Fending Off Zombies, Jane Austen Style ~ A ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for a Modern World

cover-P&P&ZOk, so I should start this post by saying that I LOVE the movies and am easily entertained – if I take confession further, I also loved Roy Rogers, thought I WAS Dale Evans, and dressed exclusively as Annie Oakley for about four years – so please keep that in mind when I tell you I LOVED this movie…

But then I also liked the 2005 Pride & Prejudice, one among few at the JASNA AGM in Milwaukee . While most everyone was disgusted with the pigs in the kitchen, the Bennets having a sex life, and a Darcy with chest hair exposed at early dawn, I just sat there for two+ hours with a smile on my face – they got it! I thought – the sense of the story, albeit compacted, but in the end Austen’s tale, her characters, her wit was all there (I do think you had to like Keira Knightley to like the movie…and I do concede the American ending was atrocious). No one can duplicate the 1995 Ehle-Firth – it is brilliant and 20 years on, still nearly a perfect adaptation – but I think Joe Wright got it right enough in 2005, much like Clueless gave us a perfectly rendered Emma set 200 years later. How well Austen translates to different worlds, different tellings.

So Pride & Prejudice & Zombies? – does Austen translate into a world of the undead? Blood and guts amidst Regency gowns and an etiquette-proscribed society? I didn’t think so – as much as my early years of “Million Dollar Movie” trained me well (can re-watch Roman Holiday, An Affair to Remember over and over and still cry every time), such things as Mummies and Zombies and Vampires and Blobs, and any and all Creatures of the Deep were never my cup of tea. I much prefer spies and westerns and civilized space invaders to anything emerging from a decaying earth. But I did buy P&P&Z – every self-respecting Jane Austen collector should have it on their shelf, a must-have really, but alas! there it sits unread –  I couldn’t get past the first mention of  “a zombie in possession of brains,” whether universally acknowledged or not. Indeed the frontispiece alone told it all:

Frontispiece

“A few of the guests, who had the misfortune of being too near the windows, were seized and feasted on at once”

And that’s about all I needed to know – with 85% of the language from Jane, I felt creepily imaginative enough to fill in the other 15%… – so perhaps I am not a fair critic – I don’t know how much it follows the Grahame-Smith invention – but I went only to see a visual presentation of a P&P set in your everyday zombie-infested England – sort of a black plague on steroids… and what we really have here is the base story of P&P, a good solid dose of Austenian wit, a few drastic changes to the plot to make it fit into this rather gross world, and really just good plain fun.

But I must set the scene first: This was a spur of the moment decision to see this movie (a late matinee) – a quick email to my Jane Austen cohorts brought various no’s – other plans, hate zombies, etc., all good excuses, and there was no inducing my husband on this one – so I went alone, afraid the movie won’t be around here very long – and when I say alone, I mean ALONE – there was not another single soul in the theater! – a private screening (do they run a film if NO ONE shows up?) – I had no idea what to expect – I have purposely read no reviews, avoided all press on the movie, so I was there quite innocent of the oncoming mayhem – so I hunkered down and only briefly considered the gruesome truth that it was just me and the zombies, and me without a single weapon…

So here goes my checklist of a review, brief to avoid spoilers of any kind… and with my emphatic advice to just go see it…

Bella Heathcote (left) and Lily James star in Screen Gems' PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

Bella Heathcote (Jane) and Lily James (Lizzie)

  1. Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James): other than periodically confusing her with Natasha in the just-finished-the night-before War & Peace (some of the clothing strikingly similar – same time period so I guess it should), James makes a compelling Lizzie – those “fine eyes” are very present, she’s a terrific and fearless warrior, and I am sure that Andrew Davies must have had a hand here, or at least sat in a sub-director chair bellowing “more heaving bosoms please”… But this Lizzie is also Darcy’s equal in every way… and loved watching them find their way to each other… expertly slinging all manner of machetes along the way.
  2. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet  (Charles Dance and Sally Phillips): well cast, all the right lines there to clearly identify them as Austen’s parents, she ridiculous and he negligent (though Charles Dance, thankfully resurrected from Games of Thrones, and still hiding in his Library, did have the good sense to have his girls (and all FIVE are present and accounted for) trained as warriors). There is no embroidery or ribbons for these young ladies (though all are stunningly dressed!)- they spend their idle hours cleaning weapons – one feels safe in such a home as this.

fivebennets-youtube

The Bennet Sisters, warriors all (youtube)

  1. Lady Catherine (Lena Headey, in Game of Thrones mode) – ha! – delightful – a black patch becomes her…

LadyC-winteriscoming

Lena Headey as Lady Catherine (winteriscomingblog)

  1. Wickham (Jack Huston) – Huston was perhaps born for this role – Wickham’s evil side taken to new heights – I shall say only this so as not to give anything away – “pig brains.”

Wickcham-Huston-finalreel

Jack Huston as Wickham (finalreel.co.uk)

  1. Who knew that Charlotte Lucas snores?? – one can almost have sympathy for Mr. Collins… well maybe just a little…

     6. Ok, Darcy’s turn…

Darcy-Riley-screenrant

Sam Riley as Darcy (screenrant)

Darcy, or “Fitz” as Wickham affectionately calls him (Sam Riley): I expect black leather great coats to become the latest fashion statement– too reminiscent of Nazi-Germany perhaps, but at least the costume here of the good guys. Riley shall be added to the Darcy roster, another name to check off in the endless “your favorite Darcy” polls – this Darcy, no idle aristocrat tending his own land, but fully armed with a small jar of dead-skin-detecting flies, is a Colonel in the Zombie-Annihilating Army, who like his black-clad not-so-distant cousin Batman, has the good sense to show up at exactly the right time, every time. (And obsessed Firth fans, have no fear – there is the barest glimpse of that essential piece of male wardrobe – the white shirt). Smitten with Elizabeth from the first look (after his initial requisite “she is tolerable” speech), his heartfelt but so hopelessly cringe-inducing proposal results in more than just Austen’s war of words – oh, most of the words are there, purists don’t worry, but if we line up all the available proposal scenes (such fun to do this – there are eleven I think, if you include Wishbone…) – this one shall surpass them all for pure energy and brilliant choreography… (and Davies was definitely here for this, coaching the proper removal of buttons…).

Here’s the rest of him:

Darcy-Riley-movieweb

 

  1. All other characters terrific – Jane and Bingley, alas! Caroline given short-shift, Mr. Collins (Matt Smith) as good as any of his predecessors, a stone-like Anne De Bourgh…

JM4_9719.NEF

Matt Smith as Mr. Collins (craveonline)

  1. Fun things to look for: lots of Austen quotes from her various writings – it will keep the Austen-knowledgeables on their toes and give the Austen newbies a new found appreciation of her brilliance. They might even go on to read the real book, sans zombies. My favorite line: “…if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad” – and thus a zombie warrior is called to her destiny. [quiz: which novel?]
  2. The Zombies? – and Austen? If one is tempted to shake their heads in disgust and moan “Austen must be rolling over in her grave” – perhaps not an apt phrase for this particular story line – please go see it before you profess to know how Jane might feel. All told, this latest adaptation has a deep respect for the original text. It is not a “camp” over-the-top retelling but rather it seems to take the realities of this invasion of England very seriously – just another human-induced war of Good vs. Evil, no different perhaps than depicting Napoleon and the French army conquering the shores of England, a valid fear in Austen’s day. There are laughs to be sure – who cannot when a demure-looking Elizabeth suddenly hoists up her Regency finery to expose her sword-clad leg, grabs her weapons, and deftly slices off the head of a trespassing undead; or Darcy, in his frustration over Lizzie’s refusal, engaging in sword-play with most of Lady Catherine’s lovingly sculptured boxwood topiaries. Mr. Collins at the dance? – he’s perfect; the black-patched Lady Catherine (fashion or function? asks Mrs. Bennet) as the Queen of Zombie Warriors? – Game of Thrones trained her well…  So much of it all laugh-out loud (does one laugh-out loud if alone in a movie theater?)
screenrelish.com

screenrelish.com

But no, not “camp” at all – this all just seems to be almost real, a straight-on approach to a real threat to life as we know it, no one’s tongue in their cheek (well, maybe a little). One must just let go and get into the spirit of the thing, beginning with the introduction, a clever illustrated story-book depiction of the past 100 years of the zombie epidemic. And wonderful to know that all of Austen’s characters seamlessly fit into this world  – I think she’d be far from a turn-over in her grave, appalled at yet another mash-up of her “light, bright and sparkling” tale – I think she’d be sitting up and shouting Brava! Bravo! to her Elizabeth and Darcy and everyone else involved. It is after all, not much removed from her very own Juvenilia.

