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Dear Gentle Readers: Continuing in my efforts to celebrate all things Mansfield Park through 2014, I welcome today Tony Grant, of London Calling fame, who writes on the visit to Sotherton, that all-important metaphor-filled dramatic scene in the novel where character is revealed, plot points are suggested, sides are taken, and where Fanny, in her usual state of aloneness, observes it all – Tony’s emphasis is on the concept of “improving” the estate.

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A Visit to Sotherton Court

harlestone-jasaHarlestone House, Northamptonshire, which has some of the elements of Sotherton. From Jane Austen Town and Country Style by Susan Watkins (Thames & Hudson, 1990) [from JASA website]

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Eighteenth-century gardens were not merely intended to be pretty places for listening to birdsong and observing plants and trees. Of course you could do that if you wanted to but they were much more than that. The new landscaped gardens of the 18th century “improved” nature, reflected European landscape art of the time and were spiritual and emotional places. Jane Austen, by introducing the idea that her characters in Mansfield Park should visit Sotherton and provide suggestions for the “improvement” of the landscape, was creating a situation where individuals would be able to express their “taste,” and so reveal their inner characters. This scene in Mansfield Park is full of metaphors, which indeed an 18th century landscaped garden itself would embody. At Sotherton there is the ancient Tudor mansion, dark and sombre from the past; the ancient oak avenue, about which Fanny feels so concerned, and the wilderness.

Tom Bertram, who Miss Crawford found entertaining company, decides to take off for the races at B…… Nobody expects him to return for weeks so Maria Crawford prepares herself for a less lively time at the dining table at Mansfield Park. However, no sooner had Tom Bertram left the scene but Mr Rushworth, Maria Bertram’s betrothed, appears, just returned from his own travels to visit his friend, Smith, who has had his property Compton improved by an “improver.” Mr Rushworth’s head is full of thoughts for now improving his own estate at Sotherton. This was no light matter in the 18th century. The process involved the revealing of a person’s “taste.” The concept of acquiring taste in the 18th century was a serious matter. Young men from wealthy and aristocratic families travelled Europe on what was termed the Grand Tour to finish their education and to acquire “taste” by visiting the art galleries of Europe and visiting the houses and homes of the European aristocracy to observe all the new concepts in architecture and landscape design. The wealthy employed architects and landscape gardeners to turn their estates into examples of “taste” for them.

In the mid-18th century the social commentator George Coleman decried the great fashion of his time:

“Taste is at present the darling idol of the polite world…The fine ladies and gentlemen dress with Taste; the architects, whether Gothic or Chinese, build with Taste; the painters paint with Taste; critics read with Taste; and in short, fiddlers, players, singers, dancers, and mechanics themselves, are all the sons and daughters of Taste. Yet in this amazing super-abundancy of Taste, few can say what it really is, or what the word itself signifies.”

In Mansfield Park, it seems everybody is asked their opinion. Mr Rushworth is the only one who apparently doesn’t have a clue.

“I must try to do something with it,” said Mr Rushworth, “but I do not know what. I hope I shall have some good friend to help me.”

This is a terrible admission in the 18th – early 19th century from one who is the owner of an estate, who is wealthy, and who has apparently had all the advantages.

Miss Bertram answers him with restrained disdain,

“Your best friend upon such an occasion, said Miss Bertram, calmly, “would be Mr Repton, I imagine.”

Mrs Norris provides her view,

“Such a place as Sotherton Court deserves every thing that taste and money can do….planting and improving.”

Lady Bertram puts her view, “…..a very pretty shrubbery.”

And even, shy, mouse-like Fanny Price confidently disagrees with Mr Rushworth when he suggests that an ancient oak avenue should be cut down…

“Cut down an avenue! What a pity. Does not it make you think of Cowper? ‘Ye fallen avenues once more I mourn your fate unmerited.’”

All that poor Mr Rushworth can say meekly is, “I think I shall have Repton.”

It seems as though Mr Rushworth cannot win and the whole discussion shows him to have inferior or no taste at all. A terrible handicap.

Stoneleigh Abbey

Stoneleigh Abbey

Stoneleigh Abbey, perhaps a source for Sotherton Court, especially the Chapel scene – image from a guide book to Stoneleigh Abbey in Henley, Staffordshire, printed by Wood, Mitchell and Co Ltd. ( Windows on Warwickshire website)

When everybody is at Sotherton the unsuitableness of the house and its estate is apparent:

Henry Crawford was looking grave and shaking his head at the windows. Every room on the west front looked across a lawn to the beginning of the avenue immediately beyond tall iron palisades and gates.”

There is a lengthy discussion about how they are to tour the estate. Carriages are suggested and who is going to go with whom and which horses should be used is detailed, and Mrs Norris fusses at her fussiest best:

“Mrs Norris was beginning to arrange by what junction of carriages and horses most could be done, when the young people, meeting with an outward door, temptingly open on a flight of steps which led immediately to turf and shrubs and all the sweets of pleasure grounds, as by one impulse, one wish for air and liberty, all walked out.”

And they all emerged into the wilderness. It is strange, but from this point onwards all thought of “improvements” seems to dissipate. Well, apart from one lame joke:

“Mr Crawford was the first to move forward (Where did they think they were? An alien planet?) to examine the capabilities of that end of the house.”

This is so corny. Jane must have had a chuckle to herself over that pun.

Mr Rushworth at the gate - CE Brock (Mollands)

Mr Rushworth at the gate – CE Brock (Mollands)

For most of the time in the wilderness Fanny is abandoned. She interacts, first with Edmund and Maria Crawford, when they are “clumped” together like a copse of trees; but Edmund and Miss Crawford wander off leaving her alone. Mr Crawford, Miss Bertram and Mr Rushworth then meet her, but Mr Rushworth returns to the house to get the key to let them out of the locked gate that leads from wilderness to the park beyond. Mr Crawford and Miss Bertram, impatient, wander off too and find their own way into the park and aim for a grassy knoll where they can get a better overview of the “situation.” Fanny sits worrying about everybody. There seems to be a loss of etiquette and social standards. There is a sense of the loosening of society’s usual rules. The very name “wilderness” suggests biblical references and a wild place of danger. There are unlocked doors, locked gates, iron fences, hidden barriers in the form of a ha-ha, and an open world beyond the park – a myriad of things that can be seen as psychological and social barriers as well as physical barriers.

