The King’s Speech: Best actor, Best film, Best director, Best screenplay. Best all around.
Archive for February, 2011
Posted in Blake Ritson, jane austen, Jane Austen Novels, Jane Austen's World, Mark Strong, tagged Alan Cumming, Dominic Rowan, Emma Woodhouse, Gwynneth Paltrow, Harriet Smith, Louise Dylan, Mr. Elton, Mr. Knightley, Mr. Woodhouse, Romola Garai, Samantha Bond, Toni Collette on February 26, 2011| 5 Comments »
In the early chapters of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma, the reader learns that Emma “will never submit to any thing requiring industry and patience”, and that none of her portraits had ever been finished (although she had made some progress in drawing, considering the little labour she had submitted to). Steadiness and practice had always been wanting, preventing her from becoming an expert in this area.
In Volume 1, Chapter 6, Emma paints a watercolor likeness of Miss Smith in an attempt to draw Mr. Elton closer to Miss Smith. In Mr. Elton’s mind, the painting sessions present him with an opportunity to spend more time with Emma and toady up to her. Recent Emma film adaptations have captured this scene wonderfully, as you can see from the images that accompany Jane Austen’s text.
Did you ever have your likeness taken, Harriet?” said she: “did you ever sit for your picture?”
Harriet was on the point of leaving the room, and only stopt to say, with a very interesting naïveté,
“Oh! dear, no, never.”
No sooner was she out of sight, than Emma exclaimed,
“What an exquisite possession a good picture of her would be! I would give any money for it. I almost long to attempt her likeness myself. You do not know it I dare say, but two or three years ago I had a great passion for taking likenesses, and attempted several of my friends, and was thought to have a tolerable eye in general. But from one cause or another, I gave it up in disgust. But really, I could almost venture, if Harriet would sit to me. It would be such a delight to have her picture!”
“Let me entreat you,” cried Mr. Elton; “it would indeed be a delight! Let me entreat you, Miss Woodhouse, to exercise so charming a talent in favour of your friend. I know what your drawings are. How could you suppose me ignorant? Is not this room rich in specimens of your landscapes and flowers; and has not Mrs. Weston some inimitable figure-pieces in her drawing-room, at Randalls?”
Yes, good man!—thought Emma—but what has all that to do with taking likenesses? You know nothing of drawing. Don’t pretend to be in raptures about mine. Keep your raptures for Harriet’s face. “Well, if you give me such kind encouragement, Mr. Elton, I believe I shall try what I can do. Harriet’s features are very delicate, which makes a likeness difficult; and yet there is a peculiarity in the shape of the eye and the lines about the mouth which one ought to catch.”
“Exactly so—The shape of the eye and the lines about the mouth—I have not a doubt of your success. Pray, pray attempt it. As you will do it, it will indeed, to use your own words, be an exquisite possession.”
“But I am afraid, Mr. Elton, Harriet will not like to sit. She thinks so little of her own beauty. Did not you observe her manner of answering me? How completely it meant, ‘why should my picture be drawn?'”
“Oh! yes, I observed it, I assure you. It was not lost on me. But still I cannot imagine she would not be persuaded.”
Harriet was soon back again, and the proposal almost immediately made; and she had no scruples which could stand many minutes against the earnest pressing of both the others. Emma wished to go to work directly, and therefore produced the portfolio containing her various attempts at portraits, for not one of them had ever been finished, that they might decide together on the best size for Harriet. Her many beginnings were displayed. Miniatures, half-lengths, whole-lengths, pencil, crayon, and water-colours had been all tried in turn. She had always wanted to do everything, and had made more progress both in drawing and music than many might have done with so little labour as she would ever submit to. She played and sang;—and drew in almost every style; but steadiness had always been wanting; and in nothing had she approached the degree of excellence which she would have been glad to command, and ought not to have failed of. She was not much deceived as to her own skill either as an artist or a musician, but she was not unwilling to have others deceived, or sorry to know her reputation for accomplishment often higher than it deserved.
There was merit in every drawing—in the least finished, perhaps the most; her style was spirited; but had there been much less, or had there been ten times more, the delight and admiration of her two companions would have been the same. They were both in exstasies. A likeness pleases every body; and Miss Woodhouse’s performances must be capital.
