Guest Post by Tony Grant: SHERE, A Village in Surrey

Dear Readers: Please welcome Tony Grant today, as he gives us a bit of a travelogue through the village of Shere in Surrey. This all came about because of the holidays – and the holidays always brings the need to re-watch The Holiday with Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz and Jack Black. And whenever you watch this movie, you want to immediately move to England and live in Kate Winslet’s cottage (and having Jude Law around would not be a bad thing either…) – so then you start looking into where that cottage actually is, and then you find out it doesn’t actually exist at all, and then you start researching this village of Shere and looking for real real estate, so then you realize you have a better person to help with this, and who better to ask to do a blog piece on it but Tony Grant, who with his love of history, great photography skills, and the fact he doesn’t live all that far away, made it a no-brainer to implore him to write something… here is the result – please note that many of the pictures are shots of the village and surrounding area, randomly scattered throughout the post unless specifically identified, and all by Tony Grant. Hope you enjoy this travel adventure – and be sure to put Shere on your itinerary when next you are in England (whenever that will be … we can only live in Hope).

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Rosehill Cottage, ‘The Holiday’ [Source: inwws.co.uk]

SHERE, A Village in Surrey, by Tony Grant

For as long as I can remember, my family and I have visited Shere Village in Surrey every Summer. When the children were really small and we only had Sam and Alice as toddlers in those days, Shere Village with the river Tillingbourne rippling its cool glassy way behind  the backs of  shops and under the low bridge in the High Street always had its fascinations. Ducks and geese in abundance swam in the river or stood on the river bank and Sam and Alice were very excited and interested in feeding them with bits of bread and just being able to look at them and see how they behaved. After Emily was born and later Abigail came along, we continued our tradition of going to Shere. We loved walking round the village, being in amongst ancient buildings, some timber framed with whitewashed walls, some constructed from the local greensand stone, wisteria and climbing roses draping themselves over and festooning the houses. It is the quintessential English country village.

When we visit Shere we often walk further afield, up into the hills and valleys around Shere. Shere is set in that part of Surrey where Chalk downland to the north provides a vista of smoothly rounded and curving steep sided hills, voluptuous in their contours. Sculptors such as Barbara Hepworth were inspired by the contours of the English countryside. To the south and west stretches the Greensand Ridge consisting of hard Bargate Stone, ironstones and soft sandstones. These rock formations are part of the western extremities of The Weald anticline. Greensand was laid down in the Cretaceous period over 145 million years ago and the chalk downland was also laid down in the Cretaceous period about 65 million years ago. These two geological formations are apparent in the landscape, buildings and farming in the area around Shere.

Driving to Shere is always a very pleasant experience. We live about 20 miles north of Shere in a straight line within the London Borough of Merton. According to Google maps, when I type in Motspur Park to Shere by car, it gives me 23 miles as the distance and times the driving journey at 37 minutes. I always think the time GOOGLE gives is a useless bit of knowledge. If the roads are clear I can get there much quicker and if there are road works, need I say more? Driving down the A3, a major road, from South London towards Portsmouth usually has a lot of traffic on it. The A3 takes us over the M25, that motorway that encircles London and what a sight that always is, a continuous flow of multi lane traffic that goes on for ever and ever like a gigantic sinuous serpent. Not that the A3, a three lane highway, doesn’t have its attractive features. Most of it passes south through silver birch, oak and ash woodland.  Oxshott Woods, a vast area of heathland , wild water ponds and trees, is a haven for horse riding, running , cycling and  walking, if that is what you want.

Along the A3 we pass the turn off for Painshill, which incidentally Jane Austen mentions in letters. She passed the Painshill Estate  on her way to London. Painshill once had a great house attached to it but the park has been restored to its 18th century glory. The landscaping is amazing with lakes, temples, grottos and pagodas. An 18th century pleasure garden. But, we are not going there today.

