Posts Tagged ‘Emma’

Note: A post from the archives of 2010 – reposting it because today is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s visit to Carlton House!


Carlton House library

Carlton House Library

Today in Jane Austen’s life:  on November 13, 1815, Jane Austen visited Carlton House, the London home of the Prince Regent, at the invitation of the Prince’s Librarian James Stanier Clarke.  Austen was “asked” to dedicate her next book  – Emma – to the Prince – it is the only dedication in her six novels [her juvenilia was humorously dedicated to her family members – see Peter Sabor’s article in Persuasions 31 (2009) “Brotherly and Sisterly Dedications in Jane Austen’s Juvenilia”].

Carlton House – front view

This is Austen’s  letter to Clarke on the 15th:

Wednesday 15 November 1815


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 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…

[Le Faye, Ltr. 125 (D), p. 296]


James Stanier Clarke

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.”  (Ltr. 125 (A), p.296)

Austen and Clarke engaged in a lively correspondence about this dedication and Clarke’s efforts to have Austen write a book about a clergyman… Austen responded in her most humorous fashion:

“I am fully sensible than 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 Life in Country Villages as 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 notice than to save my Life, & if it were indispensible 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…” (Ltr. 138(D), p. 312).

It is unfortunate that no letter exists in which Jane writes Cassandra her impressions of Carlton House and the Prince’s request – it surely must have been written – how could Austen resist sharing her thoughts about Clarke and Carlton House with her sister! – it is likely one of those that Cassandra felt could not be passed on perhaps for its anti-P.R. sentiments. – In Letter 128 to Cassandra (Le Faye, 300), Austen writes “I did mention the P.R.- in my note to Mr. Murray, it brought me a fine compliment in return…” – which seems to indicate that Austen had written just previously to Cassandra about this request for a dedication.  But all we have is Austen’s very humorous dedication to Emma:







Carlton House staircase

Further reading:


[Images from the Wikipedia article on Carlton House]

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We welcome today Margaret Harrington of JASNA-Vermont as she shares her thoughts on and several pictures from the 2015 Jane Austen Summer Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill that she attended in June.


My Rave for the 3rd Annual JASP

EMMA At 200”

The Jane Austen Summer Program 2015
University Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

by Margaret Harrington, JASNA-Vermont


Hope G – JASNA-Vermont fashionista

I had an excellent experience at this year’s Jane Austen Summer Program because I gained new insights into the marvelous book, Emma, and had a good time doing it. The JASP co-directors, Dr. Inger Brody and Dr. James Thompson, planned everything so astutely that each lecture flowed naturally into the following event and led participants happily up the road to new discoveries about Jane Austen. In my opinion, Emma is Austen’s most deeply realized character and she lives and breathes in Austen’s most intricately structured rural society, so it was a consummate pleasure to attend this conference and to come away with a deeper understanding of the book.

Participants were greeted warmly by the graduate students and volunteers. Every day and evening of the conference we were engaged with knowledgeable lecturers and wonderful events, plus dance instruction for the ball.

Highlights were Game Night, the Box Hill Picnic at Ayr Mount, and of course the welcoming dinner, the Duchess of Richmond’s Regency Ball and a delightful production of Austen’s “Henry and Eliza” by the UNC players.

These pictures feature Hope Greenberg from JASNA-Vermont who wore different costumes of her own making for every occasion.

I certainly plan to return for next year’s JASP and Mansfield Park.


Hope turbaned…




Hope off her swing


Box Hill anyone?


Presenting “Henry and Eliza”


Deciphering Emma‘s many puzzles


Off to the Duchess of Richmond’s Regency Ball…


Learning to not dance like a savage … (oops! wrong book…)


“…she had herself the highest value for Elegance…”


Thank you Margaret for sharing your photos with us (but alas! none of you!) – it looks to have been a grand time!


For more information on the JASP “Emma at 200” you can see the full schedule here. But rather than feeling sad that you missed it all this year, you can already start planning to participate in next year’s JASP – read about it here:

Fourth Annual Jane Austen Summer Program

Mansfield Park & its Afterlives”

June 16-19, 2016

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The JASP website is worth a visit: it offers several teaching guides based on the various talks at JASP: on food, medicine, games, and class status in Emma, Austen’s use of free indirect discourse, an adaptation of “Henry and Eliza” – among others – good stuff here! http://janeaustensummer.org/teaching-guides/


And finally, JASP offers a replica of this beautiful Jane Austen bracelet as a fund-raiser for the Jane Austen Summer Program. Cost is $120.00 plus $5 shipping fees. You can order it here.

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont, photos courtesy of Margaret Harringon

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A great article on Emma by Janine Barchas:


Tastes of Home in Emma

                                           by Dr Janine Barchas

Whereas Marcel Proust offers us one evocative madeleine, Jane Austen talks of pork, apples, and cheeses.

