotations’ mode! 

DS: The publisher comes up with the cover, along with the overall design, though they always show it to me for my approval. They had the idea of doing annotations for the cover, but I am the one who comes up with the annotations themselves. That is also part of the process of agreeing on a cover picture: it has to be one that I think will be suitable for annotating.

JAIV: I know you mention “plot disclosures” at the beginning of the book to alert readers that some of your notes might contain “spoiler alerts” – did you get complaints about that when the first edition of your P&P first came out?

DS:  Yes, I did get some complaints about my first edition of Pride and Prejudice. I had envisioned the book being used by many people as a reference, one they would turn to whenever they were curious about a specific point; thus I didn’t worry so much about plot spoilers. But it seems that most people have simply read it through, as with most books, and that many are reading the novel for the first time. As a consequence, I have tried harder in later editions to avoid giving anything significant away. That has constrained me in some respects, because important points about a passage often relate to something that happens later, but I think it’s worth it to avoid spoiling the surprise for the reader. The one important exception here was in Emma: it centers around several mysteries, especially one big one, and I felt that a valuable feature of an annotated edition would lie in showing how all sorts of apparently minor and innocuous actions take on a completely different significance in light of what we find out in the end. So in the case of the annotations for those passages, I put “CAUTION: PLOT SPOILER” at the start to warn off any first-time readers who wished to preserve the surprise.

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JAIV: Are you a book collector? And Jane Austen in particular? – if so, what is your favorite edition of any of her works, and why? 

DS: I like to buy books and I have a large library, but I am not a collector in the sense of seeking out rare or special editions. The editions of Jane Austen I have used are those that are most scholarly and authoritative: these are an Oxford edition that first came out in the 1920’s, and the even more exhaustive Cambridge editions (with many notes of their own) that have come out within the last decade.

Oxford-Chapmanset-covers-dcb

 

JAIV: You are nearly done with annotating the six novels – what’s up next? Will you annotate the minor works or any of the Juvenilia?

DS: I am close to being done with annotating the novels. It is possible the publisher will also want to do enhanced editions of other Austen novels; I’m sure that will be determined by how well the Pride and Prejudice about to appear does. I have thought about annotating other Austen works, but I am not sure if there is sufficient demand for that. I also have a few ideas for novels of my own, some related to Jane Austen. But right now I am keeping my options open and waiting to see what develops out of my existing books.

Brochure

Huntington Library Regency Exhibit

JAIV: Why do you think the modern reader should have a better understanding of the society of the Regency Period? and can the reader still enjoy Jane Austen without having to read annotated versions?

DS: I think that understanding the Regency period helps greatly in understanding Jane Austen. Of course, millions of people have enjoyed and appreciated Jane Austen over the years without having any particular knowledge of her period, beyond what they could pick up from the novels themselves. I know I was in that situation when I first read her. So such knowledge is in no way a precondition. But I think that if one understands the historical background, all sorts of important events in the novels become much clearer and more comprehensible, and all sorts of particular details, ones the reader probably passed over without much thought, become significant. The story then springs to life in a variety of new ways.

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David M. Shapard (c) Michael Lionstar

David M. Shapard (c) Michael Lionstar

 

Thank you David again for joining us here at Jane Austen in Vermont! We look forward to welcoming you to the real Vermont next weekend, where there will be an opportunity at the Book Festival to purchase all your Jane Austen annotated editions and have you personally sign them!

I will also add here that David will be the leader on a tour next spring to Jane Austen’s England. The trip will be through Edventures, a tour group that offers educational trips to many parts of the world – or as they say, “Edventures – Adventure Travel That Educates.” You can read more about it here: http://goedventures.com/ – and click here for the flier with details: Huber-Jane Austen 2015 Itinerary April 21

Any questions for David? – please comment below!

Further reading:

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Jane Austens First Love by Syrie JamesHappy to announce the winner of the book giveaway for Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James!

schilds, who wrote on August 18:

“How did you find such wonderful letters? I love reading letters from the past. The style is so beautiful. It makes you see the reality of their time.”

Please email me within the next 36 hours with your contact info and the book will be posted to you directly from the publisher – with many thanks to Berkley for the giveaway.

Thank you Syrie for your wonderful post on these Fanny Bridges’ letters – and all your responses to the comments. Sending you very best wishes for the success of this, your latest book – I wonder what is next on your writing desk?!

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Jane Austens First Love by Syrie James

Just a reminder about the giveaway for Syrie James’s newest book, Jane Austen’s First Love. I am extending the deadline for another week, through the holiday weekend until Tuesday September 2, 2014, with the winner announced Wednesday September 3. Please either comment on this post or the original post where Syrie wrote about Lady Bridges’ letters on her daughters’ marriages – one of those daughters, Elizabeth, married Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen (later Austen-Leigh). (Sad to say, Elizabeth died at the age of 35 shortly after the birth of her eleventh child). These letters from Lady Bridges to her friend tell the tale of the desire to marry one’s daughters well – not unlike Mrs. Bennet!