“No great variety of faces for you,” said Emma. “I had only my own family to study from. There is my father—another of my father—but the idea of sitting for his picture made him so nervous, that I could only take him by stealth; neither of them very like therefore. Mrs. Weston again, and again, and again, you see. Dear Mrs. Weston! always my kindest friend on every occasion. She would sit whenever I asked her. There is my sister; and really quite her own little elegant figure!—and the face not unlike. I should have made a good likeness of her, if she would have sat longer, but she was in such a hurry to have me draw her four children that she would not be quiet. Then, here come all my attempts at three of those four children;—there they are, Henry and John and Bella, from one end of the sheet to the other, and any one of them might do for any one of the rest. She was so eager to have them drawn that I could not refuse; but there is no making children of three or four years old stand still you know; nor can it be very easy to take any likeness of them, beyond the air and complexion, unless they are coarser featured than any of mama’s children ever were. Here is my sketch of the fourth, who was a baby. I took him, as he was sleeping on the sofa, and it is as strong a likeness of his cockade as you would wish to see. He had nestled down his head most conveniently. That’s very like. I am rather proud of little George. The corner of the sofa is very good. Then here is my last,”—unclosing a pretty sketch of a gentleman in small size, whole-length—”my last and my best—my brother, Mr. John Knightley. —This did not want much of being finished, when I put it away in a pet, and vowed I would never take another likeness. I could not help being provoked; for after all my pains, and when I had really made a very good likeness of it—(Mrs. Weston and I were quite agreed in thinking it very like)—only too handsome—too flattering—but that was a fault on the right side—after all this, came poor dear Isabella’s cold approbation of—”Yes, it was a little like—but to be sure it did not do him justice.” We had had a great deal of trouble in persuading him to sit at all. It was made a great favour of; and altogether it was more than I could bear; and so I never would finish it, to have it apologised over as an unfavourable likeness, to every morning visitor in Brunswick-square;—and, as I said, I did then forswear ever drawing anybody again. But for Harriet’s sake, or rather for my own, and as there are no husbands and wives in the case at present, I will break my resolution now.”
Mr. Elton seemed very properly struck and delighted by the idea, and was repeating, “No husbands and wives in the case at present indeed, as you observe. Exactly so. No husbands and wives,” with so interesting a consciousness, that Emma began to consider whether she had not better leave them together at once. But as she wanted to be drawing, the declaration must wait a little longer.
She had soon fixed on the size and sort of portrait. It was to be a whole-length in water-colours, like Mr. John Knightley’s, and was destined, if she could please herself, to hold a very honourable station over the mantelpiece.
The sitting began; and Harriet, smiling and blushing, and afraid of not keeping her attitude and countenance, presented a very sweet mixture of youthful expression to the steady eyes of the artist. But there was no doing anything, with Mr. Elton fidgeting behind her and watching every touch. She gave him credit for stationing himself where he might gaze and gaze again without offence; but was really obliged to put an end to it, and request him to place himself elsewhere. It then occurred to her to employ him in reading.
“If he would be so good as to read to them, it would be a kindness indeed! It would amuse away the difficulties of her part, and lessen the irksomeness of Miss Smith’s.”
Mr. Elton was only too happy. Harriet listened, and Emma drew in peace. She must allow him to be still frequently coming to look; any thing less would certainly have been too little in a lover; and he was ready at the smallest intermission of the pencil, to jump up and see the progress, and be charmed.—There was no being displeased with such an encourager, for his admiration made him discern a likeness almost before it was possible. She could not respect his eye, but his love and his complaisance were unexceptionable.
The sitting was altogether very satisfactory; she was quite enough pleased with the first day’s sketch to wish to go on. There was no want of likeness, she had been fortunate in the attitude, and as she meant to throw in a little improvement to the figure, to give a little more height, and considerably more elegance, she had great confidence of its being in every way a pretty drawing at last, and of its filling its destined place with credit to them both—a standing memorial of the beauty of one, the skill of the other, and the friendship of both; with as many other agreeable associations as Mr. Elton’s very promising attachment was likely to add.
Harriet was to sit again the next day; and Mr. Elton, just as he ought, entreated for the permission of attending and reading to them again.
“By all means. We shall be most happy to consider you as one of the party.”
The same civilities and courtesies, the same success and satisfaction, took place on the morrow, and accompanied the whole progress of the picture, which was rapid and happy. Every body who saw it was pleased, but Mr. Elton was in continual raptures, and defended it through every criticism.
“Miss Woodhouse has given her friend the only beauty she wanted,”—observed Mrs. Weston to him—not in the least suspecting that she was addressing a lover.—”The expression of the eye is most correct, but Miss Smith has not those eye-brows and eye-lashes. It is the fault of her face that she has them not.”
“Do you think so?” replied he. “I cannot agree with you. It appears to me a most perfect resemblance in every feature. I never saw such a likeness in my life. We must allow for the effect of shade, you know.”
“You have made her too tall, Emma,” said Mr. Knightley.
Emma knew that she had, but would not own it, and Mr. Elton warmly added,
“Oh, no! certainly not too tall; not in the least too tall. Consider, she is sitting down—which naturally presents a different—which in short gives exactly the idea—and the proportions must be preserved, you know. Proportions, fore-shortening.—Oh, no! it gives one exactly the idea of such a height as Miss Smith’s. Exactly so indeed!”
“It is very pretty,” said Mr. Woodhouse. “So prettily done! Just as your drawings always are, my dear. I do not know any body who draws so well as you do. The only thing I do not thoroughly like is, that she seems to be sitting out of doors, with only a little shawl over her shoulders—and it makes one think she must catch cold.”
“But, my dear papa, it is supposed to be summer; a warm day in summer. Look at the tree.”
“But it is never safe to sit out of doors, my dear.”
“You, sir, may say any thing,” cried Mr. Elton; “but I must confess that I regard it as a most happy thought, the placing of Miss Smith out of doors; and the tree is touched with such inimitable spirit! Any other situation would have been much less in character. The naïveté of Miss Smith’s manners—and altogether—Oh, it is most admirable! I cannot keep my eyes from it. I never saw such a likeness.”
Mr. Elton expressed his extreme gratification by offering to ride to London in December to have the picture framed, leaving Emma with these happy but largely erroneous thoughts:
“This man is almost too gallant to be in love,” thought Emma. “I should say so, but that I suppose there may be a hundred different ways of being in love. He is an excellent young man and will suit Harriet exactly: it will be an ‘exactly so’ as he says himself; but he does sigh and languish, and study for compliments rather more than I could endure as a principal. I come in for a pretty good share as a second, But it is his gratitude on Harriet’s account.”
Posted in Fashions, jane austen, Jane Austen's World, Regency Life, Regency Period, Regency style, Regency World, tagged Brighton, Dress for Excess, Regency Fashion, Royal Pavilion on February 25, 2011| 15 Comments »
Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England, opened on February 5 and will run for a full year. The cost of the exhibition is free for those who purchase tickets to see the Royal Pavilion & Museums at Brighton.
The fashions look at the life of George IV as Prince, Regent and King through the clothes of the late Georgian period and how they have influenced fashions today. The king’s silk and velvet coronation robe, trimmed in ermine and over 16 feet in length, will be on public display for the first time in 30 years. Other clothes in the exhibition include a dandy’s costume, military uniform worn at the Battle of Waterloo, and neoclassical influenced silk and muslin gowns.
The costumes are displayed in rooms in the Royal Pavilion. The links below feature a number of beautiful examples in the exhibition. Lucky is the person who plans to visit Brighton within this calendar year!
- Dress for Excess photo stream.
- Brighton and Hove photostream
- Online Bookings to the Exhibit
- Regency Garments for Brighton Museum
- Dress for Excess: Austenonly
- The Brighton Magazine: Dress for Excess
- Making the Most of the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Posted in Book review, Historic Publications, History, Jane Austen's World, tagged 19th Century, American First Lady, Charles Worth, Julia Dent Grant, Madame Virot, Ulysses S. Grant on February 23, 2011| 5 Comments »
The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant), edited by John Y. Simon, Southern Illinois University Press, on Amazon, a review by Patty of Brandyparfums.com
I’m rereading this fantastic, romantic book, and I thought of readers who should be acquainted with this literary gem. Any Regency reader would love Julia Dent Grant’s charming memoirs which due to failing eyesight she dictated to her son or secretary. Her eloquence is astonishing – at once dramatic and poetic. There are many references to things English since she and Ulysses met the Queen during their world tour. They also dined at Apsley House. Daughter Nellie married an Englishman and went to live in England. Here are some of the beautiful, moving passages:
“My first recollections in life reach back a long way, more than three-score years and ten now……..Dear papa, coming out with great pleasure, caught me, held me up in the air, telling me to look, the very trees were welcoming me, and, sure enough, the tall locust trees were tossing their white-plumed branches gleefully.”
“Such delightful rides we all used to take! The Lieutenant [Ulysses] rode a bonny brown steed with flowing wavy mane and tail. He called him Fashion. My horse was a beauty, a chestnut brown, and as glossy as satin, and such pretty ears and great eyes. She was part Arabian, and I named her Psyche. Such rides! in the early spring, the tender young foliage scarcely throwing a shadow…..he was always by my side.”
There’s information about Lincoln and the assassination that isn’t found in most history books. The day of the assassination, Julia was visited by one of the conspirators wearing “a shabby hat.” –
I thought it was the bellboy with cards. ‘What do you want?’ He reddened and, bowing, said, “This is Mrs. Grant?” I bowed assent. “Mrs. Lincoln sends me, Madam, with her compliments, to say she will call for you at exactly eight o’clock to go to the theatre.” To this I replied with some feeling (not liking either the looks of the messenger or the message, thinking the former savored of discourtesy and the latter seemed like a command), ‘You may tell Mrs. Lincoln that as General Grant and I intend leaving the city this afternoon, we will not therefore be here to accompany the President and Mrs. Lincoln to the theatre.”
Later that afternoon at a late lunch in the Willard, the conspirators sit at a table starring at Julia –
He seemed to be intent on what we and the children were saying. I thought he was crazy.”
When the Grants hold their first few White House receptions, Julia wrote about the young peoples’ luncheon and it reminded me of a Heyer novel –
The young peoples’ luncheon is a memory of dimples, smiles, gleaming white shoulders, of lace and flowers and tender glances – a pleasant memory to me.”
The Grants go to the grand Apsley House for a dinner given by the second duke of Wellington. Julia wonders, “This great house was presented to Wellington by the government for a single victory at Waterloo along with a noble title which will descend throughout his line. As I sat there I thought, ‘How would it have been if General Grant had been an Englishman’ – I wonder, I wonder.”
While in Paris, Julia reveals her interest in fashion –
I had a splendid time shopping. [in Paris] Mr [Charles F.] Worth personally directed the fitting of my costumes, and Madame Virot attended me in person for any millinery I wished, and these were no small attentions, I assure you.”
Many more amazing passages may be found in Julia’s Memoirs. She was the first First Lady to write her memoirs but they weren’t published during her lifetime and appeared in 1973.
Posted in 19th Century England, Book review, Jane Austen's World, Northanger Abbey, Regency, Regency Life, Regency Period, Regency World, tagged Austenblog, Henry Tilney, Interview with Margaret C. Sullivan, Janeites, Margaret C. Sullivan, The Jane Austen Handbook on February 21, 2011| 10 Comments »
The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England by Margaret C. Sullivan, will be available for purchase on March 8. Ms. Sullivan, who many readers know as the editrix of Austenblog, has graciously consented to answer a few questions. Like her books and blog, her information is filled with wit and insight.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Margaret.
Hello to readers of Jane Austen’s World and thanks for having me!
1. How long did it take you to write The Jane Austen Handbook? Was it self-published at first? Who distributed the book? (I know that it sat proudly on the shelves of the gift shop at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath.)
It has always been published by Quirk Books! Just now it has a new cover. Also Quirk books are now being distributed by Random House. Before they were mostly in gift stores (Like the JA Centre–and my friend Julie Tynion sent me a photo of the book on the shelves of the gift shop at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton. I think they heard my SQUEEEEE at the International Space Station.) The coolest place I think anyone told me they saw the book was the gift shop of the QE2, while she was still a cruise ship.
As to how long it took me to write it, I had six weeks between the offer and the due date for the first draft, so it was a pretty frantic time. However, the editor and I had worked out an outline so I wasn’t starting completely from scratch, and there were rewrites a little bit later, especially the section on dancing, which I think is my favorite and was greatly expanded in the rewrite stage.
I was working full-time while I was writing it as well, which in retrospect was not the smartest idea. At least near the end I should have taken some time off. I was worn out!
2. Did you approach Quirk Books or did they approach you in publishing this edition of your book?
They approached me. They already had a line of handbooks such as the Batman Handbook, the Spiderman Handbook, etc., which were usually geared towards big summer films. They wanted to do something more literary, and decided to do a Jane Austen Handbook to go along with the release of Becoming Jane. (And yes, I do realize that I am Irony’s Plaything in that regard.) The editor told me she found the blog and thought I would be a good candidate, and “stalked me online” for a few days before approaching me.
Jason Rekulak, Godfather of the Jane Austen Zombie Revolution (like I said, Irony’s Plaything), called me last year and said Random House was interested in re-releasing the book, and it was due for a reprint anyway, but they wanted a different cover. Et voila! Random House’s distribution is, I believe, more focused on traditional bookstores. Also, as a great enthusiast for ebooks, I’m really pleased that at last the Handbook will be available in digital, and I confess I’m also curious to see what the ebook will look like.
3. In regard to writing and publishing, what advice would you give a newbie writer?
As to advice for aspiring authors, I would say to always endeavor to be professional. Jane Austen was extremely professional in her dealings with publishers and fans. Then she abused them with great spirit among her friends. ;-) She was also very professional in the way she approached her craft. She worked at it and was an excellent self-editor, and knew what made a story enjoyable and what was good writing. It distresses me when authors let their emotions get the better of their professional demeanor. Bad reviews happen, and part of the job is learning to accept them, even when they hurt or don’t seem fair. Act like you’ve been there. Shoving your Published Author status in people’s faces seems vulgar to me. And once you arrive, help those who come after you!
4. You’ve been visible on the blogosphere since *cough* its dark ages. Am I right in thinking that your began Austenblog in 2004? What was being the queen of the Jane fandom like back then?
Yes! I created AustenBlog during the very hot July 4th weekend of 2004, and had an official launch later that month. Back then we were excited about a new film version of P&P! Once again: Irony’s Plaything!
I certainly wasn’t the queen of the Austen fandom then, nor am I now. ;-) I don’t think there is a queen. It’s much too anarchic a group. If they don’t like something or their desires aren’t being met, they’ll go make a website or online community of their own, especially now with all the great online tools available. Also nobody really knew about AustenBlog at first. It’s always been movies that attracted the most attention, so when the last bunch of films were being made and shown was when we first attracted a lot of attention. (Say it with me: Irony’s Plaything!)