I was born in Holland, where I spent my childhood in Den Haag until the age of eleven. I now live in Texas and, like all displaced souls around the globe, know what it is like to crave foods whose tastes and smells convey a sense of home (for me that includes hagelslag, stroopwafels, oude kaas, pannekoeken met spek, and, of course, verse haring). Although my fancy local grocery store in Austin, Texas, now carries many of the Dutch foods from my youth (or the ingredients that would allow me to make them myself), part of me protests the very idea of relocated delicacies. Some foods are simply not going to taste the same in a different place. Eating imported stroopwafels in Texas (perversely made with honey instead of echte stroop) violates a palpable sense of authenticity and belonging.

In many respects, Emma is a novel about that sense of belonging to a certain place, which Austen rather grandly refers to as “amor patriae.” Remarkably, in Emma the central action never leaves Highbury, a small imaginary village in Surrey. All of Austen’s other heroines, whatever their financial or social dependence, traverse significant geographic distances, travelling by necessity or pleasure to multiple counties and towns, including fashionable cities like London and Bath, or seaside resorts like Lyme Regis. But the “handsome, clever, and rich” Emma Woodhouse has never seen the sea and admits that the picnic at celebrated Box Hill, a mere seven miles away, is her first-ever sojourn to even this nearby tourist spot. Critics are divided about the novel’s narrow focus, with some warming to Emma’s small-town setting as snug or consoling and others detecting an acute claustrophobia or constant dread of feeling trapped and boxed in (think of all those puns hiding in Box Hill and Boxing Day)….

Continue reading at the Jane Austen Society Nederland website – Barchas on Emma.


barchas-janineJanine Barchas is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is the author of  Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity (Johns Hopkins University Press, August 2012).  Her  first book, Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Cambridge UP, 2003), won the SHARP book prize for best work in the field of book history.  You can visit (and spend hours browsing!) her online digital project What Jane Saw (www.whatjanesaw.org) which includes the gallery of the British Institution that Jane Austen visited on May 24, 1813. Look for the upcoming “Shakespeare Gallery of 1796” on this website as well . Barchas, along with colleague Kristina Straub, will be curating an exhibition at the Folger on Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity – look for this in 2016.

c2015, Janine Barchas

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It only seems fitting to end 2014 with a final nod to Mansfield Park. My intention of course had been to spend the entire year discussing the various illustrators of this novel over the past 200 years, but alas! such best intentions are all I have to offer up – so here is the first and final post on illustrating Mansfield Park!


[Source: StrangeGirl.com]

When Macdonald & Co. (London) published its first volume of Jane Austen’s work in 1948, Emma was the chosen work, with Philip Gough as illustrator. It was the 4thvolume in the Macdonald Illustrated Classics series. It is a small book, under 8 inches, bound in red leatherette, with a frontispiece and six full-page plates of watercolor drawings by Gough. There is no introduction. Macdonald published its next Jane Austen in this series in 1951 – Pride and Prejudice, with illustrations again by Gough and again no introduction.  If you are lucky enough to have all the six volumes published by Macdonald, you will see that they appear to be a set, all with the same binding and all illustrated by Gough – but they were published over a period of years from 1948 to 1961 as follows – with the No. in the Macdonald series in ():

  • 1948 – Emma (No. 4)
  • 1951 – Pride & Prejudice (No. 23)
  • 1957 – Mansfield Park (No. 34); introduction by Q. D. Leavis
  • 1958 – Sense & Sensibility (No. 37), with Lady Susan and The Watsons; intro by Q. D. Leavis
  • 1961 – Northanger Abbey (No. 40); intro by Malcolm Elwin
  • 1961 – Perusasion (No. 41); intro by Malcolm Elwin

Not sure why Leavis did not do the other introductions – her essays on Jane Austen are magnificent, and a definite must-have for your Austen library. Her Mansfield Park introduction, after stating that MP is “now recognized as the most interesting and important of the Austen novels,” gives us a brief summary of Austen’s life and times, then writes of her theories that Lady Susan is the matrix of Mansfield Park, that Austen was “soaked in Shakespeare,” that the Sotherton sequence  is one of the “most remarkable in any English novel” where all the action is symbolic and how its pattern of events is “exactly and awfully repeated” in the final outcome of the book, and finally how Mansfield Park is really a tragedy “in spite of the appearance of a happy ending.”


There is little known about Philip Gough and I cannot find much researching the internet other than he was born in 1908, illustrated a number of children’s books, this Jane Austen series from Macdonald, and a goodly number of dust jackets for Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels.

But it is worth noting that in the introduction to the 1961 Persuasion by Malcolm Elwin (and also quoted by David Gilson in his entry E327 on this edition), Elwin states that the drawings of Hugh Thomson are said to be “too Victorian in their sentimentality to suit the spirit and period of the novels” – and that “Mr. Gough has shown himself a student of the Regency period, and many sound critics have judged him to have succeeded in conveying the subtlety of Jane Austen’s satiric humour.” Gilson also notes a TLS review of this edition (10 November 1961, 810), quoting that “Philip Gough’s illustrations have their own brand of sentimentality, this time of the pretty-pretty sub-Rex Whistler variety.”