Syrie’s new book is about Jane Austen’s acquaintance with Edward Taylor whom she met while visiting the Bridges’s home at Goodnestone Park in Kent. It is the imagined story of Jane Austen’s first love, based on extensive research. Syrie’s previous books on Jane Austen have been first class entertainments as she has taken us into the Regency world we all so love to visit! – and I highly recommend this new work, where we have real-life and fiction so beautifully intertwined.

Please comment or ask Syrie a question either here or on the previous post:

http://janeausteninvermont.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/guest-post-syrie-james-on-jane-austens-first-love-goodnestone-park-and-the-bridges-family/

Syrie James 72 dpiAbout the Author: Syrie James, hailed by Los Angeles Magazine as “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings,” is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen (“A literary feast for Anglophiles”—Publisher’s weekly), The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (named one of the best first novels of the year by Library Journal), and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë (Audie Award, Romance 2011; Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association). Syrie’s books have been translated into eighteen languages. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and a life member of JASNA. Follow Syrie on twitter, visit her on facebook, and learn more about her and her books at syriejames.com.

Best of luck in the giveaway – You have until September 3rd!

 

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Just a reminder about the giveaway for Syrie James’s newest book, Jane Austen’s First Love. I am extending the deadline for another week, through the holiday weekend until Tuesday September 2, 2014, with the winner announced Wednesday September 3. See below for Giveaway details!

Gentle Readers: I welcome Syrie James today with a post on a bit of her background research for her new book Jane Austen’s First Love. Syrie has based her tale on the real-life Edward Taylor, mentioned by Austen in her letters – he may have been her never-forgotten First Love and hence perhaps a model for her very own Mr. Darcy. Syrie’s previous books on Jane Austen have been first class entertainments as she has taken us into the Regency world we all so love to visit – and I highly recommend this new work, where we have real-life and fiction so beautifully intertwined. – see details at the end of the post on how to win a copy of your own…

Jane Austens First Love by Syrie James

Letters From Lady Bridges on the Engagements of Her Three Daughters

By Syrie James

 

“It is certainly a very singular instance of good fortune in One Family, that 3 Girls, almost unknown, should have attach’d to themselves three Young Men of such unexceptionable Characters.” —Lady Bridges of Goodnestone Park, July 10, 1791  

Sir Brook Bridges and Lady Bridges

The above was written by Lady Bridges, the former Fanny Fowler, wife of Sir Brook Bridges, 3rd Baronet of Goodnestone Park in Kent. Lady Bridges had eleven children including Elizabeth Bridges, who married Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen in December, 1791. That year must have been a very busy and happy one for the Bridges family, as sisters Elizabeth and Fanny became engaged within weeks of each other, and another sister Sophia became engaged a few months later—an unusual occurrence in any family at any time, as Lady Bridges gleefully notes. 

This remarkable circumstance in the Bridges family is one of several things which inspired me to write my novel, JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST LOVE. The book takes place during the summer of 1791, when fifteen-year-old Jane visits the Bridges family to join in a month of festivities celebrating their daughters’ engagements. While at Goodnestone Park, Jane meets and falls in love with devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to the nearby, ancestral estate of Bifrons. Edward Taylor is a real person who Jane adored in her youth, as mentioned in several of her letters to her sister Cassandra—references that made me eager to learn more about him, and to write about their relationship. 

Goodnestone in late 18th century

During my research, I uncovered a trove of information about the remarkable Edward Taylor and his family which was previously unknown to Austen biographers. He spent much of his youth living and traveling abroad, and was extremely well-read and accomplished, qualities which must have greatly appealed to the young Jane. Learning all this was exciting, and it helped me to bring him to life in my novel accurately and in vivid detail.

Another Austen fact that inspired JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST LOVE is that in 1791, Jane wrote a comedic short story, The Three Sisters, featuring characters named Fanny and Sophia. I felt certain that Jane visited Kent that summer, where she not only met the young ladies who inspired that story, but also met and became enamored of Edward Taylor—and that her experiences there greatly shaped her views forever after regarding love and marriage. 

During my research for the book, I was excited to come upon three letters which Lady Bridges wrote in 1791, announcing the engagement of her daughters Elizabeth, Fanny, and Sophia. The letters are little gems, providing us with a glimpse of that family’s history. Here are the letters in their entirety:

LETTER #1

To Mrs. Fielding, St. James’ Palace, London.

Goodnestone: (March 2, 1791)

MY DEAR MRS. FIELDING, 

Elizabeth Bridges

Elizabeth Bridges

I cannot leave to my Daurs the pleasure of informing you of an Event that gives us the greatest satisfaction. We had for some time observed a great attachment between Mr. Austin (Mr. Knight’s Relation) and our dear Elizth; and Mr. Knight has, in the handsomest manner, declared his entire approbation of it; but as they are both very young, he wish’d it not to take place immediately, and as it will not suit him to give up much at present, their Income will be small, and they must be contented to live in the Country, which I think will be no hardship to either party, as they have no high Ideas, and it is a greater satisfaction to us than if she was to be thrown upon the world in a higher sphere, young and inexperienced as she is. He is a very sensible,  amiable young man,  and I trust and hope there is every prospect of Happiness to all parties in their union. This Affair has very much agitated Sir B., and he has not been quite so well for some days past as he had been for a month before; but now it is decided he will, I make no doubt, be better again in a few days, but I have long observed that when his mind has been agitated he has had a return of cough and oppression. He has sent his case to Bath, and if he is encouraged to go there, we shall set out according to the time pointed out from thence, as he has desired to know when the Waters have most efficacy. Fatty is so good (as) to stay with my Girls during our absence, or I should be much distress’d at leaving them so long. She has been pretty well, upon the whole, ever since she has been here, and in remarkable good Looks and Spirits.