And the zombies themselves? Rest assured, they are really not that bad (have you seen The Picture of Dorian Gray recently?) – a few gruesome faces with blood and snot and rot, but all thankfully quickly dispatched – heads removed, bodies kicked and stomped with boots (lovely boots) – and most of it done in a flash or just shy of camera-range – brilliantly done really – and I confess to only once or twice turning around in the empty theater to be sure I was indeed alone…

PP&P&Z-poster

One piece of advice – stay for the credits…

[Stay tuned for another post with links to reviews, etc.]

c2106 Jane Austen in Vermont

Finally! ~ Jane Austen’s “Lady Susan” on Film, a.k.a. “Love & Friendship”

Love_&_Friendship_poster-wpJust posting here all the reviews that have been piling in from Sundance – we have been waiting all year for this film – from the very first announcement that Whit Stillman was going to film Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, but bizarrely calling it “Love & Friendship.” Starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny.

Now if you know Austen’s Juvenilia, you know that “Love & Freindship” is one of her funnier over the top pieces (my favorite line: “run mad as often as you chose, but do not faint….”). It has nothing to do with Lady Susan of course – but whatever the reason for the title shift,* by all accounts it is a terrific film, with a Heroine just like other of Austen’s  delicious “baddies” – Lady Susan the queen of them. At least there are no zombies to worry about…

And when can we see it? Maybe an April release??

Location images of Love & Friendship, a Jane Austen film adaptation starring Kate Bekinsdale and Chloe Sevigny, directed by Whit Stillman. CHURCHILL PRODUCTIONS LIMITED. Producers Katie Holly, Whit Stillman, Lauranne Bourrachot. Co-Producer Raymond Van Der Kaaij. Also Starring: Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell & Morfydd Clark

Chloë Sevigny (l) and Kate Beckinsale (r)

Here are links to several reviews:

[will add more as they come in]

Other links of interest: 

lady_susan penguin cover

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

*In the above cited interview, Stillman explains the title change:

She had no title on it. I’ve seen the manuscript. It’s in the Morgan Library. Her nephew, when he published it in 1871, put the title Lady Susan on it. Austen had sort of shifted as she went along from character names to imposing noun names for titles. Sense and Sensibility was supposed to be called Elinor and Marianne. So we took the title from a juvenile short story to give it that Austen sound.

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

For your Bookshelf: “What’s the Play and Where’s the Stage?” by Alan Stockwell

Today a guest post by Alan Stockwell, author of What’s the Play and Where’s the Stage? A Theatrical Family of the Regency Era, as he tells us a bit about his new book. I shall add this to my TBR file – it has all the makings of a Regency era soap opera of the highest order, all the better because it is all true! Please comment below if you have any questions for Mr. Stockwell…

Stockwell-cover

What’s the Play and Where’s the Stage?
A Theatrical Family of the Regency Era

The lives of eminent London actors of the Regency period – Kean, Mrs Siddons, Kemble, Cooke, Macready, Grimaldi et al, are more than amply recorded. This book ploughs a more unusual, rarer, furrow.

It reveals the theatrical lives of a family of provincial players who tramped the highways and byways bringing the latest London hits and classic plays to unsophisticated audiences in tiny country theatres and large manufacturing towns. The author offers not a specialist tome for theatre historians – although they will find previously unknown material and new revelations here – but a beguiling story of a family of three thespian siblings, their spouses and their children.

This is a Regency world far removed from the novels of Jane Austen. There are highs and lows, riches and poverty, twists and turns, and extraordinary events as in the script of any modern television saga.  The marked difference being that – for the Jonas and Penley Company of Comedians – this was real life.

In Georgian and Regency times even the tiniest country town had its theatre visited regularly by travelling players. These companies were usually family based and my book is an account of one such troupe – more adventurous than most – the Jonas & Penley Company, grandiloquently self-styled “His Majesty’s Servants of the Theatre Royal Windsor”. The troupe under their indefatigable leader Sampson Penley comprised three siblings, their spouses and two dozen children.

EdmundKean-GarrickClub-vesperhawk

This picture from the Garrick Club shows Edmund Kean the brightest star of the Regency stage.  The man in pink on the left is Sampson Penley Jr of the once well-known Penley family of provincial players.
[Source: VesperHawk.com ]

I purposely divided the text into discrete biographies, allowing the narrative of each to flow. However, the subjects all being closely related, the parts form an inter-connected whole. So that their separate stories are easy to read, and are not interrupted by notes etc, all such things are grouped in appendices, which can be ignored if you are not interested in the research necessarily compiled for such a project as a historical biography. Although the book revolves around the theatre of the time there is much information on other aspects of social history – wages, transport, childbirth, postal system etc, which all impinged on the everyday life of players. Authors of Regency fiction may find such things of professional interest. Below is a brief look at the family members described:

  • Sampson Penley & his brother-in-law John Jonas and all their trials and tribulations setting up a circuit of theatres in south-east England during the Napoleonic Wars while touring with ever-enlarging families. Events include becoming lessees of the Windsor theatre and playing to the royal family; leasing a London theatre (a failure); the first English company to tour the continent in 1814 after the fall of Napoleon; the first English company to play in Paris since Elizabethan times and the riot that ensued; imprisonment for debt and bankruptcy.
  • Mr & Mrs William Penley who were Sampson’s brother and sister-in-law. For several years Mrs W P was the leading tragedy queen in the Jonas & Penley company while her husband was at Drury Lane theatre for ten seasons. Of outstanding interest is that George III’s queen “adopted” their six-year old son, had him educated at public school and provided £300 to facilitate his joining the Indian army where he ended up a major.  William became affluent and two of his sons became artists – Aaron of sufficient eminence to paint Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
  • Sampson Penley Jr who was a leading man at sixteen, joined Drury Lane where he was a principal member of the company for many years in spite of receiving the most consistently damning of reviews. He wrote several plays but only one success. He supported Edmund Kean in many plays and when he lost his place in London he became a manager in Windsor, Newcastle and Leicester. He fell in love at first sight and married after a whirlwind courtship, fled to Paris to avoid debts and died there far too young.
  • The three acting daughters of Sampson, Rosina, Phoebe and Emma Penley relate their careers in tandem. Rosina was the most important and she was the first British actress to be hailed by the intelligentsia of Paris for her Shakespearean performances. Rosina’s peregrinations as a respectable single woman travelling throughout the land, playing a multitude of parts in many towns and circumstances is very different from the typical lives of other women of the period whether rich or poor. Her sisters Phoebe and Emma played the same repertory of parts and on many occasions pairs of sisters acted together.
  • Sampson’s son Montague Penley who was an artist and drawing teacher (a pupil was Princess Augusta) as well as an actor, scenic artist and manager. He acquired the lease of the Lyceum theatre in London which resulted in a swift financial debacle and yet another Penley fleeing to France.
  • Belville Penley was Sampson’s youngest son who as a child acted in Brussels on the eve of Waterloo and afterwards with his family visited the battlefield. He did not become an adult actor but was a theatre manager. His wife was a singer whom he impregnated prior to marriage causing press condemnation. Belville went into partnership with the actor James Anderson at Leicester, Cheltenham and Gloucester. The partnership ended with another bankruptcy. Mrs Belville Penley went on to be a well-known singer of oratorio and religious works and her husband became lessee of the Roman Baths at Bath.
  • Cousins Maria Jonas and Frederick Jonas who also had substantial theatrical careers.

Stockwell-rearcover

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

What’s the Play and Where’s the Stage? is a hardback of 420 pages with an ISBN 978-0-9565013-6-3. You can visit my website for more information www.vesperhawk.com.

And what is the significance of the title? It is a quotation from an anecdote you will find on page 28!

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

About the Author: Alan Stockwell MBE was a professional puppeteer for over forty years. Latterly, he has devoted much of his time to writing, and is the author of several books and many articles on the theatre, magic, circus and puppetry. He is a long-time member of the Society for Theatre Research and the Irving Society [that would be Henry, not Washington].  And has written on Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens (see website for more information).

Thank you Alan for sharing about your book! – Readers, please reply below if you have any comments or questions.

You can purchase the book here:

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen ~ A Day in the Life Of… : Guest Post by Tony Grant

Dear Readers: I welcome Tony Grant today as he offers us an imaginary diary entry for a single day in the life Jane Austen, a day in Southampton, a town that Tony knows very well – wouldn’t it be lovely if such a diary existed!!

