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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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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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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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Gentle Readers: I welcome today Christopher Sandrawich with his post on the JASNA tour to the UK last July 2013. Part of last year’s trip took in the Midlands, and the Jane Austen Society Midlands hosted the group for a few days… Come join Chris as they trek about Hamtsall Ridware, Stoneleigh Abbey, Chatsworth, etc. and meet the likes of Edward Cooper, Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys, John Gisborn, William Wilberforce, and more …

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Jane Austen Society North America (JASNA) UK Tour 2013

Towards the end of 2012 Hugh Whittaker, Managing Director of Pathfinders, who was organising the JASNA tour of the UK asked David Selwyn for help in the Midlands. David directed him to me for assistance and I happily pledged the full and immediate support of The Jane Austen Society Midlands. I did this in the same way that a blank cheque is signed, and if I had been aware from the outset of the full count of time and energy that was to be spent I may have been less sanguine. However, our efforts were not only well received but it was a real pleasure to meet so many enthusiastic Jane Austen lovers from the other side of ‘the pond’. In a hot July under azure skies in the lovely countryside around Hamstall it was great to talk to such a diverse bunch of warm, friendly, and keenly interested Jane Austen devotees who, “just like us”, love her novels. Their most frequent question, however, was “Where is the air-conditioning?”

Whenever I think of Americans touring any part of Europe I show my age by fondly recalling the 1969 romantic comedy, “If it’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” which had as its premise the country-hopping approach of ‘Whirlwind Tours’ taking in as many cities and culture as possible in the time allowed. To see if in the intervening half-century our American visitors have adopted a more relaxed style let’s review their itinerary, or schedule, and find out:

  • Sunday 14th July: Arrive Heathrow, meet up and have dinner.
  • Monday 15th July: Coach to Stamford, and then Hamstall Ridware to hear a talk from JASM and then on to Buxton.
  • Tuesday 16th July: Trip to view Lyme Park and Longnor; then return to Buxton.
  • Wednesday 17th July: Visit Bakewell, then guided tour of Chatsworth House, meet JASM then back to Buxton.
  • Thursday 18th July: Travel to Stoneleigh Abbey (guided ‘Austen Tour’ of house and view Costume Exhibition) then on to Adlestrop before going to Winchester.
  • Friday 19th July: Walking tour of Winchester, coach to Steventon and St Nicholas Church and hear a talk on Steventon “Then and Now” before going to Chawton Village and private tours of the House and Library. In the evening meet Hampshire members of the Jane Austen Society. Hotel in Winchester.
  • Saturday 20th July: Ceremony at Jane Austen’s grave, Winchester Cathedral, followed by a walk to 8 College Street. Return to Chawton for the JAS AGM, then evensong at St Nicholas Church.
  • Sunday 21st July: Visit the Close of Salisbury Cathedral followed by a tour of Wilton House, Wiltshire. Journey to Bath via Lacock.
  • Monday 22nd July: Guided walking tour of Bath visiting houses where Jane Austen lived, the pump room, the Jane Austen Centre and the Assembly Rooms for tea.
  • Tuesday 23rd July: Free Day to explore Bath further. Attend a private Regency Supper with Austen-themed entertainment in an elegant Bath Townhouse.
  • Wednesday 24th July: Travel to Brighton and tour the Royal Pavilion. Explore the campgrounds used by the militia during the Napoleonic wars. Free time to explore Brighton then to a country-house hotel for farewell dinner.
  • Thursday 25th July: Transport to Gatwick or Heathrow or onto London for those extending their stay.

It all seems ‘helter-skelter’ enough!

I regret that this commentary’s structure on the JASNA tour is less of a narrative and more a series of lists, like the one above.

Meeting JASNA at Hamstall Ridware

shoulderofmuttonpub

Shoulder of Mutton Pub in Hamstall Ridware

Carol Taylor and I had arranged to meet their bus at the Shoulder of Mutton pub for refreshments, but they were delayed owing to a bizarre accident. A very large tractor and trailer ran into a ditch to avoid colliding head-on with their bus, and completely blocked the road. Anyone who has driven through those narrow country lanes can appreciate their bus driver’s reluctance to reverse for any distance. Through the use of mobile phones, help was requested and given, and after a further detour they disembarked finally, and headed inside making full use of the pub’s many facilities. They seemed pleased to have made it unharmed but were bemused by the absence of air-conditioning. Our explanations that England is seldom hot enough for long enough to warrant air-cooling, evoked a mild look of surprised consternation. In preparation we had organised a package of information for each of them which seems such a waste not to share with you in turn. Included in their package was an enlarged copy on heavy paper of Carol’s wonderful sketch of The Rectory which appears in Transactions Issue No 10 and which was very well received.

Staffordshire_UK_location_map_svg-wp

Stattfordshire, UK (Wikipedia)

I addressed the tour party and mentioned that there were several “Ridwares” in the area and this one is denoted as Hamstall Ridware. The place name comes from a Celtic word “Rhyd” meaning “Ford” and an Anglo Saxon word “Wara” meaning “Dwellers” and Hamstall Ridware is two miles north of a fording point across the River Trent. Also included (for them) was a photocopy of Edward Cooper’s likeness taken from Transactions Issue No 3 plus the following:

The Reverend Edward Cooper, first cousin to Jane Austen,
Rector of the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Hamstall Ridware

Cooper Portrait-JAHouse Museum

Portrait of Edward Cooper, by T. Barber (1819)
from the Jane Austen House Museum blog

  • Edward and Jane were cousins because their mothers were sisters and granddaughters of Theophilus Leigh of Adlestrop.
    -
  • The Rev Cooper wrote evangelical and uncompromising sermons and he saw “eye to eye” with his Bishop, Henry Ryder.
    -
  • Voltaire said that, “Anglican clergy had no major vice save avarice” and it seems even a friendly bishop had occasion to reprimand the Reverend Edward Cooper for keeping his curate, the Reverend John Riland, at Yoxall, on a miserly stipend.
    -
  • For all Jane Austen’s seeming dislike of her cousin, and his letters of “cold comfort”, Edward Cooper made many good friends at Hamstall.  Even before he and his wife had moved up from Harpsden he had befriended Edward Riley who was to be his new neighbour.  By the summer of 1800, when his parents-in-law paid their first visit to Staffordshire, Cooper’s acquaintance had swelled to include the inhabitants of most of the great houses in the vicinity, as well as the clergymen of the many surrounding villages and several from the cathedral town of Lichfield, just eight miles distant.  Besides the fact that he was a well-educated man, Edward Cooper was very wealthy, having inherited the fortune of his grandfather, the goldsmith and banker, Gislingham Cooper; so he would have been quite at home among the local gentry.  He appears to have chosen his closest friends from among those of evangelical persuasion, some of whom had also met or were deeply interested in the life and work of Samuel Johnson.  These points may be of special interest to readers of Mansfield Park.
    -
  • Adlestrop, a Cotswold Village, features the Manor House, Adlestrop Park, – which is a gothic mansion ‘improved’ by Repton – property of James Henry Leigh (the Leigh family had lots of ancestral lands). At the nearby Rectory lived the Reverend Thomas Leigh (Mrs Austen’s cousin) who on the death of his remote relative in 1806, the Honorary Mary Leigh, went to Stoneleigh Abbey in the company of Mrs George Austen with her daughters Cassandra and Jane. After the family interests were settled the Austen’s visited Hamstall Ridware and the Coopers in the late summer of 1806 and stayed about five weeks.