Adieu, my dearest Mrs. Fielding. All here unite with me in kindest love and compts: as due. My Daurs desire their duty to you.

Believe me ever yours affectionately, F. B.

 

[NOTES: “F.B” is Lady Bridges, whose Christian name was Fanny, the same as her eldest daughter. “Sir B” is Sir Brook, her husband. “Fatty” was Isabella, sister of Mrs. C. Fielding’s husband. A popular woman, she was known all her life as Fatty Fielding, and often visited at Goodnestone Park and Godmersham Park.]

edward-austen-knight

Edward Austen Knight

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LETTER #2

Goodnestone: (March 28, 1791)

 

MY DEAR MRS. FIELDING, 

I flatter myself you are so truly interested in the welfare of my dearest children, that I am not afraid of being troublesome in writing again so soon, but must inform you that my dearest Fanny has received an offer of Marriage from Mr. Lewis Cage, a Gentleman of this County of an unexceptionable good character. His proposal has our entire approbation. As you was so kind to express a wish to be acquainted with Mr. Austin, I inform’d him of it, in consequence of which he call’d at St. James’s, and was very much disappointed he was not so fortunate to find you at home, as his Time would not permit him to make a Second Attempt; indeed, I should be quite happy that your two future Nephews should be known to you, and I hope it will not be long before they have an opportunity of being introduced. My Daughters are going to-morrow to Godmersham for a Week; I do not accompany them, as Mr. Bridges is here. Sir Brook continues charmingly well, and is in very good spirits. I hope we shall get a glimpse of you as we pass through town to Bath the middle of next month, tho’ our stay will be very short. How is Miss Finch? I hope much recovered since she left Margate. I am quite delighted to hear such good accounts of Augusta,  and hope she feels no remains of her severe Illness, but that she and all the rest of your Family are well. All here unite with me in kindest Love to you all.

Believe me, ever yours affectionately, F. B.

[NOTES: “Miss Finch” was probably one of Mrs. Fielding’s three sisters. “Augusta Sophia” was the youngest daughter of Mrs. Fielding.]

A close-up of Goodnestone in Austen's Day

A close-up of Goodnestone in Austen’s Day

 

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LETTER #3

Brock St., Bath: (July 10, 1791)

MY DEAR MRS. FIELDING, 

After having wrote to you so lately you will be no doubt surprized at hearing again so soon, and not less so to find that the Cause of my addressing myself to you is to inform you that we have received proposals of Marriage from Mr. William Deedes for your God-daughter, our dear Sophia. He is a young Man of a very Amiable Disposition and universally beloved, and his Father has been so kind to approve his Choice. I hope it will meet with your approbation, and think she bids as fair to be happy with her Connection as her sisters with theirs. It is certainly a very singular instance of good fortune in One Family, that 3 Girls, almost unknown, should have attach’d to themselves three Young Men of such unexceptionable Characters, and I pray to God that their future conduct will ever do Credit to their Choice. Mr. William Deedes is gone with Mr. Knight on the Scotch Tour; he had been long engaged to accompany them, but did not choose to set out on so long an excursion till he had explain’d himself. As I have many letters to write I will not obtain you longer than to beg our best Love and good wishes to you and all your dear Family, and kind Compliments to Lady Charlotte and Miss Finch.

Believe me, ever affectionately yours,
F. B.

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Goodnestone Park today

Goodnestone Park today

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If you’d like to read more about my research for JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST LOVE, please visit my guest post on Austenprose. You’ll find more images of Goodnestone Park and its lovely gardens in my guest post on Laura’s Reviews. I hope you enjoyed Lady Bridges’s letters, and I hope you love JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST LOVE!

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Syrie James 72 dpi

About the Author: Syrie James, hailed by Los Angeles Magazine as “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings,” is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen (“A literary feast for Anglophiles”—Publisher’s weekly), The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (named one of the best first novels of the year by Library Journal), and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë (Audie Award, Romance 2011; Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association). Syrie’s books have been translated into eighteen languages. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and a life member of JASNA. Follow Syrie on twitter, visit her on facebook, and learn more about her and her books at syriejames.com.

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Thank you Syrie for sharing those wonderful letters with us – a perfect example of the marriage market of the late 18th century – such a happy year for these parents in 1791! And how interesting that you discovered these letters in your research into Edward Taylor. Readers, please either comment or ask Syrie a question about her new book and you will be entered into a giveaway for a copy of Jane Austen’s First Love.

Deadline is Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 11:59 pm (EST) – winner will be announced September 3rd. Limited to US residents, sorry to say – and with hearty thanks to the publisher Berkley for the giveaway.