“In the late 18th century the term ‘wilderness garden’ meant something different from what we might think of it these days in the modern world of horticulture. Inspired by the Grand Tour and the new literary form of nature poetry by Romantic poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge, these fashionable wilderness gardens satisfied the demand for the world beyond the gate. They were tamed, but not entirely.They were a place where well-heeled ladies and gentlemen could experience a frisson from a brush with nature without ever having to stray too far from the relative safety of the English countryside. And they were a direct contrast to the formality of gardens nearer the great house where everything was managed and controlled.” ["Witley Court's Wilderness" at English Heritage.org]

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There is a wonderful example of a “wilderness” in the grounds of Hampton Court. It is not a very large area, perhaps no larger than a cricket field, and from it you can see the Lion Gate, the palace through the trees and doorways through the surrounding brick wall into the more formal gardens. It is an area comprising a web of pathways dissecting a meadow which in the spring is carpeted with bluebells and daffodils. These untamed lawns are set beneath a woodland of apparently randomly growing trees. The area is shaded and has a feel of freedom, an untamed essence.

Hampton Court (Wikipedia)

Hampton Court (Wikipedia)

 

The guide book to Hampton Court says,

“The term ‘wilderness’ refers to a place to wander, rather than an uncultivated area of garden. William III would have walked through the wilderness at Hampton Court Palace with his devoted wife Mary II. It would have comprised 18ft high hornbeam hedges, with interstices planted with elm. The Wilderness was the English version of a French ‘bosquet’. The high hedges, secluded benches and winding paths made it a place where members of the Royal Court could go for privacy and where gentlemen in particular could entertain ladies in private.” 

Mr Rushworth seems to be “rushing,” to get his estate “improved,” an eagerness reflected in his wishing to marry Maria Bertram. His mother appears just as eager for him in all these aspects too. Jane Austen has chosen her character’s name carefully to fit his character. The quickest way he can think of doing it is by hiring Humphrey Repton to do all the work. This suggests that he will not and perhaps cannot contribute to the process. He wants a garden “off the peg” so to speak. Is this also a metaphor for the state of his relationship with Maria Bertram? Is she too an “off the peg” marriage? Is she too just for show? So Repton was to design his garden and Mr Crawford was to provide the requirements his future wife might want, or am I being too cruel?   If this is the case he will feel no emotional attachment to his prospective wife and nor feel ownership of his garden. He wants others to be impressed by what he has, that is all. He can throw money at these projects but no ideas.

Edmund on the other hand suggests,

“…but had I a place to new fashion, I should not put myself into the hands of an improver. I would rather have an inferior degree of beauty, of my own choice, and acquired progressively. I would rather abide by my own blunders than by his.” 

A much more independent view – Edmund would rather satisfy himself than others and not worry about their opinions. We can think of his future relationship with Fanny Price in these terms too.

Avenue of oak trees, cTony Grant

Avenue of oak trees, cTony Grant

Fanny Price, shocked at the thought of the avenue of oaks being cut down, makes a powerful request to see them, which is a surprising demand from her. We are not used to her making demands. Perhaps this visit to Sotherton marks the rise of Fanny Price and is a pointer to the future. Oak trees are ancient trees and avenues are straight and regimented. To walk down a long avenue of trees, especially in the Spring and Summer when the foliage is at its height, provides an experience of shade and light, the rustling of leaves and the sound of birdsong but you are lead into the distance along a straight path. They are a combination of natural beauty and grace but they also provide an undeviating path. Perhaps a metaphor for Fanny Price herself, unwavering in her innocence, honesty and intelligence grounded in a strong moral foundation but also a breath of natural air. It would be a shame to cut down an avenue of oaks. They take hundreds of years to grow. They span many generations. They are an historical record and link together generations. Fanny’s sense of their worth is in contrast to Mary Crawford, whose following statement is true on one level but does not take into account that the best of the past should not only be kept but built upon:

“Every generation has its improvements.”

Part of the lake at Painshill Park, cTony Grant

Part of the lake at Painshill Park, cTony Grant

The estates of the aristocracy and the wealthy in the 18th century were places designed to provide emotional experiences. The Honourable Charles Hamilton, the 9th son of the Earl of Aberavon was born in 1704. Being the 9th son he could not hope to inherit his father’s estates but through the provision of a good education, an intelligent mind, the completion of two Grand Tours, energetic ambitions and the acquisition of some well-paid government posts, he bought land at Painshill near Cobham in Surrey. His life’s work began creating a park inspired by the European artists, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa. He succeeded magnificently and his park at Painshill has been, in recent years, renovated and is open to the public today. He created a landscape of far vistas, an undulating landscape, a strategically positioned serpentine lake, bridges, mounds, trees and woods. He created different areas that contrived different moods formed by ruined abbeys, tall turrets, Turkish tents, Gothic temples and crystal lined grottos. From the influence of Pousin’s paintings we might conjecture about the sort of parties he held inside the crystalline grottos.

[Images: Wikipedia]

West Wycombe Park, developed by Sir Francis Dashwood 2nd baronet between1740 and 1800, leaves us in no doubt about its purpose and uses. He famously began the Hell Fire Club in the caves of West Wyckham. He too had his temples and Palladian and Neoclassical follies based on the Italian Villas he had encountered on his Grand Tour. He spent limitless amounts of money on his park and employed three architects and two landscape gardeners. He actually employed Humphrey Repton at one stage. His park included temples to Apollo, Diana and Venus. The activities that went on in these places have been recorded and were debauched to say the least.

Humphry Repton (Wikipedia)

Humphry Repton (Wikipedia)

Who was Humphry Repton the gentleman who Mr Rushworth was intent on employing to “improve” the park at Sotherton? He was a gardening author and landscape designer. He began his career as a landscape gardener late in life at the age of 36 in 1788. He followed in the footsteps of Capability Brown who had died in 1783. Hence the pun that Jane makes in chapter 9,

“Mr Crawford was the first to move forward, to examine the capabilities of that end of the house.”

His basic theory, which he repeated on many estates, was to create a terrace near the house, and produce a serpentine park between clumps of woodland and lakes creating different views. He was accused of “advising the same thing at different places.” However, most of his work was done during the time of the Napoleonic Wars when money was not so readily at hand for the great landowners. In contrast to Capability Brown, whose landscape gardening was more creative. Repton’s designs were not as ambitious. Browns approach, continued by Repton, was to offer a variety of services. He could provide a survey and a plan for the property owner to develop themselves, or he could provide the planning service and a foreman to oversee the work, or he could oversee the work himself. He built on this process by also writing and producing what were called “The Red Books.” These were bound volumes with recommendations and included, what perhaps was most useful for the client to envisage what his estate might look like, before and after sketches. Repton was a contemporary of Jane Austen and the current popular landscape designer of the time she was writing Mansfield Park. In her choice of referring to Repton, she was right up with the latest fashions and “taste.”