Now I confess to having to google Rex Whistler, and find that there was an exhibition of his works at the Salisbury Museum in 2013: http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/rex-whistler-talent-cut-short

Here is a Whistler drawing to better understand the “pretty-pretty” the TLS critic was referring to:


 [Source: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/aug/25/rex-whistler-british-artist-exhibition ]

How easy it is to get off-track when researching!

Children’s literature
: Gough’s illustrations for children’s works range from Alice in Wonderland for the Heirloom Library to Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales:


[Source:  https://aliceintheinternet.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/alice-illustrated-by-philip-gough/ ]

Gough-Andersen FT-Abe

 [Source: Abebooks: http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=14347377033&searchurl =an%3Dhans+christian+andersen+philip+gough ] 

GoodReads has a starting list of books illustrated by Gough – this is not complete, as I find in a quick search on WorldCat a number of titles not listed, so if you know of others, please add to this GoodReads list!


Georgette Heyer: Philip Gough was one of Heyer’s favorite dust jacket illustrators (another was Arthur Barbosa) – you can see many of the jackets here.

But here are a few of your favorite Heyers – and clearly signed by Gough:

Illustrating Jane Austen:

Gough’s watercolors for the Jane Austen novels have a tendency toward “Pretty in Pink” (as they do for Heyer) – indeed I have always looked rather wide-eyed at the abundance of Pink in his Pride and Prejudice – especially in this portrait of Mr. Darcy at the pianoforte…!

You can see all the Emma watercolors here, where again, and as evident in the Gough illustration opening this post, you see one dominant color  – it seems that Gough equated the Regency period and Jane Austen with the feminine Pink! https://www.fulltable.com/vts/aoi/g/emma/a.htm

But now to our Mansfield Park, with Gough’s illustrations in the order as they appear in the book:



TitlePage-MP-Gough 2-ChapHeadV1C1-Gough 3-Carriage drove off-Gough 4-SpeakFanny-Gough (2) 5-ThorntonLacy 6-Astonished-Crawford-Gough 7-FannyIntroduce-Gough 8-FannyEdmundTrees-Gough

Now, go back and look at the illustrations and think about these questions [and comment below with your thoughts…]:

  • Do the illustrations tell the story?
  • Does Gough get the characters right?
  • Why do you think the illustrator chose these scenes to depict? Would you have chosen other scenes?
  • Do they give a sense of the time and place, the setting of MP?
  • Does anything in the illustrations give a clue to Gough’s time rather than the time of the novel?
  • Does Gough get anything really wrong?
  • Do you have another illustrated edition of MP that you think conveys the story better than these??

Please leave a comment on any and all of these questions – I am interested in your thoughts and welcome the chance to hear from you as we end this year-long celebration of Mansfield Park!

Wishing all a Very Happy New Year!

2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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[Vintage postcard, Thomas Nast illustration]

Wishing all of my Jane Austen in Vermont readers
a Very Merry Christmas,
and Festive and Joyful Holidays!


And just to keep us in the Jane Austen spirit [what we are here for after all!],
here is a post from a few years ago on Jane Austen’s very own Scrooge! Can you guess who??


Emma - Christmas weather

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Gentle Readers: Today I welcome Tony Grant who has written for us a post on Box Hill. I had the pleasure this spring to spend a day with Tony, as he squired me around Southampton, Portsmouth and Box Hill – it was a rainy, quite miserable day, but the touring was grand, the company terrific! I’ve been to most of the Jane Austen sites – but not to anything we saw this day, from the Dolphin Inn to The Victory, and to the top of Box Hill – it was a world-wind tour of Jane, History, and Geology all rolled into one – Tony here tells of Box Hill, the infamous location that Austen chooses to place her Emma in one of her more self-illuminating “badly-done” scenes… with heartfelt thanks to Tony for the tour to the heart of it all…


A view of Box Hill, Surrey - George Lambert

A view of Box Hill, Surrey – George Lambert

Box Hill in Jane Austen’s Emma

On Monday 26th May this year, Deb Barnum [a.k.a. Jane Austen in Vermont] and I drove up to the top of Box Hill. The quickest route is to come off The London Road, known as the A24, which sweeps past the base of Box Hill, paralleling the River Mole, which itself, arcs around Box Hill to the south and west. The A24 leads south from Epsom towards Dorking. A mile before Dorking we turned left at Rykas Café, which is a popular venue for motorcyclists. We took a small B road, overhung with trees. An old rusty sign leaning out of the hedgerow on the left pointed its finger to the summit of Box Hill. We turned into a wooded and high hedged lane which began to immediately rise steeply, bending towards the right. We passed a weathered red brick cottage on the left, set within a ragged, vibrant country garden surrounded by high, smoothly manicured hedges bulging and swelling outwards in billowing shapes. The road soon opened out onto steeply rising chalk grassland. A precipitous drop on our right formed and a steep incline to our left reached upwards.