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UPDATE:

I add this comment here from Janine Barchas who wished to send this along to Syrie James: the cover of a Mansfield Park (Philadelphia, circa 1900) with the image of Fanny Brydges as seen above. Thank you Janine for sharing this – always nice to bring Mansfield Park into the mix whenever possible!

MP1900-Barchas

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont; text and images courtesy of Syrie James, with thanks.

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MP-vintagecover

I have something in hand – which I hope on the credit of P. & P. will sell well, tho’ not half so entertaining. (Ltr.  86: 3 – 6 July 1813, to Capt. Francis Austen)

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Dear Gentle Readers: This history of the publishing of Mansfield Park serves as an introduction to Sarah Emsley’s seriesAn Invitation to Mansfield Park,” which will begin on May 9th on her blog. As we celebrate this bicentenary of Austen’s third novel, published in May 1814, it seems only right to begin at the beginning, from when Austen first makes mention of Mansfield Park in her letters and its subsequent road to publication, to the later printings and early illustrated works. I am posting it here because of its length and number of illustrations – and Sarah will be re-blogging it immediately. Please continue to visit her blog for the interesting posts she has lined up for the next several months from various Jane Austen scholars and bloggers – a worthy tribute as we all give Mansfield Park the undivided attention it deserves!

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The Publishing of Mansfield Park

We have Cassandra’s word that Jane Austen began Mansfield Park “sometime around February 1811 and finished soon after June 1813.” Letters during this time [you can read all the letters relating to Mansfield Park here] indicate that at least Cassandra was already very familiar with this work-in-progress – a few of the letters show how diligent Austen was in checking her facts about ordination and hedgerows, ships of the Royal Navy, and correct terminology for the Gibraltar “Commissioner.”

Early readers of the letters took her reference to “Ordination”

Now I will try to write of something else; – it shall be a complete change of subject – Ordination. (Ltr. 79: 29 Jan 1813)

to mean this was the theme of her next book, i.e. Mansfield Park. It is now generally accepted that she was just acknowledging her request in a previous letter for information on the process of ordination – to get it right about Edmund. (But see Michael Karounos, “Ordination and Revolution in Mansfield Park.” SEL 44.4 (2004): 715-36, for a discussion of what Austen meant by this word “ordination” and how it is indeed the theme of the novel.)

 

HenryAusten-jasna-Zohn

Henry Austen

[image: JASNA.org / Zohn]

Henry has this moment said that he likes my M. P. better & better; – he is in the 3d vol. – I believe now he has changed his mind as to foreseeing the end; – he said yesterday at least that he defied anybody to say whether H.C. would be reformed, or would forget Fanny in a fortnight.  (Ltr. 98: 8 Mar 1814).

…indeed the question that has been plaguing readers ever since!

Austen is traveling with Henry to London in March 1814 to negotiate its publication with Thomas Egerton; Henry is reading the manuscript for the first time, i.e. he was not in on the story during its composition over the past two years, as Cassandra was – Henry did not see it until it was ready for the press. It is also telling that her primary interest is Henry’s opinion concerning the ending and what happens with Henry Crawford!

Mansfield Park was being written at the same time Austen was revising Pride & Prejudice for publication [published in January 1813] – Janet Todd makes note of this allusion to the first sentence of P&P: “…there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.” (Todd, 75). Was Austen perhaps making a sly nod to her previous novel? MP is also the first work to be entirely written after settling in Chawton in 1809. The secret of her authorship is already out, thanks largely to Henry, though she will continue to publish anonymously. She writes to her brother Francis in September 1813:

Francis Austen - wikipedia

Francis Austen – wikipedia

 

…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… (Ltr. 90: 25 Sept 1813)

The internal chronology has created its own controversy among scholars and readers – it is an especially important issue when deciphering her references to slavery (the topic of another post!). John Wiltshire in his introduction to The Cambridge Edition of Mansfield Park (2005) wonders why this book took so long to write (Feb 1811-June 1813), longer than her other works, and why the nine-month delay in getting it to London for publishing (March 1814). He speculates that “Mansfield Park is a novel carefully revised and perhaps thoroughly rewritten” and this accounts for the discrepancies in time, what he calls the “double-time scheme.” (Wiltshire, xxxi). But the delay could also be attributed to the long illness of Henry’s wife Eliza and her death in April of 1813. (Wiltshire, xxvii). [See links below for the chronologies.]

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This detective work on the composing of Mansfield Park is so very interesting, and essential to interpreting Austen’s intent in this controversial and often misunderstood novel. We are left largely with speculation and a host of unanswered questions. But today I am going to talk about the physical object, the book Mansfield Park as part of our material culture – how it came to be, what it looked like, who bought it and what it cost, followed by a brief introduction to the later printing history that included the American, illustrated and foreign editions.