Adlestrop Park (astoft) and Adlestrop House – formerly the Rectory (geographUK)

  •  The proximity of church, rectory and manor house could not have escaped Jane Austen’s notice. The river and the stewponds immediately beyond the churchyard could prefigure Delaford in Sense and Sensibility. Left out of the novel is the tower, originally an outlook tower, now preserved as a ‘folly’.
    -
  • Also, we have Sense and Sensibility character names with people known to, or friends of, the Coopers: Ferrars, spelt with two “e’s” but still with an ‘F’, Dashwood, Palmer and Jennings. Also, the Austens would have passed through Middleton on their journey from Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire to Hamstall, and in addition Lord Middleton was a distant relation of Mrs Austen and she, herself, was named after the sister of the first Lord Middleton – Cassandra Willoughby.

StoneleighAbbey-wp
Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire (Wikipedia) 

  • Stoneleigh Abbey was maintained and added to over time by the wealth of the Leigh family and has an odd mix of styles: it has an Elizabethan East Wing, an 18th Century West Wing and a 14th Century Gate House. Its rooms are altogether lighter and more colourful than one might expect – and one can easily imagine Catherine Morland having to swallow her disappointment at the shortage of Gothic Horrors.
    -
  • Just how far we can go to claiming that Stoneleigh Abbey as the model for Northanger Abbey is aided by the existence of a now concealed staircase leading from the stable yard that might have been the model for Henry Tilney to ascend and surprise Catherine when she was seeking Mrs Tilney’s bedroom.
    -
  • What is more credible is the chapel at Stoneleigh Abbey being the model for the chapel at Sotherton Court in Mansfield Park. From the vantage point of the chapel balcony one sees, “the profusion of mahogany and the crimson velvet cushions appearing over the ledge of the family balcony above” and as Fanny Price noted, “no aisles, no inscription, no banners.”
    -
  • Despite all of this the wall-plaque at Stoneleigh Abbey misspells the Austen name!
    -
  • John and Millicent Gisborne were close friends of Edward Cooper.  They lived at Holly Bush, a beautiful and commodious house at Newborough in Needwood Forest, just two miles from Hamstall and a mile from Yoxall Lodge, the home of John’s older brother.  A deeply religious man, John Gisborne shared with Edward Cooper more than their evangelical persuasion.  They read the same books, Edward Cooper sometimes guiding his friend in the choice of reading matter and discussing it with him during long walks in the forest.  The younger Gisborne had inherited from his mother a keen interest in botany, which he pursued with unabated vigour all his life, corresponding with most of the leading botanists of the day.  He married the step-daughter of Erasmus Darwin. (Scientist, inventor, poet, and physician at Lichfield, Darwin was co-founder of the Lunar Society in Birmingham.  The experiments, discoveries and inventions of this group of men did much to advance the industrial revolution in England.)  Darwin’s own interest in botany, and the many thoughts his own experiments and discoveries gave rise to, he put into verse in his much-celebrated, sometimes controversial Botanic Garden, which Mrs. Lybbe Powys mentions in her journal.  Darwin’s son-in-law, John Gisborne, wrote two poems which won him some acclaim.  They are partly a celebration of Nature, but, as in the poetry of his brother, Erasmus Darwin, and of William Cowper, the poet so much loved by the Evangelicals, he reveals the extent to which his peaceful contemplation in the wild led to reflection on greater issues.  Among those that are mentioned in John Gisborne’s Vales of Weaver is the subject of Catherine the Great, whose ‘wickedness’ included the enslavement of the Poles.  Gisborne, contrasts the Empress of Russia with “Immortal Washington … Saviour of his Country, the Supporter of Freedom, and the Benefactor of Mankind.”
    -
  • Slavery was almost an obsession with Edward Cooper’s friends at that time, and small wonder, for William Wilberforce had
    William Wilberforce

    William Wilberforce

    spent many an autumn with the Gisbornes at Yoxall Lodge engaged in abolition work.  He and Gisborne had been at Cambridge together and had shared much companionable conversation late into the night.  However, they had parted company after graduation and only resumed contact when Gisborne heard that Wilberforce had taken up the issue of the slave trade in the House of Commons.  He promptly wrote to Wilberforce: “I have been as busy in town as a member of Parliament preparing himself to maintain the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and no doubt much more usefully employed.  I shall expect to read in the newspapers of your being carbonaded by West Indian planters, barbecued by African merchants, and eaten by Guinea captains; but do not be daunted for – I will write your epitaph.”  And Wilberforce was soon taking advantage of Gisborne’s quiet haven in the forest, where he and Mrs. Gisborne’s brother worked on the vast quantity of evidence on the slave trade, so as to become fully conversant with it and thereby strengthen their arguments.  For much of the day they would work uninterrupted in an upper room, eating little, only coming down to walk in the forest for a half hour before dinner.  There Gisborne would hear his friend’s melodious voice far away among the trees.

[Ed. There is a blog on John Gisborn [is there a blog on everything?] as well as a Brief Memoir  ]
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  • On one such visit Wilberforce did take time off to accompany Gisborne to Etruria to call on Josiah Wedgwood who had manufactured a jasper-ware cameo depicting a slave in chains and the words: “Am I not a man and a brother.” Had they not the anti-slavery interest in common Gisborne would have met Wedgwood through his sister-in-law. Millicent Gisborne’s step-father, Erasmus Darwin was family doctor and friend to Wedgwood, another member of the Lunar Society.