Repton's Before and After sketches (Wikipedia)

Repton’s Before and After sketches (Wikipedia)

 

Capability Brown (Wikipedia)

Capability Brown (Wikipedia)

Returning to Capability Brown, what is interesting is that towards the end of his career he was employed at Hampton Court as the King’s gardener. He lived in a house in the palace grounds called Wilderness House which is still there today, right next to, the Wilderness.

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And finally, as we join the Sotherton Party heading home, we discover what we really knew all along, that Mrs Norris partakes of the selfish practice of “spunging”-

“What else have you been spunging?” said Maria, half–pleased that Sotherton should be so complimented.

“Spunging, my dear! It is nothing but four of those beautiful pheasants’ eggs, which Mrs. Whitaker would quite force upon me: she would not take a denial.”

I was so delighted to hear her described that way returning after their day at Sotherton by one of the Miss Bertram’s. It might appear as spoken in a fit of pique but oh how true it is. Austen provides one or two other jokes during the visit to Sotherton, but it is this one that satisfies me the most; it describes Mrs Norris exactly.

Nicolas Poussin – Bacchanal before a herm (1632-33) – National Gallery London (Wikipedia)

 c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont; text by Tony Grant, images as noted.

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I welcome today Stuart Bennett [no relation to our esteemed Mr. Bennet - the difference a "t" can make!], antiquarian bookseller and author of two novels starring Jane Austen. You can read my April 2012 interview with Stuart about his first novel The Perfect Visit here:

As you know I loved this book because of its time-travel intrigue wherein we meet Shakespeare and Jane Austen, as well as its literary and bibliographical adventure through the London and Bath of the 16th and 19th century. Stuart’s new novel, Lord Moira’s Echo, has just been published and has a new and historically fascinating take on Jane Austen’s “lost” years from the spring of 1801 through the fall of 1804. I highly recommend it – it offers a tale of those years when “Jane Austen went missing” as biographer David Nokes writes, that is certainly as plausible and interesting as any of the other various fictional efforts in this vein out there. I cannot say more because the post would be an entire “Spoiler Alert” that would ruin the pleasure of your own reading! Please see below for the book giveaway.

I have been asked if one should read The Perfect Visit first, and I say that while this second book does stand completely on its own, an understanding of Vanessa and her story of being catapulted into Jane Austen’s England would only enhance your enjoyment.

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So in lieu of an all-out review, I have asked Stuart to tell us something about this new work:

Stuart: I discovered references to the Austen family in the unpublished Hastings family archive at the Huntington Library in California. From these, I felt I could introduce this historical character, Francis Rawdon Hastings, the second Earl of Moira, as one who might have met Jane Austen during those lost years. The novel tells its story from two perspectives, Lord Moira’s own, and a young Canadian musician, Vanessa Horwood, who was the protagonist of The Perfect Visit; Vanessa is from our time, caught in a time-travel snafu and stuck in early 19th-century England. The narrative of my new novel shifts back and forth from 1823 to 1801 and 1802, imagining what might have happened if the Earl, about whom Jane’s banker brother Henry spoke bitterly even after Jane’s death in 1817 and who features in Austen family correspondence well into the 1830s, had been more than a just a shadowy figure in the lives of the Austens.

Jane herself plays a major part in the 1801-1802 sections of Lord Moira’s Echo. Lord Moira, whom I first discovered in a glancing reference in Brian Southam’s Jane Austen and the Navy, really could have played the role I give him. The social history of Regency England is full of much stranger tales.

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Thank you Stuart, and also a hearty thanks for offering a copy to commenters. For those in the Vermont JASNA region, Stuart spoke on this novel as a work-in-progress in September 2012, where we were all intrigued to hear of his take on Jane Austen’s mystery love. He just recently spoke at the JASNA-MA and JASNA-SC regions, and is scheduled with the JASNA-Maine group in September. For readers wanting the full historical tale behind the references to the Austen family in the Hastings archive, Bennett’s essay, “Lord Moira and the Austens,” will appear in the next issue of Persuasions – Vol. 35 (2013), due out this May.

You can find more information on both novels at the Longbourn Press: http://longbournpress.com/

Lord Moira’s Echo is available in large format paperback ($14.95) and as a Kindle download ($2.99) via the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Moiras-Echo-Stuart-Bennett/dp/1494475197/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394040137&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Lord+Moria%27s+Echo%3A+A+Novel

The Perfect Visit can be found here: pb ($13. 46); kindle ($2.99)

http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Visit-Stuart-Bennett/dp/0615542700/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323810829&sr=8-1

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Bennett photo-ILABAbout the author: Stuart Bennett was an auctioneer at Christie’s in London before starting his own rare book business. He is the author of the Christie’s Collectors Guide How to Buy Photographs (1987), Trade Binding in the British Isles (2004) which the London Times Literary Supplement called “a bold and welcome step forward” in the history of bookbinding, and many publications on early photography, auctions and auctioneers, and rare books, and of course these two novels on Jane Austen. He currently lives and works near Boston, Massachusetts.

Book Giveaway!

Please leave your questions or comments for Stuart in the comment section below to be eligible for a free inscribed copy of Lord Moira’s Echo by Monday April 21, 2014, 11:59 pm.  Winner will be announced on Tuesday April 22nd.  Open to US respondents only (sorry, but postal rates are now over-the-top!)

book-cover-perfect-visit-bennett

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Originally posted on Sarah Emsley:

Mansfield Park You’re invited to a conversation about Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park !

When: from May 9 to December 31, 2014

Where: right here at sarahemsley.com

I really hope you’ll join us in celebrating 200 years of Austen’s masterpiece. More than forty wonderful people are writing guest posts about Mansfield Park for my blog this year, and I hope you’ll all participate in the discussion in the comments. With exactly one month to go before the 200th anniversary of the novel’s publication, the countdown is on!