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The 1st Edition:

MP-1sted-titlepageMansfield Park title page – 1st edition

Like her S&S and P&P, Mansfield Park was published by Thomas Egerton in 1814. The title page states: “By the Author of ‘Sense & Sensibility,’ and ‘Pride & Prejudice.’” Writing to Francis on March 21, 1814, she hopes that

Perhaps before the end of April, Mansfield Park by the author of S&S. – P.&P. may be in the World. Keep the name to yourself. I sh’d not like to have it known beforehand. (Ltr. 100)

But it is not advertised until May 9, 1814, in The Star, and again on May 14, and further noted in The Morning Chronicle of May 23 and 27. Published on commission – Austen retained the copyright, paid for the costs of paper, printing, and advertising; the publisher distributes to the trade and takes about 10% of the profits – the author loses if the book does not sell well. This third novel came into the world in a run of about only 1250 copies, in 3-volumes, and sold for 18 shillings in boards. And it sells well – Austen writes in November of 1814 You will be glad to hear that the first Edit. of M.P. is all sold.” (Ltr. 109). As with all the finished novels, excepting the cancelled chapters of Persuasion, there is no manuscript.

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*What did it look like?

FirstEdP&P-NLScotland

Pride and Prejudice 1st ed. – National Library of Scotland

The popular 3-volume format, called a “triple-decker” or a “three-decker,” was typical for novels of the day – what Susan Wolfson calls “a reader-friendly form for sequential purchasing and borrowing and family sharing.” (Wolfson, 112). This image is of a nearly perfect first edition of Pride & Prejudice at the National Library of Scotland – Mansfield Park would have looked like this, bound in blue-gray paper boards, with gray-brown or off-white paper backstrips and white paper spine labels. As Egerton engaged two different printers, many variations in quality and type result in the text. The volumes are 12mo, or duodecimo [about 7-8 inches], i.e. the original printed sheet has been folded four times to its constituent 12 leaves, resulting in 24 pages with about 23 lines to the page. [Note that P&P had 23 lines to the page; MP had 25 lines]

R. W. Chapman, editor of the Oxford complete works in 1923, writes in his memoir The Portrait of a Scholar:

“Those who have once read P&P in three slim duodecimos, with a ha’porth [= a halfpennyworth] of large type to the page, will not easily reconcile themselves to the inelegance of the modern reprint, close printed in one crowded volume.”  

…as you can see from this first page of Pride & Prejudice: FirstEdP&P - firstpage 4
But Mansfield Park was printed on much cheaper paper than P&P, with 25 lines to the page. Chapman, who relied on the 2nd edition of MP for his Oxford works, said that “of all the editions of the novels, the 1st edition of Mansfield Park is by far the worst printed.” (Chapman, xi-xii). Much scholarly debate has centered around the errors in the text, especially the lack of consistency in the spelling, grammar, and punctuation. We are reminded of Henry Tilney’s complaint to Catherine Morland about women letter-writers, where there is “a general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar,” a criticism often directed at Austen herself! (I discuss this further under the 2nd edition below).

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*Who bought copies? 

-At a cost of 18s in boards – remember: 20 shillings = a pound – the average person earned maybe 15-20 pounds / year – so who was actually buying books? [See Wolfson on this]

  • ½ purchased by circulating libraries
  • ½ were purchased by the titled gentry and upper middle classes, who would often rebind the volumes in leather for their private libraries, an example here:

MP-1sted-3vol-Jonkers

 Mansfield Park – 1sted, rebound – image: Jonkers Rare Books, UK

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* Who reviewed it?

- There were no contemporary reviews of Mansfield Park. Wiltshire rather humorously compares this to the treatment of Fanny Price in the tale: “neglected, passed over, misunderstood, sneered at and ill-used” (Wiltshire, lvii). This lack of notice certainly distressed Austen. She kept a list of “Opinions of Mansfield Park” from family and friends (she later did the same for Emma) – a selection first appeared in James Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir of Jane Austen (1870), and all were published in Chapman’s edition of “Plan of a Novel” in 1926, and later reprinted in the Minor Works volume in 1954. You can read them here at Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts in their original and transcribed form:

OpinionsMP-JAFM

 “Opinions of Mansfield Park” – from “Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts”

As you can see, the commentary from the time differs little from today: better than P&P / not as good as P&P; Fanny not likeable / Fanny the best; love Mary Crawford / hate Mary Crawford; Will Fanny marry Henry or Edmund?; Not enough love between Hero and Heroine, etc., etc. – all the same arguments we go round and round with! I especially like Cassandra who “delighted much in Mr. Rushworth’s stupidity,” and Mrs. Austen: “My Mother — not liked it so well as P. & P. — Thought Fanny insipid. – Enjoyed Mrs. Norris.”

Austen was later piqued by the 1816 review of Emma in the Quarterly Review (March 1816), and now known to be by Walter Scott. She writes to John Murray on April 1, 1816 (Ltr.139):

The Authoress of Emma has no reason I think to complain of her treatment in it – except in the total omission of Mansfield Park. – I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reveiwer of Emma should consider it as unworthy of being noticed.

Did Jane Austen know this review was by Scott? – We can only conjecture…

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*Where can you see a copy?

-David Gilson, in his Bibliography of Jane Austen, lists the various institutions and individuals who own first editions of Mansfield Park – certainly available for viewing in many of the major libraries in the US and UK. Of special interest is Cassandra’s copy, held by the University of Texas at Austin.