JAManuscript-BL

A Jane Austen Manuscript – British Library

**********

JANE AUSTEN: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…

By Tony Grant

As we are now into celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Emma by Jane Austen (published December 23, 1815), I have taken a scene from that novel as my cue for this fanciful piece of writing.

Once they have arrived at the top of Box Hill on their excursion from Hartfield and Highbury, Emma Woodhouse, Mrs Elton, Mr Knightley, Mr Weston, Miss Bates et al are affronted by Frank Churchill’s assertive direction for them all to talk.

Box Hill, Emma © BBC 2009

Box Hill, Emma © BBC 2009

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am ordered by Miss Woodhouse (who wherever she is, presides,) to say, that she desires to know what you are all thinking of.”

Mr Knightley answered this request with,

“Is Miss Woodhouse sure she would like to hear what we are all thinking of?”

The whole idea of privacy and private thoughts is the crux of this scene. Do any of us want to say what we are actually thinking? Don’t we in polite society automatically set up a barrier between what we think and what we say? We all would like to tell the truth and I am sure we generally do, but within limits. All sorts of safe guards come into play. We don’t want to insult anybody or reveal our true feelings in case of embarrassment or revealing something too personal about ourselves. Where can we reveal our true selves? Maybe we never do. But certain things can get us close. Writing a personal diary is one of them. A diary that we keep secret and just put our own personal thoughts, ideas and feelings into is a private place we can inhabit.  Samuel Pepys even wrote his famous diary in a coded short hand. Anybody in his household picking it up would not have had a clue what he had written. Samuel Pepys probably intended that nobody should ever have access to his inner life and thoughts -especially the King or other government officials and certainly not his wife.

The 19th century was a strange world in the sense that privacy was not what we would think of it today. Many people were servants who often shared garret rooms. Where was privacy for them? The masters and mistresses of a wealthy house had an extended family that included their servants who lived with them. Where was their privacy?

However, the idea of privacy and private thoughts today is maybe not what we might think also. With the internet, social media and the logging of all our most personal details by obscure internet providers and companies is there such a thing as privacy at all?

As far as we know Jane Austen did not keep a diary. All that she wrote, novels, letters and a few poems and some juvenilia were for others to read. They were intended for an audience.

Where could the private Jane Austen, the Jane Austen with an inner life not for publication go? Many of her beliefs and thoughts, I am sure, come through in her novels and letters. However they are her thoughts chosen, subtly inserted and intended to be read by others. We can get a sense of her as a person, but what of those raw unedited emotions, her deepest moods, her deepest thoughts, not for publication?

400px-Southampton18c1

Southampton 1801

I have used some real events taken from some of her letters while she lived in Southampton (Austen lived there from 1806-1809) and then rewrote them as though Jane had written a diary. It is a diary entry about one day, for nobody else to read, EVER!!!!  A secret place for her thoughts and emotions.

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

Southampton ,Tuesday 6th January 1807

Jane's house in Castle Square located at the base of the keep 2

Jane’s house in Castle Square, located at the base of the keep

We have been here for nearly four months now. This Castle Square house is well positioned within the town walls. Our garden backs on to the towns great medieval defences. The top parapet makes a picturesque, and moss embossed vertical expanse against which we grow raspberries and gooseberries. I think the sun must heat up the ancient stones and the heat from the stones brings along the fruit bearing shrubs admirably. We have already had one harvest, soon after we arrived, last October. Molly and Jenny, our two servants who we hired in the town, collected three huge baskets of the juicy fruit. We have had raspberry and gooseberry pies ever since. Surely our stock must run out soon and then we will have to wait all through the summer until autumn comes once more for those delights to be ripe enough to pick once more?

Rear of the Juniper Berry2

Rear of the Juniper Berry, site of Jane Austen’s house

cBarnum

Sight of Austen’s house in Castle Square, cBarnum

From my very own room at the back of the house I have some wonderfully entertaining views. Fishermen pull their boats up to the narrow harbour wall beneath our garden and spend their time sewing nets and scraping barnacles off the keels of their skiffs. I often try and listen to their conversations but their accents are so thick with oys and aghs and yeh’s. I am all a wonder at what a ,”mush,” is or a ,”nipper?” I can never quite fully catch what they say but the other day I heard two burly sailors nearly come to fisticuffs, “ Oy, mush what yer staring at?” said one rather aggressively to the other. I turned away quickly in case they saw me watching them. I might get a few choice words aimed my way. I blame it on The Royal Standard Inn just along the walls from us, next to the postern gateway – A drinking den of iniquity if ever there was one. Sometimes I hear a song, maybe a shanty, of some sort. I often see fishing smacks setting sail for Southampton Water to fish for the local dabs which are a great delicacy. Often a Man of War ventures this far up the Solent and anchors off Marchwood, in the Test estuary. They come up to the refitting yard I have been told. They get new masts there. The proximity to the New Forest provides a ready source of timber.

Southampton 1740

Southampton area 1740 map

On a clear bright day the New Forest stretches green and verdant in the distance far across the sparkling waters surrounding this peninsula on which Southampton is chiefly situated. We really must take a carriage ride there.

Today a new man arrived to tend our garden. He seems much more reliable than the last one who wanted more remuneration than my mother could afford. He says he is going to replace our forlorn and stringy wild roses with a stronger fuller variety. And some syringas, some laburnum, which will look beautiful and luxuriant, dripping with their blooms all through the summer months. We will get some Cowper’s Line too. Oh! that reminds me of Cowper:

Cowper

Cowper

There’s not an echo round me,
But I am glad should learn,
How pure a fire has found me,
The love with which I burn.
For none attends with pleasure
To what I would reveal;
They slight me out of measure,
And laugh at all I feel.

 

 

“The love with which I burn.”

Burn with love. What must that be like? Cassandra, my so called sister, berates me with my past errors, hah! Martha, friend, is she? Sometimes my mother, when she is in one of her overbearing moods, teases me about that boy, that stuttering poor boy, Bigg-Wither who proposed. What was I thinking? How could I? Oh yes, “and laugh at all I feel,” indeed. I can feel my stomach tie into a knot as I remember even now. What crushing anguish and embarrassment that has caused me. I wanted a burning love. I wanted a pure fire inside me. Why can’t I ever experience that? I feel all this energy inside me wanting to burst out.

I know, it does burst out. My writing. My poor substitute for real lived life and love. I can make my characters experience truelove. I know how it all works. I can make it happen for them but, not, me. Look at those poor puppets, Elizabeth and Darcy. Ha! Another stuttering fool. He changed into something though. I did that for Elizabeth. No Bigg-Wither for her. There I go again. Darcy is NOT real!!!! Why do I let myself go off into this fantasy world? My fantasies are better than my lived life. How can that be? A spinster, destined for what?

Mary, my brother’s new wife, is pregnant. She is full with new life. She has expanded, rather quickly, shall we say. It is

Francis Austen - wikipedia

Francis Austen – wikipedia

Frank’s command that we be here, to live with and pander after, his wonderful Mary. I sound too abrasive, I know. We all love her. But we are here doing our duty, for our dearest brother. They only had a short time after the wedding too. He must have put all his efforts and strength into it. Another for this baby-making family. Ha! They have two spare wombs in Cassandra and myself as well. I wonder what will become of our two dry pods? I wonder what it would be like to carry a child?

Cassandra still languishes at Godmersham looking after Edward’s baby. A maiden aunt. Is that all she is good for poor thing? I know that she is worth far more. I know she takes my share of these, duties. It is a form of slavery. It should be banned by parliament. It is all so unfair. There I go. It truly is a man’s world.

What is that awful sound? I hear my mother calling. That shriek. That demanding forceful will of hers. Damn her.

Mrs Austen

Mrs Austen

What does she want? I will be back. Here, in this little book, this little place, are all my real thoughts. My real thoughts! It’s where I can truly be myself.

I want to go on writing in here forever and nowhere else. Where else can I say these things, that nobody will hear, nobody will see? Not even you, mother!

“I am coming!”

I seem to say those words a lot.

………… Ah, all it was, was piffle. She, wanted to tell me, once more, about her finances. She had £85 at the close of last year. She spent £27 during the year. At the start of this year she has £99. A triumph!! But I know this already. She has told me twenty times. And she will tell me again, next week.

And we have visitors tonight. How many, is not sure. Can we feed them? Have we got enough fuel to keep the fire going to warm them? Nobody knows. My mother and her finances don’t know.