It is not far until we turn off for Ockham on the left. Immediately we get on to single track country roads between fields and more woodland. We soon drive along a road that borders a large estate. High brick walls enclose it for miles with attractive gate houses and cottages positioned along the perimeter here and there. It encloses an 18th century deer park, where also horse breeding and sheep farming are practiced today. We pass medieval stone built, All Saints Church on the right, set back amongst trees with its lichen covered gravestones, some dating  back centuries.

Surrey is a beautiful county. It has much woodland and is famous for its bluebell woods which are carpeted with bluebells in the spring. You also come across fields which grow oilseed rape. You can’t miss them.  A field of oilseed rape is bright yellow. The oilseeds are used to make vegetarian butters and spreads. It is also a natural product that is put into shampoos and soaps. Another crop Surrey is famous for are its lavender fields. Lavender has such a lovely powerful scent. Walking through a field of lavender can give you quite a high. The lavender is used in perfumes and medicines. It is great for a bouquet to hang in your kitchen or even in your bedroom.

Surrey has mostly mixed farming. You come across fields with dairy cows grazing in them, horse breeding is prevalent, there are some wheat fields and a lot of sheep are bred on the grassland that grows well on the chalky soils of the chalk downs. Grassland, for sheep and cattle is what you find around the environs of the village of Shere.

From Ockham we drive on through some of those bluebell woods and dipping into shallow valleys in some places but mostly climbing higher onto the chalk downs above Shere. From the top of the downs leading into the Village itself, we pass along a narrow valley down a steep road called Combe Lane. The valley begins as a small indentation in the land at the top of the downs and continues making a long deepening cut into the hills and drops, to the lower level near Shere.

What is interesting about this small, long valley is what is in it. On the far side you can catch a glimpse of a small concrete building nestling into the valley side. It has two narrow slits facing down the valley. During World War II when Britain thought Germany might invade, all sorts of preventative defensive measures were put in place all over the British countryside. You can still come across areas with tank traps in Surrey and other southern counties. Near where I was born in Southampton you can come across large concrete foundations built at various places along the side of Southampton Water reaching from the Hamble River right up to the River Itchen. These were the foundations for the massive anti- aircraft guns that were located on these sights. However the small hidden concrete boxes, called pill boxes, were the most prolific constructions. Railway lines, major roads and as it seems some valleys were provided with them. They were machine gun installations and artillery positions, partly hidden and would only have been seen at close quarters and of course by then they would have spewed out shells and machine gun bullets at quite a rate.  They could only be thought of as a slowing tactic. The shell from a Tiger Tank would have destroyed a concrete pill box in an instant. I grew up with these sort of military emplacements dotted about where I lived in Southampton. They were manned by what was termed ,The Home Guard. The Home Guard were men too old to join the regular army. They had served in the trenches of the First World War in France and they were retrained to defend Britain if ever it was invaded.

So eventually we drive into SHERE Village itself after crossing the main Shere Road along Upper Street. It has buildings of many periods. The oldest are the timber framed with their black tarred timbers highlighted against the white plaster infills of wattle and daub. It is a long road bordered by cottages that leads into the centre. At one point we drive under an intricately constructed wooden footbridge. We arrive at a junction. Ahead is Gomshall Lane. To the right Middle Street passes through the centre of the village. However, to the left is a large car park in a field near the cricket ground over looked by the high rolling chalk downs. This is where we park our car.

The Shere Cricket Club likes to think its roots began in 1671, when a game of cricket is recorded in the village. Cricket as we know it better today, began when village teams began to compete on a regulated basis in 1744. Rules were written down and later in 1788 The Marylebone Cricket club revised the rules. You will find cricket being played on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays at the weekend in Shere. [Ed. You can read Tony’s post on Cricket here].  Once we have parked we are free to saunter into the village and enjoy the ambience and timelessness of this incredible place.

To the left of the car park, a little along Gomshall Lane, is the old working men’s club next to the  Village Hall. The Working Mens Club is no longer used for its original purpose. The social mix of Shere and those who live in Shere has changed over the years. The Working Mens Club, originally for those who worked on the land locally is now Shere Museum. It records  daily rural life over the centuries. The museum covers a broad period of history from Victorian times up to the 1950s.  A large display commemorates the RAF Dambusters raid in World War II. We can learn about the exploits of Flight Lieutenant John Vere Hopgood DFC who was a pilot in the Dambusters Raid. He was born and brought up in Shere. Displays show objects of daily life with tools, toys, domestic items and clothing mainly from the time the Museum covers.