An Invitation to Mansfield Park

The party begins on Friday, May 9th, with Lyn Bennett’s thoughts on the first paragraph, followed in the next few weeks by Judith Thompson on Mrs. Norris and adoption, Jennie Duke on Fanny Price at age ten (“though there might not be much in her first appearance to captivate, there was, at least, nothing to disgust her relations”), Cheryl Kinney on Tom Bertram’s assessment of Dr. Grant’s health (“he…

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MP-Atlantic2012-ebay

Have finished yet another re-read of Mansfield Park, in celebration of its bicentenary, and as always with a slow, deliberate re-read of anything Austen, one finds all sorts of new insights, new sentences, new cause for chuckles [yes! even Mansfield Park is chuckle-worthy!] – but as I have little time at present to engage in long semi-thoughtful posts on this novel, I shall just begin posting every few days some of my favorite lines, passages, all exhibiting the best of Jane Austen … and welcome your comments…

Today I start with a sentence in the first paragraph. Without the legendary opening line of Pride & Prejudice’s “a truth universally acknowledged” to start the tale, Mansfield Park begins rather like a family accounting – how the three Ward sisters fared with husband finding. And then we have this sentence, rather snuck in there I think to echo Pride and Prejudice:

But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.” 

[MP, Vol. I, Ch. I]

And we find in the three Ward sisters the limited options available to women of limited fortune in Jane Austen’s day: Maria lands the baronet, Frances marries for Love and ends up the worst of the lot, and the eldest becomes a vicar’s wife and one of Austen’s most beastly characters … and thus begins Mansfield Park

Thoughts anyone?

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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A special issue of Persuasions On-Line is now available for reading, free to all!

From JASNA:

JASNA header

As we usher in spring, we are pleased to announce the release of Persuasions On-Line, Vol. 34, No. 2, a collection of essays on “Teaching Austen and Her Contemporaries.” This issue, which is freely accessible on our website, furthers JASNA’s commitment to fostering the study and appreciation of Jane Austen’s works, life, and genius. Relatively little has been published on teaching Jane Austen, and the articles in this edition expand on that important area of Austen scholarship.

Many thanks to Persuasions Editor Susan Allen Ford and Co-Editors Bridget Draxler (Monmouth College) and Misty Krueger (University of Maine) for developing this unique issue.

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persuasionsOL34-2-2014
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Table of Contents:
Editors’ Note Bridget Draxler, Misty Krueger, and Susan Allen Ford

Discovering Jane Austen in Today’s College Classroom Devoney Looser

Teaching Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey as a “Crossover” Text Misty Krueger

Teaching Two Janes: Austen and West in Dialogue Daniel Schierenbeck

Taking Emma to the Street: Toward a Civic Engagement Model of Austen Pedagogy Danielle Spratt

Teaching to the Resistance: What to Do When Students Dislike Austen Olivera Jokic

“Hastening Together to Perfect Felicity”:  Teaching the British Gothic Tradition through Parody and Role-Playing Andrea Rehn

Teaching Jane Austen in Bits and Bytes: Digitizing Undergraduate Archival Research Bridget Draxler

Jane Austen Then and Now: Teaching Georgian Jane in the Jane-Mania Media Age Jodi L. Wyett

Dancing with Jane Austen: History and Practice in the Classroom Cheryl A. Wilson

Contributors’ Syllabi

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c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont; text and images from JASNA.org

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“Rear Admiral” of Austen in Boston posted this on a Jane Austen discussion group, his facebook page, and his blog. I think it is quite brilliant, and it will give you your Daily Chuckle – he gives me permission to post it here for your enjoyment!

Playing in Parts, James Gillray (1801) - Wikipedia Commons

Playing in Parts, by James Gillray (1801) – Wikipedia Commons

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From “Rear Admiral”: From something I posted on the Goodreads Jane Austen discussion page…I got just a bit carried away….. As I’m stuck in the (mostly) 70s/Singer Songwriter Era some (all?) of these might be unknown but I had way too much fun with this so here goes:

  •  Sir Walter Eliot to himself: James Blunt “You’re Beautiful”
  • The Kellynch Hall mirrors to Sir Walter: Carly Simon “You’re So Vain”
  • Anne Eliot to Captain Wentworth: Dan Fogelberg’s “Seeing You Again”
  • Lady Catherine to everyone: Frank Sinatra “My Way”
  • Emma to Mr K: Orleans “Dance with Me”
  • Mr K to Emma: Orleans “Love Takes Time”
  • Darcy to Lizzy: Orleans “Still the One”
  • Fanny to Edmund: Yvonne Elliman “If I Can’t Have You”
  • Mary Crawford to Edmund: Pink Floyd “Money”
  • Mary Crawford to Edmund, yet again: Dido “I’m No Angel”
  • Anne Eliot to Captain Wentworth: Yvonne Elliman “Hello Stranger”
  • Captain Wentworth to Anne Eliot: Joe Cocker “The Letter”
  • Catherine to Mr. Tilney: Fontella Bass “Rescue Me”
  • Marianne to Willoughby: All versions “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
  • Elinor to Edward: ELO “Strange Magic”
  • Col Brandon to Marianne: Cat Stevens “Oh Very Young”
  • Lizzy to Darcy: Olivia Newton-John “Have You Never Been Mellow”
  • Mrs. Croft to Admiral Croft: The Moody Blues “Sitting At The Wheel”
  • Lizzy to Bingley: The Beatles “She Loves You”
  • Edward to Elinor: Mary MacGregor “Torn Between Two Lovers”
  • Elinor/Marianne/Margaret/Mrs Dashwood to Fanny and John Dashwood: Foreigner “Cold as Ice”
  • Elinor to Lucy Steele and Mrs. Ferrars: Foreigner “Cold as Ice”
  • Edmund to Mary: Joe Cocker “Unchain My Heart”
  • Marianne to Col Brandon: Lulu “To Sir With Love” (yes, the Col. isn’t a Sir, but he should be)
  • Me to Jane Austen: Sugababies “Too Lost in You”
  • Holly Christina “Jane Austen” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vD2XIarhE08
  • Emma to herself: 10cc “I’m Not in Love”
  • Jane Bennet to Bingley: Beatles “8 Days a Week”
  • Caroline to Lizzy: ELO “Turn to Stone”
  • Anne and Capt Wentworth: duet “Reunited”
  • Willoughby to Marianne:Elvin Bishop “Fooled around and fell in love”
  • Bingley to Darcy:Bee Gees “You Should Be Dancing”
  • Adm Croft to the Musgrove Sisters: Lynyrd Skynyrd “What’s Your Name”
  • Aunt Norris to Fanny: Nick Lowe “Cruel to be Kind”
  • Eliza Williams to Willoughby Three Degrees “When will I see you again”
  • Marianne to Willoughby: James Taylor “Fire and Rain”
  • Robert Ferras to himself: ZZ Top “Sharp Dressed Man”
  • Lady Susan and Catherine Vernon duet: ELO “Evil Woman”
  • Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax duet: Atlantic Starr “Secret Lovers”
  • Mrs Bennet to her daughters:The 5th Dimension “Wedding Bell Blues”
  • Lizzy to Mr Collins: Police: “Don’t stand so close to me”
  • Charlotte Lucus to Mr Collins:Tina Turner “What’s Love Got to Do With It”
  • Neighbor Network of Spies to Catherine : Police “Every Breath You Take”
  • Fanny to Edmund:Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr “You don’t have to be a star”
  • Lucy Steele to Ferrars money: James Taylor: “How Sweet It is”
  • Anyone who’s read all of this to me: Simon and Garfunkel “The Sounds of Silence”

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"Longways" Country Dance, by Thomas Rowlandson (1790s) - wikipedia

“Longways” Country Dance, by Thomas Rowlandson (1790s) – wikipedia


Thank you Kirk! – Anyone want to add their own versions of Jane Austen in song?

