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Showing posts from April, 2008

Jane Austen's House

Jane Austen revised the book that was to become Pride and Prejudice from Jane Austen's House at Chawton. After Jane's father died in Bath in 1805, the Austen women found themselves in very reduced financial circumstances. They moved to Southampton for a while to live with Jane's brother Francis and his wife Mary and in 1809 were finally settled at Chawton in a cottage on her brother Edward's estate. It seems that Jane felt very happy here. Her sister Cassandra took on much of the domestic duties allowing Jane to write. The manuscripts she had worked on in the 1790's were brought out again. Sense and Sensibility was the first to be revised and her brother Henry was instrumental in getting it published and helping to pay an advance on the printing costs. Such was the success of this book, that when Pride and Prejudice was published in 1812 Thomas Egerton paid 110 pounds for the copyright.
Jane Austen's house is now a museum dedicated to the author. There is a won…

Jane Austen in Queen Square, Bath, 1799

Jane Austen wrote the following extracts to her sister from number 13, Queen's Square, on Friday May 17, 1799. She was 23 years of age and had come to Bath with her mother and her brother Edward and his wife. The first photo shows me standing outside the house on Queen Square where they stayed. It is a moment's walk from the shops in Milsom Street and very handy for the Pump Rooms and Baths. Edward was there to try the waters for his health. This is what Jane had to say about their lodgings.

We are exceedingly pleased with the house; the rooms are quite as large as we expected. Mrs. Bromley is a fat woman in mourning, and a little black kitten runs about the staircase. Elizabeth has the apartment within the drawing-room; she wanted my mother to have it, but as there was no bed in the inner one, and the stairs are so much easier of ascent, or my mother so much stronger than in Paragon as not to regard the double flight, it is settled for us to be above, where we have two very ni…

Eloping with Mr Wickham

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice we learn that Lydia Bennet runs away with Mr Wickham. I always wondered how Mr Wickham and Lydia finally came to be together in Brighton and how he persuaded her that it was a good idea to elope. I don't want to spoil their story by revealing all but here is an extract from a scene prior to their elopement. I used the Lydia letter that Jane Austen wrote but we see the scene through Lydia's eyes. She is excited and so in love with her 'angel' that all she can think about is how they can be together at last.
Lydia ran to her room, retrieved her bundle and was about to go, when she was taken by the idea that she could not disappear without leaving Harriet with a hint of where she had gone. She sat down at the desk in front of the window to compose her letter. As she reached for her pen and dipped the quill in the black ink, she was overwhelmed by a desire for mirth. She tried to steady her nerves, breathing the salt tang coming in o…

Elizabeth Bennet encounters Mr Darcy

I love the following extract from chapter three of Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen cleverly shows the characters of Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy by illustrating their behaviour and attitude to dancing in a few sentences. It's the beginning of a long 'dance' between our beloved heroine and hero, Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy!

Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two dances; and during part of that time Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation between him and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes, to press his friend to join it.

"Come, Darcy," said he, "I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance."

"I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable. Your sisters are…

Lydia's Elopement - Another Exchange of Letters between Lydia and Lucy

Lydia, my dear,

I have had the most awful time keeping your secret. If I do not reveal your whereabouts with Mr Wickham, my papa threatens to cut off my pin money and send me packing to live with my Aunt Beatrice – who, I am sure, you will hardly recall, for she is so dreadfully dull and boring! However, I am hardened in my resolve to help you, and my lips remain sealed.

Mr Bennet and Mr Gardiner have been beating down the doors in Brighton, searching for any clues that might lead them to you. My papa says Mr Wickham should be horsewhipped for having abducted you, and for placing your family in such an untenable situation. He declares that none of your sisters will ever make advantageous marriages now. And I must admit, this situation has all the earmarks of a most spectacular SCANDAL.

To be sure, your Mr Wickham is ever so handsome and dashing. Still, I shall always wonder how you found the courage to run off with him. (La, what a silly observation. You are the MOST adventuresome per…