St James’ Church Lych Gate – wikipedia

The life and works of architect Edwin Lutyens is also featured. He designed and built the war memorial and the Lych Gate that mark the entrance to St James’s Church in the village. There is also an extensive collection of archival and reference material which includes old photographs, records, maps, society records, parish magazines that recall the people of Shere and the local history of the surrounding area. We always take time to explore the incredible objects and stories the museum tells.

 

Shere Village Hall

The Village Hall next door, along with the church, is the hub of the village still. Music concerts, parties, wedding receptions, birthdays, village dances and all manner of village and local gatherings make use of the village hall. And across the road from the Village Hall is the Shere Infant and Nursery School, which has been serving the local community since 1852, The school building is the original Victorian building with new additions. Recently OFSTED [Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills] awarded it OUTSTANDING. That means it offers fantastic learning opportunities with great facilities and an excellent standard of teaching [see below for a link].

From the museum, we walk on into Middle Street, the heart of the village. Marilyn likes to go into a shop called “Cuckoo Corner.” It is an ancient timber frame building and going into it is like walking into the carcass and bones of some ancient creature. Massive oak beams support the building as uprights and create the enclosed spaces with large powerful cross beams. Walking around the shop is an adventure in itself, from one level to another up and down and walking from one small room to another with all the nooks and crannies. It is womb-like. Be careful of cracking your skull on the overhead oak beams. It is a gift shop and is full to the brim with rural artefacts, pottery, weaving, cloth prints, cards, local paintings and photographs. We look around the shop and then walk out. I don’t think we have ever bought anything from it. It’s a very pleasant adventure just looking at the things.

Then on down Middle Street past Mad Jacks that sell fabrics, the Coop (Cooperative Stores) is on the left where you can buy your groceries. Surrey Hills off licence is on the left too where you can stock up with beer, wine and gin, if that is your preference. Tim Clarkes Photography is on the opposite side of the road alongside Favourite Things, a baby shop, and then the Dabbling Duck Café which is beside the River Tillbourne that wends its silvery way through the village. It is here, when the children were younger, where we would stop and spend time with the ducks and geese floating on the river. Just across The Tillbourne on the right is the forge, still used as a forge today, next to the wooden construction of the old fire station. The White Horse public house comes next. Opposite the pub at this part of Middle Street is The Square, with an island of grass and a massive tall oak tree growing in the middle of it. Timber frame and stone cottages encircle the square which leads towards the Lutyens war memorial and the Lych Gate leading into the church yard of St James’s Church.

St James’ Church, Shere

St James’ has a tall spire reaching to the sky above a stone built nave. St James is in the Early English style, mostly 12th, 13th and 14th century. It replaced an earlier Anglo-Saxon church mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is constructed of ironstone rubble with sandstone buttresses. The materials for building all the cottages, houses and indeed the church itself come from the  geology and soil beneath our feet. Bricks from local clay deposits, the sandstones from the Greensand intrusions, the oak beams of the timber frame buildings from the local forests, wattle and daub, a mixture of fencing constructed with thin copparded branches of beech and ash, the daub from cow dung and lime deposits from the ground. It is interesting to think that humans have constructed their built world from the earth and rocks from which the very Earth is made. It as though our habitations have grown out of the ground beneath, which indeed they have. 

Shere is mentioned in the “Domesday Book” of 1086.  The area was owned by William the Conqueror himself. The Domesday Book describes two mills, 14 ploughs, 3 acres of meadow and woodland worth 50 hogs. It provided £15 per annum to its overlords. The Domesday Book is the “Great Survey,” of much of England and parts of Wales and was completed in 1086. William the Conqueror wanted to know what he had conquered and how much it was worth. Taxation of the land and communities had begun. “Doomsday” indeed.