Box Hill summit 1Mist and cloud swirled around us as we mounted the hill along the switch back road. The corners made us turn almost back on ourselves but always took us to steeper and higher levels. The drop to the right revealed hedges of box and scrub, clinging tightly to the side of the hill, interspersed with finely cropped grasses. Chalky outcrops appeared to our left as we rose higher and higher amongst the mist and low clouds. As we neared the summit, trees and woodland gathered around us again. The squat whitewashed National Trust shop and café appeared in front of us and a car park was situated on the left amongst Scots Pines and firs.

We parked the car and I showed Deb the way to the viewpoint we had come to see. We were seven hundred and thirty-five feet above the River Mole and Dorking town was to our right. We could see far into the distance across the

Town of Dorking below

Town of Dorking below

woodlands and fields of Surrey. I suggested Deb take the part of Emma Woodhouse, who in Jane Austen’s novel of that name, visited this very spot with her friends and neighbours but she would have nothing of it. She would be Mrs Elton and nobody else. Deb stood and acclaimed the world standing high on the stone viewing plinth Leopold Salomons had erected in 1914, arms wide to the sky.

It was very near here that Emma Woodhouse and Mrs Elton and their party of friends alighted to picnic at the top of Box Hill in Jane Austen’s novel, Emma. The groups from Highbury and Hartfield, in the novel, have an inauspicious start to their trip, an inauspicious execution of it and an inauspicious end to it. It is a turning point in all their lives. The surface veneer begins to slip from various relationships. Reality begins to poke through Emmas carefully stage managed attempts of conducting other people’s lives. Nothing becomes certain. The Sucklings do not arrive at Hartfield and Mrs Elton’s plan of visiting Box Hill to show the Sucklings the views seems to lose its purpose but she has another thought and becomes adamant about the trip going ahead. The Sucklings can go another time. Mrs Elton’s idea about a trip to Box Hill has an effect on Emma. Emma does not want to be outdone. She has never visited Box Hill before and decides that,


“she wished to see what everybody found so well worth seeing…”

She discusses the trip with the amiable Mr Weston. He is perhaps too amenable and accommodating. In discussion with Mrs Elton he gets the approval of that lady that the two parties, hers and Emma’s join together for one combined trip to Box Hill. Emma is unhappy with the arrangement but as they will all go in different carriages with the people of their own choice perhaps it will not be so bad, she reasons. It would have been better if the horse that was to pull Emma’s carriage had stayed lame of course and so preventing Emma from going, but a quick recovery from this condition, inconveniently perhaps, gave no excuse for Emma not to proceed. A lame horse is a rather lame Jane Austen joke, I think, sprung in the midst of such serious matters. Tongue in cheek comes to mind – a joke at Emma’s expense between Austen and the reader.

Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment, and everybody had a burst of admiration on first arriving; but in the general amount of the day there was deficiency. There was a languor, a want of spirits, a want of unison, which could not be got over. They separated too much into parties.

This is an interesting passage because Jane Austen seems uncertain. She lists a litany of possible causes for the lack of harmony. She can’t herself decide on one exact cause. This adds realism to the situation. We cannot explain everything in real life and neither can Austen in this scene in Emma.

Austen has Frank Churchill perpetrate, perhaps, a cruel joke, to divert attention from himself and Emma. He asks the ultimate psychoanalysts question, in Emma’s name of course. He whispers to her:

“Our companions are excessively stupid. What shall we do to rouse them? Any nonsense will serve. They shall talk….”

And then for all to hear,

“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.”

Emma immediately tries to nervously laugh the question off. She is taken unawares by this and denies she has anything to do with any such request. There is a desperation in her voice. There is almost fear. She knows she could not, “stand the brunt,” of such raw honesty.

“Let me hear any thing rather than what you are all thinking of.”

There are one or two perhaps, (glancing at Mr Weston and Harriet,) whose thoughts I might not be afraid of knowing.”

Who can or would want to express their real thoughts at the drop of a hat? Is it possible for anybody to express their exact thoughts as they are thinking them? Our relationships would be very strange and probably be put under incredible stresses if we did. Emma is naïve to think even that the thoughts of Mr Weston and Harriet would bear hearing. Our subconscious level is below manners and the social veneer we all carry. It would be delving into our primal depths. This is the sort of thing that Sigmund Freud tried to study and explore. Frank Churchill is being cruel and he knows that nobody would answer this, certainly not himself. Imagine what sort of story would be written if everybody told their thoughts? It is almost the final nail in the coffin of harmony and wellbeing amongst the group on Box Hill.

On the top of Box Hill

Deb as Mrs Elton

Deb and I certainly didn’t even approach such a question. Deb, as I said before was just happy to be Mrs Elton and of course Mrs Elton and Mr Elton walked away on their own at Frank Churchill’s question. I wonder what Mrs Elton thought about it?   Maybe Deb knows. As for my first suggestion to Deb to play Emma on the top of Box Hill; Emma is obviously an anti-hero. Neither Deb nor anybody else I have spoken to, would willingly be an Emma.