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Originally posted on Current Projects:

By Keira Mckee

An important stage in the treatment of any object is for the conservator to thoroughly assess the object “as is” before any work gets underway, if any work is in fact needed. In the books conservation department, we fill out a condition and treatment report that documents the exact condition of a book, when received by the conservator, identifying all issues that may require attention. As times goes on, all work will also be logged in this same document so that a thorough report can go back with the book to the owner, and possibly inform future treatments if another conservator works with the book in the future.

I was asked by David Dorning to create a condition report for the sample of Jane Austen handwriting that the department has been commissioned to treat. You can read about the project here.

The full condition report is…

View original 327 more words

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JARW68-cover

New issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World!

The March/April 2014 issue [No. 68] of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is now published and will be mailed to subscribers this week.  In it you can read about:

  • William Beckford, the remarkable author and architect who led a somewhat sordid life
  • Joanna Trollope on her rewriting of Sense & Sensibility for HarperCollins’s Austen Project
  • Mary Russell Mitford, the writer who sought to emulate Jane Austen
  • How Jane Austen supported her fellow writers by subscribing to their books
  • The story of Julie Klassen, marketing assistant turned best-selling Regency romance novelist

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Plus: News, Letters, Book Reviews and information from Jane Austen Societies in the US and the UK.

And: Test your knowledge with our exclusive Jane Austen quiz, and read about the shocking behaviour of our latest Regency Rogue

You should subscribe! Make sure that you are among the first to read all the news from Jane Austen’s Regency Worldhttp://janeaustenmagazine.co.uk/subscribe/

[Images and text from JARW Magazine, with thanks]

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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UPDATE:  new images have been added!*

Gentle Readers:  I welcome again Ron Dunning on a bit of Jane Austen ancestry – the Knight name of Chawton and Godmersham.  We know that Thomas Knight and his wife adopted Edward Austen as a child, and passed on to him the landed estates they had inherited, both Chawton and Godmersham.  The name of the family eventually became Austen-Knight, but Ron shows us here how far back this connection went – one wonders how much Jane Austen would have actually known of this…**

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Knight of Chawton and Godmersham

Presentation of Edward Austen to Thomas and Catherine Knight - wikipedia

Presentation of Edward Austen to Thomas and Catherine Knight – wikipedia

We all know the story of how, in 1779, the 12-year-old Edward Austen charmed Thomas Knight [our Thomas henceforth] of Godmersham, and his newly-married wife Catherine [Knatchbull], when they stopped at Steventon on their bridal tour – so much so that they asked his parents to allow them to take him with them for the rest of the trip. The Knights grew increasingly fond of him, with his sunny and uncomplicated nature, and followed on by inviting him to visit them in Godmersham. When, after a few years, it became apparent that they were unlikely to have any children of their own to inherit their property and fortune, they arranged with the Austens to adopt him, and to give him their surname. There was a family connection – our Thomas Knight and Edward’s father George Austen were second cousins, both descended from John Austen and Jane Atkins.

Thomas Knight, the younger, by Francis Cote – CHL  ~  Catherine Knatchbull Knight, print of portrait by George Romney

Godmersham 1779 - wikipedia

Godmersham 1779 – wikipedia

Transfers of property, fortunes, and surnames were already well established in the Knight Family and make it all very difficult to follow. So I have created the chart below to make it easier for me, and I hope that it helps others too.

So, looking at the chart [see below]:

Chawton House

Chawton House

Beginning on the left, the Knight family had been in possession of the manor of Chawton for some generations. It was inherited  by Dorothy Knight when the male line failed. According to the law of the time, her property, including the title to the estate, became the possession of her husband, Richard Martin. When they produced no children, it passed to Richard’s brother Christopher; when he too died, having remained unmarried, it was inherited by their sister Elizabeth and her two successive husbands. [Note that this line had all changed their name from Martin to Knight, before reaching our Thomas.]

Elizabeth left no children, and the property passed to a second cousin, Thomas Brodnax of Godmersham. In 1727, this Thomas changed his name by Act of Parliament to May, when he inherited property at Rawmere in Sussex from his mother’s childless cousin, Sir Thomas May. Then in 1736, on inheriting the Chawton estate, he changed his name again, to Knight.

Thomas Knight (a.k.a.Brodnax, May) – by Michael Dahl – CHL  ~  Jane Monk, by Michael Dahl

This Thomas Knight and his wife Jane Monk, who was an Austen descendant, produced at least ten children, of whom five were

Edward Austen Knight - austenonly

Edward Austen Knight – austenonly

boys. Only one, our Thomas (the second son of that name), survived childhood. Thomas enjoyed a long life of sixty years, and married Catherine Knatchbull [see portraits above]. When it became clear that they too would remain childless, they chose to adopt the young and affable Edward Austen, whose family were collateral descendants of Thomas’s great-great-grandparents, John and Jane [Atkins] Austen. On his death in 1794, Thomas Knight bequeathed Godmersham to Catherine, and all other properties to Edward; Catherine later moved to Canterbury and gave Edward the Godmersham estate at that time.

Confused? I too struggle to keep it all straight, so hopefully this chart helps.  There is one detail missing, which will necessitate some further research; that is the family connection between the Martin and the Brodnax families, who were said to be second cousins. Once the research is done I’ll amend the chart, but it won’t make any difference to the sequence of surnames and ownership as they are illustrated here.

It’s some time since I last added anything to the Jane Austen’s Family website. It struck me as a good idea to include a pedigree section; this is now the first chart:

knight-estates

It can be found at this link: http://www.janeaustensfamily.co.uk/pedigrees/knight/knight.index.html

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Thank you Ron! – if anyone has any questions [are you all sitting out there scratching your heads??], please ask Ron – he would be happy to answer anything you might put to him…!