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*The 2nd Edition:

MP-2ded-titlepageHaving sold the copyright of Pride & Prejudice to Egerton outright, Austen was unable to make any changes to its 2nd and 3rd editions. But for Mansfield Park she was able to correct the many errors of spelling and punctuation and made several technical edits. She hoped for a quick edition after November 1814 - it is not settled yet whether I do hazard a 2d Edition. We are to see Egerton today… (Ltr. 114). But Egerton did not publish – Did he refuse? Not offer good terms? Or was Jane Austen displeased with Egerton for the poor and mistake-ridden printing of the first?

She moved to the firm of John Murray to publish her Emma, and Murray took on the 2nd edition of MP as well. She writes on December 11, 1815 to Murray: I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I beleive, as I can make it. (Ltr. 130).

Austen likely gave him a marked up copy of the 1st edition. Succeeding editions have offered varying texts to the reading public, beginning with Richard Bentley’s “Standard Novels Series” of 1833 to Chapman’s Oxford edition of 1923, with his full textual analysis of the two editions, choosing the 2nd as the preferred text.

This analysis continues as to author intent (see for example Claudia Johnson’s “A Name to Conjure With,” Persuasions 30 (2008): 15-26), and current scholarly editions collate the two editions, updating Chapman, and offer the reader all instances of variation and a certain amount of confusion.

MP-Penguin2-ebayFor the Penguin edition of 1996, Kathryn Sutherland relies on the 1st edition and includes seven pages of textual variants between the two editions. In her Textual Lives, Sutherland explains her preference for the first edition, feeling that Chapman’s “improvements” in his Oxford edition, especially those of punctuation, were at odds with [his] commitment to ‘recovery and restoration’ of the text. (Sutherland, 2007, 292).

Claudia Johnson in her Norton Critical Edition of Mansfield Park (1998) favors the 2nd edition – she praises Chapman for his “monumental achievement” in creating the Oxford Works, but finds his practice in collating the 2 editions was at times “capricious” and without justification. In writing of all the punctuation and spelling variants, Johnson surmises that Austen may have been relying on the printer to make corrections, as was often the practice in publishing at this time in order to ensure uniform punctuation. [Johnson cites Caleb Stower The Printer’s Grammar; or, Introduction to the Art of Printing (London, 1808).] (Johnson, xviii – xix).

MP-Cambridge

John Wiltshire, in editing the 2005 Cambridge edition, returns to the text of the 2nd edition as Chapman had, concluding that both “Austen and Murray wished to produce a second edition of the novel which, whilst it may not have been closer than the first to the author’s original manuscript, would be more creditable to both.” (Wiltshire, xxxix).

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*What did it look like?

750 copies were printed, published also on commission, Austen paying costs up front. It is again in the 3-volume format, set by three different printers, again an explanation for the lack of consistency; boards were gray-brown paper or blue-gray, on better quality paper. It was advertised in The Morning Post on February 19, 1816 and sold for 18 shillings. It did not sell well and most copies were remaindered; her costs were set against her profit on Emma, which as a result made little for her.

 

-It is important when reading your Mansfield Park to note which edition it is based on – these many variations, be they mistakes in the 1st edition, Austen’s own corrections for the 2nd, printer errors in both, or the various editorial decisions in subsequent publications, often change the meaning of the text, and trying to determine Austen’s intention just adds to the many questions we would ask her if we could…

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Other Editions of interest:

*1st American Edition:

1stAmerEd-Swann-MP-11-21-13Mansfield Park – 1st Amer. Ed. Swann auction 11-21-13

The first of Austen’s novels to be published in America was Emma in 1816 by Matthew Carey of Philadelphia. It is unlikely that Austen knew of it. Mansfield Park first appeared in 1832 published by Carey & Lea, in two volumes, with a title page stating “by Miss Austen, Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Emma,’ etc. etc.,” in drab paper boards with purple cloth spines and white paper spine labels. 1250 copies were printed, with a number of variations from the British text, most referring to the Deity, such as:

  • “Good Heaven!” = “Indeed!”
  • “Some touches of the angel” = “Some excellencies”
  • And Mr. Price’s many “By G__” are just completely omitted!

These 2-volume editions sold for around $2.00 and are quite rare today in the original boards.

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*First Translated Edition:

Mansfield Park was first translated into French and published in a series of extracts in 1815 in the Swiss periodical Bibliothèque britannique. A year later the 4-volume Le Parc de Mansfield, ou Les Trois Cousines par l’Auteur de Raison et Sensibilité, ou Les Deux Manières d’Aimer; d’Orgueil et Préjugé, etc. Traduit de L’Anglais, par M. Henri V*****N [Vilmain], Paris, 1816, appeared. [see title page above] This translation is readily available today in a paperback reprint published by Hachette Livre.

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*The First Sequel:

Brown-SusanPrice-cover-amMansfield Park does not have the following of P&P, where sequels and retellings abound. But of interest is the first such for MP, titled Susan Price, or Resolution by Mrs. Francis Brown (London: John Lane / Bodley Head, 1930.) It concerns Susan Price’s romance with her cousin Tom Bertram (Gilson, 423). Mrs. Brown is Edith Charlotte Hubback, great grand-daughter of Francis Austen. She also wrote continuations to S&S (Margaret Dashwood, or Interference, 1929) and a completion of The Watsons in 1928, as well as co-authored Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers (1906).