Wedgwood-slavery-BM

Josiah Wedgwood – Anti-Slavery Medallion – 1787 – British Museum

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In preparing these notes I have taken extracts from:

1.  King, Gaye.Edward Cooper’s Domain.” JASM Transactions 10 (1999)
2.  Poucher, Neil. “Jane Austen in the Midlands.” JASM Transactions 6 (1995)
3.  King, Gaye. “Jane Austen’s Staffordshire Cousin: Edward Cooper and His Circle.” Persuasions 15 (1993): 252-59.

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The poem Adlestrop by Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
The name because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

I had included this poem, not only because it is both evocative and beautiful, and suitable reading on a hot English summer’s day, but because through the name, Adlestrop, we have the Theophilus Leigh connection as well as the connections with Edward Cooper’s parish and finally, JASNA were actually to go there as part of their itinerary on this tour. Nevertheless, I was still asked why it was included!

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A copy of the memorial to the Reverend Edward Cooper, with notes

IN A VAULT NEAR THIS SPOT ARE DEPOSITED
THE REMAINS OF
THE REV. EDWARD COOPER
WHO, FOR UPWARDS OF 30 YEARS WAS RECTOR
OF THIS PARISH, AND FOR MANY YEARS OF
THE ADJOINING PARISH OF YOXALL ALSO;
IN BOTH WHICH PLACES, (AS A FAITHFUL
MINISTER OF CHRIST,
AND ENDEARED TO ALL HIS PARISHIONERS,)
HE DISCHARGED, WITH UNREMITTING ZEAL,
THE DUTIES OF HIS SACRED OFFICE

HE WAS THE ONLY SON
OF THE REV. EDWARD COOPER L.L.D.
VICAR OF SONNING, BERKS &c. AND PREBENDARY
OF BATH AND WELLS; AND OF JANE HIS WIFE,
GRANDAUGHTER OF THEOPHILUS LEIGH ESQ
OF ADDLESTROP, IN THE COUNTY OF GLOUCESTER
HE WAS FORMERLEY
FELLOW OF ALL SOULS COLLEGE, OXFORD
HE WAS FATHER ALSO.
HE DEPARTED THIS LIFE, ON 26 DAY OF FEB 1833
IN THE 63rd YEAR OF HIS AGE.

“HE   BEING DEAD YET SPEAKETH”

WITHIN THE SAME VAULT ALSO REPOSE THE
REMAINS OF CAROLINE ISABELLA, HIS WIDOW,
ONLY DAUGHTER OF PHILIP LYBBE POWYS, ESQ
OF HARDWICK HOUSE IN THE COUNTY OF OXFORD,
SHE DIED IN THE 63rd YEAR OF HER AGE.

THIS TABLET WAS ERECTED BY THEIR   EIGHT SURVIVING
CHILDREN, AS A TRIBUTE OF
GRATEFUL AFFECTION, AND RESPECT,
TO THE MEMORY OF THEIR
DEEPLY LAMENTED, AND MUCH BELOVED
PARENTS

 

On her visit to her cousin Edward Cooper, in the summer of 1806, Jane Austen would have been familiar with the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Hamstall Ridware. The historic church, dating in part from the 12th Century, stands beside the Rectory on the beautiful site overlooking the River Blythe.

St_Michael's_Church,_Hamstall_Ridware-wp

St Michael and All Angels, Hamstall Ridware (Wikipedia)

This memorial on the east wall of the north aisle of his Church, reveals Edward Cooper’s connection with the Leighs of Adlestrop. The Jane Austen Society Midlands provided funds to have the tablet cleaned and the letters re-blacked. On Sunday, 16th August, 1998 one of the two hymns written by Edward Cooper was sung when the retiring vicar, the Revd, F Finch, rededicated the memorial.

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Passages from the Diaries of Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys (Caroline Powys
(1738 – 1817)) of Hardwick House AD 1756 – 1808.
Collated with notes by Emily J Climenson in 1899*.

powys-austenonly
Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys (austenonly)

Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys and Jane Austen were contemporaries and this alone makes her diaries fascinating; however, she has another claim on our interest. She was an old friend of Mrs George Austen and her only daughter, Caroline, married Mrs Austen’s nephew, the Reverend Edward Cooper. A point to note is that “Lybbe” is one of Caroline’s husband’s given names, or Christian names as they were then known, and NOT part of his surname. [To avoid confusion please visit: The Persistence of a Genealogy Error, The Evidence, and What Really Happened at the Powys-Lybbe ancestry sitehttp://www.tim.ukpub.net/jane_austen_soc/index.html ]

Hardwick_House-geograph_org_uk_-wpHardwick House is in Whitchurch, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. In 1909 Hardwick House was bought by Charles Day Rose, and they are both said to be models for “Toad of Toad Hall” although there are other claimants for E H Shepard’s and Kenneth Grahame’s inspirations. In the diaries of Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys there is an entry for Jan 1776, when Jane was less than a month old, which gives first hand information on Oxfordshire, England of the time.

“The most severe frost in my memory began January 7th and lasted till February 2nd. It began to snow about two in the morning as we were returning from a ball at Southcote, and kept snowing for twelve days, tho’ none fell in quantities after the first three days, but from the inconvenience from that on the ground was soon very great, as strong north-east winds blew it up in many places twelve or thirteen foot deep, so that numbers of our cottagers on the common were oblig’d to dig their ways out, and then hedges, gates and stiles being invisible, and all the hollow ways levelled, it was with vast difficulty the poor men could get to the village to buy bread; water they had none, but melted snow for a long time – and wood could not be found – a more particular distress in Oxfordshire, as our poor have always plenty of firing for little trouble.

She goes on to describe the trials and tribulations generally but specifically mentions,

“Two hundred and seventeen men were employed on the Oxford Turnpike between Nettlebed and Benton to cut a road for carriages, but then a chaise could not go with a pair of horses, and very dangerous like driving on glass. A wagon loaded with a family’s goods from London was overturned, a deal of damage done to china &c, but ‘tis astonishing any one would venture to send goods is such a time, or venture themselves”

Several ideas occur on reading this. They kept late hours when going to a dance. The “inclosures” of the commons had not started or reached that part of Oxfordshire yet. The British are never ready for snow – no matter what sort, how much or how little – or when. However, when snow brought England to a silent halt and so most journeys were planned for the summer, in Russia the converse applied as travelling in summer on muddy byways with bogged down carriages was impossible, but the winter snow with sleds made travel for pleasure and business not only possible, but quick and easy. Jane Austen loved Shakespeare and my favourite quotation comes from Hamlet, “Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so”, and snow provides a wonderful example of why this is true. The English look out on the freshly fallen deep drifts and say, “Bother! We are stuck inside” the Russians look out and say, “Great! We can go somewhere!” (In Russian, of course!)