Without all these family dynamics and the extensive trading of names and the adoption of Edward Austen, Jane Austen might never have had the chance to live and write at Chawton Cottage  [now the Jane Austen House and Museum]– and where would we all be without those six novels??

Chawton Cottage - astoft.co. uk

Chawton Cottage – astoft.co. uk

* The portraits of the Thomas Knights, Jane Monk, and Catherine Knight are all from Ancestry.com, with thanks to Ron for accessing these. You can read about the portrait artist Michael Dahl here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dahl

** Ron has answered my question about whether Jane Austen knew about all these family connections:

Everyone – the Knights, Mr and Mrs Austen, Edward – knew incontrovertibly about the peregrinations at least back to the common descent from John and Jane Austen and, no doubt about the Mays too.  It’s inconceivable that they wouldn’t have discussed it all in front of Jane.

Do you have any questions for Ron?

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Jane Austen on Her Mansfield Park

As we begin celebrating the bicentenary of the publication of Mansfield Park [it was first advertised on May 9, 1814 in The Star], I post here all the references that Jane Austen made in her letters to her third book. My intention for the year ahead is to post about MP’s publishing history and the variety of illustrated and collectible editions. Then a post on Austen’s own “Opinions of Mansfield Park” where she collected and recorded all the comments from family and friends [she also did this for Emma] – she may have called P&P her “own darling Child” – but I think it is “universally acknowledged” that her very own favorite was MP – she seemed most concerned about others’ reactions to it and was discouraged that no review of MP appeared at the time of its publication.  And then I will post on sequels / continuations – not as many as the other works [doesn’t anyone think of Edmund as a romantic Hero? – why hasn’t an oversized sculpture of him been dragged into the Serpentine?], but interesting all the same!  … But first: her own commentary on MP – again, there is that feeling of Austen hovering over my shoulder as I read the letters – if only one could ask the many questions we all have – if you could, what would you ask Jane Austen about Mansfield Park?

References:


1. 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.]
2. _____. Mansfield Park. Introd. Jane Stabler. Oxford, 2008, c2003.
2. Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll, 1997.

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MP-1sted-titlepage

              Image: Mansfield Park 1st edition, Printed for T. Egerton, 1814.

According to Cassandra Austen’s memorandum with regard to the writing of the novels, Austen was working on Mansfield Park from February 1811, finished soon after June 1813. These early letters make it clear that Cassandra was familiar with the story all along…

  • Ltr. 78 Sunday 24 January 1813 from Chawton to Cassandra at Steventon (p. 198-99)

I learn from Sir J. Carr that there is no Government House at Gibraltar. – I must alter it to the Commissioner’s.  

NOTE:  The Commissioner held a shore-posting, usually as rank of Captain; often given to injured sea officers. He was responsible to the administration of naval accounts at a local level. [MP, Oxford, 410]

John_Carr_1809-wp

Sir John Carr (wikipedia)

Carr is not in the Le Faye index …, but according to Gilson, this is Sir John Carr, author of Descriptive Travels in the Southern and Eastern parts of Spain and the Balearic Isles in the year 1809. (1811) – and what Austen must have read to confirm this information [Gilson, 48]

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_John_Carr

Austen uses it here:

He [Henry Crawford] honoured the warm–hearted, blunt fondness of the young sailor [William Price], which led him to say, with his hands stretched towards Fanny’s head, “Do you know, I begin to like that queer fashion already, though when I first heard of such things being done in England, I could not believe it; and when Mrs. Brown, and the other women at the Commissioner’s at Gibraltar, appeared in the same trim, I thought they were mad; but Fanny can reconcile me to anything”… [MP, Vol. II, ch. vi]

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In the same letter (78), Austen writes:

As soon as a Whist party was formed & a round Table threatened, I made my Mother an excuse, & came away; leaving just as many for their round Table, as there were at Ms. Grants. – I wish they might be as agreable a set.  

NOTE:  round table = eleven, less 4 for whist, and JA, leaves 6. The round table in MP consisted of Lady Bertram and Edmund, 2 Prices, and 2 Crawfords [Le Faye, 410].

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  • Ltr. 79. Friday 29 January 1813. From Chawton to Cassandra at Steventon (p. 202)

After a rather lengthy paragraph on the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Austen jumps into another topic:

Now I will try to write of something else; – it shall be a complete change of subject – Ordination. I am glad to find your enquiries have ended so well. – If you discover whether Northamptonshire is a Country of Hedgerows, I sh’d be glad again.

NOTE: This line has led early scholars to believe that she was referring to the theme of her newest novel – but if we notice the previous letter’s references to MP, we know that she is nearly half-way through its composition.  Le Faye notes that the “enqueries” no doubt refer to the time necessary for the process of ordination – i.e. how long Edmund Bertram might be kept away from Mansfield Park for this purpose.  Cassandra was then staying with James Austen, and could have provided these details. [Le Faye, 411]

Speed_Northampton-wp

Image: 17th century map of Northamptonshire, by John Speed (wikipedia)

NOTE: The hedgerows reference: Chapman assumed this meant Austen was thinking of using the device in MP she later uses in Persuasion [Anne overhearing the conversation between Capt. Wentworth and Louisa] – Cassandra told her there were no hedgerows in Northamptonshire – but she does use this in MP:

“This is pretty, very pretty,” said Fanny, looking around her as they were thus sitting together one day; “every time I come into this shrubbery I am more struck with its growth and beauty. Three years ago, this was nothing but a rough hedgerow along the upper side of the field, never thought of as anything, or capable of becoming anything;…” [MP, vol. II, ch. IV]

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  • Ltr. 82 Tuesday 16 February 1813. From Chawton to Martha Lloyd [in Kintsbury]. (p. 208).

A reference to her questions about Northamptonshire as in the above letter to Cassandra.

I am obliged to you for your inquiries about Northamptonshire, but do not wish you to renew them, as I am sure of getting the intelligence I want from Henry, to whom I can apply at some convenient moment “sans peur et sans reproche.” [without fear and without reproach]

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  • Ltr.  86. Saturday 3 – Tuesday 6 July 1813. From Chawton to Capt. Francis Austen on the HMS Elephant, Baltic. (p. 217)

    FrancisAusten-wp

    Francis Austen (wikipedia)

Here she refers to MP as not being as entertaining as P&P, and asks her sailor brother if she can mention his Ships:

You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S&S is sold…I have now therefore written myself into £250. – which only makes me long for more. I have something in hand – which I hope on the credit of P. & P. will sell well, tho’ not half so entertaining. And by the bye – shall you object to my mentioning the Elephant in it, & two or three other of your old Ships? – I have done it, but it shall not stay, to make you angry. – They are only just mentioned.