Standing high on Box Hill you notice the thinness of the grass under your feet. You see flints sticking out of the pathways and white chalk is revealed in patches everywhere. Box Hill is a geological phenomenon. The cretaceous chalk that comprises Box Hill, was laid down as the microscopic calcareous bodies of plankton on the floor of a tropical sea between 100 and 65 million years ago. Globally chalk is a rare rock formation so it makes the North Downs, of which Box Hill is part, a unique geological area. Originally it was laid as a horizontal chalk platform of uniform thickness. During the period the Alps were formed, about 50 million years ago, upheavals in the Earth’s crust forced this chalk layer into a vast dome. The northern most edge was where the North Downs are now. The dome stretched over to France. The British Isles were joined to the mainland of Europe then. Chalk, being a porous and relatively soft rock, it has been eroded and worn down by the actions of water. All that remains are the North Downs stretching from Guildford in Surrey, just south of London into the northern part Kent and The South Downs stretching from a line formed by the Itchen River between Southampton and Winchester in the west to The Cliffs of Dover on the coast of Kent in the East.

 Box Hill Bridge, Dorking – by Alfred Charles Jerome Collins
image: Dorking Museum

On the steep chalk slopes of Box Hill, the 394 feet escarpment and on the sides of the surrounding valleys, downland plants flourish. Because chalk is porous it hardly ever dries out, even in drought conditions which might affect the surrounding landscape. This means plants always have a ready water supply. It is said that plants on chalk downland have a brighter richer colour because of this. Plants such as hawk weed rock rose, bird’s foot trefoil, milkwort, squinancywort and dwarf thistle all thrive in this environment. Box woodland, which is extremely ancient, grows on the steep chalky, thin soiled slopes. It is one of the only trees that will grow in these conditions. The escarpments and valley sides face southwards which means it is often a hot exposed environment. Box Hill derives its name from the box that grows on it. Box has been around since probably the end of the Ice Age and perhaps before that. The characteristics of chalk downland are unique to Box Hill’s geology. There are dry valleys cut into the north side of the hill. This is where the River Mole, which runs under the escarpment of Box Hill has cut its course in the past and where drainage streams and rivulets flowed into it, but because the rocks are porous any streams and rivulets that remain are no longer on the surface but underground. Chalk is easily eroded so it gives a gentle undulating quality to the general landscape. On the steep slopes there are patches of bare chalk and these can gleam white in the sunshine.

Chalk from the North Downs has been quarried in the past. Surrey County Council had a quarry at Brockham nearby to Box Hill. It was used to quarry chalk that could be burned in kilns to produce lime and cement. These quarries, many of them now abandoned have been left to regenerate, plants and wild life and some are now places of special scientific interest. The quarries, because they have sides cut into the chalk, show the structure of the chalk particularly well.

Black Welsh Mountain Sheep - Box HIll

Black Welsh Mountain Sheep – Box Hill

image: National Trust – Box Hill

Chalk Down land is a special type of grassland habitat that is actually man made. Over centuries, sheep and cattle have been grazed on them. This has deforested the downland to a certain extent allowed unique wild flowers and animals, only found on downland, to flourish. To keep Box Hill’s downland quality a flock of sheep and a herd of cattle are grazed on it. The sheep on Box hill are Black Welsh Mountain sheep. There are twenty eight sheep, which are moved around the hill on a rotation.  Because sheep are ‘nibblers’ they leave the grass short and even. There are also cattle, which graze very differently. Cows use their tongues to rip plants up, which leads to more tufted grassland. The breed used on Box Hill are called Belted Galloway cattle. They can be recognised by their fluffy black bodies with a thick white belt around their middles. Four males graze Box Hill and nearby Headley Heath is grazed by three males and nine females. The animals are moved around Box Hill all the time.  If it ceased to be a grassland habitat, trees and woodland would take over and cover it. This would occur through a natural process called succession. This downland supports a great diversity of invertebrates including fourty one species of rare butterflies. The soil is good for snails too. Snails require the calcium in the chalk to form shells.

Box Hill FortHistory:

Box Hill has a varied history. The old fort, that can still be seen at the top of Box Hill, was built in the 1890’s and is one of thirteen that were built across the North Downs, collectively known as the London Defence System.. They were to be the last defence of London if Britain was ever invaded. In the late 1890’s there was a treaty with France called the entente cordial but Germany was beginning to increase its strength and many of the stresses and strains that eventually lead to the first world war were beginning to stir. Previously, in the 1860’s, during Palmerstone’s premiership, many forts had also been built around the coast of Britain to defend from a perceived threat from France then. The forts on Box Hill and across the North Downs were never used. I have visited and actually stayed in one of the forts, the fort on The Hogsback just outside of Guildford. It is owned by Surrey County Council and is used for parties of school children to stay at to enable them to explore and study wildlife and local history. The fort on The Hogs back contained officers quarters just outside the ramparts of the fort and a barracks for a small contingent of soldiers inside. The forts were basically armouries for storing shells, and explosives. They comprised of strongly reinforced chambers with specially constructed shelving. The one on The Hogsback had a large area of flat land in front of it on which  artillery could be positioned if required. These forts were situated high on the downs,as much as  seven hundred feet above the surrounding countryside. The one on the top of Box Hill is dilapidated now and barred from entry. A rare breed of bats has lodged itself inside the fort and cannot be disturbed. To continue the military theme, there are stepping stones that cross the River Mole at the base of Box Hill. During the second world war they were removed to impede invading forces crossing the river. In the area you can also see examples of pill boxes, which were concrete bunkers installed with heavy machine guns and concrete tank traps. Interestingly at the top of Guildford High Street, next to the railway line cutting, hidden amongst dense trees, nowadays you can see a whole swathe of Second World War tank traps covered in ivy and moss.