Marquis of Lansdowne's castle and Jane's house

Marquis of Lansdowne’s castle and Jane’s house

…………………. So they came. Mr Husket, Lord Lansdowne’s painter, or interior decorator I should say, came across from his Lordships “castle.” Mr Harrison called in with his two daughters. They laugh a lot but are not too silly, thank goodness. Mr Debary with his sister came too. Most of them arrived about 7 o’clock. The men were all wrapped up, buttoned to the neck, in great coats and the ladies wore thick pelisses and carried umbrellas against the rain. Why couldn’t the rain stop them from coming? But they came. A house-full. We stoked up the fire, (at what expense?) so it heated the dining room admirably. We drank tea and Jenny and Molly worked hard at providing muffins and fruit cake. What did we play? Oh yes, we had a pool of commerce and a table of spillikins. Mr Harrison won at everything. He was so pleased with himself. He grins a lot. His fat cheeks became puffed out and swollen like two full cows udders. For tuppence I would have milked them for him and given him a round slap in the process!

Southampton Beach

Southampton Beach

The weather is damp. A wind blows off the water. It carries a chill. I am shivering now in my unheated room. I can actually smell the salt in the air. There is a mixture of seaweed in it too.

Hark! I just heard Lord Lansdowne’s coach coming out of his stables opposite us. At this time of night of all things. I wonder what’s up? The smell of straw and horse dung can be overpowering at times from that place. However the wind is from the sea tonight so we are spared that malodorous problem. I feel fatigued. I will have a little nap. Tomorrow these private and wonderful white pages await me again. I would never write another novel if it were not the fact the writing of them provides me a few extra pounds and pence….

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

Some additional pictures of Jane Austen’s Southampton: [I had the pleasure in May 2014 of touring all around Southampton with Tony – some of these pictures are mine, some his – it was a glorious day despite drenching rains…]

A medieval shop

A medieval shop

 

Catchcold Tower - part of the medieval walls

Catchcold Tower – part of the medieval walls

 

High Street, Southampton 1805

High Street, Southampton 1805

 

Jane goes to the spa-3

Jane goes to the spa

 

St Michaels medieval Church

St Michael’s medieval Church

 

Jane's school was close to The Bargate

Jane’s school was close to The Bargate

 

TheatreRoyalSign

Theatre Royal – where Jane visited (cBarnum)

 

DSC09430

Dolphin Hotel fireplace – Jane danced in this room (cBarnum)

 

Dolphin Hotel Sign - JA danced here

Dolphin Hotel Sign – JA danced here (cBarnum)

 

Bay window in the ballroom

Bay window in the Dolphin Inn Ballroom

 

View from the walls

View from the walls

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

Thank you Tony for this interesting foray into a fantasy Jane Austen diary entry! Please comment – if you could read a diary entry of Jane Austen’s, what inner-most thoughts of hers would you most want to read about?

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont [all images from Tony Grant unless otherwise indicated]

Happy New Year One and All!!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, with gratitude to all for your visits, your comments, and your discussions of all things Jane!  ~ Thank you for including Jane Austen in Vermont in your daily blog surfing!  Welcome to 2016!

Today in Jane Austen’s life:  [from the JASNA-Wisconsin “A Year with Jane Austen” calendar]

December 31st:

  • 1797: Henry Austen marries his cousin Eliza de Feuillide, by special license.

January 1st:

  • 1787: Cousins Edward and Jane Cooper come to stay at Steventon for the New Year holidays.
  • 1812: Princess Charlotte of Wales writes that she intends to read Sense and Sensibility soon.

[Vintage Postcard:  Gold Medal Art, n.d.]

c2016, Jane Austen in Vermont

From the Archives ~ Jane Austen’s Very Own Scrooge

Emma - Christmas day paper doll3I pull this Christmas Eve post from the archives,
first posted on Dec 24, 2010

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas
from Everyone in JASNA-Vermont!

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

It is a rare date that Austen mentions in her works, but one of them is today, December 24: Christmas Eve, “(for it was a very great event that Mr. Woodhouse should dine out, on the 24th of December)” [Emma Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

While we usually associate Mr. Woodhouse with often curmudgeonly weather-obsessed behavior, here he is most eager to get all wrapped up and head over to Randalls:

Mr. Woodhouse had so completely made up his mind to the visit, that in spite of the increasing coldness, he seemed to have no idea of shrinking from it, and set forward at last most punctually with his eldest daughter in his own carriage, with less apparent consciousness of the weather than either of the others; too full of the wonder of his own going, and the pleasure it was to afford at Randalls to see that it was cold, and too well wrapt up to feel it. [E, Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

Fig. 2

So it is not dear Mr. Woodhouse who is Scrooge this Christmas Eve, but Austen is adept at creating one, and long before Dickens ever did:

‘A man,” said he, ‘must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity — Actually snowing at this moment! The folly of not allowing people to be comfortable at home, and the folly of people’s not staying comfortably at home when they can! If we were obliged to go out such an evening as this, by any call of duty or business, what a hardship we should deem it; — and here are we, probably with rather thinner clothing than usual, setting forward voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of the voice of nature, which tells man, in every thing given to his view or his feelings, to stay at home himself, and keep all under shelter that he can; — here are we setting forward to spend five dull hours in another man’s house, with nothing to say or to hear that was not said and heard yesterday, and may not be said and heard again to-morrow. Going in dismal weather, to return probably in worse; — four horses and four servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shivering creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they might have had at home.” [E, Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

Well, “Bah! Humbug!” to you too, John Knightley!he is our Scrooge this Christmas Eve [indeed, I believe that Isabella has married her father!] and his ill humor continues throughout the evening – ending of course with his gloomy and overblown report of the worsening weather that sets off three full pages of discussion on the risks of setting out, on the possibility of being snowed-in, on the cold, on the danger to the horses and the servants – “‘What is to be done, my dear Emma? – what is to be done?’ was Mr. Woodhouse’s first exclamation…” and it all is finally “settled in a few brief sentences” by Mr. Knightley and Emma, certainly foreshadowing their success as a companionable couple.

Fig. 3 ‘Christmas Weather’

And this leads to one of Austen’s most comic scenes – the proposal of Mr. Elton, Emma trapped in the carriage alone with him believing that “he had been drinking too much of Mr. Weston’s good wine, and felt sure that he would want to be talking nonsense…” – which of course he does…

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, with much snow on the ground (but not enough to trouble your carriage), some song and wine (but not enough to induce unwanted and overbearing offers of love and marriage), and the pleasure of good company (with hopefully no Scrooge-like visitors to whom you must either “comply” or be “quarrelsome” or like Emma, have your “heroism reach only to silence.” )

P.S. – And tonight pull your Emma off the shelf and read through these chapters in volume I [ch, 13-15] for a good chuckle! – this of course before your annual reading of A Christmas Carol.

___________________
Illustrations:

1.  Emma’s Christmas Day Paper Doll at Fancy Ephemera.com
2.  Dinner at Randalls at Chrismologist.blogspot.com
3.  ‘Christmas Weather’ at Harlequin Historical Authors
4.  Vintage postcard in my collection

The Publishing History of Jane Austen’s Emma

As part of Sarah Emsley’s upcoming three month-long celebration of Emma, “Emma in the Snow” beginning on December 23, 2015, I have written this post on its publishing history – an interesting tale gleaned from Austen’s Letters, Deirdre Le Faye’s Chronology, and other scholarly essays. Sarah will be re-blogging it, and we welcome your comments on either site. Emma was published in late December 1815, though the title page states 1816, and hence why there are celebrations both this year and next. I always have felt it appropriate that this book was published so close to Austen’s birthday on the 16th, and why I am posting this today, what would have been her 240th! And December brings to mind the very pivotal and humorous scene on Christmas Eve with Mr. Elton and Emma in the carriage – think snow – it shall be here soon enough!

Publishing Emma

emma1898vol1cover-mollands

Emma, Vol. 1 cover. London: Dent, 1898 (Mollands)

The most oft-quoted reference to Emma appears in her nephew James Edward Austen Leigh’s Memoir of 1870 where he writes: “She was very fond of Emma, but did not reckon her being a general favourite; for when commencing that work, she said, ‘I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.’” (Memoir, 140) And indeed, most of the controversy surrounding Emma, though considered by many to be her “most profound achievement,” (Fergus 14) has been the likeability of this title character.