~

 

*The First Illustrated Edition:

The topic of Jane Austen’s illustrators would take more than an entire book! – so will just here note that the first illustrated edition of any of Austen’s novels was the French translation of Persuasion as “La Famille Elliot” in 1821 – it was also the first edition to name “Miss Jane Austen” as the author.

Mansfield Park was first illustrated in the Richard Bentley one volume edition of 1833, with an engraved frontispiece and title page vignette by William Greatbatch after George Pickering. The frontispiece is of Fanny trying on the infamous necklace with the caption:

MP-1833-frontis-tp-abe2 Mansfield Park – 1833 ed. frontispiece and title page [image: ecbooks, UK (abebooks)]

“Miss Crawford smiled her approbation and hastened to complete her gift by putting the necklace around her, and making her see how well it looked.” [this differs from the text!]

The title page vignette is of Sir Thomas encountering Mr. Yates on the stage, with Tom lurking in the background:

“The moment Yates perceived Sir Thomas, he gave perhaps the very best start he had ever given in the whole course of his rehearsals.”

[You can view them here at Google Books.]

These fashions are quite from the wrong era! – looking more like those from the 1940 film of P&P! It was not until the Dent edition of 1892 by R. Brimley Johnson with the illustrations of William Cooke and decorations by F. C. Tilney (no relation to the adorable Henry!) that illustrators actually got the Regency right. And these were rather quickly replaced by the Brock brothers for the Dent edition of 1898. H. M. Brock illustrated the Mansfield Park volume with a frontispiece and five plates:

MP-HMBrock-in vain

“In vain were the well-meant condescensions of Sir Thomas”

Mansfield Park, illus. H. M. Brock (Dent 1898) [Mollands]

MP-HMBrock-alone

“Miss Price all alone!”

Mansfield Park
, illus. H. M. Brock (Dent 1898) [Mollands]

And C. E. Brock later captured the same Yates / Sir Thomas scene in his Dent edition of 1908:

MP-CEBrock-Yates-SirThomas-mollands

 “A ranting young man who appeared likely to knock him down backwards”

Mansfield Park, illus. C. E. Brock (Dent 1908) [Mollands]

Our favorite illustrator Hugh Thomson, like the Brock Brothers, had a more humorous approach to the novels. As he had in his 1894 George Allen edition of P&P, Thomson illustrated Mansfield Park with a frontis and 39 line drawings. This was published in 1897 by Macmillan and included an introduction by Austin Dobson. An image here of Fanny and Henry Crawford:

MP-Thomson-hc-fanny-rop Mansfield Park, illus. Hugh Thomson (Macmillan 1897)  [Republic of Pemberley]

  Another important illustrated edition to note was the 1875 Groombridge edition (London), with a lithograph frontis and six plates after drawings by A. F. Lydon (Alexander Francis Lydon). The only Austen novel from this publisher, and hard to find today, the illustrations offer a more serious, darker vision of the novel, with purplish-gray toned illustrations emphasizing Fanny’s isolation from the Park and all those in it. (See Carroll, 67).

MP-illus-Groombridge1875-CarrollMansfield Park, illus. A. F. Lydon (Groombridge, 1875)

You can view the novel and the other plates by Lydon here at Google Books

The numerous illustrated editions that have followed, right up until today, show these varied approaches to the tone of this novel. I’ve read Mansfield Park a good number of times – I find I would take a very different view from one reading to the next if I was attempting to illustrate the text. What about you? – how would you illustrate MP?

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*What is it worth today?

-Prices vary, so this is a ball-park estimate with a few recent auction examples: note that the book in its original state, i.e. the paper-covered boards in the case of Mansfield Park, will have a higher value than even the most beautifully bound set – this is the first rule of book collecting; condition, condition, condition is the second! These estimates noted here are taken from the Quill & Brush Author Price Guide for Jane Austen, 2007, and are based on auction sales and bookseller catalogues.

  • 1st edition: in original boards = $75, 000. / rebound = $25,000.
  • 2nd edition: in original boards = $25,000. / rebound = $5,000.
  • 1st American ed.: in original boards = $10,000. / rebound = $3,500. – rare in original boards
  • Bentley edition of 1833: vary from $3,000 – $5,000.

Available at present online are two 1st editions, all rebound and of varying condition – one is on sale for $15,000, one is for $38,000. There is also a 2nd edition in original boards online for $10,000. You can begin your search here at abebooks.com.

MP-1stEd-leather-Sothebys-MP-12-5-13

Mansfield Park – 1st ed. Sothebys 12-5-13

Recent Auctions:

1. This 1st edition sold at Sothebys in December 1813 for $13,750.; but a rebound 2nd edition recently sold for as little as $688. – so buyer beware!

2. 1st American edition, 2vols, Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, 1832. 8vo, original publisher’s 1/4 cloth-backed drab boards, lettering labels on. Estimate $4,000 – 6,000.; Price Realized $5,376.