During the 16th, 17th and really up to the 19th century this part of Surrey, protected by the surrounding hills and its remoteness from large local towns was considered the wildest part of Surrey. It was well known for its sheep stealing, smuggling exploits, and the poaching of the local estates. Some cottages and indeed The White Horse pub have large cellars that previously were used for storing smuggled and stolen goods.

One of Shere’s most intriguing and interesting inhabitants was Christine Carpenter, who lived in Shere in the 14th century. She was born and brought up here. In 1329, she requested from the local Bishop the right to become an anchoress. The Bishop granted her wish. The people of Shere built a small stone cell into the north wall of St James near the high altar of the church for her. Christine was incarcerated in the cell and spent her time praying for the people of Shere. The local people would come to talk to Christine about their problems and ask for her prayers. She would listen, give her advice and pray for them.

Christine Carpenter – anchoress at St. James’ Church

Inside the church today, near the high altar, you can still see the spy hole that enabled her to watch mass being said by the priest. There is also a quatrefoil window where people could come to visit Christine and talk to her. At one time she requested to come out of the cell to live in the village again. After some time she again asked to go back into the cell. On the wall above the spy hole in the church are encased some documents referring to Christine and her life. Almost contemporary with the life of Christine is that of Julian of Norwich who was an anchoress attached to St Julian’s Church in Norwich. Lady Julian became famous throughout Medieval Europe for her wisdom and her spiritual writings concerning her relationship with Jesus.  Her Revelations of Divine Love is still in print today. People still use it as a spiritual source for prayer and meditation.  Margery Kempe, another mystic, was taught and influenced by Julian and Margery’s writings are also still available [see below for links].

Now to the point: Shere in recent decades has become a film set. Forty-one films have been made here over the past 100 years. Among the most recent being Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), where a wedding ceremony takes place in St James’ Church. Four Weddings and Funeral filmed in (1994) and of course, as we’ve seen, the Christmas classic, The Holiday (2006) starring, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Jack Black. [you can find a list of all the films shot in Shere here.

In The Holiday [Ed. and what prompted this post!], Shere is the location of Kate Winslet’s cottage that she swaps with Cameron Diaz’s LA mansion. Scenes in Shere include Cameron Diaz arriving in a taxi. The driver leaves her next to the church because he cannot drive up the narrow lane to the cottage. Her first sites of Shere are the grave stones in the cemetery. From the Church Cameron Diaz drags her heavy luggage up the lane to the cottage which was constructed for the film in a field on the chalk doenland overlooking Shere and the spire of St James church. The White Horse pub in Shere is where Jude Law takes Cameron Diaz for a drink. We also see Cameron Diaz driving Kate Winslet’s Mini Cooper [Ed. yay for mini-coopers!] through the village and along the surrounding sunken lanes. These lanes are difficult to drive along. They have been cut into the local sandstone and have high vertical sides. I too have gasped driving past oncoming traffic just as Cameron Diaz does in the film.

the lane to Rosehill Cottage…
The White Horse pub in Shere
CAMERON DIAZ stars as Amanda in THE HOLIDAY, a film by Nancy Meyers.

Shere today is very different from its historical past. A significant minority of the people living in Shere nowadays are London Commuters. In the 2001 census self-employed people constituted 36% of the population, retirees 16%. 48% are employees working for shopkeepers, farmers and small local grass roots high tech companies. The village today, as illustrated by its local sports clubs such as the cricket club, the vibrant life of the Village Hall and the thriving local junior school that has been graded as outstanding by OFSTED, shows that it is a village for today and not just a relic of the past. It is fit for the 21st century.

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Images of Shere for your viewing pleasure: [Ed. I will take any one of these houses!]

Church Cottage, Shere Village
For misbehaving Shereites…
Slightly drunken gravestones [too much time perhaps at the White Horse ?..]