One of the joys of reading Jane Austen’s letters is to discover the numerous references to her novels through the writing and publishing process – we all feel great disappointment that there are not more – but in the case of Emma, there are many such finds, almost all to do with its publication, and why perhaps we hang on this quote from the Memoir as Austen’s only personal comment about its creation. In writing up this interesting publishing history, I realize most of the best bits are in these letters as she negotiates with her new publisher John Murray, nurses her brother Henry through a near-death illness, visits the Prince Regent’s Librarian at Carlton House, learns that her niece Anna Lefroy has had a baby daughter and her brother Frank another son, works with the printers’ galleys of Emma, and edits Mansfield Park for a second edition. She has also at this time begun writing Persuasion (begun August 8, 1815 and finished August 6, 1816) – a great deal happens in these two months from October 4, 1815 when she leaves Chawton for London with Henry, and December 16th, when she returns! Emma is finally published on December 23rd and she begins keeping a record of its “opinions” henceforth.

I am going to present here a chronological accounting of Emma’s publication, interspersed with the letters – it is the only way to get a full sense of what was actually happening – her letters making us nearly over-the-shoulder voyeurs into these very packed two months of her life.… 

Dates of composition: these are noted in Cassandra Austen’s memorandum (Minor Works, opp. 242): began January 21, 1814; finished March 29, 1815. Jan Fergus believes that she likely revised it until August when she began Persuasion (Fergus 5). She does not submit the manuscript to John Murray until late August or early September 1815.

But what of the backstory? There are no comments by Austen to the actual writing of Emma, but it is worth a look at what she was doing between January 1814 and March 1815 to tease out some interesting real-life correlations. In the “Introduction” to the 2005 Cambridge edition of Emma, the editors (Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan, ) note a number of various events during this time frame that perhaps in one way or another show up in the plot and characters of Emma. Le Faye’s Chronology and The Letters are invaluable here – here is a quick sampling: 

  • Austen visits Great Bookham, which is close to Box Hill and Leatherhead, considered the most likely model for Highbury.
  • Miss Sharpe is now a governess in Yorkshire – Austen wishes for her employer to marry her has echoes in the story of Miss Taylor, later Mrs. Weston, and Jane Fairfax (see Ltr. 102, June 23,1814).
  • Austen’s niece Anna marries Ben Lefroy on November 8, 1814 – perhaps why she names the baby in Emma “Anna” (though Mrs. Weston’s first name is Anne)
  • Austen writes to her niece Fanny about whether or not she is in love with John Plumptre – we see this as Emma humorously debates with herself about whether or not she is in love with Frank Churchill (see Ltrs. 109 and 114).
  • We have only to read her letter to Anna about the atmosphere of the Wen [London] to recall Mr. Woodhouse’s commentary on the air of London and Isabella’s staunch defense of their “superior” location in Brunswick Square. [see Ltr. 110. Nov 22, 1814]

Anna Lefroy-MemoirAnna Lefroy – from the Memoir

  • Austen is reading and critiquing her niece Anna’s novel – it is here we have the most information on Austen’s view of the writing process –  and where she famously states: “…3 or 4 Families in a Country Village is the very thing to work on…” (Ltr. 107, Sept 9-18, 1814), which of course is exactly what Emma is all about. (See Cronin and McMillan, xxiii-xxv)

I will do a more detailed post on this backstory topic in the future, but now a return to the publishing adventure.

HansPlace-HillA house in Hans Place, London. similar to where
Henry Austen lived and Jane Austen visited
Source: Constance Hill, Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends (1923)

October 4, 2015: Austen travels to London with her brother Henry, expecting to stay “a week or two” (Ltr. 120) and negotiations with her publisher begin. Her attempts to have Thomas Egerton publish a 2nd edition of Mansfield Park had been unsuccessful the previous year:

Austen had written on November 30, 1814: (Ltr. 114 to Fanny Knight)

“…it is not yet settled yet whether I do hazard a 2d Edition. We are to see Egerton today, when it will be probably determined. – People are more ready to borrow & praise, than to buy…”

John Murray. NPG-wikipedia

John Murray. NPG-wikipedia

October 17, 1815: There is no definitive answer as to why Egerton did not choose to publish, but we do know that Austen submitted her Emma manuscript to the more prestigious John Murray the following year in late summer / early fall 1815. We know from the Chronology (514) that Henry and Jane visited Steventon unexpectedly Sept 3rd and stayed until the 5th – this may have been when Austen gave her “Emma” MS to Henry to deliver to Murray. In a letter dated Sept 29, 1815, Murray’s editor William Gifford writes: “Of ‘Emma’, I have nothing but good to say. I was sure of the author before you mentioned her.” It is believed that at this point Murray was hoping to purchase the copyright and have Gifford edit the manuscript for publication. 

Kathryn Sutherland in her essay “Jane Austen’s Dealings with John Murray and His Firm” outlines further explanation as to when Murray may have been first approached by Austen. She has found in the Murray Archives an earlier letter from Gifford dated November 14, 1814 on his having read Pride and Prejudice. Sutherland supposes that Austen met with Murray in the November of 1814 year when in London negotiating with Egerton over the Mansfield Park 2nd edition. By the time Gifford writes his Sept. 1815 letter urging Murray to acquire Emma, as well as the copyrights of P&P and another novel, he is already familiar with and highly values her writings.

But Austen writes: [Ltr. 121 Oct 17, 1815]

“Mr. Murray’s Letter is come [dated Oct 15]; 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.”  

So the decision is made to publish on commission, i.e. Austen takes on the expense of publishing, Murray takes 10% commission on all profits – Austen had learned her lesson in selling the copyright of Pride and Prejudice directly to Thomas Egerton for £110. But those who have looked into all the facts and figures of her profits and losses (see especially Fergus) surmise that she in this case would have done better to have sold the copyrights outright for the £450.

Henry’s illness: It is also in this letter of Oct 17th that Austen first makes note of Henry being ill – “Henry is not henry_austenquite well – a bilious attack with fever.” She continues the letter the next day with:

“Henry’s illness is more serious than I expected. He has been in bed since three o’clock on Monday” and goes on to write about the physician Mr. Haden’s (though Austen spells it “Haydon”) opinions of the matter and the drawing of blood to lessen inflammation – “Henry is an excellent Patient, lies quietly in bed & is ready to swallow anything. Her lives upon Medicine, Tea and Barley water… he is in “the back room upstairs – & I am generally there also, working or writing.”

October 20, 1815: Henry Austen’s letter of October 20 or 21st is written – Austen kept a draft [Ltr. 122(A)(D)] with this heading:

“A Letter to Mr. Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the severe Relapse which drew 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… 

I love this letter! – it shows Henry as a strong advocate for his sister, as well as quite the wit!

But succeeding days show Austen requesting a second doctor for Henry – this was likely Dr. Matthew Baillie, one of the Prince Regent’s medical advisors (Le Faye, Chron. 518) Austen begins to summon family members and Cassandra, James, and Edward all head for London; Cassandra will remain there with Jane until Nov 20th.

In the middle of all this, on October 20th, Anna Lefroy (James’s daughter) gives birth to a little girl named Anna-Jemina! And on the 30th Austen writes to her niece Caroline Austen (now 10 years old) about her own story in the making: she feels “not quite equal to taking up your Manuscript, but think I shall soon, & hope my detaining it so long will be no inconvenience.” [Ltr. 123, Oct 30, 1815]

November 3, 1815.  A few days later we see Austen taking on the negotiating of Emma herself – she writes:

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 harassing 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, on any day after the present 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 that much Writing. [Ltr. 124, Nov 3, 1815]

We hear no more of the actual negotiations, but find that in mid-November Murray includes Emma in his list of publications in the press and “nearly ready for publication” – this November 1815 listing was found inserted in a copy of Helen Maria Williams’ A Narrative of the Events which have Taken Place in France (London: Murray, 1816) – Austen refers to this book in letter 127 (Nov 24, 1815) below (Gilson xxix).

November 8, 1815. Austen’s brother Frank’s 4th son, Herbert Grey, is born!

November 13, 1815 – The visit to Carlton House:  

Carlton House exterior

Carlton House, London

Sometime in early November, the Prince Regent’s physician tells Austen that he is aware she is the author of Pride and Prejudice, and “that the Prince [is] a great admirer of her novels and has read them often and kept a set of in every one of his residences; and he himself thought he ought to inform the Prince that Miss Austen was staying in London, and that the Prince [has] desired Mr Clarke, the librarian of Carlton House, to wait upon her.” (Memoir 105) And here we have one of the more interesting series of letters in the whole collection – insight into Austen’s life in London, her ready wit, the assuredness of her own talents, and the issue of the dedication of Emma to “His Royal Highness, The Prince Regent.”