Burford Hotel

Burford Hotel

Literary Connections:


John Keats in 1819, by Joseph Severn – wikipedia

Box Hill has inspired a number of classic authors, not just Jane Austen as I mentioned at the start. John Keats, Daniel Defoe, George Meredith and Robert Louis Stevenson all visited Box Hill. J. M Barrie used to sit on one of the slopes of Box Hill getting inspiration for Peter Pan.

The Romantic Movement, led by William Wordsworth, popularised communing with nature and Box Hill became a popular place to visit. John Keats completed his poem Endymion (1816) while staying at the Burford Hotel next to Box Hill. Its famous opening lines have inspired generations,

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us….”

John Logie Baird, the inventor of television, lived in the Swiss Cottage at the top of Box Hill. In the 1930’s he conducted his early experiments in television from the top to the valley below.

John Logie Baird

John Logie Baird

The strangest individual connected with Box Hill is Major Peter Labelliere. He requested that he be buried upside down on the top of the hill. He believed that the world would go topsy-turvy and that one day he would be the right way up. His other dying wish was that youngest son and daughter of his land lady should dance on his coffin.

One thing you notice, as a driver, on Box Hill is when you descend, especially, winding along the switch back road on steep sided slopes and cliffs that the road surface has had strange, almost aboriginal markings painted on it. Here and there are the hoops of the Olympic movement. In 2012, The Olympics came to London. However, many events were not confined to the capital. The cycling road races were staged in the beautiful leafy, countryside of Surrey. Box Hill was the steepest part of the long distance cycling road race, hence the artistic markings that still adorn the road surface of the road..

On our way back to London, I drove Deb towards Kingston. We passed through an area called Malden Rushett, near the Chessington World of Adventures. There is a small industrial estate, farming land, a pub called The Blue Anchor and an extensive garden centre in Malden Rushett nowadays. The long straight road that passes through this area from Dorking to Kingston was a coaching road in the 18th century. Nothing apart from fields with cattle and maybe wheat growing would have existed there then. If you look on a map you can measure from Malden Rushett cross roads, seven miles to Box Hill, sixteen miles to London, twelve miles to Richmond and nine miles to Kingston – the exact distances from Highbury and Hartfield that Jane Austen reveals in Emma.   I mentioned this to Deb as we drove along. I think she was impressed.

the view we saw in the mist

the view we saw in the mist

top of Box Hill in the mist

top of Box Hill in the mist

The Esteemed Author

The Esteemed Author

All images c2014 Tony Grant unless otherwise noted.

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Several interesting (and largely expensive!) items will be up for auction in the next month:

CHRISTIES: Sale 8952: Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, 18 June 2013, London.

P&Ptp - christies 6-18-13Lot 174: 

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Pride and Prejudice. London: T. Egerton, 1813. 3 volumes, 12° (173 x 115mm). (Lacking half-titles, P2 at end of volume one with small marginal repair, tiny orange marginal mark to L5v of vol. II and lighter mark on a few other leaves, some spotting occasionally heavier.) Contemporary calf (rebacked, extremities lightly rubbed).

Second edition. Pride and Prejudice was written between October 1796 and August 1797 when Jane Austen was not yet twenty-one, the same age, in fact, as her fictional heroine Elizabeth Bennet. After an early rejection by the publisher Cadell, Austen’s novel was finally bought by Egerton in 1812 for £110. It was published in late January 1813 in a small edition of approximately 1500 copies and sold for 18 shillings in boards. The present second edition is thought to have been published in October that same year. Gilson A4; Keynes 4. (3)

Estimate: £3,000 – £5,000 ($4,527 – $7,545)


Lot 175: 

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Sense and Sensibility, London: printed for the Author and published by T. Egerton, 1813. 3 volumes, 12° (176 x 105mm). (Lacking half-titles and without final blanks, occasional light spotting.) Contemporary calf, gilt spines (joints splitting, corners very lightly bumped, small blank stain to vol. II). S&S - Christies 6-18-13