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References and Further Reading:

Shere information:

St. James’ Church, Shere:

The White Horse pub: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g616273-d1155834-Reviews-The_White_Horse-Shere_Guildford_Surrey_England.html

Pill Boxes in WWII: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_hardened_field_defences_of_World_War_II

Julian of Norwich:

Margery Kempe:

Dambusters Raid: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-incredible-story-of-the-dambusters-raid

All you need to know about copparding: The wattle part of wattle and daub is constructed by weaving the thin branches cut from copparded trees. The wattle is a sort of woven fencing onto which the cow dung, lime and straw mix is stuck and when dried out together becomes the wattle and daub infill for timber framed buildings. https://www.google.com/amp/s/jatehorticulture.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/copparding/amp/

OFSTED [The Office For Standards in Education] report on Shere Church of England Infants School gives a great insight into the school and how it is run: https://secureservercdn.net/160.153.138.53/e8a.73f.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/10088228-Shere-CofE-Aided-Infants-125246-Final-PDF.pdf

The Holiday:

Making The Holiday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSO9pavoJq4

A completely irrelevant Aside: Newlands Corner is close to Shere and where Agatha Christie’s car was found during her strange-but-true disappearance in 1936 [and a subject for another post…]:
https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/nostalgia/agatha-christies-disappearance-how-two-18562395


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Thank you Tony for this grand tour of Shere … now if you could just get me one of those cottages….

©2021, Jane Austen in Vermont and Tony Grant

Happy New Year One and All!!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, with gratitude to all for your visits, your comments, and your discussions of all things Jane!  ~ Thank you for including Jane Austen in Vermont in your daily blog surfing!  Welcome to 2021!

Today in Jane Austen’s life:  [from the JASNA-Wisconsin “A Year with Jane Austen” calendar, and The Chronology of Jane Austen and Her Family, by Deirdre Le Faye, Cambridge, 2006]

December 31st:

  • 1797: Henry Austen marries his cousin Eliza de Feuillide, by special license.

January 1st:

  • 1787: Cousins Edward and Jane Cooper, now aged 17 and 16 respectively, come to stay at Steventon for the New Year holidays.
  • 1792: Ann Martel is baptized at Steventon; entry in register is probably in Jane Austen’s hand.
  • 1795: James Austen buys a mahogany tea-board for Deane.
  • 1799: Jane is at Deane for the christening of James Edward Austen Leigh; she writes the entry in the parish register.
  • 1801: James and Mary Lloyd Austen come to Steventon to dine.
  • 1812: Princess Charlotte of Wales writes to Miss Mercer Elphinstone that she intends to read Sense and Sensibility soon.

[Vintage Postcard:  Gold Medal Art, n.d.]

c2021, Jane Austen in Vermont

From the Archives ~ Jane Austen’s Very Own Scrooge

Emma - Christmas day paper doll3I pull this Christmas Eve post from the archives,
first posted on Dec 24, 2010

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Festive Holidays!!

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It is a rare date that Austen mentions in her works, but one of them is today, December 24: Christmas Eve, “(for it was a very great event that Mr. Woodhouse should dine out, on the 24th of December)” [Emma Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

While we usually associate Mr. Woodhouse with often curmudgeonly weather-obsessed behavior, here he is most eager to get all wrapped up and head over to Randalls:

Mr. Woodhouse had so completely made up his mind to the visit, that in spite of the increasing coldness, he seemed to have no idea of shrinking from it, and set forward at last most punctually with his eldest daughter in his own carriage, with less apparent consciousness of the weather than either of the others; too full of the wonder of his own going, and the pleasure it was to afford at Randalls to see that it was cold, and too well wrapt up to feel it. [E, Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

Fig. 2

So it is not dear fussy Mr. Woodhouse who is Scrooge this Christmas Eve, but Austen is adept at creating one, and long before Dickens ever did:

‘A man,” said he, ‘must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity — Actually snowing at this moment! The folly of not allowing people to be comfortable at home, and the folly of people’s not staying comfortably at home when they can! If we were obliged to go out such an evening as this, by any call of duty or business, what a hardship we should deem it; — and here are we, probably with rather thinner clothing than usual, setting forward voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of the voice of nature, which tells man, in every thing given to his view or his feelings, to stay at home himself, and keep all under shelter that he can; — here are we setting forward to spend five dull hours in another man’s house, with nothing to say or to hear that was not said and heard yesterday, and may not be said and heard again to-morrow. Going in dismal weather, to return probably in worse; — four horses and four servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shivering creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they might have had at home.” [E, Vol. I, Ch. xiii]