NOTE: the ships mentioned in MP are the Cleopatra, Elephant, and Endymion.

 

HMS_Cleopatra_(1779)-wp
Image: HMS Cleopatra, by Nicholas Pocock (Wikipedia) 

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  • Ltr. 90. Saturday 25 September 1813.  From Godmersham Park To Francis Austen, HMS Elephant, Baltic. (p. 231) 

Where she thanks her brother for permission to use his ships, tells him that the great Secret of her as author is now quite public, and goes on to lay the blame on Henry for telling all!

I thank you very warmly for your kind consent to my application & the kind hint which followed it. – I was previously aware of what I sh’d be laying myself open to – but the truth is that the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret  now – & that I believe 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…

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  • Ltr. 97. Wednesday 2 – Thursday 3 March 1814. From London (Henrietta St.) to Cassandra in Chawton. (p. 255-56)

Austen is travelling with Henry to London – it is assumed the reading she refers to is the proof-sheets of MP – she is returning to London in hopes of having Egerton publish the book in April.

We did not begin reading till Bentley Green.  Henry’s approbation hitherto is even equal to my wishes; he says it is very different from the other two, but not appear to think it at all inferior. He has only married Mrs. R. I am afraid he has gone through the most entertaining part. – He took to Lady B. & Mrs. N most kindly, & gives great praise to the drawing of the Characters. He understands them all, likes Fanny & I think foresees how it will all be.

 And later:

Henry is going on with Mansfield Park; he admires H. Crawford – I mean properly – as a clever, pleasant Man. – I tell you all the Good I can, as I know how much you will enjoy it…
 Brock2-reading-mollands

Image: “His [Henry Crawford] reading was capital.”  Vol. III, ch. iii.  (Mollands) 

Austen makes reference to a “Frederick” when referring to Christopher (Tilson) Chowne – it has been suggested that perhaps he played the role of Frederick in Lovers’ Vows at one of many amateur theatricals at Steventon. [Le Faye, 429]

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  • Ltr. 98. Saturday 5 – Tuesday 8 March 1814. From Henrietta St. to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 258)

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.  

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  • Ltr. 99. Wednesday 9 March 1814. From Henrietta St. to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 261)

Henry has finished Mansfield Park. & his approbation has not lessened. He found the last half of the last volume extremely interesting.

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  • Ltr. 100. Monday 21 March 1814. From London (Henrietta St) to Francis Austen ? (p. 262) – fragment only

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 know beforehand. 

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  • Ltr. 101. Tuesday 14 June 1814. From Chawton to Cassandra in London. (p. 263)  cover-JAClergy

In addition to their [Mr. and Mrs. Cooke] standing claims on me, they admire Mansfield Park exceedingly. Mr. Cooke says “it is the most sensible Novel he ever read” – and the manner in which I treat the Clergy, delights them very much. [Mr. Cooke was Rev. Samuel Cooke]

Image: Jane Austen and the Clergy, by Irene Collins (2004)

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  • Ltr. 102. Thursday 23 Jun 1814. From Chawton to Cassandra in London. (p. 265)

We have called upon Miss Dusautoy & Miss Papillon & been very pretty. – Miss D. has a great idea of being Fanny Price, she & her youngest sister together, who is named Fanny. 

Fanny- Sylvestra-dashwoodblog

Image:  Fanny Price – Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny, MP (BBC, 1983)
(Miss Dashwood blog) 

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  • Ltr. 106. Friday 2 September 1814. From London (Henrietta St) to Martha Lloyd in Bath. (p. 274)

Mr. Barlowe is to dine with us today, & I am in some hope of getting Egerton’s account before I go away.

NOTE:  Mr. Barlowe is an employee of Henry’s London bank – she refers here to Egerton’s account of the 1st edition of MP. [Le Faye, 436.]

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  • Ltr. 109. Friday 18-Sunday 20 November 1814. From Chawton to Fanny Knight at Goodnestone Park, Kent. (p. 281)

GoodnestonePark

Image: Goodnestone Park website

You will be glad to hear that the first Edit. of M.P. is all sold. – Your Uncle Henry is rather wanting me to come to Town, to settle about a 2d Edit: – but as I could not very conveniently leave home now, I have written him my Will & pleasure, & unless he still urges it, shall not go. – I am very greedy and want to make the most of it; – but as you are much above caring about money, I shall not plague with my particulars.- The pleasures of Vanity are more within your comprehension, & you will enter into mine, at receiving the praise which every now & then comes to me, through some channel or other.-  

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  • Ltr. 110. Tuesday 22 November 1814. From Chawton to Anna Lefroy in Hendon. (p. 282)

Make everybody at Hendon admire Mansfield Park.- 

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  • Ltr. 111. ?Thursday 24 November 1814. From Chawton to Anna Lefroy in Hendon. (p. 282-83)

Mrs. Creed’s opinion is gone down on my list [i.e. her opinions of MP list]; but fortunately I may excuse myself from entering Mr as my paper only relates to Mansfield Park. I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of “Self-control” as soon as I can; – I will improve upon it… 

Mary Brunton (Wikipedia)

Mary Brunton (Wikipedia)

NOTE: Self-Control was a novel written by Mary Brunton (1811) – Austen refers to it in her letters three times:

Ltr. 72 (p. 186): We have tried to get Self-controul, but in vain.- I should like to know where her Estimate is – but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever – & of finding my own story & my own people all forestalled.

Ltr. 91 (p. 234). I am looking over Self-Control again, & my opinion is confirmed of its’ being an excellently-meant, elegantly-written Work, without anything of Nature or Probability in it. I declare I do not know whether Laura’s passage down the American River, is not the most natural, possible, every-day thing she ever does.

Ltr. 111 (p. 283). I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of “Self-control” as soon as I can; – I will improve upon it; – my Heroine shall not merely be wafted down an American river in a boat by herself, she shall cross the Atlantic in the same way, & never stop till she reaches Gravesent.-

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  • Ltr. 114. 30 November 1814. From London (Hans Place) to Fanny Knight at Godmersham Park, Kent. (p. 287)

Contains one of Austen’s most-quoted lines:

Thank you – but it is not settled yet whether I do hazard a 2d Edition. We are to see Egerton today, when it will probably be determined. – People are more ready to borrow & praise, than to buy – which I cannot wonder at; – but tho’ I like praise as well as anybody, I like what Edward calls Pewter too. 