The diary entries that mention the Coopers or Hamstall Ridware are as follows:

14th March 1793: was the day our dear Caroline was married to Mr Cooper, son of the late Dr Cooper, of Sonning, Berks, a match that gave all her friends the highest satisfaction, as there cannot be a more worthy young man. We had all intended to have the ceremony perform’d in London, but found some difficulties about residence, parish, &c., so are determin’d to have it at Fawley; so sent to our son Thomas not to come up, but to meet us there, with Phil and Louisa. I was so affected by the loss of my dear girl (who till latterly I had never parted with for even one night) that I dreaded how I would behave at the time. They all persuaded me not to go with her; so her father, Mr Cooper, and herself went to Fawley the day before, and the ceremony was over before any but our own family knew that it was to be performed there. And Tom, who had been all the week before in parties in our large neighbourhood, was afterwards complimented at keeping a secret even better than a lady! As soon as it was over, Mr Powys and Tom set off for London, and Phil and Louisa for Hardwick, the bride and groom for Sonning.

27th October 1794: Our dear Caroline brought to bed of a son

3rd December 1794: Edward Philip Cooper was christened at Harpsden Church (Mr Cooper then in holy orders, was curate at Harpsden for the Rev Thomas Leigh, rector who was non-resident). My mother, Mr Powys, Mrs Williams and Mr Henry Austen, sponsors. He had been half-christened before.

2nd February 1795: On the 11th managed to drive to Harpsden to see my Caroline, as we had never met since the 23rd December.

25th February 1795 the Fast: My brother being in residence at Bristol, our son, Mr Cooper, preach’d. The frost had lasted eleven weeks on the fast-day.

29th November 1795: Our dear Caroline brought to bed of a daughter, Isabella Mary.   

1st January 1796: At the christening of Isabella Mary (Cooper), at Harpsden, myself and Mrs Leigh godmothers, Dr Powys godfather. Stayed to dinner and supper; not home till two in the morning. Weather very different from last year; quite mild, had no frosts but high winds and rain.

6th July 1796: Stayed with Caroline, Mr Cooper being gone to London to meet his brother, Captain Williams, who soon after had the honour of being knighted by his Majesty for his gallant behaviour at sea.

27th March 1797: Caroline and Cooper went to London to Sir Thomas Williams, to see his new ship, the Endymion, launched                

24th May 1797: Caroline (Cooper) brought to bed of a girl (Cassandra)

7th July 1797: Cassandra Louisa’s christening at Harpsden Church. Mrs Austen and my daughter Louisa godmothers. Dr Isham godfather.

19th December 1797: I went to Harpsden. Mr Powys and Tom went to Bletchingdon Park to shoot, and were robbed by a highwayman only four miles from Henley, on the Oxford Road, just at three o’clock. We hear the poor man was drowned the week after, by trying to escape, (after having robbed a carriage), through some water which was very deep. He behaved civilly, and seemed as he said, greatly distress’d.

23rd December 1797: Edward drove Caroline and myself to Reading in the tandem.

29th January 1798: The Gentlemen’s Club. Caroline and I met the Fawley Court family at the Henley play. All the gentlemen came to the farce; a very full house, and better performers than one could have imagined. “The Jew” and “The Poor Soldier”. The company put £100 into the Henley Bank to answer any demands upon them, and as a surety of their good behaviour. Rather unusual for strollers in general.

14th August 1798: . . .At Canterbury . . . . We were so alarm’d for our dear Cooper (This happened at Newport, Isle of Wight) whose health had been so bad for some time, and who was one of the most affectionate of brothers, that we were quite miserable, and wrote immediately to Caroline that, if they the least wished it, we would return immediately after we received their next letter, and, as that must be some days coming, we were greatly distress’d and hardly knew how to manage, as the very next day had been some time fixed on for us all to set out for our intended tour through the Isle of Thanet;. . . . . . . .

21st August 1798: . . . . . . I had received a letter from Caroline to insist on our not shortening the time of our return, as his (Cooper’s) health was tolerable . . . . . . .

25th August 1798: I could not resist adding this description of what Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys as hostess for her bachelor brother-in-law the Dean of Canterbury provided for dinner for Prince William of Gloucester, nephew of George III, when he visited Kent in the summer of 1798. On this Saturday they sat down fourteen at a table to eat: Salmon Trout Soles, Fricando of Veal, Vegetable Pudding, Raised Giblet Pie, Chickens, Muffin Pudding, Ham, Curry of Rabbits Soup, Preserve of Olives, Open Tart Syllabub, Haunch of Venison, Three Larded Sweetbreads, Raised Jelly, Maccaroni, Peas, Potatoes, Buttered Lobster, Baskets of Pastry, Goose, Custards.

30th January 1799: Went from Hardwick, to stay with Caroline, while Cooper went into Staffordshire to see his living at Hamstall Ridware, that Mrs Leigh (from the Leighs of Addlestrop, Gloucestershire, and Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Cooper’s mother was a Miss Leigh) had just been so kind as to present him to. The roads were so bad with snow and frost, we were obliged to go round by Caversham, but got safe to Harpsden to dinner.

1st February 1799: It continued snowing, and was so deep we were much alarmed for Cooper on his journey, as he had promised to write; but the Oxford mail had been stopped that day, a circumstance that had not happened for thirteen years.

3rd February 1799: Snow continued, but we were happy in having a letter from Cooper to say he was got safe back to Oxford, having been forced to walk many miles, and hoped by the same method he might be able to get home the next evening. There was no church on the Sunday at Harpsden or Fawley, as no one could get to either. The icicles on the trees hanging down was a most beautiful sight, when the sun shone on them.

4th February 1799: A hard frost. Cooper came by the Oxford stage.

23rd September 1799: Caroline and Cooper went to his new living in Staffordshire for a few days to furnish the house; the four children and two maids came to us. They had been staying the week at the Hall’s, Harpsden Court, previously. .Sunday September 13th was to me one of the most melancholy days I ever experienced, as it was to part me and my dearest Caroline, who was to set off the next day for Staffordshire; and as Mr Cooper was to do duty at Henley Church that day for Mr Townsend, he thought it best they should all lay at Henley, to make the separation less dismal. They would not stay to breakfast, but set off as soon as they got up. The dear little children stay’d till after morning church, and not knowing or feeling any of the anxiety that we did, seem’d perfectly astonished to see us shed tears, and that we did not feel equal pleasure with themselves at the idea of their journey.