5. Tell us about the changes in Jane fandom since then and what you think of future trends for Austen aficionados.
I think the main difference is that the fandom is becoming more diverse and I think as a whole not so “particularly friendly to very severe, very intense application,” as Mr. Tilney would say. Their Jane Austen fandom goes along with lots of other interests, some inter-related and some not. There are still obsessives as well, and I’m pleased to see more people having fun with their fandom and allowing themselves to be sometimes silly with it. It’s interesting, while JASNA tends to attract the more devoted fans, I’ve noticed a bit of a culture shift over the past ten years or so. The members are becoming a little more popular culture-oriented, or at least more aware of the popular culture aspects of the fandom, even if that’s not necessarily their cup of tea. Costuming has become a lot more popular. At my first AGM in 2000, only a handful of people dressed in period costume for at least part of the conference, and in the past couple of years it’s really taken off. I think the programs are becoming more diverse, too–there is something for everyone. Janeiteism is a big tent, and I celebrate it, even while I sometimes deplore the fringier groups. ;-)
6. Your love for Henry Tilney is well known. What are the qualities about this hero that attract you so? Which scene in Northanger Abbey in particular do you find memorable?
NA was the fifth of the six novels that I’d read (MP was last) and when this charming, funny guy showed up, I was instantly attracted to his obvious intelligence and wit and general coolness, but it seemed to me that in the other four novels I’d read, the funny, charming guy turned out to be the villain. Thus, I spent the whole book waiting for the other shoe to drop. Imagine my joy when I got to the end and realized it was not only fun to love Henry Tilney, it was the right thing to do.
Henry is not only charming, but honorable. He’s very human and really not as perfect as I’d like to pretend, but he is kind to Catherine, and besides his sister is practically the only person in the book who never condescends to her or treats her like she’s stupid or tries to trick her. If his conversation sometimes goes over her head, it’s paying her a compliment in a way–the compliment of rational companionship, if I may borrow a little from Miss Dashwood!
I have many favorite scenes, but I’ve picked one out, from Vol. II, Ch. I:
Henry smiled, and said, “How very little trouble it can give you to understand the motive of other people’s actions.”
“Why? — What do you mean?”
“With you, it is not, How is such a one likely to be influenced, What is the inducement most likely to act upon such a person’s feelings, age, situation, and probable habits of life considered? — but, How should I be influenced, what would be my inducement in acting so and so?”
“I do not understand you.”
“Then we are on very unequal terms, for I understand you perfectly well.”
“Me? — yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.”
“Bravo! — an excellent satire on modern language.”
“But pray tell me what you mean.”
“Shall I indeed? — Do you really desire it? But you are not aware of the consequences; it will involve you in a very cruel embarrassment, and certainly bring on a disagreement between us.”
“No, no; it shall not do either; I am not afraid.”
“Well, then, I only meant that your attributing my brother’s wish of dancing with Miss Thorpe to good-nature alone convinced me of your being superior in good-nature yourself to all the rest of the world.”
Catherine blushed and disclaimed, and the gentleman’s predictions were verified. There was a something, however, in his words which repaid her for the pain of confusion; and that something occupied her mind so much that she drew back for some time, forgetting to speak or to listen, and almost forgetting where she was…
For all those who say that Henry isn’t really in love with Catherine, read that scene. He is not going to pay her profuse compliments that she might not trust to be real; and when he does pay her a compliment, he does it subtly, with humor, and with that “something” that gives Catherine the collywobbles. You can practically smell the pheromones flying back and forth. That man’s in love–and so is Catherine! I think in that scene her love for Henry turns the corner from a girlish crush to a deeper and more adult feeling.
7. My assumption is that you have been to England and visited a number of places that Jane Austen lived in and visited herself. Do you have any extraordinary memories that you’d like to share with us?
I traveled to the UK in October 2005 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar–I’m a big Age of Sail fan as well–with my Horatian buddies (we Hornblower fans call ourselves Horatians). While in Portsmouth I walked the ramparts, like Fanny Price, and saw the ruins of the Marine chapel where they went to church (and also was amused to see a hair stylist shop run by one Andrew Price in downtown Portsmouth–nice to see the Prices are still in town, even if they are in trade). I felt very close to Captain Wentworth and his friends there. In London, we went to the National Portrait Gallery to visit Jane’s portrait, and the British Library to see her writing desk and the manuscripts for History of England and the canceled chapters of Persuasion.
We also went to Bath, and it was a real thrill. I kept running into Jane’s characters around every corner, especially as my two favorite books are the two Bath books, Persuasion and NA. I remember walking up Milsom Street, getting to the top of the street, looking up, and seeing “Edgar’s Buildings” engraved on the wall. Walking through Laura Place, down Pulteney Street, out to see 4 Sydney Place where the Austens lived, were all amazing–especially to know that in many ways they were nearly the same as in Jane Austen’s time. I also loved going up to Camden Place and seeing how utterly perfect it was to be the home of Sir Walter Elliot. All of Bath was, quite literally, at his feet; and yet it was built on unsteady land, and did not have the proper neoclassical regularity–it was all off-center. Perfect! And a really funny moment was when we were taking the bus uptown, and asked the bus driver to let us know when we were near Camden Crescent. He looked at our cameras and, clearly not a Janeite, said, “Taking pictures, luv? You should go over to Lansdowne Crescent instead. For my money, it’s the prettiest crescent in Bath.” I wonder what Sir Walter and Miss would have said to that! It was such a delightfully Austenian moment.
And of course we went to Chawton and Steventon. They were the places I felt closest to Jane herself. Chawton was charming, so peaceful and quiet, and inspiring for a writer. Finding Steventon was not easy–it was kind of like trying to find Shangri-La. The GPS sent us to Berkshire, which of course is totally the wrong direction. We drove despairingly around Basingstoke trying to find a local who could direct us, but we were a mile away from Steventon at one point and locals just looked at us blankly when we asked if they could give us directions. Finally we found a helpful person who gave us excellent directions, and arrived at the church in late afternoon just as the rain was letting up. I loved both St. Nicholas’ churches, in Chawton and Steventon–I loved that they were both still obviously working churches, and not just tourist attractions. Jane would have really appreciated that, I think. (And thanks to Mike for driving and his lovely pianoforte playing at Chawton, and Kathleen for the companionship, snark, and hosting me in London! I should have just let you guys ring the churchbell at Steventon.)
Margaret, it was a pleasure to interview you! I’ve seen your book and intend to review it soon. I can’t wait to read it. Vic
Thanks for the interview! This was really fun!
More on the topic:
- Preorder The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England
- Review: There Must Be Murder by Margaret C. Sullivan, wherein the reader follows the escapades of Henry Tilney and his lovely wife Catherine in Bath
- Q&A With Margaret C. Sullivan of Austenblog: Facebook
- Review of The Jane Austen Handbook, Jane Austen Today
Posted in 19th Century England, Austenesque novels, Jane Austen Sequels, Jane Austen's World, Victorian Era, tagged Andrew Capes, Austenesque Short Story, Charlotte Collins on February 19, 2011| 120 Comments »
Inquiring readers: Not often does news of great import come our way, such as this item unearthed from the depths of Andrew Capes’s crashed computer. His having retrieved it is nothing short of miraculous, for now he can share the rest of Charlotte Collins’ story with the world. If you found this news item as intriguing as I did, please let him know what you think of it in the comment section below! Article copyright (c) Andrew Capes.
Extract from the Hertfordshire Gazette, June 1876
Mrs Charlotte Collins of Longbourn Hall
We have been saddened recently to receive
notiﬁcation of the death at the end of May, at
the advanced age of 92 years, of Mrs Charlotte
Collins, née Lucas, widow of the late Reverend
William Collins, of Longbourn Hall, near
Meryton. Mrs Collins is survived by her only
son, Thomas Collins, his wife Mary (née
Bennet), and her grandson, the Rt Hon. Sir
Timothy Collins PC, all of whom continue to
reside at Longbourn Hall.
Mrs Collins’s funeral at Meryton was attended
by a distinguished gathering of friends and
relations, many of whom had travelled great
distances to be present. Several members of the
extended Lucas family were there, although
Mrs Collins had outlived all her immediate
relations, and there were also representatives
and descendants of the former Bennet family,
with whom the Collinses had maintained
intimate connections for a great many years.
Among the latter were Mrs Elizabeth Darcy,
widow of the late Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of
Pemberley in Derbyshire, and her niece, Mrs
Jane Lucas, daughter of the late Mr & Mrs
Charles Bingley of Freshﬁeld Park in Yorkshire,
who is also the late Mrs Collins’s sister-in-law.
The occasion was graced with the presence of
Lydia, Lady Wickham, widow of Lieutenant
Colonel Sir George Wickham, Bart., late hero
of the French, American, and Affghan
campaigns. The Dowager Lady Wickham has
recently returned from India to pass her
remaining years with her son, Sir Arthur
Wickham de Bourgh, at his family home,
Rosings Park in Kent.
Charlotte Collins was born in March 1784, the
eldest of ﬁve children of Sir William and Lady
Lucas, latterly of Lucas Lodge near Meryton in
Hertfordshire. There she met and married the
Reverend William Collins, a cousin of the
Bennet sisters, in January 1812. The couple lived
at Hunsford in Kent where their son, Thomas
Collins, was born in 1813. In 1823, upon the
death of Mr Frederick Bennet, the Reverend
Mr Collins inherited Longbourn-house, an
estate of which Mrs Collins was destined to
remain mistress for over half a century.
Upon their removal to Longbourn, Mr and Mrs
Collins were pleased to allow Mr Bennet’s
widow and daughter Mary to continue to live in
the house, and to treat it as their home. Mary
had been entrusted under the terms of Mr
Bennet’s will with the care of his extensive library,
and she immediately set about this task
with the greatest diligence, continuing to
pursue improvements to the collection, chieﬂy
through a series of judicious acquisitions,
almost without interruption from that time
until the present day. Upon that occasion also,
Mr Collins desired that the name of the house
be changed from Longbourn-house to
Longbourn Hall, to reﬂect the elevated status
with which he expressed the hope that it
would, in the course of time, become
Regrettably, however, within less than a year of
the Collins family’s installation at Longbourn,
the Reverend Mr Collins sustained a minor
injury whilst engaged in clearing undergrowth
from a small wilderness beside a lawn in his
garden, the resulting wound from which most
unfortunately became infected. The rapid
progress of this infection caused him to
succumb soon afterwards, his resulting death
thus sadly depriving him of anything more than
the briefest period of enjoyment of his newly
Mrs Bennet also died later that same year, and
Mrs Collins thereafter began to observe in
young Thomas the development of a strongly
studious character, carefully fostered by Miss
Mary Bennet’s solicitude towards him in her
combined role of cousin, mentor and librarian.
There gradually grew between these two
younger members of the household a ﬁrm
attachment, which eventually developed
beyond their previous cousinly aﬀection, this
being conﬁrmed by their marriage in 1833 and
the subsequent birth of a son, Timothy, in the
For above forty years since then, membership
of the Longbourn household underwent no
material alteration, until the recent death of
the elder Mrs Collins. This period has
nonetheless been punctuated by several notable
events associated with the family, perhaps the
most remarkable of which was the famous
Catherine (“Kitty”) Carter trial of 1862. Kitty
Carter was Mrs Mary Collins’s sister, and, in
deﬁance of social conventions, the elder Mrs
Collins allowed her to stay as a guest at
Longbourn Hall throughout the whole of that
protracted and scandalous aﬀair.
The details of the case are so well known, even
today, that it would be superﬂuous to recount
them here; suﬃce it to say that the verdict
eventually obtained vindicated the faith that
both Mrs Collinses had placed in their relation,
who duly acknowledged her debt to them in an
autobiographical memoir, published later that
year, through which her name became known –
some might say, notorious – around the world.
Some nine years previously, a considerable
change had taken place at Longbourn, with the
purchase by the Great Northern Railway of
part of the estate’s farming land, for the
construction of the line through Meryton to
Ware. The substantial sum thereby realised
enabled the elder Mrs Collins to throw out a
new self-contained wing from the earlier house,
with the intention of entertaining friends and
family without interfering with the orderly
conduct of the rest of the household. The
generous nature of her year round hospitality
beneﬁted in its turn from the improvements in
the means of travel provided by the new
railway, such that her visitors were now able to
reach Meryton from places as far aﬁeld as
Derbyshire and Yorkshire in a matter of hours,
rather than the days that had previously been
occupied in the completion of such journeys.
Mrs Collins retained few links with the Church
of England after the death of her husband,
although she did maintain friendships with
several of his former parishioners in and around
Hunsford for some time after her removal from
that part of the country. She was amused in her
later years to learn that the Rosings Estate, of
which the Hunsford rectory – where she spent
the ﬁrst ten years of her married life – formed a
small part, had passed into the hands of the
nephew of her daughter-in-law, when it was
inherited by Sir Arthur Wickham de Bourgh,
Bart, upon the death of his ﬁrst wife, Anne.
The concern that the elder Mrs Collins felt for
the education and welfare of her grandson, Mr
Timothy Collins, showed her to be
exceptionally solicitous on his behalf, and it
could be said with some certainty that his
successful parliamentary career, up to and
including his position in Mr Gladstone’s recent
administration, in the course of which he was
honoured with a knighthood, was the direct
result of the attention which she paid to his
upbringing. She also instilled in him the
passionate advocacy of many international
causes, foremost among which was that of
Italian unity, ﬁnding especial friendship and
fellow-feeling with the great Italian leader
Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was invited to
Longbourn Hall brieﬂy on the occasion of his
visit to London in 1864.
Mrs Collins had always taken a great interest
not only in her own family, but also in those
both of her lifelong friend Mrs Elizabeth
Darcy, and of Mrs Darcy’s sister, the late Mrs
Jane Bingley. It was with great pleasure that she
saw her own younger brother, John Lucas,
marry Mr and Mrs Bingley’s daughter, also Jane,
in 1832, thereby sharing her own extended
family of nephews, nieces and cousins with
those of the former Bennet sisters.
Mrs Collins was widely renowned and loved for
the care she took to include all her extensive
family and friends in her regular invitations to
Longbourn, and for her careful remembrances
of birthdays and anniversaries of even the
youngest members of the family, extending to
the third and fourth generations, always with
thoughtful and appropriate gifts.
Mrs Collins travelled extensively, both in the
United Kingdom and abroad, often, especially
in her latter years, accompanied by her lifelong
friend Mrs Elizabeth Darcy. They completed
their last foreign journey together, to Italy, only
ﬁve years ago, at the height of the war in
France, which contributed not a little to the
excitements and discomforts of that journey.
Mrs Collins retained her health and her
faculties, save for gradually failing eyesight, to
the end of her long life, and many will recall the
occasion of her 90th birthday celebrations
which brought people from all over Britain, and
some from further aﬁeld, at which she herself
expressed a wish for it to be considered as, in
some measure, a way of bidding farewell to all
her many friends and relations.