NOTE: We know that Egerton did not publish this hoped for 2nd edition – Did he refuse? Did he not offer good terms? Or was Jane Austen displeased with Egerton’s printing of the 1st edition? We do not know, but Austen moved to the firm of John Murray to publish her Emma, and Murray took on the 2nd ed of MP, which was published on February 19, 1816.

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John Murray (Wikipedia)

John Murray (Wikipedia)

  • Ltr. 121. Tuesday 17 – Wednessday 18 October 1815. From London (Hans Place)to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 291)

Mr Murray’s Letter is come; he is a Rogue of course, but a civil one. He offers £450- but wants to have the Copyright of MP. & S&S included. It will end in my publishing for myself I dare say. – He sends more praise however than I expected. It is an amusing Letter. You shall see it. 

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  • Ltr. 122 (A) (D). ?Friday 20 / Saturday 21 October 1815. From Henry Austen in London to John Murray [in
    Henry Austen

    Henry Austen

    London]. (p. 293-94)

I include this letter because it shows Henry’s involvement in his sister’s publishing history – he was very ill at the time and Jane was his nurse.  She was in London at Hans Place to negotiate the publication of Emma, as well as the 2nd ed. of MP… [see my previous post on this letter ] – I just love the line: “great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation”!

[A Letter to Mr. Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the severe Relapse which threw him into such Danger. - ]

Dear Sir

Severe illness has confined me to my Bed ever since I received Yours of ye 15th – I cannot yet hold a pen, & employ an Amuensis [sic]. – The Politeness & Perspicuity of your Letter equally claim my earliest Exertion. – Your official opinion of the Merits of Emma, is very valuable & satisfactory. – Though I venture to differ occasionally from your Critique, yet I assure you the Quantum of your commendation rather exceeds than falls short of the Author’s expectation & my own. – The Terms you offer are so very inferior to what we had expected, that I am apprehensive of having made some great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation. – On the subject of the expense & profit of publishing, you must be much better informed that I am; – but Documents in my possession appear to prove that the Sum offered by you, for the Copyright of Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park & Emma, is not equal to the Money which my Sister has actually cleared by one very moderate Edition of Mansfield Park –(You Yourself expressed astonishment that so small an Edit. of such a work should have been sent into the World) & a still smaller one of Sense & Sensibility.- …

Image of Henry Austen: Jasna.org, essay by Kristen Miller Zohn

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  • Ltr.  124. Friday 3 November 1815.  From London (Hans Place) to John Murray. (p. 295)

I mention this letter because it shows how involved Jane Austen was in her own publishing ventures.  Here she writes about Henry being ill, requesting Murray to visit her at Hans Place to discuss Emma – she might have wished to also talk about the 2nd edition of MP – note that the drafted letter above to Murray was actually not sent until after this one; it also has one of my favorite lines from the letters, which I have underlined

Sir

My Brother’s severe Illness has prevented his replying to Yours of Oct. 15, on the subject of the MS of Emma, now in your hands-and as he is, though recovering, still in a state which we are fearful of harrassing by Business & I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on me here, any day that may suit you best, at any hour in the Evening, or any in the Morning except from Eleven to One. – A short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing.

My Brother begs his Compts  & best Thanks for your polite attention in supplying him with a Copy of Waterloo.

   I am Sir
Your Ob. Hum: Servt
Jane Austen

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  • Ltr. 125 (A). Thursday 16 November 1815. From James Stanier Clarke (Carlton House) to Jane Austen at Hans Place, London. (p. 296)

I include this because Clarke singles out MP so, which must have gratified her very much! I think Clarke had quite the crush on Jane Austen:

Your late Works, Madam, and in particular Mansfield Park reflect the highest honour on your Genius & your Principles; in every new work your mind seems to increase its energy and powers of discrimination. The Regent has read & admired all your publications…

James_Stanier_Clarke-wp.pg

Image: James Stanier Clarke (wikipedia)

NOTE:  See more on the letters between Austen and Clarke and her visit to Carlton House here: http://janeausteninvermont.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/a-visit-to-carlton-house-november-13-1815/

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  • Ltr. 128. Sunday 26 November 1815. From London (Hans Place) to Cassandra [at Chawton ]. (p. 301)

Mr. H. [Haden] is reading Mansfield Park for the first time & prefers it to P&P.

NOTE:  I think Austen and / or her niece Fanny had a wild crush on Charles Thomas Haden. He was a London surgeon. She calls him ” a sort of wonderful nondescript Creature on two Legs, something between a Man & an Angel” [Le Faye, Ltr. 129, p. 303)

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  • Ltr. 130. Monday 11 December 1815. From London (Hans Place) to John Murray in London. (p. 305)

I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I believe, as I can make it.

NOTE:  It is unknown whether Austen gave Murray a marked-up copy of the first edition [which had many errors], or she was working from new galleys…

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  • Ltr. 132(D). Monday 11 December 1815. From London (Hans Place) to James Stanier Clarke (London). (p. 306)

I must make use of this opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other Novels – I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their Merit.

My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work shd not disgrace what was good in the others. … I am very strongly haunted with the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who have preferred MP. very inferior in good Sense.  

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  • Ltr. 134(A). Wednesday 27 December 1815. From the Countess of Morley at Saltram to Jane Austen at Chawton. (p. 308)

I am already become 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-

NOTE:  At the time, many believed the Countess of Morley to be the Authoress of both S&S and P&P.

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  • Ltr. 139. Monday 1 April 1816. From Chawton to John Murray in London. (p. 313)

Dear Sir,

   I return you the Quarterly Review with many Thanks. 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.

This is Austen’s final word on MP in her letters: she is peeved that MP is not mentioned in this anonymous review – we know now this reviewer of Emma was Sir Walter Scott, but did Austen know that?? Recall that she wrote this about him to her niece Anna, tongue in cheek of course, as we know that she liked his work very much:

Sir_Henry_Raeburn_-_Portrait_of_Sir_Walter_Scott-wp

Image: Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, by Henry Raeburn (wikipedia)

Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. – It is not fair. – He has Fame & Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths. – I do not like him, & do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it-but fear I must. [Ltr. 108, p. 277]

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CEBrock-MP-beautiful-mollands

Image: C.E. Brock – “Oh, this is beautiful indeed!”
Mansfield Park, Vol. II, ch. ix (Mollands)

Stay tuned for more on Mansfield Park. You might also like to follow Sarah Emsley’s (and guests’) blog posts on MP, which will begin in May: http://sarahemsley.com/2014/01/01/200-years-of-mansfield-park/

And I ask again: if you could, what would you ask Jane Austen about Mansfield Park?

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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