Second edition of Jane Austen’s first published novel which grew from a sketch entitled Elinor and Marianne, written in 1795 in the form of letters; it was revised 1797-1798 at Steventon; and again in 1809-1810, the first year of Jane Austen’s residence at Chawton. Thomas Egerton undertook the publication of the first edition in 1813 on a commission basis, and Jane Austen ‘actually made a reserve from her very moderate income to meet the expected loss’. The price of the novel was 15 shillings in boards and advertisements first appeared for it on 30 October 1811. The present second edition is believed to have been printed in October 1813 as the first edition sold out in less than two years. Gilson A2; Keynes 2. (3)

Estimate: £3,000 – £5,000 ($4,527 – $7,545)

Lot 192:

SETS, English and French literature — AUSTEN, Jane. Works. Illustrated by C.E. Brock. London: 1907. 6 volumes, 8°. Contemporary red half calf, spines lettered in gilt (extremities rubbed). [With:] ELIOT, George. Works. Library Edition. Edinburgh: 1901. 10 volumes, 8°. Contemporary blue half roan, spine tooled in gilt (spines evenly faded, extremities rubbed). [And:] BALZAC, Honoré de. Oeuvres completes. Paris: 1869-1876. 24 volumes, 8°. Contemporary red half roan, spines lettered in gilt (extremities rubbed). And 5 related others [ie. Maupassant, Corneille, Rabelais, Macaulay] in 33 volumes, 12° and 8°. (73)

Estimate: £500 – £800 ($755 – $1,207)

PP lizzy - brock

Brock – P&P

[Image from Mollands]


Other items of interest at this Christie’s auction (i.e., what I would love to have!):

Lot 75:

ACKERMANN — Microcosm of London. London: T. Bensley for R. Ackermann [1808-1810, plates watermarked 1806-1808]. 3 volumes, 4° (330 x 272mm). Engraved titles, engraved dedication leaves, and 104 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Buck, Stadler and others after Rowlandson and Pugin. (Lacking half-titles, light offsetting from the plates onto the text, some text leaves evenly browned.) Late 19th- early 20th-century red half calf, spine gilt in compartments, morocco labels (spines lightly and evenly faded).

ackermann london - christies 6-18-13

ONE OF ACKERMANN’S FINEST BOOKS, the rumbustious figures of Rowlandson are the perfect foil to Pugin’s clear and accurate architectural settings. Printing continued for nearly 30 years but, as Abbey notes, the ‘original impressions of these splendid plates have a luminous quality entirely absent from later printings’. This copy is evidently bound from the original parts: with the first issue of the contents leaf in volume 1, and all the errata uncorrected in volumes 2 and 3, and 5 out of 6 errata corrected in volume 1. This copy shows 2 of Abbey’s first state points for the plates: at plates 8 and 11 in volume 1. Abbey Scenery 212; Tooley 7. (3)

Estimate: £3,000 – £5,000 ($4,527 – $7,545)


BONHAMSBooks, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs 20752, 19 Jun 2013 London.

Lot 139: 

S&S1st - bonhams 6-19-13[AUSTEN (JANE)]. Sense and Sensibility: a Novel. In Three Volumes. By a Lady, 3 vol., first edition, without half-titles, final blank leaf present in volume 2 only, some pale foxing and staining, contemporary calf, sides with gilt and blind-tooled borders, rebacked preserving most of original backstrips and red morocco labels [Keynes 1; Gilson A1; Sadleir 62a], 12mo (173 x 104mm.), Printed for the author, by C. Roworth… and published by T. Egerton, 1811. FIRST EDITION OF JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST PUBLISHED NOVEL. According to Keynes, Egerton printed no more than 1000 copies, priced at 15 shillings in boards; all were sold by the middle of 1813.

Estimate: £15,000 – 20,000  US$ 23,000 – 30,000 €18,000 – 23,000




Also of note in this auction: a first edition of Jane Eyre

Lot 147: 

[BRONTE (CHARLOTTE)]. Jane Eyre. An Autobiography, 3 vol., first edition, with all but two of the printing flaws listed by Smith, half-titles in each volume (but without the additional fly-leaf and advertisements), volume 2 with additional 8-page ‘Ready Money Price List of Drawing & Painting Materials… Alexander Hill’ tipped-in on front free endpaper (seemingly removed from other volumes), original price of “31/6” marked in pencil on front paste-down of volume 1, a few leaves slightly creased, some light foxing and occasional soiling in margins, UNTRIMMED IN PUBLISHER’S GREY BOARDS with grey/brown diaper half cloth spine, rubbed, spine label to volume 1 chipped with loss of 2 or 3 letters, split to lower joint of volume 2, crease to upper cover of volume 3, [Sadleir 346; Smith 2; Grolier, English 83], 8vo (199 x 122mm.), Smith, Elder, and Co., 1847janeeyre - bonhams 6-19-13



FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST BRONTE SISTERS NOVEL: AN EXTREMELY RARE VARIANT IN ORIGINAL BOARDS, ENTIRELY UNTRIMMED AND WITH THE ORIGINAL PRICE OF ’31/6′ MARKED IN PENCIL. The binding seems to correspond with Smith’s variant B (allowing for some fading of the cloth over the years), but with white rather than yellow endpapers and a further slight variation in the printed spine labels, those on the present set having no semi-colon after “Eyre” and the words “In Three Volumes” inserted above the volume number. We can find no trace of any other copy in original boards having sold at auction.