Well, “Bah! Humbug!” to you too, John Knightley!he is our Scrooge this Christmas Eve [indeed, I believe that Isabella has married her father!] and his ill humor continues throughout the evening – ending of course with his gloomy and overblown report of the worsening weather that sets off three full pages of discussion on the risks of setting out, on the possibility of being snowed-in, on the cold, on the danger to the horses and the servants – “‘What is to be done, my dear Emma? – what is to be done?’ was Mr. Woodhouse’s first exclamation…” and it all is finally “settled in a few brief sentences” by Mr. Knightley and Emma, certainly foreshadowing their success as a companionable couple.

Fig. 3 ‘Christmas Weather’

And this leads to one of Austen’s most comic scenes – the proposal of Mr. Elton, Emma trapped in the carriage alone with him believing that “he had been drinking too much of Mr. Weston’s good wine, and felt sure that he would want to be talking nonsense…” – which of course he does…

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, with much snow on the ground (but not enough to trouble your carriage), some song and wine (but not enough to induce unwanted and overbearing offers of love and marriage), and the pleasure of good company (with hopefully no Scrooge-like visitors to whom you must either “comply” or be “quarrelsome” or like Emma, have your “heroism reach only to silence.” )

P.S. – And tonight pull your Emma off the shelf and read through these chapters in volume I [ch, 13-15] for a good chuckle! – this of course before your annual reading of A Christmas Carol.

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Illustrations:

1.  Emma’s Christmas Day Paper Doll at Fancy Ephemera.com
2.  Dinner at Randalls at Chrismologist.blogspot.com
3.  ‘Christmas Weather’ at Harlequin Historical Authors
4.  Vintage postcard in my collection

c2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

In honor of Jane Austen’s Birthday today, JASNA offers up its annual online journal, filled with the usual goodies of all things Jane:

Persuasions Online, Volume 41, No 1 (Winter 2020)

Contents

Editor’s Note: Jane Austen in a Plague Year Susan Allen Ford

In Memoriam: Lorraine Hanaway (1927–2020) Susan Allen Ford

In Memoriam: Deirdre Le Faye (1933–2020) Susan Allen Ford

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2020: A VIRTUAL EVENT: JANE AUSTEN’S JUVENILIA: REASON, ROMANTICISM, AND REVOLUTION

Juvenile Songs and Lessons: Music Culture in Jane Austen’s Teenage Years Gillian Dooley

“Fevers, Swoons, and Tears”: What If Jane Austen Were Reading Mary Wollstonecraft in the Analytical Review? Jessica McGivney

Reason, Romanticism, or Revolution? Jane Austen Rewrites Charlotte Smith in Catharine, or the Bower Elaine Bander

Catharine, Catherine, and Young Jane Reading History: Jane Austen and Historical Writing Ryoko Doi

“Abjuring All Future Attachments”: Concluding Lady Susan Theresa Kenney

“Here’s Looking at You, Kid!” The Visual in Jane Austen’s Juvenilia Juliet McMaster

What Did the Austen Children Wear and Why? New Trends in British Children’s Clothing, 1760–1800 Alden O’Brien

“A Staymaker of Edinburgh”: Corsetry in the Age of Austen Mackenzie Sholtz and Kristen Miller Zohn

Filming/Filling in the Gaps: Sanditon on Screen Linda V. Troost and Sayre N. Greenfield

STAYING AT HOME WITH JANE AUSTEN: READING AND WRITING DURING A PANDEMIC

The Austen Treatment: Turning to Austen in Times of Isolation Misty Krueger

“Pride & Plague”: Ninety Days of Lockdown with Will and Jane Janine Barchas

“Regency Novel or Pandemic Life”? Understanding Jane Austen-Related Pandemic Memes Lisa Tyler

A Room of Everyone’s Own: Sharing Space in Pride and Prejudice Lisa Hopkins

Preparation for Death and Second Chances in Austen’s Novels Brenda S. Cox

MISCELLANY

The Rice Portrait: Truths Not Theories Deirdre Le Faye

The Trial of Jane Austen’s Aunt Jane Leigh Perrot and the Opinion of John Morris, KC David Pugsley

Sororal (Mis)Perception in Sense and Sensibility and Fleabag Talia M. Vestri

“Do You Know Who I Am?” Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Jane Austen’s Proto-Karen Sarah Makowski

Using Sympathetic Imagination to Live Morally: Jane Austen’s Expansion of Adam Smith Michele Larrow

Jane Austen Bibliography, 2019 Carol Grigas, Lise Snyder, and Claire Bellanti

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Steventon Parsonage, where Jane Austen was born, December 16, 1775

2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

Mary Bennet’s Reading in “The Other Bennet Sister” by Janice Hadlow

In Janice Hadlow’s The Other Bennet Sister, a brilliant effort to give the neglected-by-everyone Mary Bennet a life of her own, Mary’s reading is one of the most important aspects of the book – we see her at first believing, because she knows she is different than her other four far prettier and more appealing sisters, that her prospects for the expected life of a well-married woman are very limited, and that she must learn to squash her passions and live a rational life. She also mistakenly thinks that by becoming a reader of philosophical, religious, and conduct texts that she will finally gain approval and maybe even love from her distant, book-obsessed father.

So Mary embarks on a course of serious rational study – and one of the most insightful things in the book is that she learns, after much pain, that this is no way to lead a life, to find happiness, to find herself. She rejects the novels like the ones Mrs. Bennet finds at the local circulating library as being frivolous, largely because James Fordyce tells her so…

So, I have made a list of all the titles that Hadlow has Mary reading or referring to – all real books of the time, and many mentioned and known by Jane Austen. Hadlow is very specific in what books she puts in Mary’s hands! And shows her own knowledge of the reading and the reading practices of Austen’s time. [If anyone detects anything missing from this list, please let me know…]

I am giving the original dates of publication of each title; most all the titles in one edition or another are available on Google Books, HathiTrust, Internet Archive, or the like – I provide a few of those links, if you are so inclined to become such a rational reader as Mary….

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Anonymous. The History of Little Goody Two Shoes (show JA’s copy). London: John Newbury, 1765. Attributed to various authors, including Oliver Goldsmith. We know that Jane Austen has her own copy of this book, here with her name on it as solid proof.

 

Mrs. [Sarah] Trimmer. The Story of the Robins. Originally published in 1786 as Fabulous Histories, and the title Trimmer always used. You can read the whole book here: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Story_of_the_Robins

 

Rev. Wetenhall Wilkes. A Letter of Genteel and Moral Advice to a Young Lady: Being a System of Rules and Informations: Digested Into a New and Familiar Method, to Qualify the Fair Sex to be Useful, and Happy in Every Scene of Life. London, 1746. Another conduct book.

Full text here: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/012393127

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Catharine Macaulay-wikipedia

Catharine Macaulay. The History of England. 8 vols. London, 1763-83. A political history of the seventeenth century, covering the years 1603-1689. This was very popular and is in no way related to the later History published by Thomas Babington Macaulay. You can read more about this influential female historian in this essay by Devoney Looser: Catharine Macaulay: The ‘Female Historian’ in Context

 

Rev. James Fordyce. Sermons to Young Women. London, 1766. A conduct manual.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins chooses to read Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women aloud to the Bennet sisters, Lydia especially unimpressed: “Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him …’.

You can find it on google in later editions, but here is an abstract for 2 of the sermons to give you an idea.

And here an essay on Fordyce and P&P by Susan Allen Ford, who also wrote the introduction for the Chawton House Press edition of the Sermons (2012) : http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol34no1/ford.html

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Frances Burney. Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World. London, 1778. Hadlow gives Evelina a good hearing – in the discussion in Mr. Bennet’s library with Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth directly quotes Austen’s own words in defense of the novel that are found in Northanger Abbey. [Evelina, and Mary’s difficulty in coming to terms with such a frivolous story, is mentioned more than once].