AN ASIDE ~ the Austen – Clarke correspondence:

Carlton House library

Carlton House Library

We know that Austen visited Carlton House and met with the librarian James Stanier Clarke on Monday the 13th – but alas! there is no account of it from her directly – how one would love to have heard her comments to her sister and Henry when she returned to Hans Place that day! – all we have is this letter of the 15th addressed to Clarke: [ Ltr. 125(D)]

 

Sir,

I must take the liberty of asking You a question – Among the many flattering attentions which I rec’d from you at Carlton House, on Monday last, was the Information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future Work to HRH the P.R. without the necessity of any Solicitation on my part. Such at least, I beleived to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I intreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such a Permission is to be understood, & whether it is incumbent on me to shew my sense of the Honour, by inscribing the Work now in the Press, to H.R.H. – I sh’d be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or Ungrateful.-

I am etc…

James_Stanier_Clarke-wp.pg

James Stanier Clarke – wikipedia

Clarke responded immediately:

It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the Press to His Royal Highness: but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at some future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part.

And then Clarke goes on to offer Austen writing advice!

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.

Accept my sincere thanks for the pleasure your Volumes have given me: in the perusal of them I felt a great inclination to write & say so. And I also dear Madam wished to be allowed to ask you, to delineate in some future Work the Habits of Life and Character and enthusiasm of a Clergyman – who should pass his time between the metropolis & the Country – who should be something like Beatties Minstrel… Neither Goldsmith – nor La Fontaine in his Tableau de Famille – have in my mind quite delineated an English Clergyman, at least of the present day – Fond of, & entirely engaged in Literature – no man’s Enemy but his own. Pray dear Madam think of these things…

P.S. I am going for about three weeks to Mr Henry Streatfields, Chiddingstone Sevenoaks – but hope on my return to have the honour of seeing you again. (Ltr. 125(A), Nov 16, 1815)

This lively correspondence between Austen and Clarke continued later in December upon Clarke’s return – Austen writes on December 11:

My Emma is now so near publication that I feel it right to assure you of my not having forgotten your kind recommendation of an early Copy for Cn H. [Carlton House] – & that I have Mr. Murray’s promise of its being sent to HRH. under cover to You, three days previous to the Work being really out.-

I must make use of this opportunity to thank you dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow upon 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. But at this point I will do myself the justice to declare that whatever may be my wishes for its’ success, I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P, it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who have preferred MP, very inferior in good Sense.

And here she addresses Clarke’s suggestions for her Clergyman:

I am quite honoured by your thinking me capable of drawing such a Clergyman as you gave the

CE Brock - Mr Collins (Mollands)

CE Brock – Mr Collins (Mollands)

sketch of in your note of Nov: 16. But I assure you I am not. The Comic part of the Character I might be equal to, but not the Good, the Enthusiastic, the Literary. Such a Man’s Conversation must at times be on subjects of Science & Philosophy of which I know nothing – or at least be occasionally abundant in quotations & allusions which a Woman, who like me, knows only her own Mother-tongue & has read very little in that, would be totally without the power of giving. A Classical Education, or at any rate, a very extensive acquaintance with English Literature, Ancient & Modern, appears to me quite Indispensable for the person who wd do any justice to your Clergyman – And I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible Vanity, the most unlearned, & uninformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress. (Ltr. 132(D), Dec 11, 1815)

Clarke writes again on Dec 21st or so thanking her for the copy of Emma which he has sent on to the Prince Regent: “I have read only a few pages which I very much admired – there is so much nature – and excellent description of Character in everything you describe.” He then goes on to again implore her to write about a Clergyman, in what sounds like a sort of autobiography of Himself! – then offers her a copy of his forthcoming book on James II, as well as the offer of the use of his small Cell and library at No. 37 Golden Square when she comes to Town – “I shall be most happy. There is a Maid Servant of mine always there.”

What an offer!!

In March, Clarke writes from Brighton sending the thanks of the Prince Regent for “the handsome copy of your last excellent Novel.” He then drops a few names (he is very good at name-dropping!) and suggests that her next work’s dedication should be to Prince Leopold: “any Historical Romance illustrative of the History of the august house of Cobourg, would just now be very interesting.”

Believe me at all times
Dear Miss Austen
Your obliged friend
J. S. Clarke
[Ltr. 138(A), Mar 27, 1816]

To which Austen responds after thanking him for his praises:

…You are very, very kind in your hints as to the sort of Composition which might recommend me at present, & I am fully sensible that an Historical Romance, founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg might be more to the purpose of Profit or Popularity, than such pictures of domestic L:ife in Country Villages I deal in – but I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem. – I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I finished the first Chapter. – No – I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way. And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.

I remain my dear Sir,
Your very much obliged & very sincere friend
J Austen
[Ltr. 138(D), April 1, 1816]

And that seems to be the last of their correspondence – we know Austen is deep into writing Persuasion at this point, and that Emma has received a number of good reviews and is selling well. I love this letter because again, it gives us rare insight into how she thought of herself as a writer, as well as a good slice of her self-deprecating irony. And Clarke is so clearly a portrait of Mr. Collins! – a character she wrote a full 10 years before! Austen must have had a good hearty laugh about his requesting her to write about a Clergyman – one wonders what Clarke’s view of Mr. Collins could possibly have been…

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

November 23, 1815: We now must return to the matter at hand – the publication of Emma – with several letters between her and Mr. Murray that show how involved she was in this process. Henry is gradually getting stronger and has written a letter to Murray on Nov 20th (Le Faye Chrono. 520) about the publishing delays, but we do not have a copy of this letter – Austen seems to be doing all the work with Murray herself from this point. Real life includes the visit of her niece Fanny who arrived on the 15th or 16th of November…and Cassandra returns to Chawton on the 20th.

JA letter to Murray 23 Nov 1815

To John Murray, November 23, 1815 [Ltr. 126]

My Brother’s note last Monday has been so fruitless, that I am afraid there can be little chance of my writing to any good effect; but yet I am so very much disappointed & vexed by the delays of the Printers that I cannot help begging to know whether there is no hope of their being quickened. – Instead of Work being ready by the end of the present month, it will hardly, at the rate we now proceed, be finished by the end of the next, and as I expect to leave London in early Decr, it is of consequence that no more time should be lost. Is it likely that the Printers will be influenced to greater Dispatch & Punctuality by knowing that the Work is to be dedicated, by Permission, to the Prince Regent? – If you can make circumstances operate, I shall be very glad…. (Austen then thanks Murray for the loan of a book to Henry)

November 24, 1815: It is in Austen’s next letter to Cassandra that we learn “a much better account of my affairs, which I know will be a great delight to you.”

Printing House - 18thc (eduscapes.com)

Printing House – 18thc (eduscapes.com)

“I wrote to Mr Murray yesterday myself, & Henry wrote at the same time to Roworth [one of the printers]. Before the notes were out of the House I received three sheets, & an apology from R. We sent the notes however, & I had a most civil one in reply from Mr M. He is so very polite indeed, that it is quite overcoming. – The Printers have been waiting for Paper – the blame is thrown upon the Stationer – but he gives his word that I shall have no farther cause for dissatisfaction.” Murray loans them two books – the Miss Williams as noted above and a Walter Scott and she is soothed & complimented into tolerable comfort.-”

…A Sheet come in this moment. 1st & 3rd vol. are now at 144. – 2d at 48. – I am sure you will like Particulars. – We are not to have the trouble of returning the Sheets to Mr Murray any longer, the Printer’s boys bring & carry. [Ltr. 127, Nov 24, 1815]

 

November 26, 1815: The next day is given over to shopping (from 11:30 – 4:00 for all manner of errands and the “miseries of Grafton House”) and on the 26th Austen writes of all these events and their purchases, then this about Emma:

I did mention the P.R. – in my note to Mr Murray, it brought me a fine compliment in return; whether it has done any other good I do now know, but Henry thought it worth trying. – The Printers continue to supply me very well, I am advanced in vol. 3 to my arra-root, upon which peculiar style of spelling, there is a modest qury? in the Margin. – I will not forget Anna’s arrow-root. – I hope you have told Martha of my first resolution of letting nobody know that I might dedicate &c – for fear of being obliged to do it – & that she is thoroughly convinced of my being influenced now by nothing but the most mercenary motives.