7th July 1800:  . . . . . . . From hence we went to dinner at Lichfield, where Mr Cooper sent a servant to meet us, with the key of a gentlemen’s grounds, going through which shortened our way to Hamstall Ridware, where we got to tea. Cooper had walked about a mile from their house on our arrival, at which our dear Caroline ran out to meet us; but after so many months’ absence, she and myself were so overcome, that strangers might have supposed it a parting scene, instead of a most joyful meeting; but my sorrow was soon turned to its contrast, to find them all so well, and pleasantly situated.

9th July 1800: In the evening we went a trout-fishing on the Blythe, a river running at the bottom of a meadow before their house.

10th July 1800: Walk’d up the village to Smith’s the weaver, to see the manner of that work, and ‘tis really curious to see with what astonishing velocity they threw the shuttle. (Power-looms were not introduced till 1807; the shuttle was then thrown, and batten worked by hand.) Hamstall Ridware Church is a rectory dedicated to St Michael, a very neat old spire building of stone, having two side aisles, chancel &c., and makes a magnificent appearance as a village church.

21st July 1800: That evening we all walk’d up to Farmer Cox’s, a very fine high situation, and most extensive views; indeed the prospect all round Hamstall is delightful.

22nd July 1800: We took a long hot walk to the village of Murry, to see a tape manufactury, of which seven gentlemen of the neighbourhood are proprietors. The noise of the machinery is hardly to be borne, tho’ the workpeople told us they themselves hardly heard the noise! Such is use! The calendering part is worth observation, as the tapes all go through the floor of an upper room, and when you go down to the apartment under it, you see them all coming through the ceiling, perfectly smooth and glossy, where the women take them, and roll them in the pieces as we buy them at the haberdasher’s, whereas in the upper room they all looked tumbled and dirty.

28th July 1800:  We all set out early in the morn to see Shuckborough, Mr Anson’s, and Hagley, Lord Curzon’s. We went through Blythberry and Coulton, the latter a village rather remarkable for many of its cottages being built in a marl-pit with woods over it, the roots of its trees growing and hanging loosely over their little gardens, which are deck’d with all manner of flowers, and kept with the greatest neatness.

12th August 1800: All our party went a trout-fishing, but the heat was so intense it was hardly bearable. 

13th August 1800: Mr Cooper and Mr Powys, went to the assizes at Stafford. On their return they entertain’d us with a droll copy of verses on Lord Stafford’s picture being hung up in the town-hall in 1800:-  

“With happy contrivance to honour his chief,
Jack treats his old friend as he treats an old sheep
But with proper respect to the garter and Star,
Instead of the gallows he’s hung at the bar
To remove from this county so foul a disgrace,
Take down the old Peer, and hang Jack in his place”

[Jack is a Mr Sparrow] – [Ed.  Is this perchance a Johnny Depp sighting in 1800?]

14th August 1800:  I walked down to the river Blithe by seven in the morn to see Caroline and the three eldest children bathe, which they did most mornings, having put up a dressing house on the bank.

18th August 1800:  We all passed a dull gloomy day, the following one being upon fixed for leaving our dear relatives. We reached Fawley on Wednesday the 20th by seven o’clock.

7th January 1801: Caroline Cooper was brought to bed of a boy (on my birthday). He was christened Frederick Leigh Cooper.

3rd May 1801:  Our son Cooper preached, as Caroline, himself, and family came to stay with us the week before.

27th May 1801:  The Coopers, to our inexpressible grief, set out with their five dear children to Staffordshire.                                                                                                                                                         

 12th August 1802: After breakfast we set out thro’ Coventry by Kenilworth to Lichfield, where we dined, and reached Hamstall by tea-time, finding all the family (Coopers) perfectly well . . . . . . . . . we returned to Fawley on September 9th

2nd August 1803:  Mr Powys and I set out for our son Cooper’s in Staffordshire, and reached Hamstall on the 3rd about six. Had the inexpressible joy to see Cooper, Caroline, and their six dear children in perfect health.

5th March 1805: Our grandson Warren Cooper, born.

12th August 1805: Mr Powys and myself set off for our son Cooper’s in Staffordshire. We hired a post-chaise for the time at a guinea a week, of Hicks, coachmaker in the Fair Mile (at Henley on Thames)

 14th August 1805: We went out most mornings and evenings in the two donkey-chaises – very clever vehicles indeed. Caroline drove one, and little Edward was so pleased at being postillion to grandmamma, that. Though I sometimes drove myself, he most days rode my donkey, the carriages only holding one person each.

Monday the 26th had been for some time fixed on for us to go to Matlock and Dove Dale. We set out a party of seven; we went through Blithbury and Abbots Bromley. We got to the Rev Mr Stubbs’ at Uttoxeter by half-past one, who asked us to dine with him. We went to see the church, rather an extraordinary one, very ancient, and the pews so oddly managed (This was the case at Shiplake Church, Oxon, before the restoration of 1870. The seats in the first pews in the chancel had to be lifted up to admit persons to the seats behind.) as three or four go through each other, and so narrow that, if those belonging to the outward ones happen to come first, without they are the most slender persons, it’s impossible to pass each other. Caroline and myself, who are not so could not help laughing and saying it was lucky we did not belong to this church . . . . . . . 

September 1805: Mr Powys and myself left Hamstall, to return to Fawley. A dismal parting as usual 

[Note: A criticism often levelled at Jane Austen’s writing is that topical events of the time get little or no mention. Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys was an inveterate diarist and in her earlier entries there is mention of Nelson’s father whom she met in the late 1790’s but Nelson’s greatest victory which cost him his life is not mentioned at all in the collation of her diary entries prepared by Emily J Climenson. This important victory was such a decisive action in the wars against France and Spain, and we can only speculate on reasons why The Battle of Trafalgar 21st October 1805 is not mentioned even in passing. Mrs Lybbe Powys was a close friend of Mrs Cassandra Austen, and Edward Cooper was first cousin not only to Jane Austen but to Charles and Francis Austen who were Captains in the Royal Navy, and Francis was actually in Nelson’s Fleet but missed the action as he was away in the Mediterranean sent for fresh fruit and water. So as well as the interest this had to the nation, Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys had these added personal connections, but it still doesn’t impact on her everyday life so that it rates a mention in her diary? Does the absence of world affairs in Austen’s novels reflect a similar parochial view on life in England at that time, or alternatively does it just reflect the manners and interests of the time? “A woman’s place?”]

14th July 1807: Cooper, Caroline, their eight children, Mrs Morse the governess, and two servants came from Staffordshire to Hardwick 

31st July 1807: Mr Powys and myself went to Hardwick to see the Coopers; the children in high spirits with their five Hardwick cousins, so only saw thirteen together, as Tom’s were not there. The Coopers came to us afterwards. 