Provenance: the tipped-in small price list of drawing and painting materials suggests an Edinburgh connection at or soon after the time of publication. Alexander Hill (of Princes Street, Edinburgh, younger brother of the painter David Octavius Hill) was publisher, artists’ colourman and printer to the Royal Scottish Academy from 1830 until his death in 1866. In 1847 he was also appointed printseller and publisher in Edinburgh to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (see National Archives, LC 5/243 p.61). The price list tipped-in to this copy gives Hill’s address as 67 Princes Street, where he had a shop from 1839 until his death, and mentions the royal appointment, reference to which he seems to have dropped by 1853.

Estimate: £30,000 – 50,000  US$ 45,000 – 75,000 €35,000 – 58,000


BONHAMS:  Fine Books and Manuscripts 20981: June 25, 2013, New York

Lot 3259

[Austen, Jane]. Northanger Abbey: and Persuasion. With a Biographical Notice of the Author. London: John Murray, 1818. 4 volumes. 12mo (180 x 105 mm). [2], xxiv, 300; [2], 331, [2], 280; [2], 308 pp. Without half-titles. Period half calf over marbled boards, spines gilt. Extremities rubbed, typical light spotting and toning, pp 251-262 in vol 3 creased at outer margin, ffep. in vol 1 loose, volume 4 more so with a crack down spine, a little re-touching to vol 2 spine.

NA P 4v- Bonhams image

Provenance: T. Hope (early ownership stamps); purchased by the family of the current owner in 1960 from McDonald Booth. FIRST EDITION IN CONTEMPORARY BINDING of Jane Austen’s last published work, issued a year after her death. Persuasion was in fact her first novel, but its first appearance is in this set. This was also her only four-volume publication, all previous works were issued in “triple-deckers.” Gilson A9; Sadleir 62e.

Estimate:  US$ 5,000 – 8,000 £3,300 – 5,300 €3,900 – 6,200


Lot 3260: 

E - bonhams 

[Austen, Jane]. Emma: A Novel. In Three Volumes. By the author of “Pride and Prejudice” &c. &c. London: Printed for John Murray, 1816. 3 volumes. 12mo (176 x 112 mm). [6], 322; [2], 351, [1]; [4], 363, [1 ad] pp. Half-titles in vols 1 & 2. Old green marbled boards rebacked to style in calf, green morocco spine labels. Intermittent spotting and browning; vol 2 L8 with corner tear crossing a few letters.

FIRST EDITION. Emma is the only one of Jane Austen’s novels to bear a dedication, to the Prince Regent. It was her fourth novel to be published with a print run of 2000 copies. Gilson A8; Sadleir 62d.

Estimate:  US$ 8,000 – 12,000 £5,300 – 8,000  €6,200 – 9,300


And finally, this letter from Frances Burney to her father comes to auction in just a few days:

Dreweatts / Bloomsbury auction: Important Books & Manuscripts – 30th Anniversary Sale,30 May 2013 London

Lot 171:  

burney letter - dreweatts 5-30-13

Burney  (Frances [Fanny], married name D’Arblay, writer, 1752-1840) Autograph Letter initialled “FB d’A” to her father, Charles Burney, “My dearly beloved Padre”, 4pp. with address panel, 8vo, Chenies Street, 12th June 1813, lamenting that she had not been able to visit him, “but some Giant comes always in the way. Twice I have expected Charles [Charles Burney (1757-1817), schoolmaster and book collector; brother of Fanny], to convey me: but his other engagements have made him arrive too late”, social activities, “Yesterday I dined with Lady Lansdowne, & found her remarkably amiable. She is niece to a person with whom I was particularly acquainted of old, at the Queen’s house, Mr. Digby, who was vice Chamberlain; & that made a little opening to converse… Lady Anne was in high spirits, & full of sportive talk & exhilarating smiles. We had no sort of political talk. All was elegant, pleasing, & literary”, and Sir Joshua Reynolds portrait of Dr Burney, “Every body talks of your portrait at Sir Joshua’s exhibition, & concurs in saying it is one of the best that greatest of English Masters ever painted. I have not yet, to my infinite regret, found time for going thither. Mrs. Waddington will positively take me once to Chelsea, to pay her respects to you; but she is prepared for being denied your sight, if you should be ill-disposed for company. Sally must see her at all events: besides she is a great admirer of Traits of Nature”, ink postal stamp, remains of red wax seal, folds, slightly browned.

*** Unpublished; not in The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame D’Arblay), edited by Joyce Hemlow & others, Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1972-75.

Estimate: £3,000-4,000

[Images and text from the respective auction sites]

c2013, Jane Austen in Vermont

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