And she ends this long letter on visits, visitors, and Henry’s health with this comment on her brother Charles’s letter:

I have a great mind to send him all the twelve Copies which were to have been dispersed among my near Connections – beginning with the P.R. & ending with Countess Morley. [see below for a list of recipients] [Ltr. 128, Nov 26, 1815]

December 2, 1815:  Emma is advertised in The Morning Post as being published in a few days, and Austen’s only mention of Emma in her letter of this day to Cassandra is: “It strikes me that I have no business to give the P. R. a Binding, but we will take Counsel upon the question.” (She does present him with a fine binding of Emma as her letters above to Clarke indicate; it cost her 24s!)

Emma - Prince Regent's Copy - Le Faye

Emma – Prince Regent’s copy (Le Faye)

December 6, 1815: Emma is again advertised in The Morning Post as forthcoming.

December 10, 1815: The Observer advertises “On Saturday next will be published… EMMA.” (i.e. Dec 16 – but it does not appear on this date)

December 11, 1815: Austen writes another letter to John Murray.

As I find that Emma is advertized for publication as early as Saturday next, I think it best to lose no time in settling all that remains to be settled on the subject, & adopt this method of doing so, as involving the smallest tax on your time.-

In the first place, I beg you to understand that I leave the terms on which the Trade should be supplied with the work, entirely to your Judgement, entreating you to be guided in every such arrangement by your own experience of what is most likely to clear off the Edition rapidly. I shall be satisfied with whatever you feel to be best.-

The Title page must be, Emma, Dedicated by Permission to H. R. H. The Prince Regent. – And it is my particular wish that one Set should be completed & sent to H. R. H. two or three days before the Work is generally public – It should be sent under Cover to the Rev. J. S. Clarke, Librarian, Carlton House. – I shall subjoin a list of those persons, to whom I must trouble you to forward also a Set of each, when the Work is out; – all unbound, with From the Authoress, in the first page.

I return to you, with very many Thanks, the Books you have so obligingly supplied me with. – I am very sensible I assure you of the attention you have paid to my Convenience & amusement. – I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I beleive, as I can make it. – …. I wish you would have the goodness to send a line by the Bearer, stating the day on which the set will be ready for the Prince Regent. [Ltr. 130, Dec 11, 1815]

And another letter to Murray on the same day – he must have instantly dispatched a response to the above:

I am much obliged by your, and very happy to feel everything arranged to our mutual satisfaction. As to my direction about the title-page, it was arising from my ignorance only, and from my never having noticed the proper place for a dedication. I thank you for putting me right. Any deviation from what is actually done in such cases is the last thing I should wish for. I feel happy in having a friend to save me from the ill effect of my own blunder. [Ltr. 131C, Dec 11, 1815]

(And see her letter to Clarke on this date above claiming to be the most unlearned, & uninformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress.”)

Emma-tp-wpDecember 16, 1815: Austen’s birthday! Emma is not published as advertised, and she leaves for Chawton as she notes in Letter 133 (Dec 14, 1815) “I leave Town early on Saturday…” – she has been in London for over two months, her stay lengthened by Henry’s illness and publishing delays.

There are no more letters until December 31, though Fanny Knight writes in her pocket-book on the 17th and the 22nd that she received a letter from Aunt Jane – more letters lost… (Le Faye Chrono. 524).

December 19, 1815: “Murray’s clerk enters details in the ledger regarding Emma: 2000 copies printed, 3 vols., price 1 guinea the set, title page dated 1816” – also includes Austen’s list of her 12 presentation copies (see below). Murray also gives a copy to Byron’s half-sister Augusta Leigh, and to Maria Edgeworth at Austen’s request.  (Le Faye Chrono. 525)

December 21, 1815: The Morning Chronicle: Emma to be published “on Saturday next”

December 22, 1815: The Morning Chronicle: Emma to be published “Tomorrow”

December 23, 1815: The Morning Chronicle: Emma “PUBLISHED THIS DAY”

December 25, 1815: John Murray writes to Walter Scott requesting a review of Emma – this is published in March 1816 issue of the Quarterly Review.

“Have you any fancy to dash off an article on ‘Emma’? It wants incident and romance does it not? None of the author’s other novels have been noticed [in Murray’s ‘Quarterly Review’] and surely ‘Pride and Prejudice’ merits high commendation. (Gilson 69)

December 27, 1815: the Countess of Morley, one of the recipients of a presentation copy, writes to Austen:

Countess of Morley - BBC

Countess of Morley – BBC

…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 – [Ltr. 134(A), Dec 27, 1815] (though the Countess writes letters to others that she finds the book quite dull – more on this in another post!) 

December 31, 1815: Austen responds to the Countess:

Madam,

Accept my Thanks for the honour of your note & for your kind disposition in favour of Emma. In my present state of doubt as to her reception in the World, it is particularly gratifying to me to receive so early an assurance of your Ladyship’s approbation. – It encourages me to depend on the same share of general good opinion which Emma’s Predecessors have experienced, & to believe that I have not yet – as almost every Writer of Fancy does sooner or later – overwritten myself… [Ltr. 134, Dec 31, 1815]

Early January 1816: Austen sends her copy of Emma to her niece Anna – and as she had with Pride & Prejudice in calling it “my own darling child,” compares her novel creation to the birth of a Anna’s baby:

My dear Anna,

As I wish very much to see your Jemina, I am sure you will like to see my Emma, & have therefore great pleasure in sending it for your perusal. Keep it as long as you chuse; it has been read by all here.- 

Austen in late January also sends off a copy of Emma to her friend Catherine Ann Prowting, after the death of their mutual friend Mary Benn. [Ltr. 136, Jan ? 1816]

And then no letters at all until March 13 (Ltr. 137 to Caroline Austen) … but on February 19, 1816, Murray publishes the 2nd edition of Mansfield Park: 750 copies (Gilson 59):

MP-2ded-titlepage

 

In mid-march, Henry Austen’s bank fails, a catastrophic event for the family – Austen refers to it in her April 1, 1816 letter to Murray as “this late sad Event in Henrietta St.” And here in late March and early April we have the two letters noted above to and from James Stanier Clarke.

March 1816: the Quarterly Review (vol. 14, no. 27, dated October 1815) is published and contains Scott’s (though anonymous) review of Emma.

Sir Walter Scott - wikipedia

Sir Walter Scott – wikipedia

April 1, 1816:  Austen to John Murray, returning his copy of the Quarterly Review

I return you the Quarterly Review with many Thanks. The Authoress of Emma has no reason to think to complain of her treatment in it – except in the total omission of Mansfield Park. – I cannot but be very sorry that so clever a Man as the Reveiwer of Emma, should consider it as unworthy of being noticed, – You will be pleased to hear that IU have received the Prince’s Thanks for the handsome Copy I sent him of Emma. Whatever he may think of my share of the Work, Yours seems to have been quite right… [Ltr. 139, April 1, 1816]

 

February 20-21, 1817 [Ltr. 151]: the last mention of Emma in the letters is a thank you to Fanny for mentioning Mrs. C. Cage’s praise of Emma. Austen notes this in her “Opinions of Emma”:

A great many thanks for the loan of Emma, which I am delighted with. I like it better than any. Every character is thoroughly kept up. I must enjoy reading it again with Charles. Miss Bates is incomparable, but I was nearly killed with those precious treasures! They are Unique, & really with more fun that I can express. I am at Highbury all day, & I can’t help feeling I have just got into a new set of acquaintance. No one writes such good sense, & so very comfortable. [MW 439]

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

So Emma is released upon the world on December 23, 1815, with the following dedication, the only time Austen dedicated a novel to anyone (her juvenilia is all dedicated, amusingly so – worth a read in themselves!) – I think she bandies about “Royal Highness” a bit too much, perhaps her only way of disguising in plain sight her dislike of the man!

TO HIS

ROYAL HIGHNESS

THE PRINCE REGENT,

THIS WORK IS,

BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S PERMISSION,

MOST RESPECTFULLY

DEDICATED,

BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS’S

DUTIFUL

AND OBEDIENT

HUMBLE SERVANT,

THE AUTHOR

***********

Here is how it looks in the 1816 American edition of Emma, the same as it did in the London 1st edition:

Emma1816_Vol1-Dedication

(Goucher College website)

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

I repeat here the advertisements for Emma’s publication:

  1. Mid-November 1815, Murray includes Emma in his list of publications in the press and “nearly ready for publication”
  2. The Morning Post (Dec 2, 1815): “in a few days will be published…EMMA, a novel”
  3. The Morning Post (Dec 6, 1815): repeated the above
  4. The Observer (December 10, 1815): “On Saturday next will be published… EMMA.” (i.e. Dec 16 – but it does not appear on this date, Austen’s birthday).
  5. The Morning Chronicle (Dec 21, 1815): Emma to be published “on Saturday next”
  6. The Morning Chronicle (Dec 22, 1815): Emma to be published “Tomorrow”
  7. The Morning Chronicle (Dec 23, 1815): Emma “PUBLISHED THIS DAY”
  8. The Morning Post (Dec 29, 1815) – also advertises Emma as “This day published…”

The title page states 1816 – this was customary for books published at the end of the preceeding year. Note that Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published in late December 1817, though the title page states 1818.