1st October 1807: Our dear Caroline Cooper and children set off for Staffordshire.

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Extracts taken from the diaries of Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys and any notes I have added appear “not in italics”.

The visiting party asked many questions and this completed the information exchanges at Hamstall Ridware, although the Reverend Ty Leyland had also organised talks on the history and architecture of the church and its locality, which were also listened to with great interest.

Chatsworth-wp
Chatsworth = ?Pemberley (Wikipedia)

Hil Robinson and I met the party again at Buxton later that day for dinner and conversation. Later in the week Jack and Jan Barber (with Hil and I again) met their party at Chatsworth for cream tea in the Palladian Stables (not a horse in sight) and I entertained the gathered party with my views on whether Chatsworth was in Jane Austen’s mind as the model for Pemberley. This has featured as a talk at our own AGM and my ideas are set out in full elsewhere in Transactions. [Ed. This talk will be posted here once it is published in JASM's Transactions, so stay tuned....]

The Jane Austen Society Midlands was thanked most warmly for their company and for sharing views on all things Austen with the Jane Austen Society of North America tour party.

Chris Sandrawich, July 2013

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Thank you Chris for this informative [and entertaining!] post on all things Jane Austen and the Midlands – I am, as always, green with Envy!  I have travelled quite a bit in the UK, but alas! not much in the Midlands … one of these days! I am inspired to read all of Caroline Powys’ diaries [albeit noting that Deirdre Le Faye in Jane Austen's Letters advises caution in using these often inaccurate diaries edited by Climenson], but (in following Jane Austen’s own criticisms) Edward Cooper’s sermons, maybe not so much…

Update: please see the comment below from Ron Dunning re: the Tylney-Long connection – I include here his genealogy chart:

Jane Austen – Catherine Tylney-Long

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont; text by Chris Sandrawich; images as noted.

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I suggest this every year as the perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite Austen reader, or gift yourself – it will show up in your mailbox 6 times a year! Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine:

JARW_67_cover_1

Here is the latest news on the just published January/February (No. 67) issue – it is all about Mansfield Park:

The cover features Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in the new film 12 Years a Slave.

This issue begins the celebration of the bicentenary of the publication of Jane Austen’s third novel Mansfield Park.  In it you can read about:

  • Jane Austen on slavery: how Jane Austen’s third novel tackled the issue of slavery
  • Sympathy and advice for Mary Crawford
  • Breach of promise of marriage: the danger of being caught in a scandal
  • Navy vs Army: why Jane Austen preferred sailors to soldiers
  • Jane Austen Club of Moscow: Russian Janeites who enjoy the world’s favourite author

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

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To subscribe now click here: http://janeaustenmagazine.co.uk/subscribe/ and make sure that you are among the first to read all the news from Jane Austen’s Regency World. [You can also on this page download a sample article: there is a pdf of the article on the BBC’s Death Comes to Pemberley].  An annual subscription (six issues) costs £29.70 plus postage.

Digital magazine:  Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is now available as a download for your iPad or Android device. The new issue goes live on January 1. For full details click here.

Happy Reading!

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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The Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sale on April 10, 2013 in Chicago: Sale 239 – Fine Books and Manuscripts  [preview starts April 6] has three items of interest to collectors and readers of Jane Austen, and this time a pleasant surprise to see them in a more affordable range…

1.  Lot 319:

MP-2ded

* JANE AUSTEN.  Mansfield Park. London: J. Murray, 1816.

3 vols. 12mo, modern quarter morocco, renewed endpapers. Second edition. Lacks half-titles; 2-inch tear to title page vol. 2 restored; spines deteriorating and hinges cracked; otherwise the interior is in near fine condition with very little brownspotting.

Estimate $ 1,000-2,000.

 

2.  Lot 320:

Fragment

* JANE AUSTEN.  Fragment of a Novel, written January-March 1817. Now First Printed from the Manuscript [Sandition]. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925.

8vo, publisher’s cloth-backed blue boards, printed spine label, facsimile frontispiece. Limited edition facsimile, one of 250 copies on handmade paper. Boards lightly soiled with some loss to spine label; otherwise very good.

Estimate $ 100-200.

 

3. Lot 434A:

works-1882

JANE AUSTEN.  Works (COLLECTED WORKS). London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1882.

6 vols. 8vo, 3/4 maroon morocco over decorative boards, title in gilt to black leather spine labels, t.e.g. Light edgewear; otherwise fine.

Estimate $ 100-200.

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My note:  this last item does not offer a very comprehensive description, so I would suggest an inquiry to the auction house for more information.  This is likely the Steventon Edition that Bentley published in 1882, limited to 375 sets; size is 20.5 cm, or a small octavo (8vo), obviously rebound here; there are illustrations (those that appeared in Bentley’s original Standard Novels of 1833, and a few additional woodcuts and a facsimile of Austen’s letter to Anna Lefroy (29 Nov 1814)) – full information on the edition can be found in Gilson at D13; but again, please check with the auction house to verify that it is this edition (there was a reissue in 1886).  The interest in the Steventon Edition is that it was the last complete edition of Jane Austen’s works to be published by Bentley, her major publisher in England from 1833 to 1882, and holder of the copyrights until their various successive expiry dates.

[Images from the Leslie Hindman Auctioneers website.]

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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bookcover-troubleClaire LaZebnik, the author of The Trouble with Flirting, a modern-day re-telling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, wrote here on this blog about ‘updating Jane‘. The publisher HarperTeen graciously offered a giveaway, and a random drawing reveals that the winner is:   junewilliams7 who wrote:

So in my version, Franny learns that the guy who makes you wait while he pants after someone else just isn’t worth waiting for.

Wow! That’s great, I was never crazy about him anyway. But did you put her with a reformed Henry? That’s what I would like, except for all my friends who insist that Henry is too naughty.

Will you take on Sense & Sensibility next? That story needs a modern update!

and in a second comment June wrote:

Sense and Sensibility is such a dark story — it starts with widowhood, greed, and eviction and goes to statutory rape, unwed teen pregnancy, the tale of a forced marriage by an unethical guardian and a type of kidnapping (sending Brandon to India and Eliza’s tale), two marriages for money, Marianne being near death…. none of this is bright or funny or witty. Whoever writes fanfic about Elinor and Edward? Few write fics about Marianne and Brandon. Jane Austen’s couples in this book are NOT favorites of many. If you could translate this into a modern story, it would be challenging and remarkable indeed.

Ahem, please note that I am not willing to undertake the challenge myself. TOO difficult!