The request expressed by Mrs Collins, that her
remains be removed from Meryton and
interred alongside those of her husband in the
churchyard at Hunsford, was complied with
shortly after her funeral, and a small family
gathering attended the interment ceremony as
a ﬁnal farewell gesture to a well-loved and
notable ﬁgure who will be much missed, not
only here in Hertfordshire, but also much
NOTES ON THE OBITUARY OF MRS CHARLOTTE COLLINS
AS SHOWN IN THE HERTFORDSHIRE GAZETTE, JUNE 1876
This Obituary Notice was discovered in the archives of the (fictional, of course) Hertfordshire Gazette, a long defunct weekly newspaper which circulated (as its title implies) mainly in Herfordshire, during the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth.
The piece was deliberately written without reference to any of the many continuations of P&P, even those attributed to Jane herself. I felt that a retrospective view from 63 years on would imply a much greater leap of the imagination than a mere ‘continuation’ of the novel would require.
Most of it needs no explanation for those familiar with the novel, though there are some things which might raise a question or two. Some of these are:
What was the ‘Kitty’ Carter trial?
The details are not recorded – but there WAS a notorious murder trial in 1862 – a nurse called Catherine Wilson was tried and found guilty of multiple murders for money; she was the last woman to be publicly hanged in London – some 25,000 people attended her execution. The ‘Kitty’ Carter trial was clearly much more ‘classy’ than that, involving scandal in very high places, and a very different outcome; it probably would not have involved murder. Carter, of course, was one of Wickham’s fellow officers.
Two of the marriages are with much older women. Is this not improbable?
Uncommon, but by no means improbable. It was certainly possible for an older woman to marry a younger man. I think the Mary/Thomas marriage entirely natural; and although the Arthur Wickham/Anne de Bourgh one might be a little more unlikely, Arthur would have inherited his father’s title (which was granted only a short time before his death in action in the First Affghan Campaign of 1837-39) when he was in his mid-20s and Anne was newly independent on the death of Lady Catherine.
What was Sir Timothy Collins’s post in the Gladstone cabinet of 1871-74?
He was Chairman of the Local Government Board, a new post created by Gladstone in 1871. He must have been promoted when he was quite young. In historical fact, the post of President of the Board went to Sir James Stansfeld, but I think Sir Timothy probably edged ahead of him at the time of the vote of no confidence in Stansfeld as Civil Lord of the Admiralty in 1864. Stansfeld, incidentally, was also a great supporter of Garibaldi.
Great Northern Railway – Meryton to Ware
No such line was actually built – the railway at Ware was built in 1843 by the Great Eastern Railway. However, the Great Northern did build a line from Welwyn to Hertford in 1858 which connected with the Ware line. The Great Northern main line would have made access from Yorkshire and Derbyshire to Meryton via Hitchin or Hatfield very much easier than it had previously been from about 1851 onwards.
Respectfully submitted by Andrew Capes. Your comments are most welcome.
Posted in 19th Century England, jane austen, Jane Austen's World, Regency Customs, Regency Life, Regency Period, Regency style, Regency World, tagged Contracts Prof Blog, Jane Austen and contract law, Jane Austen on contracts to dance, Jeremy Telman, Regency contracts, Regency law, tortious interference on February 18, 2011| 1 Comment »
Inquiring readers: Recently I ran across the Contracts Prof Blog, a member of the Blog Professor Blogs network. Professor Franklin G. Snyder kindly granted me permission to reprint in full a second post written by Professor Jeremy Telman of Valparaiso University on February 1, 2010. (See the first post at this link.) This post discusses the similarities and dissimilarities between a dance partnership and a marriage partnership in Northanger Abbey:
Thus the dashing Mr. Tilney addresses Catherine Morland, heroine of Northanger Abbey, upon discovering her in conversation with the odious Mr. Thorpe at the commencement of a dance:
That gentleman would have put me out of patience, had he staid with you half a minute longer. He has no business to withdraw the attention of my partner from me. We have entered into a contract of mutual agreeableness for the space of an evening, and all our agreeableness belongs solely to each other for that time. Nobody can fasten themselves on the notice of one, without injuring the rights of the other. I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not chuse to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours.”
The conversation proceeds on the similarities and dissimilarities between a dance partnership and a marriage partnership. But if Catherine really wanted to impress Mr. Tilney, she would have pointed out that his real complaint sounded in tortious interference rather than in breach of contract.
Legal Definition of Tortious/Wrongful Intereference (in Business Relationship)
The theory of the tort or wrong of interference is that the law draws a line beyond which no one may go in intentionally intermeddling with the business affairs of others. So, a systematic effort to induce employees to leave their present employment and take work with another is unlawful when the purpose of such enticement is to cripple or destroy their employer rather than to obtain their skills and services in the legitimate furtherance of one’s own business enterprise.
It also becomes unlawful when the inducement is made through the use of untruthful means, or for the purpose of having the employees commit wrongs such as disclosing the former employer’s trade secrets. – ‘Lectric Law Library Lexicon