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This only gives a brief introduction to the very varied and interesting publishing history of Austen’s third novel, with all the decorative bindings, illustrators, and scholarly editing and introductions not being touched upon here. She of course saw only the first and second editions, in their drab boards – what would she make of this visual feast of editions through the past 200 years? What would she think of the great variety of illustrations of her Fanny and Edmund, and Mary and Henry Crawford, Lady Bertram and her pug, and Sir Thomas and Mrs. Norris? And while she earned a meager £320 for Mansfield Park alone, what would she think of the costs of these first editions today?

A full collection of Mansfield Park will not take up as much space on your bookshelves as a collection of Pride & Prejudice – but the variety is just as beautiful and desirable – whether you think Fanny a “creep-mouse” or an independent woman who learns to value herself as others finally do, the book itself, in all its many incarnations, will always be worth your study, will always satisfy your collecting habits – like Fanny herself, you too can become “a subscriber – amazed at being anything in propria persona, amazed at [your] own doings in every way; to be a renter, a chuser of books!”

~

One of my favorite covers: MP-Routledge-1900-LastingWords

Mansfield Park (Routledge, 1900) – Lasting Words, UK for sale for £125 on abebooks

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Further reading: with lots of Mansfield Park bindings!

References:

Austen, Jane. Jane Austen’s Letters. 3rd ed., edited by Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford, 1997. [I have the 4th edition but alas! it is not with me at present, so I continue to cite the 3rd ed.]

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Oxford, 1966.

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson. Norton, 1998.

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. James Kinsley. Introd. Jane Stabler. Oxford, 2008.

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. Kathryn Sutherland. Penguin, 1996.

_____. Mansfield Park. Ed. John Wiltshire. Cambridge, 2005.

_____. “Opinions of Mansfield Park.” Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts. http://www.janeausten.ac.uk/manuscripts/blopinions/1.html

Carroll, Laura, and John Wiltshire. “Jane Austen, Illustrated.” A Companion to Jane Austen. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson and Clara Tuite. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 62-77.

Chapman, R. W. Portrait of a Scholar. Oxford, 1923.

Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll, 1997. The most invaluable resource of all. If you are collecting Jane Austen, you need this book!

Karounos, Michael. “Ordination and Revolution in Mansfield Park.” SEL 44.4 (2004): 715-36.

Sutherland, Kathryn. Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood. Oxford, 2007.

Todd, Janet. The Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen. Cambridge, 2006.

Wolfson, Susan J. “Re: Reading Pride and Prejudice ‘What Think you of Books?’” A Companion to Jane Austen. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson and Clara Tuite. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 112-22.

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The Chronology of Mansfield Park:

They both argue for a 1808-09 time frame beginning with the Ball in December.

  • Brian Southam in his “The Silence of the Bertrams.” (TLS 17 Feb 1995: 13) argues for an 1812-13 scheme.

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MP-Thomson-1897-horse2

“How much I used to dread riding”

Mansfield Park, illus. Hugh Thomson (Macmillan 1897) [Internet Archive]

 

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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The winner of Stuart Bennett’s Lord Moira’s Echo is announced! – an inscribed copy will be sent to Joy King, who wrote:

Stuart, I do have a question if you do not mind. Since this is fiction based on facts, what percentage is fact and what percentage is fiction? The premise is intriguing.

Stuart answered:

 The “fact/fiction proportion” question is a great one, and not that easy to answer.  Apart from my fictional Vanessa and her romantic interest, almost every character in the novel is real and could have been when and where I put them.  This is especially important, of course, in the case of Lord Moira himself.  But the Jane Austen narrative is deliberately put in the years when almost nothing is known of her movements, and although I have appropriated the surviving rumors about her for 1801-1802, I can’t say these, or my narrative is actually “historical.”

    One of the best reviews I ever read of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels said that if one of Jane Austen’s nautical brothers had shared her literary gifts, he would have written like O’Brian.  I make no such claim for my own writing, of course, but what I think the O’Brian reviewer meant – among other things –  was that O’Brian’s books transported the reader to Nelson’s navy and, once there, the reader never felt the anachronistic lurches that turn up in so many would-be historical novels.  Readers have complimented my books on their historical accuracy, and if you’ll allow me to include the details of my novel in the fact/fiction equation I think I can safely say the factual side is well in the ascendant.
    Thanks for writing!
******
Thank you all for commenting; and congratulations to Joy!
c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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1stfolio-frontis-bodleian

William Shakespeare – circa April 23, 1564 – April 23, 1616

The Bodleian First Folio
A digital facsimile of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays

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Henry Crawford: “…But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an English-man’s constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them every where; one is intimate with him by instinct. – No man of any brain can open at a good part of one of his plays, without falling into the flow of his meaning immediately.” 

“No doubt, one is familiar with Shakespeare in a degree,” said Edmund, “from one’s earliest years. His celebrated passages are quoted by every body; they are in half the books we open, and we all talk Shakespeare, use his similes, and describe with his descriptions; but this is totally distinct from giving his sense as you gave it. To know him in bits and scraps is common enough; to know him pretty thoroughly is, perhaps, not uncommon; but to read him well aloud is no everyday talent.” 

- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Vol. III, Ch. III

CrawfordReading-brock-mollands

“His reading was capital…”
Mansfield Park, illus. CE Brock [Mollands]

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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