Congratulations June! please email me with your mailing contact information as soon a possible – the publisher will send you the book directly.

And again, my thanks to Claire LaZebnik for writing her delightful book and for sharing it on this blog, and to HarperTeen for the giveaway, and to all of you for your comments!

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Please see below for information on the book giveaway!

Gentle Readers: Today I welcome Claire LaZebnik as she shares with us her thoughts on her newest book, The Trouble with Flirting, a Jane Austen for young adults.  Loosely based on Mansfield Park, it tells the tale of Franny Pearson and her summer of friendship and romance with the likes of Edmund Bertram, his sisters, and Henry and Mary Crawford, all updated to the 21st-century. There is even a rather demanding, you-shall-never-please-me Aunt Norris in the mix!

In one of my former lives I was a children’s librarian and with the added plus of having children of my own, I’ve have read a good amount of children’s and young adult literature – I can honestly say that some of the works for young people still rate as my favorite reads [Bridge to Terabithia by Vermont’s own Katherine Paterson remains my number one]. Now if I pop Jane Austen into the equation [which I do whenever possible], I have been delighted to discover a treasure-trove of titles that take her tales and adapt them to the world of the 21st century teenager – Polly Shulman’s Enthusiasm and Rosie Rushton’s series spring immediately to mind – indeed there is even a blog out there!: From JA to YA: Adapting Jane Austen for Young Adults! [And most of my Jane Austen friends agree that Clueless might well be the best of all the Austen adaptations...]

I have just found out about Claire [thank you Diana Birchall!] and have not read her first book Epic Fail based on Pride and Prejudice, but am nearly finished with The Trouble with Flirting – a thoroughly enjoyable read that whether you are 14 or 40 or even 64 you will find something to savor in the young love so beautifully rendered by Jane Austen 200 years ago as now transported to a modern day summer theater camp, where even Shakespeare takes a bow.

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bookcover-trouble

UPDATING JANE

By Claire LaZebnik

How do you stay true to the spirit of an author who wrote two hundred years ago? 

When you sit down to write a modernization of a Jane Austen novel, you get hit by a jumble of emotions. There’s terror—how dare you tinker with perfection?—and dread—no matter how good a book you write, it will never compare to the original—and excitement—you get to spend the next few months of your life thinking about an author you love!—and, mostly, perplexity—how do you bring an early 19th century text into the 21st century? You can’t simply switch “ball” to “prom” and “tea” to “diet Coke” and call it a day. (Not that some haven’t tried.)

My first YA novel, Epic Fail, is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice.  For the most part, updating the story went smoothly. The emotions in P&P feel as true todaybookcover-epicfail as they ever did: we all know what it’s like to be embarrassed by members of our families and we’ve all at some point given our respect to someone who didn’t deserve it and withheld it from someone who did.

My challenge was figuring out how to give a modern day Darcy a reason to be so guarded that he comes across as a snob: our class distinctions aren’t as clearcut as they were back in Austen’s day and country. But then I figured it out: children of celebrities get fawned over and hounded pretty much everywhere they go in L.A., and, just like Darcy, they learn to be wary of strangers who may want too much from them. So Darcy (now Derek) became the son of two movie stars in my novel.

One thing I never worried about was how to make Elizabeth Bennet accessible to my readers: Lizzie’s about as modern as a nineteenth-century heroine can get. She’s funny, intelligent, wellread, outspoken, and prefers even potentially insolvent independence to life with someone she can’t respect. She transplants beautifully into our modern world.

That project finished, I turned my attention to Mansfield Park.

bookcover-mp-vintage

Vintage Classics

I love Mansfield Park. It’s like a combination of Cinderella and the Ugly Duckling. Plain and poor Fanny Price pines quietly for her kind, wealthy cousin Edmund, but has to watch from the sidelines as he falls in love with the dazzling and witty Mary Crawford. Mary’s equally charming brother Henry decides he’ll steal faithful little Fanny’s heart, just for the hell of it, then surprises himself by falling more in love with her than she with him. He’s an attractive guy, but morally flawed and conscientious Fanny doesn’t trust him. So she rejects his courtship and waits patiently for Edmund to come to his senses or for senility to descend on her–whichever comes first. (And, trust me, it’s a bit of a toss-up.)

Devout, patient, deeply moral, quiet . . . Fanny Price is about as modern as a whalebone corset.

So there lay my challenge with Mansfield Park: finding a way to make Fanny accessible to modern readers. I still wanted her to feel like an outsider, so in my version she arrives at the Mansfield College Theater Program for a job sewing costumes, while all the others teenagers are enrolled in the summer acting program. But she’s not meek, submissive or embarrassed by her position: she takes some pride in the fact she’s earning her way, and when she’s given a chance to participate as an actor, proves she can hold her own against the more privileged set.

Nor does my Franny (I added an “r”) sit around waiting for Edmund/Alex to notice her once he’s clearly crushing on someone else. She still carries a torch for him, but it’s summertime and she knows she might as well have fun.

So there I was, writing my update of MP, feeling pretty good about how I’d made Fanny more modern and brought the plot into this fun summer acting program setting, and everything was falling into place–and then I got to the ending.  In Austen’s version, morality triumphs. The two people who’ve acted in a conscientious and thoughtful way end up together, while the morally lax ones ride off into the sunset.  Actually, let me correct that. First the morally lax ones ride off.  Then Edmund spends some time moping around because he really really liked Mary and is so bummed she didn’t come up to his high moral standards. And then he remembers about faithful little Fanny who’s still watching him hopefully from the sidelines.

Times were different when Austen wrote Mansfield Park. Young women of no means didn’t have a lot of power. Sitting around waiting—and turning down the occasional wrong suitor—was pretty much the only option for someone as poor and dependent as Franny.

But I couldn’t make that ending work. Not today. Not with a more modern heroine. I found it hard to respect a 21st century girl who sits around passively waiting for the guy she loves to appreciate her, especially when that same man has made it clear he preferred someone else pretty much all along.

I tried to make it work.  I wanted to be true to Austen and true to the novel I’d read so many times and loved so very much. But it wasn’t working. No matter how wonderfully romantic I tried to make the moment when Franny and Alex came together in my book, I felt resentful toward him. He didn’t deserve her.

So I sent an email to my editor. “May I please just try changing the ending?” I asked.

“Sure,” she said.

So in my version, Franny learns that the guy who makes you wait while he pants after someone else just isn’t worth waiting for.

I love Austen—madly, passionately, deeply.  That’s why I’ve wanted to pay homage to her with these modernizations: if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. But I wouldn’t be faithful to her legacy of capturing universal human truths and emotions and setting them in a very specific time and place, if I didn’t recognize that times change and women are much freer now than they were back then—and give my readers a Fanny Price for our time.

About the author:

Claire LaZebnik

Claire LaZebnik

Claire LaZebnik’s most recent novels, Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting (HarperTeen), are loosely based on two of Jane Austen’s classic works. She’s currently finishing up The Last Best Kiss, which is due out in summer 2014 (also from HarperTeen) and is inspired by Austen’s Persuasion. Her first novel, Same as It Never Was (St. Martin’s, 2003) was made into an ABC Family movie titled Hello Sister, Goodbye Life. Her four other novels for adults, Knitting under the Influence, The Smart One and the Pretty One, If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now, and Families and other Nonreturnable Gifts, were all published by Hachette’s Grand Central Publishing imprint. LaZebnik co-authored two non-fiction books with Dr. Lynn Kern Koegel (Overcoming Autism and Growing Up on the Spectrum) and contributed a monologue about having a teenage son with autism to the anthology play Motherhood Out Loud.

Further reading:

Claire’s website

Claire’s facebook page

An interview with Claire at L. S. Murphy’s blog

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The Trouble with Flirting
by Claire LaZebnik
HarperTeen 2013
$9.99
ISBN-10: 0061921270
ISBN-13: 978-0061921278
Find it at your local bookstore, or at Amazon

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

Book Giveaway! Please enter into the random drawing for a copy of The Trouble with Flirting by commenting below: either by asking Claire LaZebnik a question or telling us why you would like to read this YA novel based on Mansfield Park and how you might fashion the ending.  Deadline is Monday March 25, 2013 11:59 pm; winner will be announced on Tuesday March 26th. Domestic eligibility only [sorry all, our postage rates make international mailings impossibly expensive]. Good luck all, and thank you to the publisher HarperTeen for donating the book for the giveaway, and to Claire for her posting here today [and her delightful book!]

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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An exciting day in Austen-Land! The much-touted Ring is up for auction!, as well as first editions of five of Austen’s novels [wherever did the Sense and Sensibility end up?] – here are the details from Sotheby’s Sale No. L12404 English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations - London | 10 July 2012  - I will report later today the results… See the results in red below - to include buyer’s premium…..

Lot 59: Austen, Jane. GOLD AND GEM SET RING

ESTIMATE: 20,000 – 30,000 GBP Sold for £152,450  (about $236,298.)- also learned that the ring is actually natural turquoise not the odontalite as noted in the catalogue.  The bidding was quite fun to watch – all quite dramatic as the auctioneer baited the bidders in room, on the telephone and the internet  to keep the bidding going…  [update 2: "a battle between eight bidders ... was eventually bought by an anonymous private collector over the phone, the auction house said" (from Reuters.com)]

set with a cabochon blue stone, natural turquoise, size K½ with sizing band, once belonging to Jane Austen, in a contemporary jeweller’s box (“T. West | Goldsmith | Ludgate Street | near St Paul’s”)

[with:] autograph note signed by Eleanor Austen, to her niece Caroline Austen, “My dear Caroline. The enclosed Ring once belonged to your Aunt Jane. It was given to me by your Aunt Cassandra as soon as she knew that I was engaged to your Uncle. I bequeath it to you. God bless you!”, 1 page, November 1863, with address panel on verso and remains of black wax seal impression, fold tears; also with three further notes by Mary Dorothy Austen-Leigh detailing the ring’s later provenance, 5 pages, 1935-1962

[more detailed provenance here: http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2012/english-literature-history-childrens-books-and-illustrations/lot.59.html - click on "catalogue notes"]
Lot 55: Austen, Jane. MANSFIELD PARK: A NOVEL. EGERTON, 1814

ESTIMATE: 3,000 – 5,000 GBP  Sold for £5250 (about $8,138.)

12mo (174 x 102mm.), first edition, 3 volumes, without half-titles, nineteenth-century half calf, marbled boards,  some spotting and browning, some gatherings proud,  recent expert repairs to binding and joints.

Lot 56: Austen Jane.  NORTHANGER ABBEY: AND PERSUASIAN…WITH A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF THE AUTHOR, JOHN MURRAY 1818

ESTIMATE: 2,500 – 3,500 GBP  Sold for £4000 (about $6200.)

12mo (175 x 102mm.), 4 volumes, first edition, watermarks, without half-titles, nineteenth-century half calf, marbled boards,, some slight staining to edges of some leaves, browning and spotting, recent expert repairs to joints and spines, some edge-wear. Northanger Abbey was completed in 1798 or 1799, and then substantially revised over time. Persuasion, a more gentle satire of manners, was written between 1815 and 1816. The novels were published posthumously in this tandem edition of 1,750 copies.

Lot 57:  Austen, Jane.  PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: A NOVEL. LONDON:G. SIDNEY FOR T. EGERTON, 1813.

ESTIMATE: 20,000 – 30,000 GBP  Sold for £22,500 (about $34,875.)

12mo (174 x 102mm.), 3 volumes, first edition, watermarks, without half-titles and advertisements, nineteenth-century half calf, marbled boards, B12 of volume 1 crudely opened and slightly creased, some gatherings proud, some spotting, staining and browning to text, volumes 1 and 3 re-backed, some recent expert repairs to binding and joints, some edge-wear.

Lot 58: Austen, Jane. EMMA: A NOVEL. C. ROWORTH FOR JOHN MURRAY, 1816.

ESTIMATE: 10,000 – 15,000 GBP  UNSOLD – bidding went to £7500

12mo (172 x 103mm.), first edition, without half-titles, nineteenth-century half calf, marbled boards, some creases at edges of some leaves, some spotting and browning, some gatherings proud, volume 1 re-backed, recent expert repairs to binding and joints, some edge-wear.

[All titles have the bookplate of Bridget Mary McEwen.]

Further Reading about The Ring:

The Guardian, 6 July 2012: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/06/jane-austen-ring-for-auction

Diana B. at Austen Authors: http://austenauthors.net/jane-austens-ring

Julie W. at Austenonly: http://austenonly.com/2012/06/21/first-editions-and-jane-austens-ring-a-bumper-austen-sale-at-sothebys-on-july-10th/

[and please note at the end of this post wherein Deirdre Le Faye weighs in on the ring’s provenance – the date of the note from Eleanor Austen as noted in the printed catalogue is incorrect … and now corrected in the online version]

[Text and image from the Sotheby's catalogue]

@2012 by Jane Austen in Vermont

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