Travel in ‘Sense & Sensibility’ Part III ~ Carriages

We will now [finally!] get to how they traveled ~ you can review the previous posts on ‘Travel in Sense & Sensibility‘ here:

There is much that we do not know about Jane Austen, and the much that we do “know” has been pieced together from letters and family remembrances and historical contexts. But one thing we know for sure is that Austen was familiar with ALL the carriages of her day.  This is best illustrated by her Juvenilia piece “The Memoirs of Mr. Clifford: an Unfinished Tale” [MW 43],  written between 1787-90, when Austen was 12 – 15 years old:  this is what she says:

Mr Clifford lived at Bath; and having never seen London, set off one Monday morning determined to feast his eyes with a sight of that great Metropolis.  He travelled in his Coach & Four, for he was a very rich young Man & kept a great many Carriages of which I do not recollect half.  I can only remember that he had a Coach, a Chariot, a Chaise, a Landau, a Landaulet, a Phaeton, a Gig, a Whiskey, an Italian Chair, a Buggy, a Curricle & a wheelbarrow.  He had likewise an amazing fine stud of Horses.  To my knowledge he had six Greys, 4 Bays, eight Blacks & a poney. 

[what! no barouche!!] 

Austen used carriages in her novels as a way to indicate income and social status but also as a way to delineate character – for example, we know most everything about John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey by just listening to the way he describes his horse and carriage! [Thorpe has been called the most horse-obsessed character in all of literature!]; we know that Willoughby cannot afford the carriage and horses that he has, that he is a fast driver, and that his driving a large chaise with four horses to visit Marianne when he thinks she is dying show how much he wants to get there and quickly, at any cost [but of course he is now married to Miss Gray, so cost does not matter to him…]. 

Coaching Inns:

Austen would have also known the Coaching Inns of her day – she would have stayed in them during her own numerous travels. But in Sense and Sensibility there are only two mentions:  Edward staying at an Inn when he leaves London after he is disinherited, and Robert and Lucy Ferrars at the New London Inn in Exeter following their marriage.  But all the characters would have stayed at Inns for any of the longer trips, as was explained in the previous post.  


There are numerous specifically noted carriages in S&S.  “Carriage” is a general term: there were many variations in nomenclature and design, and big discrepancies even among the same “named” vehicle.  There were differences in “construction, function, size, speed and appearance.” [Rogers]  And there was a full class-system of horse-drawn vehicles; the wealthy often had unique designs made to order.  

Some understanding of the parts of a carriage helps to identify a particular type:  see this link at The Georgian Index for a glossary of carriage terms, as well as this diagram:

So, just a few carriage part terms:  

1.  C-Springs:  a curved spring of C-shape, made up of several overlapping plates or leaves. They where introduced in the late 18th century (shortly after the S-Spring) and replaced the primitive wooden pillar attached to the axle, from which braces extended to the coach body. 

2.  Elliptical spring: Carriage spring made up of two sets of overlapping steel plates or leaves bolted together in elliptical or semi-elliptical form. It was invented by Obadiah Elliot in England (1804) and made the ride much smoother and the carriages more stable.

3.  Lights:  called “moons” [as per Chapman]:  for dress carriages: the simplest were wax candles in tin tubes in a circular casing; for traveling coaches –  lamps with oil in square casing [Adams]

In the country, social engagements were dependent upon the moon, traveling at night unsafe:  for example in S&S, Sir John Middleton has asked other neighbors to join their party, but “it was moonlight and everybody was full of engagements.”

A few definitions about the people of the horse and carriage era:

1.   Postilion or post boy: a person who rides the leading nearside horse of a team or pair drawing a coach or carriage, when there is no coachman 

2.  Groom:  a male servant employed to care for horses; at times accompanying an owner’s carriage 

3.  Ostler:  a groom or stable boy employed at an Inn to take care of guest’s horses 

4.  Tiger:  a boy or small man employed as a groom on the back of a curricle or other small carriage.  Name derived from the yellow and black striped waist coat worm by the groom  [OED:  A smartly-liveried boy acting as groom or footman; formerly often provided with standing-room on a small platform behind the carriage, and a strap to hold on by; less strictly, an outdoor boy-servant. obs. slang. ] 

5.  Livery:  historical- distinctive dress or uniform worn by an official, retainer, or servant (and given to him or her by the employer) [term from c1290 in Old French] – a footman’s livery of two suits would cost about £20, as much as his year’s wages 



And now to the carriages ~ I will post about each type and how and where they appear in Austen’s works over the next several days:


1.  Long Wagon:  

-similar to the American covered wagon

-carried goods and passengers – did “the practical work of the nation” with 6-8 draft horses

-not specifically mentioned in Austen, except off stage

 2. Carts

 3.  the Coach:  “Kings of the Road” – called the most dignified of moving objects 

•           a large, enclosed 4-wheeled carriage, a fixed head, doors and windows

•           pulled by at least four horses, for long-distance travel, traveled @ 7 miles / hour

•           4-6 passengers, in two seats facing each other; also passengers on top

•           C-springs helped as shock absorbers

•           public use OR persons of wealth or high rank

[the term “hackney coach”  is what we would call a modern day taxi, and were most often cast-off coaches from the original owners]

Coach builders

Stay tuned for various types of coaches…

Tiger in carriage





Jane Austen and Her Editor…

Update:   read this very welcome response to this discussion by Geoff Nunberg at NPR here.

I am on the road, so not able to connect to all my Austen “feeds” on a daily basis, so I was grateful to hear from Janeite Marti who sent me the information on this latest kerfuffle in Austenland – it seems that Professor Kathryn Sutherland has, in her releasing the latest digital editions of Austen’s fiction manuscripts [see the link here Jane Austen Fiction Manuscripts], made comments on Austen’s spelling and punctutaion and the need for a proper editor to clean everything up for publication – how the press has picked up on this in a world-class endeavor to bring Austen down a peg or two,  tossing her from her very high literary pedestal!  Vic at Jane Austen’s World has addressed the issue most adequately, so I send you there to read her near perfect defense of “Dear Jane.”

I will add this – we have long known that Austen was no Marian Grammarian – her spelling WAS appalling [thankfully spelling is not a requirement for imaginative thinking, brilliant characterization and comic timing] – and we do know, if you are at all conversant with her letters, that she worked diligently with her publishers [and likely an editor as well! alas!] correcting proofs of her novels. And those of us who have seen any of her working manuscripts, or indeed have read Sanditon or The Watsons in their unpunctuated, unparagraphed state have also long known how Austen wrote – we should also take into account her need to conserve paper – her letters attest to this – the cross-writing, the writing on all available edges  –  but these mentions of her unruly notetaking, scribbling, lack of paragraph formation and quotation marks and obvious need of an editor, is not all that Sutherland had to say, and the media emphasis on this is unfair to both her and Austen.  One should read further:

Still more interesting to her, however, is the authorial voice one hears in the manuscripts. She calls it “a more innovative, more experimental voice” than Austen gets credit for. “By not working with the grammatical form, she’s actually coming much closer to writing real conversation” than in the printed versions where “she’s pulled back into a more conventional form,” the scholar said. “It’s a voice you’re perhaps not hearing again until the early 20th century.”

So let’s embrace this gift of seeing Austen at work and instead of quibbling about commas and quotation marks that make it look like some male editor made the Austen we all admire, do as Sutherland suggests and take Austen’s works to yet another level… what an opportunity we have!
Further reading: 

‘Persuasion’ manuscript

Hot off the Press! ~ Jane Austen’s Regency World, Nov -Dec 2010

The November/December 2010 edition of Jane Austen’s Regency World is now on sale:

In the new issue:

*ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: seasonal gift suggestions for the Austen fan in your life – or hints to drop your family and friends if you are an Austen fan!

*POWER OF ATTRACTIONS: what gives some of Jane’s characters sex appeal

*WHY I’M BANISHING JANE FROM MY BOOKSHELF: the reader who has fallen out of love with Austen

*THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH: Amy Patterson, of Jane Austen Books, finds similarities in the writings of Douglas Adam and Jane Austen

*NOVEMBER IN THE NOVELS: a busy time of year in Jane’s writing

*TOM AND JERRY: No, not the cartoon; a sportswriter’s fiction from the 1820s

*ON THE COVER: Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath, one of the grandest buildings in the city. Sharon Love, the general manager, tells us about “My Jane Austen”
Plus: All the latest news from the world of Jane Austen, as well as letters, book reviews, quiz, competition and news from JAS and JASNA
For further information, and to subscribe, visit:

DHL permitting (!) it will be available at next week’s JASNA conference in Portland, Oregon!

A Letter from Henry Austen ~ October 20-21, 1815

Henry Austen

Today in Jane Austen’s life: October 21, 1815

One of my favorite letters in the collection Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford, 1995) is Letter No. 122 (A)(D), 21 October 1815.  This is a draft of a letter from Henry Austen to John Murray on his sister’s behalf and it gives us the rare direct glimpse into the wit of Henry Austen. Jane Austen is in Town and working on negotiations with John Murray for the publication of Emma. This is the visit of her famous meeting with the Prince Regent’s Librarian James Stanier Clarke and his request for Austen to dedicate her next work to the Regent.  The amusing correspondence between Austen and Clarke follow this letter, as well as Austen’s own letters to Murray, written directly to the publisher due to Henry’s grave illness and his inability to correspond.  These, plus her few letters to Cassandra during this time, are strong evidence of  Austen’s direct involvement and concerns in the negotiations and publication of her work – all these letters make great reading!  But today, let’s just look at Henry’s letter:

  ?Friday 20 / Saturday 21 October 1815

[A Letter to Mr. Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the severe Relapse which threw him into such Danger. – ]

Dear Sir

Severe illness has confined me to my Bed ever since I received Yours of ye 15th – I cannot yet hold a pen, & employ an Amuensis [sic]. – The Politeness & Perspicuity of your Letter equally claim my earliest Exertion. – Your official opinion of the Merits of Emma, is very valuable & satisfactory. – Though I venture to differ occasionally from your Critique, yet I assure you the Quantum of your commendation rather exceeds than falls short of the Author’s expectation & my own. – The Terms you offer are so very inferior to what we had expected, that I am apprehensive of having made some great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation. – On the subject of the expense & profit of publishing, you must be much better informed that I am; – but Documents in my possession appear to prove that the Sum offered by you, for the Copyright of Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park & Emma, is not equal to the Money which my Sister has actually cleared by one very moderate Edition of Mansfield Park –(You Yourself expressed astonishment that so small an Edit. of such a work should have been sent into the World) & a still smaller one of Sense & Sensibility…


Such a Brother was he! – a good businessman and witty in the process! an ‘error in my Arithmetical Calculation’ indeed!

Henry’s very serious illness prompted Austen to call all her family members to his bedside, and it was not until a few weeks later that Austen herself takes on the writing of letters to Murray to complete the Emma negotiations – she writes requesting him to call on her in Hans Place because “a short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing.”  [Ltr. 124, Nov. 3, 1815; To John Murray]

[Henry’s Draft letter in Austen’s hand is in the Bodleian Library; a facsimile is in Modert, F-361 and F-362]

Austen on the Block! ~ Auction Update

The Heritage Auctions offering of Jane Austen’s novels on October 14-16, 2010 has published the results.  See my previous post here for the details.

  • Emma ~ $8,962.50  [opening bid:  $7500.; est. $15,000.]

  • Mansfield Park – not sold [opening bid:  $5000.; est. $10,000.]
  • Northanger Abbey / Persuasion ~ not sold [opening bid: $3750.; estimate: $7500. ]
  • Pride and Prejudice ~ not sold [opening bid:  $15,000.; estimate: $30,000.]
  • Sense and Sensibility ~ not sold [opening bid: $20,000.; est. $40,000.]

Hmmm – what is this all about??

Stand by for the Sotheby’s October 28th auction – details here.

Thoughts on Travel in ‘Sense and Sensibility’ ~ Part II

Part II.  A Study of Character’s Movement in Sense and Sensibility

Fig. 1. Sense & Sensibility map

A startling fact! – there are 49 mentions of movement and 46 mentions of carriages [to include a few referring to travel by horseback] – and people say that nothing happens in Jane Austen!  That is a great deal of  traveling in what I have just described in the previous post as a not easy or inexpensive world to travel in!

To begin, let’s place the characters where they live and their income if known:

A.  Where the characters live:  see the map of England’s Counties below, and the map of places, both real and fictional above

  • Counties = Sussex, Somerset, Dorset, Devon
  • London [“Town” = London], largely Mayfair

The Dashwoods:

  • Henry Dashwood – Norland, Sussex
  • Mrs. Henry Dashwood – Norland, moves to Barton Cottage, Devonshire – £7000 = £350 / yr
  • Mrs. Dashwood’s mother – Stanhill [Sussex]
  • John and Fanny Dashwood –  Norland, Sussex; Harley St, London [renting?]; purchase East Kingham Farm, near Norland – £5,000 – £6,000 / year
  • Elinor / Marianne / Margaret:  Norland, Sussex, move to Barton Cottage, Devonshire; each have £1000 capital from their uncle = £50 pounds each annual income = £500 total for the four of them  [150 + 350 = £500]



Colonel Brandon:  Delaford in Dorset; St. James St, London –  £2000 / year

  • Eliza Williams, his ward – Avignon [Brandon’s sister] – where? – found her in London
  • Brandon’s brother-in-law:  Whitwell,  near Barton


The Ferrars:

  • Mrs. Ferrars – Park St, London
  • Edward –  his mother’s house; Pall Mall, London, after leaving home; Oxford; Edward and Elinor after marriage will have £350 / year (though this will increase to £850 with Edward’s inheritance of £10,000 from Mrs. Ferrars, reluctantly given!)
  • Robert – his mother’s house? later London with Lucy Steele
  • Fanny Ferrars Dashwood [see above]

Cavendish Square, London

John Willoughby – Combe Magna, Somerset; Bond St, London –  about £600-700 /yr 

  • Mrs. Smith, Willoughby’s Aunt – Allenham Court, Devonshire
  • Miss Gray, Willoughby’s wife – £50,000 = £2,500 /yr

The Jennings / Middletons / Palmers:

  • Sir John and Lady Mary Middleton [Mrs. Jennings daughter]:  Barton Park, Devonshire; Conduit St, London
  • Mrs. Jennings:  Berkeley St, London,  near Portman Square, otherwise she is visiting her daughters
  • Mr. Thomas Palmer and Charlotte Palmer [Mrs. Jennings’ daughter]: Cleveland, Somerset; Hanover Square, London [renting?]

Hanover Square, London

The Steeles:

  • Lucy and Anne [Nancy] Steele – Bartlett’s Buildings, London
  • Mr. Pratt  [the Steele’s Uncle] –  Longstaple [near Plymouth]

Miss Morton:
 Edward’s intended, London somewhere – £30,000 = £1500/yr 

Fig. 2. England Counties


 B.  Movement of characters – a quick summary:

1.  The novel starts out with Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters moving from Norland Park [Sussex] to Barton Cottage [Devonshire] – their furniture goes by way of the water [i.e. canal system]

 2.  The Elinor and Marianne go to London with Mrs. Jennings [and most everyone else], then return to Cleveland, then back to Barton Cottage, where they await their destiny, both ending up at Delaford.

 3.  Colonel Brandon lives in Delaford, but he is quite often at Barton Park, he goes to London to see his ward, later moves to London with everyone else, and when staying in London, he goes back and forth to Delaford “a few times”, and then later returns home via Cleveland and has to fetch Mrs. Dashwood in the middle of the night back and forth from Cleveland to Barton Cottage, and then finally seems to be at Barton Park / Cottage an awful lot…

Barton Cottage

4.  Edward Ferrars visits Barton Cottage and later we find that he was actually first in Plymouth – he travels a few times back and forth to London to his mother’s, then off to an unnamed Inn somewhere after he is disinherited, then to Oxford, then back to London settling in Pall Mall, and then of course to Barton to visit then marry Elinor, and they move to the parsonage at Delaford and we expect will live happily ever after…

5.  Willoughby lives in London, has his estate home at Combe Magna in Somerset, visits his Aunt in Allenham Court [Devonshire], leaves for London when HE is disinherited; he later visits Cleveland [Somerset] to see the dying Marianne, and then back to London to live with his boring, but wealthy wife


6.  The Middletons live at Barton Park [Devonshire], but travel to London with everyone else…

7.  The Palmers live at Cleveland [Somerset], they visit Barton Park [Devonshire], then back to Cleveland and then to London with everyone else; return to Cleveland and then leave again as Marianne falls ill.

8.  Mrs. Jennings, of course, lives in London but travels all over to visit her children at Barton Park and Cleveland

9.  the Miss Steeles live in Plymouth with their Uncle, visited Exeter and then to Barton Park, then to London where they stay with first the Middletons, then the John Dashwoods, then Lucy with her now husband Robert Ferrars leave London for Dawlish, then return to London to live unhappily ever after, while her abandoned sister has to borrow money from Mrs. Jennings to catch a coach back to Plymouth [in the endless, hopeless search of her Doctor…]

10.  Mrs. Dashwood is taken to Cleveland by Col. Brandon to see Marianne at Cleveland [Somerset]; she is the only character who does not go to London.

11.  As noted above, Everyone but Mrs. Dashwood goes to London, and while there they travel for their daily visiting calls and excursions around Town.

12.  And of course, Mrs. Ferrars stays put, selecting / de-selecting her heir from her comfortable seat in London – BUT the book ends with her visiting Elinor and Edward: ‘She came to inspect the happiness which she was almost ashamed of having authorized.”

Fig. 3. 1812 Cary map England

And how did they travel?? –  stay tuned for Part III:  Carriages in Sense and Sensibility


Sources:  Fig. 1 and 2 maps from the website; Fig. 3 Cary map from

Book Review ~ ‘The Annotated Persuasion’

Last week I ran into Barnes & Noble to pick up the latest annotated Pride and Prejudice, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks, and since then I have been “gadding about” as Austen would say – so no time to really give it a complete read and review; but in another trek yesterday into yet another Barnes & Noble [no worries, I also have haunted the local USED booksellers!], my husband stumbled upon the just published [as in October 5, 2010]  The Annotated Persuasion, annotated and edited by David M. Shapard [New York: Anchor Books, 2010; paperbound; ISBN:  978-0-307-39078-3] – and I have discovered a veritable feast! 

Shapard is known for his annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice [which I have but it is not in hand, as I am in “gadding about” mode as mentioned above…] – so I cannot compare this book to that edition [his annotated Sense & Sensibility is to be, I believe, published in April 2011] – though I have found that work quite useful as a reliable reference source – it was first published in hardcover followed by a paperback edition; this Persuasion is only in paperback… it is also a smaller format, likely because the novel is so much shorter, but this renders the many illustrations quite small – but I quibble about these few drawbacks …. publishers decisions do not always make the most sense… 

I first look for the extras:  

An Introduction which gives a brief history of the publishing of Persuasion, and the differences in this final novel from Austen’s other works

A Chronology of the novel [will compare this to Ellen Moody’s calendar 

Maps of sites that relate to the characters and storyline: the world, England, Somerset, Lyme, and two of Bath 

A good number of b/w Illustrations – there is unfortunately no listing of these; the source is indicated under each picture, but a listing would have served as an index to the subjects, which cover all manner of Regency life:  architecture such as that in Bath with interior and exterior scenes of the Assembly Rooms; various carriages; fashion; furniture; Naval life; the Cobb in Lyme Regis; etc.  – many of these illustrations will be familiar to most readers with a modicum of knowledge about the period – and color would have been nice – but the point here of these illustrations is to serve as a starting reference for further research, and it is an added plus to have any of these included. 

Bibliography:  this also serves as a starting point – it is in no way a complete listing of sources, but likely those sources that Shapard relied on for his research.  How complete can a bibliography of Austen be without mention of Claire Tomalin’s biography under that category, or Claudia L. Johnson’s Jane Austen: Women, Politics and the Novel or Kaplan’s Jane Austen Among Women nowhere to be found – but as Shapard is an historian, it is that strength that resides in this bibliography, again a great starting point for further study – it is organized by broad subjects:  language; cultural and literary background; marriage and the family; position of women; children; housekeeping and servants; entails and estates and the landed gentry; rural and urban life; the military; medicine; the law; education; books, media, libraries; writing; postal service; transportation; theater [but no mention of the two works Jane Austen and the Theatre – two works with the same title and both quite comprehensive]; music and dance; sports; weather; the seaside resorts; houses and gardens; fashion; food; etiquette and female conduct books; and others – again, a good select listing of resources on various topics.   

The Literary commentary and annotations:  Shapard begins with the caveat that “the comments on the techniques and themes of the novel represent the personal views and interpretations of the editor…such views have been carefully considered, but inevitably they will still provoke disagreement among some readers “ [xi] – which Shapard encourages…; these annotations include such literary commentary, historical context, and definitions of words in context if they had a different meaning in Austen’s time, some repeated when necessary or cross-references provided.  

The book is arranged with the original text on the verso, the annotations and illustrations on the recto – the annotations are extensive as the following few very random examples show: 

  1. Persuasion starts with the full description of Sir Walter Elliot’s obsession with both his own personal charms and his listing in the baronetage – Shapard here provides information on that book and others of the time and the definition of “baronet” and how Sir Walter acquired his own status…
  2. Gout is fully described on pages 311 and 315, when Anne learns that the Crofts are removing to Bath dues to the Admiral’s “gouty” condition.
  3. “replaced” – [p. 103] – “they suspected great injury, but knew not where; but now the collar-bone was soon replaced”   – the annotation explains that the word “replaced” had the meaning in Austen’s time of “to be put back in its original position” rather than “to take the place of” – there is also a description of anatomical knowledge as understood at the time.
  4. Carriages get much attention whenever they are mentioned in the text – so we have descriptions and illustrations of barouches and chaise and fours, and chairs and of course Anne’s pretty little “landaulette” [p. 483]                                                                         

    a barouche


  5. Money and wealth – Wentworth’s income explained [p. 145]
  6. Servants:  various duties outlined [p.  87]
  7. Street names, shops, locations explained throughout; e.g. The Cobb; Tattersall’s [a mention on p. 14 with an illustration]; Milsom Street; Westgate Buildings;…etc…
  8. The Clergy in Austen’s time
  9. Austen’s language as delineating character:  as in the following: “Lady Russell had only to listen composedly, and wish them happy; but internally her heart reveled in angry pleasure, in pleased contempt” [p. 232] – and the annotation reads:  “Her reveling in such emotions indicates her moral inferiority to Anne, who never derives pleasure from anger or contempt.” [p. 233]
  10. Social rules and strictures:  some examples – Sunday traveling [p. 305]; shaking of hands between men and women [p. 427]; not using first names, even those of friends such as Anne and Mrs. Smith

 A look at a few key scenes will also illustrate Shapard’s invaluable commentary: 

  1. Wentworth removing young Walter Musgrove from around Anne’s neck [pp. 152-5]:  Shapard emphasizes the importance of this scene in displaying both Anne’s and Wentworth’s feelings – he quotes William Dean Howell’s how “this simple, this homely scene, is very pretty, and is very like things that happen in life, where there is reason to think that love is oftener shown in quality than quantity, and does its effect as perfectly in the little as in the great events. [from Heroines of Fiction].  Shapard also suggests that Wentworth’s reluctance to converse with Anne about what has just happened is as much due to his efforts to remain aloof as it is to a “simple dislike of thanks,” [p. 155], as is true of Mr. Knightley in Emma. 

    Brock illus - from Molland's


  2. Louisa’s fall in Lyme Regis [p. 210-15]:  Shapard describes the Cobb, the steps that were the scene of The Fall, comments on the feelings of Anne and Wentworth, the strength of the former and the uncharacteristic weakness of the latter; Anne’s carrying the “salts” [have you ever wondered why Anne IS carrying smelling salts and conveniently has them in her possession? – “here are salts – take them, take them.” [p. 210]]; the calling for the surgeon and the differences between he and an apothecary; the comic relief of “the sight of a dead young lady, nay, two dead young ladies, for it proved twice as fine as the first report.” [p. 213-4] 

    "The horror of the moment" - from Molland's


  3. and of course, The Letter! [p. 452] – Shapard so rightly states that “Wentworth’s passionate language contrasts him with other Jane Austen heroes, who are often much cooler and more rational.  It also fits with the more intense emotional tone of this novel … the letter itself is arguably the moment of highest emotion in her works…” [p. 453]  – and we are given a picture of a writing table of the time [p. 457] – there is also extensive commentary on the conversation between Capt. Harville and Anne. 

As referred to above, there are disappointments in this work – I would most wish for an index to the annotations – these could be just general subject areas, such as similar divisions as in the bibliography – so for instance – all annotations which discuss medicine could be cited, or any references to carriages, or fashion, or Bath locations, the Navy, or examples of Free Indirect Discourse, the literary allusions such as Byron’s The Corsair and Matthew Prior’s poem “Henry and Emma”, etc.  As it is, one needs to read through the entire work to find the references, and as Shapard wishes for this to be a work for reference purposes, this addition of an index would seem to be a necessity.  A index of Characters would have also been a helpful addition – one must reach for their Chapman for this information; and finally there is also no “note on the text”, important information in any such reference source – the bibliography lists Chapman’s 1933 edition, Spacks’s Norton critical edition [1995]; and the latest Cambridge edition edited by Janet Todd and Antje Blank [2006] – but I would have liked to see from whence he took the exact text…

That all said – this is a delightful and fact-filled addition to your Austen Library – and if you are already fairly well-versed in the Regency period and Austen criticism, this will serve as a copy of Persuasion where much of this information is at your fingertips; if you are just starting your adventure in reading Austen, this will be a great introduction to the very rich world of her writings, her world, and her literary themes – what more can we ask for!  [other than a hardcover with an index!]

 4 full inkwells out of 5

[please note that the illustrations are meant to illustrate this post and are not illustrations in the work being reviewed] 

Gaskell Blog Tour ~ Comment deadline

Tonight at midnight [10-7-10, Pacific Time] is the deadline for commenting on any of the blog posts on the Elizabeth Gaskell Blog Tour and to enter to win the Naxos audiobook of North and South.  You can comment on my Gaskell post:  Your Gaskell Library, or any of the posts below.  Good luck! – Lovely prize!  Laurel Ann at Austenprose will be announcing the winner tomorrow, October 8th.






Web Round-up ~ All Things Austen!!

I’ve been out of the loop for the past week, so just a catch up post of items of Austen-interest, some old news, some new, but always interesting and chock full of Austen tidbits: 

Jane Austen Conference at the British Library:  a 6-minute YouTube video of a student conference at the British Library–speakers Kathryn Sutherland and Elizabeth Garvie, shots of Austen’s manuscripts, English Country Dancing, etc. – great fun!



Here is an interesting interview with Patricia Meyer Spacks, JASNA member and Professor of English, who just published an annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice. 

*And from Sarah Emsley, a review at Open Letters Monthly 

*A review at Austenprose 

*A review at Jane Austen’s World ~ and also Vic’s interview with Professor Spacks [Vic’s virtual tour of the book was put on the Harvard University Press’s blog! – see the video here ] 

I just got this book  – and it is lovely – I look forward to spending some quality time with it! 



Want to understand England and the concept of Englishness a bit more? – here is an interesting reading list for a course on “Englishness”  at Bristol University.  This should take you reading through the winter… and then some…


The Old Globe Theater in San Diego will be presenting Jane Austen’s Emma: A Romantic Comedy from January 15 – February 27: 

 “Emma, a timeless love story from one of the most widely read writers of all time, is now a musical, and will once again entice modern audiences to fall in love with one of Jane Austen’s most adored characters. Emma, a beautiful and clever young woman who prides herself on her matchmaking ability, is preoccupied with romance yet is clueless to her own feelings of love. When she takes on a young friend as her latest project, her well-intentioned efforts misfire, leading to a whirlwind of complications. Deliciously charming, this new romantic comedy from Tony Award nominated composer Paul Gordon and directed by Tony Award nominee, Jeff Calhoun, brings Jane Austen’s masterpiece to musical life.”

If you happen to be in Vermont in November, Claire Harman of Jane’s Fame fame will be one of the speakers at the Vermont Humanities Council Fall Conference on Comedy and Satire: It’s No Joke, From Jonathan Swift to Jon Stewart, Ridiculing Vice and Folly, November 12–13, 2010  Stoweflake Mountain Resort, Stowe, Vermont.  Professor Harman’s talk is scehduled for the Saturday afternoon from 1:00 – 2:15 pm:

Jane Austen, Veiled Satirist. Jane Austen is not usually considered a satirist, but she began her writing life in imitation of the great practitioners of the eighteenth century. Prize-winning author Claire Harman, who teaches at Oxford and Columbia Universities, looks at Austen’s beloved novels in the context of that earlier tradition and considers how and why she molded the tones and techniques of Swift and Pope to her own purposes.   See the VHC website for details.


The Eighth Annual Regency Assembly in New Haven, Connecticut is scheduled for October 16-17, 2010.  Visit Susan de Guardiola’s website for more information, where there are various links to Regency Games, Fashion, and Dance.





 Another Vermont event!  On Saturday December 18th, a Regency clothing talk at The Inn Victoria 321 Main St Chester VT, 2-3 pm, followed by a grand tea.  Visit the website of Kandie Carle, a.k.a. The Victorian Lady to learn more about her talk, which is part of an entire Jane Austen Birthday Weekend:

Dates: December 17-19, 2010

Description: Celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday in style at a Victorian B&B that is known for its romance and antiques of the period. On December 17 – 19, we will celebrate Jane’s birthday weekend with: 

  • Pride & Prejudice on the Big Screen in the Parlor
  • Two formal afternoon teas (wear your formal period dress)
  • Two book reviews
  • Two breakfasts, each with five courses…..yes, FIVE!
  • English Christmas dinner served Saturday evening with wine.
  • Actress / performer Kandie Carle, will give a performance of “The Victorian Lady”

Two night / double occupancy starts at $130 / night….. 25% of the income will be donated to the Chester Rotary for a local Christmas fund for children.


And finally – a discovery that has pleased my DOG very much – a book by Kara Louise titled Master Under Good Regulation – you can read more about it at the First Impressions blog by Alexa Adams, and more at Kara Louise’s website.  It is about Reggie, an English Springer Spaniel, best friend and confident of Mr. Darcy – and the whole story of Pride and Prejudice is told from Reggie’s point of view.  Now, MY dog is an English springer spaniel, and he is wondering if perhaps this dog of Darcy’s might not be one of his great, great ancestors – everything always comes full circle, and always back to Jane in some way, doesn’t it?! 


Thoughts on Travel in ‘Sense and Sensibility’

Sense & Sensibility is about so many things, but there is an emphasis on income, inheritance and money, and how the world of the late 18th, early 19th century figured in the lives of Austen’s characters, especially the women in her novels.  But one of the things one notices after a number of readings is the amount of movement in this novel – the constant  comings and goings of the characters, with their visiting, travels to London, moving from one end of England to the other.  On first reading, you might almost miss the extent of this movement, after all, nothing really ever happens in Austen, isn’t that what we always hear?!  But take a look at the map on the site for Sense and Sensibility and you will see what I mean. And if you know anything about travel in late 18th – early 19th century England, you will be know how arduous such travel was.  I am going to chart the movement of characters in the novel and the means whereby they moved from place to place, or as Mrs. Jennings so aptly asks of the Misses Steele:  “How did you travel?”  

Austen knew first-hand the travel issues of her day [read her letters!] – and she was very knowledgable and consistent in writing about it in her novels – often not necessarily specific but there are clues all around!   But alas!, there is so much to discuss about travel: carriages and their parts; the history of the postal system; the history of coaching and the turnpike system; the economics of the time – taxation, income and inheritance – all these; but I will in the next several posts offer a brief outline of the travel in Regency England, its difficulty and costs with a few thoughts on economics; then a discussion of movement in S&S; the types of carriages in use in Regency England and those used by Austen’s characters; and finally a few words on the London of S&S – it has the most mention of any of her novels, and interesting to see where each character was housed in Town.  And at the end of this series of posts, I will provide a bibliography and further reading references.

 Part I:  Travel in Regency England  

[English Counties: Map from]

  • -The difficulty of travel due to the condition of the roads – each parish was responsible for its own roads but they were largely dirty and muddy, and dangerous
  • -most people traveled by foot:  certainly true of the lower classes, but recall Mrs. Dashwood: 

 …his [Mr. Middleton’s ] repeated assurances of his carriage being always at their service, the independence of Mrs. Dashwood’s spirit overcame the wish of society for her children; and she was resolute in declining to visit any family beyond the distance of a walk.  

  •   -traveling in vehicles in the daytime or only in the nights with bright moonlight, little travel in winter, no travel on Sunday
  • -improper for women to travel alone [if you read Austen’s letters, you will see that she was completely dependent upon her brothers to visit anyone or travel any distance; and how outrageous that Northanger Abbey’s Catherine Morland was put on that coach all alone!]
  • -for overnights at coaching inns, travelers often brought their own linens or silverware…
  • -travel vehicles were uncomfortable and dangerous due to the road conditions and highwaymen
  • -despite all this, the late 18th-century saw a great improvement in the roads, and one could travel great distances more quickly [and if they had the money!].   Paterson’s British Itinerary, a travel guide had 17 editions between 1785-1832 – it outlined the roads used by the stage and mail coaches, the tolls, the bridges, etc.   

[Image from]

A quick review of travel times [varies depending upon vehicles]:  

  • – Mr. Darcy:  8 miles/hr –  recall his famous line to Elizabeth:  ‘what is 50 miles of good road? little more than half a day’s journey’
  • -the Stage Coach [and General Tilney]:  7 miles /hr
  • -average travel time:  4-6 miles / hr
  • -100 miles = 2 days of travel [and remember, no travel on Sunday]
  • -in 1800, London to Edinburgh took 60 hrs; London to Norwich, 19 hrs 

The estimated mileages in Sense and Sensibility: [this is in todays distances] 

  • London to Bristol = @ 106 miles
  • London to Bath = @ 97 miles
  • London to Exeter = @ 157 miles
  • London to Plymouth = @ 192 ,iles
  • Exeter to Honiton = @ 16 miles
  • Honiton to Weymouth = @ 35 miles

[Map of S&S: from]

Cost of living ~ some basic facts: 

The economy in Britain during this time was very unstable – hard to effectively calculate the meaning of what the cost of living was in the early 19th century and to compare it with ours today; also some items cost more in Austen’s times than they do today, some less.

One 1988 article calculated that one pound in 1811 = $33., so Darcy’s income of 10,000 = $330,000.  The following month another article said that to compare 1810 with 1990, one should multiply today’s average per capita income by 300 [in 1990 this was $20,894.] = $6,300,000. would be Darcy’s income in today’s language.  Another article:  the pound in 1800 = $100. , so Darcy’s 10,000 = 1 million! – to be honest I just got dizzy with this whole thing!  [There are various websites where you can play around calculating these amounts, such as Measuring Worth, and the National Archives Currency Converter]

And remember that Austen often tells you exactly what someone is worth – this was common knowledge at the time and was not considered rude to talk about it.  But when there is a reference to money, for the men, she is referring to their annual income [Darcy 10,000; Bingley 5,000; Brandon 2,000; etc], but when referring to a woman, the reference is to her total assets, i.e. this money would be invested at 5% and she would earn the income from that each year, so Miss Gray’s 50,000 [Austen’s richest woman] is not her income, but rather the income from that, so £2,500 / year to live on.  [note that this is not always consistent, but is largely a general rule in Austen]

 So rather than trying to figure out what something would be worth today, it is better to look at the cost of living, i.e. what things cost in Austen’s time,  so to gain some perspective, keep the following in mind:

  • the world that Jane Austen writes about and the world we see visually in the film adaptations portrays a very small minority of the population, the “Polite World”, the upper 10,000; Austen might give various clues in each novel to that other world, but it is easy to forget it when reading about the romance and balls and carriages and fashion, etc.   
  • Edward Copeland, an Austen scholar who has written much on the economics of Austen’s world, and says she was “meticulous” in presenting these economic truths, states that this economic world in S&S is presented in terms of the power that money brings with it, and the frightening aspect of this for the women in the novel, where it seems that the “wicked, foolish and selfish” are rewarded.  
  • in 1799, in order to support and pay for the war with France, the British Government imposed a tax of 2s / pound on all income over £200; there were also taxes on windows, on malt, sugar, tea, coffee [considered a luxury tax], etc… 

Some hard economic facts ~ in a world where the lowest “respectable” income would be about £50 / year: 

  • a common laborour:  £25 / year – this to maintain himself, his wife, and 6 children in food, lodgings, clothes and fuel 
  • governess:  £25 / year 
  • curate w/ house and garden:  £40 / year  
  • average gentleman = £150 /yr
  • for a gentleman in 1825 with an income of £250 – for himself, his wife, three children and a maidservant, food cost a little over £2.5 / wk = £135 /yr.
  • £370 /yr – will support 2 servants 
  • £500 /yr – will support two servants, a boy, an occasional gardener  [Mrs. Dashwood and three daughters] 
  • Edward & Elinor when married will have £850  [after his mother gives him money – they would have married with only 350 – see Copeland in Cambridge Companion.]
  • £800 – 1200 will support a carriage  [hence Willoughby is living way beyond his means, as we shall see…]
  • £5000+ – the minimal income needed to partake of the “London Season” – [The John Dashwoods, etc] – renting and running the household, elegant parties, stabling horses, clothing, etc.

So if Austen doesn’t tell us directly about a character’s income, you can figure it out by inference:  London? any carriage? how many servants? 

 Costs of travel:  [estimates for 1800] 

  • Stage Coach:  2-3 pence / mile = 1.25 pounds from London to Bath / half-price if up top / outside [but remember the average income was about £30 / year 
  • Hired post-chaise =  estimate about £1 / mile [i.e @1 shilling / horse / mile, to include the postillion] 

Costs of Horses: for hunting, racing, riding, pleasure drives

  • -expensive to buy and maintain:  cost = 100 pounds; annual maintenance 120 pounds to stable in London
  • -costs of the carriages [discuss later] – but there were also taxes on private carriages and horses; toll roads
  •  -for perspective:  in 1801, 8 million population in England; in 1814, there were 69,200 taxed carriages [i.e. less than 1 / 100]:  23,400 four wheeled; 27,300 two-wheeled; 18,500 “tax-carts” [basic springless vehicles] [quoting All Things Austen]

 The economic realities in S&S ~ remember that Mrs. Dashwood could not keep a horse or a carriage after the loss of their inheritance:  

1.  Narrator on the Henry Dashwoods: 

…the horses that were left her by her husband had been sold soon after his death, and an opportunity now offering of disposing of her carriage, she agreed to sell that likewise at the earnest advice of her eldest daughter.  [and she had 500 pounds a year!]

 2.  Narrator on Willoughby’s gift of a horse to Marianne [his irresponsibility – the realities of owning a horse]:  

 …Willoughby had given her a horse, one that he had bred himself on his estate in Somersetshire, and which was exactly calculated to carry a woman.  Without considering that it was not in her mother’s plan to keep any horse, that if she were to alter her resolution in favour of this gift, she must buy another for a servant, and keep a servant to ride it, and after all, build a stable to receive them…

 3.  Marianne on a competence:  she wants 2000 pounds a year: 

I am sure I am not extravagant in my demands. A proper establishment of servants, a carriage, perhaps two, and hunters, cannot be supported on less.   [the irony being that that is exactly the income of Colonel Brandon!]  – and of course, Elinor responds:

TWO thousand a year! ONE is my wealth!

4.  Fanny Dashwood in the infamous scene talking down the inheritance: 

Their housekeeping will be nothing at all.  They will have no carriage, no horses, and hardly any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expenses of any kind!

 And on that happy note, I will pause ~ next up:  what is the income of the characters in S&S, where do they live, and to where do they travel in this novel of many travels?


[Posted by Deb]