Presentation copies: (from Murray’s records)

  • The Prince Regent: his was delivered to James Stanier Clarke on December 21, 1815, bound in full red morocco gilt at a cost of 24s – Clarke writes on its receipt: You were very good to send me Emma – which I have in no respect deserved. It is gone to the Prince Regent. I have read only a few pages which I very much admired – there is so much nature – and excellent description of Character in everything you describe.” (Ltr. 132(A). Dec 21, 1815)
  • Jane Austen
  • Henry Austen
  • Countess of Morley
  • Rev. J. S. Clarke
  • J. Leigh Perrot
  • Mrs. Austen (2 copies)
  • Captain Austen (likely Charles)
  • Rev. J. Austen
  • H. F. Austen (Frank)
  • Miss Knight (Fanny)
  • Miss Sharpe (governess / JA’s friend)
  • Augusta Leigh (Byron’s half-sister), given by Murray
  • Maria Edgeworth, as requested by Austen

The Particulars:

  1. Published anonymously “By the Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ etc, etc”
  2. Copies: 2000 were printed, the 3-volume set sold for £1.1s., more than was usual for a 3-volume novel. 1248 were sold by Oct 1816, and by 1820, 538 copies were remaindered at 2s each.
  3. Printers: C. Roworth (vols. 1 and 2); J. Moyes (vol. 3)
  4. Binding: grey-brown paper boards and spine, or blue-grey boards and grey-brown, grey-blue or off-white spine

Emma-1sted-dailymailA pristine 1st of Emma for sale last year for £100,000
at Lucius Books in York (Daily Mail, Dec 2014)

or it may have looked like this:

FirstEdP&P-NLScotland

Pride & Prejudice 1st ed (1813) – National Library of Scotland

5. Profits: Murray published Emma on commission, but also published the second edition of Mansfield Park – as noted above, Austen had written to Murray from Hans Place on Dec 11, 1815: “I return also ‘Mansfield Park,’ as ready for a 2d edit: I believe, as I can make it-”  this edition came out on February 19, 1816 but did not sell well – the losses on this reduced the profits on Emma (which were substantial at the likely total of £373) to £38.18 (Fergus). One issue contributing to lower profits was Murray’s use of more expensive paper.

6. No manuscript survives.

7. Later Publishing History: a brief summary

Emma1816_Vol1-title page

Emma (Philadelphia, 1816) – Goucher College

1st American Edition – the only such printed in Austen’s lifetime, but since it was never mentioned by her or her family, it was likely unknown to them.

Published by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia in 1816, this American edition was only discovered in 1939 when found listed in a bookshop catalogue. It is unknown how many copies were printed but this edition is very rare – Goucher College has a copy in their Alberta H. Burke Collection – and this year it is the subject of an exhibition. You can visit the website here: http://www.emmainamerica.org/

Published in two volumes, the first is available online at the Goucher website; Volume II will be available next year.

 

1st French translation (Paris: Feb 1816): titled La Nouvelle Emma, with the translator not noted.

1st Bentley edition (1833): Richard Bentley purchased the copyrights of Austen’s novels from Henry and Cassandra for £210, with another £40 paid to Egerton for the copyright of P&P. He was to include them in his Standard Novels series. Sense and Sensibility was published on Dec 28, 1832 (t.p. states 1833), followed by Emma on Feb 27, 1833. This edition eliminated the Dedication to the Prince Regent for reasons unknown. There is an engraved frontispiece and title page vignette by William Greatbatch after George Pickering.

1856-Bentley-frontis2-Cox

Emma, (Bentley, 1856 ed with same frontis as 1833 ed) – Andrew Cox Rare Books

8.  Value today: First editions of Emma come up for auction periodically, prices all depending upon condition. In the original boards as published estimated values vary from $75,000 – 100,000; rebound in contemporary leather values average $35,000 – $50,000; modern re-bindings will fetch less. There are ten online at present, all rebound and varying from $17,000 – $45,000. The first American edition by Carey is rarely seen, though there is one right now online for $25,000. Of course online prices don’t tell the full tale – auction prices give us the true value at any given time – Emma in original boards sold for £30,000 at Sotheby’s in 2010, a rebound edition sold at Bonham’s in 2013 for $8500. In 2014, a nearly pristine copy in original boards sold for £48,050.

The Anne Sharp presentation copy noted above has been bandied about in recent years: it sold in 2008 for £180,000, then again in 2010 for £325,000. It was up for auction in December 2012 for an estimate of £150,000 – £200,000 but did not sell, and I do not know where it might be at present…

Emma-SharpeCopy-SothebysAnne Sharp presentation copy of Emma – Sotheby’s

It does make one wonder what Jane Austen would think of all this!

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

For the 200 years since that December 23rd “THIS DAY PUBLISHED” there have been an abundance of Emmas brought into the world – with various printing fonts, interesting covers from the delightful to the ridiculous, and illustrations from all manner of artists – collecting them is a full-time job! But if we look back to that first edition with far less print to every page, no illustrations, and those rather dull covers, we have merely what Austen wrote, a tale of a matchmaking heroine who is at times hard to take.  Austen knew her reading public and had, as we saw in the quote opening this post, her own concerns about Emma’s likeability in that larger world outside her own family circle. But of course that’s the point – surrounded in charades and puzzles and as P. D. James has pointed out, a detective story, a coterie of characters, some quite annoying, and a narrative technique that leaves you wondering who said or thought what, Austen gives us a nearly perfect novel, one that leaves you guessing right to the end, brilliantly portraying a very small world that mirrors the larger, all told with a heavy dose of irony. Who cannot delight in Mr. Woodhouse’s obsessions with his health and fears of anything sweet; or Miss Bates babblings of little nothings that of course tell us most of what we need to know if we only paid attention; of Frank Churchill, hero or not; Jane Faifax, too good to be true and with her own mysterious ailments; the Eltons, who so deserve each other; our Dear Mr. Knightley, who upon every re-reading becomes my favorite Hero, and who on multiple readings can be seen to be quite hopelessly in Love with Emma from the start; and of course Emma, whatever we may make of her.

As we begin this bicentennial celebration of Emma, I invite you again to visit Sarah Emsley’s blog on “Emma in the Snow” where there will be bi-weekly posts starting December 23rd through March 2016. Sarah has garnered an impressive group of Austen folk to participate – so-re-read your Emma and be prepared to spend these next few months immersing yourself in this novel where nothing much seems to happen, but of course everything about human nature does. I end here with this thoughtful quote from the Cambridge edition – think on this as you begin your re-reading adventure:

This is a novel that does not ask its readers either to like or dislike its heroine: it invites them to question their responses, and to recognize their capacity to elevate their likings and dislikings to the status of moral judgements. (Introd. Emma, xxxviii)

*********

Some favorite illustrations of the proposal scene:

BrockCE-Emma-Proposal-mollands

CE Brock, Emma (Dent, 1898) – Mollands

Thomson-Emma-Proposal-BL

Hugh Thomson, Emma (Macmillan, 1896) – British Library

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

References:

Austen, Jane. Emma: An Annotated Edition. Ed. Bharat Tandon. Harvard UP, 2012.

_____. Emma: The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Ed. Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan. Cambridge UP, 2005, p bed. 2013.

_____. Jane Austen’s Letters. Ed. Deirdre Le Faye. 4th ed. Oxford UP, 2011.

_____. The Works of Jane Austen: Minor Works. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Oxford UP, 1988 edition, c1954.

Austen-Leigh, James Edward. A Memoir of Jane Austen. Folio Society, 1989 (based on 1871 edition).

Fergus, Jan. Jane Austen: A Literary Life. Macmillan, 1991. See also Sabor, 1-16.

Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll Press, 1997.

Sabor, Peter, ed. Cambridge Companion to Emma. Cambridge UP, 2015.

Upcoming posts on Emma: Stay tuned!

  1. The Backstory of publishing Emma
  2. Emma’s Christmas Eve
  3. Emma‘s illustrators
c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont