Collecting Jane Austen: Regency London

Jane Austen and London is a subject that should have its own shelf(ves). This is one of those down the rabbit hole in collecting that will either find you on a completely different path of book buying or become for you “the road not taken.” There will be many such roads if you embark on the adventure of collecting Jane Austen – as you all likely know, it is an endless morass…

Long before I began to collect Jane Austen, I started a collection of books on London – I love London for many reasons – my parents were born in England so I became an anglophile from an early age; I studied in London for a college semester (political science – don’t ask!); and during that semester met my husband, so it serves as a Romantic haven for me. I started collecting any books I could find on London – a heady task (almost as impossible as Jane Austen) – then narrowed it to children’s books about or set in London (many more than you would think) – then when Austen hit my radar I began to focus just on Regency-era London (a bit more manageable but larger than my pocket book or shelf space nonetheless). So I now have rather a mish-mash of various titles, some very collectible and some just commonplace treatises great for reference and beautiful pictures. When I began doing talks on Jane Austen and London, I found a real use for the books I had as well as an excuse to acquire more….and so you see my mighty fall into the Rabbit Hole of collecting….

Today I will just share three titles of the many, for no particular reason other than to show the diversity of what’s out there – I append at the end the very select bibliography handout for the talk I give, though is now a bit outdated and does not contain all the books I have – if you have any favorite books on London, please share the titles in the comments.

1. Regency London, by Stella Margetson. New York: Praeger, 1971 [London: Cassell, 1971].

Margetson wrote a few novels but also a number of books of English social history especially of the late 18th and the 19th-century. This book on Regency London is a short introductory text that covers the basics, with black and white contemporary illustrations throughout:

  1. Carlton House
  2. The Mercantile City
  3. Westminster and Government
  4. The Regent and the Architect
  5. High Society
  6. Entertainment
  7. The Artists and the Writers
  8. The Populace
  9. Some Visitors to London [Jane gets a few pages on her stays in London]
  10. An Expanding City

 FYI: Cassell / Praeger did a series of five books on London:

  • Roman London, by Ralph Merrifield
  • Medieval London, by Timothy Baker           
  • Elizabethan London, by Martin Holmes       
  • Regency London, by Stella Margetson
  • Victorian London, by Priscilla Metcalf

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2. The A to Z of Regency London, Introduction by Paul Laxton; index compiled by Joseph Wisdom. Lympne Castle, Kent: Harry Margary, in association with Guildhall Library, London, 1985.

This historical atlas is based on Richard Horwood’s survey of London in 1792-9 and updated by William Faden in 1813 – it shows the streets, lanes, courts, yards, and alleys, but also every individual building with its street number – the 40 sheets of the original Horwood have been photographically reduced, and the index for this edition expands the original by threefold.

The Horwood map is available online in various formats [a terrific one is here: https://www.romanticlondon.org/explore-horwoods-plan/#16/51.5112/-0.0747], but this is a treasure to have close at hand. One can easily trace Austen’s meanderings described in her letters, and follow the many characters in Sense and Sensibility – where they live, visit, and shop – her one novel where London is central to the plot (though it is also where the dilemma of Harriet gets sorted!)

For those of you who love maps, there are others to choose from in this series: The A to Z of Elizabethan London, Restoration London, Georgian London, Victorian London, and Edwardian London (there is also one for Georgian Dublin)

Horwood Map, p 13: Covent Garden

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3. One Day in Regency England, by Alastair Scott. Brighton: Robert Tyndall, 1974.

This is a children’s book, and about all of England not just London – but it is a delightful introduction to the period and filled with color and black and white contemporary illustrations; the cover is designed by Gordon King.

The book presents the day of July 20, 1813 in the lives of several characters, starting in the home of Charles Henry Longhurst – we meet him and his family and their friends and his servants, the children in school, life in the country vs. the day in the City – all presented as what goes on in these individual lives in the Morning, Afternoon and Evening. It is skillfully and entertainingly done and in 48 pages takes us in to traveling carriages, cookery in the kitchen, a dinner party and then off to Vauxhall Gardens, all the while getting a glimpse of those doing all the work behind the scenes! It is quite an exhausting day!

As you can see in the bottom paragraph in the above page image, Scott writes that Longhurst’s daughter Amelia is quite taken with Jane Austen and reading Pride and Prejudice – when suddenly her attention is drawn to the arrival of a small chimney-sweep – and thus we are privy to that bit of history, of poor, young, soot-covered boys and the realities and dangers of that job.

[This Day Book Series also includes a number of other “One Day” adventures in a variety of time periods in England and elsewhere: Shakespeare’s England, Roman Britain, Victorian, Medieval, WWI, WWII, etc.]

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As noted, this bibliography is very select but gives you an idea of the variety of works on London and specifically London during Jane Austen’s time – again, it is a bit outdated….

 ‘Jane Austen’s London in Fact and Fiction’: Select Bibliography

The A – Z of Regency London; introduction by Paul Laxton. London: Harry Margary / Guildhall Library, 1985.

Ackermann, R. The Microcosm of London, or London in Miniature. Rpt. ed. London: Methuen, 1904.

Ackroyd, Peter. London: The Biography.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2000.

Allen, Louise. Walks Through Regency London.  UK: Shire, 2013. [2nd revised ed. 2014]

Borer, Mary Cathcart. An Illustrated Guide to London 1800.  New York:  St. Martin’s, 1988.

Byrne, Paula. Jane Austen and the Theatre.  London: Hambledon, 2002.

Cunningham, Peter. Handbook of London: Past and Present. New ed. London: Murray, 1850.

Easton, Celia. “Austen’s Urban Redemption: Rejecting Richardson’s View of the City.” Persuasions 26 (2004): 121-35.

Edwards, Anne-Marie. In the Steps of Jane Austen. 3rd ed. Newbury, UK: Countryside, 1996.

Elmes, James. A Topographical Dictionary of London and Its Environs. London: Whitaker, 1831. Google Book.

George, Dorothy.  London Life in the XVIIIth Century. London: Kegan, Paul, 1925.

Hibbert, Christopher.  London: The Biography of a City. London: Longmans, 1969.

Hill, Douglas. A Hundred Years of Georgian London from the Accession of George I to the Heyday of the Regency.  London:  MacDonald, 1970.

Hughson, David. Walks Through London. London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1817.

Kaplan, Laurie. “Emma and ‘the children in Brunswick Square.’” Perusasions 31 (2009): 236-47.

Knight, Charles, ed. London. London: Charles Knight, 1841. Ebook, Tufts Digital Library < http://hdl.handle.net/10427/53832  >

Leigh, Samuel. Leigh’s New Picture of London. New ed. London: Leigh, 1827.

Margetson, Stella. Regency London.  New York: Praeger, 1971.

Picard, Liza. Dr. Johnson’s London. London: Weidenfeld, 2000.

_____. Victorian London. London: Weidenfeld, 2005.

Porter, Roy. London: A Social History.  Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995.

Richardson, John. Covent Garden Past. London:  Historical, 1995.

_____. London and Its People: A Social History from Medieval Times to the Present Day.  London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1995.

Quin, Vera. Jane Austen Visits London. Cappella Archive, 2008.

Saunders, Ann. The Art and Architecture of London: An Illustrated Guide. 2nd ed. Oxford: Phaidon, 1988.

Stabler, Jane. “Cities.” Jane Austen in Context. Ed. Janet Todd. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. 204-14.

Summerson, John. Georgian London. New ed. New Haven: Yale UP, 2003.

Tannahill, Reay. Regency England.  London: Folio Society, 1964.

Vickery, Amanda. Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England.  New Haven: Yale UP, 2009.

Watson, Winifred. Jane Austen in London.  Chawton: JAS, 1960.

Whitfield, Peter. London: A Life in Maps.  London: British Library, 2006.

Worsley, Giles. Architectural Drawings of the Regency Period, 1790-1837. London: Andre Deutsch, 1991.

Select Online Sources:

[some are no longer available; there have been many more sources added to the internet since I first compiled this]

Austenonly [Julie Wakefield]: http://austenonly.com/ ; http://ajaneaustengazetteer.com/

Bolles Collection:  History of London.  Tufts Digital Library:  http://dl.tufts.edu/

British History Online: Survey of London:  http://www.british-history.ac.uk/place.aspx?region=1

British Library:  http://www.bl.uk/

Collage, City of London:  http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/collage/app

Geograph Great Britain and Ireland. http://www.geograph.org.uk/

Georgian Index:  http://www.georgianindex.net/

Georgian London:  http://www.georgianlondon.com/

Jane Austen’s London blog (Louise Allen): http://janeaustenslondon.com/

Jane Austen’s World: http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/

JASA – Jane Austen Society of Australia.  “Jane Austen in London” Conference. March 2001.  http://www.jasa.net.au/london/index.htm [no longer available]

Lewis Walpole Library:  http://www.library.yale.edu/walpole/

London Ancestor: http://www.londonancestor.com/

London Calling [Tony Grant]: http://general-southerner.blogspot.com/

London Lives 1690-1800: http://www.londonlives.org/

London Museum: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/English/

London’s Past Online:  http://www.history.ac.uk/projects/londons-past-online

Mapco:  http://mapco.net/london.htm

Mollands:  http://www.mollands.net/

Nancy Regency Researcher:  http://www.susannaives.com/nancyregencyresearcher/ [no longer available]

Old London Maps: http://www.oldlondonmaps.com/

One London One blog: http://onelondonone.blogspot.com/

Pascal Bonenfant: http://www.pascalbonenfant.com/

Regency Encyclopedia:  http://www.reg-ency.com/

The Republic of Pemberley:  http://www.pemberley.com/

Romantic London: https://www.romanticlondon.org/ [an amazing new site!]

[Compiled by Deborah Barnum. 3-24-11 (partially updated 3/2016)]

©2021, Jane Austen in Vermont

Collecting Jane Austen: The Letters

Jane Austen to Cassandra, from Sloan St London, 25 April 1811 – British Library

Jane Austen’s Letters are an absolute must-have in your collection. There is nothing like reading these late at night, Jane Austen hovering over your shoulder. Considered rather mundane by the scholarly world when they first appeared – filled as they are with local gossip, fashion and food news, the periodic snide comment about friends and neighbors, and very little about her reading and writing – they have in succeeding years been picked over, and picked over again, to find the minutest insight into Austen and her world.

I find them a pure delight – seeing Austen as she was, mostly in missives to her sister, but also to her brothers, her friends, and publishers – it is like being inside her head at any given moment as she shares her thoughts, observations, and very caustic wit about the goings-on around her – a participant, but always the objective, sometimes judgmental, observer…

One-hundred and sixty letters remain from what has been surmised to have been thousands Austen likely wrote. Cassandra’s “great conflagration” before her own death in 1845 saw the destruction of who knows what else Austen had to say about her own life  – the gaps in dates give the reader such a sense of loss – what happened in those intervening days and years?? – and thus the fabric of novels is made. Of these 160 extant letters, most are scattered around various institutions or remain in private hands – location of each is noted in Le Faye’s exhaustive work.

This example of just her signature sold for over $16,000 in 2017!

So which of the published Letters to have??

Well, a true collector should have them all – you can find a good list in Gilson at G, a mere 8 pages (1982 ed.) with an additional three pages in the revised edition of 1997. While having them all would be a collector’s dream, you at least must have the 4th ed. by Le Faye if you are to understand anything at all about Jane Austen. But here is my list of the basic should-haves:

1. 1817: Henry Austen’s “Biographical Notice” postscript dated 20 December 1817 – Henry included a few extracts from her letters in this notice that appeared in the first edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (London: John Murray, 1818).

2. 1870: James Edward Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen (London: Bentley, 1870) – includes extracts and some letters in their entirety.

Frontispiece to the Memoir – the prettified Jane

3. 1884: The Letters of Jane Austen, edited with an introduction and critical remarks by Edward, Lord Brabourne (London: Bentley, 1884). Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen, son of Austen’s niece Fanny Knight, published 96 of the letters left to him by his mother – mostly includes letters to Cassandra, but also to Fanny, Anna Lefroy, and the two letters written by Cassandra on Austen’s death.

You can read them all here: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Letters_of_Jane_Austen_(Brabourne)
or here: https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/brablets.html

For a fascinating history of an Austen family-owned and annotated copy of these Letters, you can read Edith Lank’s account of her copy here:

“Family and Scholarly Annotations in Lord Brabourne’s Letters: Adventures of an Amateur Academic,” by Edith Lank. Persuasions 30 (2008): 76-87 – citation only, full–text unavailable.

But Lank also made a list of all the annotations online in POL 29.1 (2008), which you can read here: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol29no1/lank.html

4. 1906: Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers, by John Henry Hubback and Edith Charlotte Hubback (London: John Lane, 1906) – this biography of Francis and Charles Austen includes for the first time Jane’s letters to her sailor brothers.

5. 1913: Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters, A Family Record, by William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh (London: Smith-Elder, 1913) – quoted from all the letters known at that time.

6. 1924: Five Letters from Jane Austen to her Niece Fanny Knight, printed in facsimile (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924) – the full text of the letters from Austen to her niece (they were incompletely printed in Brabourne’s collection.

7. 1925: The Letters of Jane Austen, selected with an introduction by R. Brimley Johnson (London: John Lane, 1925) – a selection of 44 letters from the Brabourne Letters, The Sailor Brothers, and the Austen-Leigh Life.

Chapman, Letters, 1932

8. 1932: Jane Austen’s Letters to Her Sister Cassandra, collected and edited by R. W. Chapman (Oxford: Clarendon, 1932) – the first definitive edition, printed from the actual manuscripts where possible with those letters not accessible taken from Brabourne. There was a 2nd ed. published in 1952 with the addition of 6 more letters but few other changes. Chapman also published a selection of the letters (about one-third) in 1955, and again in 1985 with an introduction by Marilyn Butler.

9. 1981: Five Letters from Jane Austen to Her Sister Cassandra, 1813, with an introduction by David Gilson (Brisbane: Lock’s Press, 1981) – a limited edition of 60 copies.

10. 1990: Jane Austen’s Manuscript Letters in Facsimile, edited by Jo Modert (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1990 – a reproduction of all letters that could be located – the introduction is invaluable and seeing each letter in its original state is fascinating.

11. 1990: My Dear Cassandra…a collection of Jane Austen’s Letters selected and introduced by Penelope Hughes-Hallett (London: Collins and Brown, 1990) – letters selected from the Brabourne Letters, not complete, but it does include many fabulous contemporary illustrations.

12. 1992: “Seven letters from Austen to Francis and Charles” published as a keepsake for those at the JASNA AGM (Alto Loma: Bookhaven Press, 1992) – a miniature booklet limited to 300 copies, these were given to attendees of the 1992 AGM in Santa Monica, CA – the theme was “The Letters, Focusing on Travel and the Sea.”

13. 1995: Jane Austen’s Letters, New Edition, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995) – a 3rd edition of the Chapman Letters but with Le Faye’s ceaseless and energetic scholarship into those not fully identified by Chapman as well as the addition of 12 more letters – Le Faye’s notes are mine of information on provenance, current location of each letter (if known), every detail on people and places and allusions are noted; includes biographical and topographical indexes. The lacking full subject indexes found in Chapman were added into the 4th edition (see below)…

There is also a fine publication of this 1995 edition by the Folio Society:

14. 2004: Selected Letters [of Jane Austen], selected with an introduction and notes by Vivien Jones (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004) – based on the 3rd ed. of the letters by Deirdre Le Faye from 1995. You need these paperback editions so you have something to write-in and underline (!).

14. 2011: Jane Austen’s Letters, 4th ed., collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011; paperback ed. 2014) – no new letters have been discovered since the 1995 ed, but much additional information has been added regarding Austen’s life and her endless references in the letters. Indexes and notes have been updated, as well as the addition of the all-important Subject Index.

There are other editions out there – I also have the small Oxford World Classics blue hardcover of Chapman Letters with the dust jacket, not often seen – if you should find this, buy it immediately…

[Please note: Our house is being renovated and all my books are packed up – so while some of these images are mine, I had to also mine the internet for others!]

Do you have a favorite edition of the Letters??

©2021 Jane Austen in Vermont

Collecting Jane Austen: ‘The Accomplished Lady’ by Noël Riley

“It is amazing to me,” said Bingley, “how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.”

   “All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?”

   “Yes, all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.”

   “Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,” said Darcy, “has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse or covering a screen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished.”

   “Nor I, I am sure,” said Miss Bingley.

“Then,” observed Elizabeth, “you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman.”

   “Yes, I do comprehend a great deal in it.”

   “Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”

   “All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

   “I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”

   “Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this?”

   “I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe united.”

[Pride & Prejudice, Vol. 1, Ch. 8]

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And so, to truly understand what Mr. Darcy is driving at, to understand anything about Jane Austen’s world, you need to study this quite formidable lady, if indeed such a one existed! – and there is no better book on the subject than Noël Riley’s The Accomplished Lady: A History of Genteel Pursuits c.1660-1860 (Oblong, 2017).

“This is a study of the skills and pastimes of upper-class women and the works they produced during a 200-year period. These activities included watercolours, printmaking and embroidery, shell work, rolled and cut paper work, sand painting, wax flower modelling, painting on fabrics and china, leather work, japanning, silhouettes, photography and many other activities, some familiar and others little known.

The context for these activities sets the scene: the general position of women in society and the constraints on their lives, their virtues and values, marriage, domestic life and education. This background is amplified with chapters on other aspects of women’s experience, such as sport, reading, music, dancing and card-playing.” [from the book jacket].

Table of Contents:

Introduction

1.  A Woman’s Lot
2.  Educating a Lady
3.  Reading and Literary Pursuits [my favorite chapter]
4.  Cards, Indoor Games and Theatricals
5.  The Sporting Lady
6.  Dancing and Public Entertainment
7.  Music
8.  Embroidery
9.  Threads and Ribbons
10. Beadwork
11. Shellwork
12. Nature into Art
13. Paperwork
14. Drawing and Painting
15. Creativity with Paints and Prints
16. Japanning
17. Penwork
18. Silhouettes
19. Photography and the Victorian Lady
20. Sculpture, Carving, Turning and Metalwork
21. Toys and Trifles.

Includes extensive notes, an invaluable bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and an index.

I have mentioned before that in collecting Jane Austen, you will often go off into necessary tangents to learn about her Life and Times – this can take you in any number of directions, but understanding the Domestic Arts of the Regency period is an absolute must – and there are MANY books on the subject, cookery alone could fill shelves. But here in this one book we find a lavishly illustrated, impeccably researched study of all the possible activities a lady of leisure [no cookery for My Lady] can get herself caught up in….whether she becomes accomplished or not is beyond our knowing, but certainly Mr. Darcy would find at least ONE lady in these pages who might meet his strict requirements, despite Elizabeth’s doubting rant.

The Georgian Society of East Yorkshire offers a nice review here with a sample page: http://www.gsey.org.uk/post/992/book-review-the-accomplished-lady-a-history-of-genteel-pursuits-c-16601860-by-nol-riley

It is always a worthwhile effort to check the index of every book you pick up to see if Jane Austen gets a mention. And here we are not disappointed – Austen shows up on many pages, and five of her six novels are cited in the bibliography – all but Persuasion for some odd reason – one would think Anne Elliot’s skills at the pianoforte would have merited a mention?

This image of page 165 quotes Austen about patchwork when she writes to Cassandra on 31 May 1811:“Have you remembered to collect peices for the Patchwork?”

So, let’s stop to think about the varied accomplishments of Austen’s many female characters…anyone want to comment and give a shout out to your own favorite and her accomplishments / or lack thereof? Is anyone up to Mr. Darcy’s standards?

©2021 Jane Austen in Vermont