Evelina. U Michigan Library

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Other Novels mentioned are:

Samuel Richardson. The History of Sir Charles Grandison. London, 1753. 7 vols. Reported to be Austen’s favorite book, all seven volumes!

Henry Fielding. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. 4 vols. London, 1749. Supposedly the reason Richardson wrote his Grandison. [Mentioned more than once] – I think we should read this book next for our JABC!

Laurence Sterne. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. 9 vols. London, 1759-1767.

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Hugh Blair – wikipedia

Hugh Blair. Sermons. Vol. 1 of 5 published in 1777.

You can view it full-text at HathiTrust.

Mary Crawford refers to Blair in Mansfield Park:

“You assign greater consequence to the clergyman than one has been used to hear given, or than I can quite comprehend. One does not see much of this influence and importance in society, and how can it be acquired where they are so seldom seen themselves? How can two sermons a week, even supposing them worth hearing, supposing the preacher to have the sense to prefer Blair’s to his own, do all that you speak of? govern the conduct and fashion the manners of a large congregation for the rest of the week? One scarcely sees a clergyman out of his pulpit.”

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William Paley. A View of the Evidences of Christianity. London, 1794.

Aristotle. The Ethics of Aristotle. [no way to know the exact edition that Mr. Collins gives to Mary – it’s been around for a long time!]

Mentions: all Enlightenment thinkers and heavy reading for Mary!

John Locke
William Paley (again)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
David Hume

A Dictionary of the Greek Language – Mr. Collins gives a copy to Mary.

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Edward Young. Night Thoughts. 1743. wikipedia

Edward Young. The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality. [Known as Night-Thoughts]. London, 1742-45. [No wonder Mr. Hayward suggested a lighter type of poetry!]

You can read the whole of it here, if you are up to it…: https://www.eighteenthcenturypoetry.org/authors/pers00267.shtml

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image: wikipedia

William Wordsworth, portrait by Henry Edridge, 1804; in Dove Cottage, Grasmere, England. Britannica.com

William Wordsworth. Lyrical Ballads. London, 1798. Full title: Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge [Mr. Hayward does not mention Coleridge at all!], first published in 1798 and considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature. Most of the poems in the 1798 edition were written by Wordsworth; Coleridge has only four poems included, one being his most famous work, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Here is a link to the full-text of “Tintern Abbey” that so moved Mary: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45527/lines-composed-a-few-miles-above-tintern-abbey-on-revisiting-the-banks-of-the-wye-during-a-tour-july-13-1798

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William Godwin. Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness. London, 1793. [Godwin, it is worth noting, married Mary Wollstonecraft and was the father of Mary Godwin Shelley]. Outlines Godwin’s radical political philosophy.

William Godwin (portrait by James Northcote) and Mary Wollstonecraft (portrait by John Opie) – from BrainPickings.org

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Machiavelli – is referred to by Mary, so assume she is familiar with his The Prince (1513).

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Image: Guide to the Lakes. ‘View on Winandermere’ [now called Windermere], by Joseph Wilkerson. Romantic Circles

William Wordsworth. Guide to the Lakes. [full title: A Guide through the District of the Lakes] – first published in 1810 as an anonymous introduction to a book of engravings of the Lake District by the Reverend Joseph Wilkinson. A 5th and final edition was published in 1835 – you can read that online at Romantic Circles here, along with a full account of its rather tormented publication history: https://romantic-circles.org/editions/guide_lakes

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John Milton. Paradise Lost. A mention by Mr. Ryder who is defeated by its length, so we know Mary was familiar with it.

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The Edinburgh Review / The Quarterly Review – brought to Mary by Mr. Ryder, and for which Mr. Hayward perhaps wrote his reviews. The Edinburgh Review (1802-1929); Quarterly Review (1809-1967, and published by Jane Austen’s publisher John Murray) – both were very popular and influential publications of their time…

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The Other Bennet Sister is an enjoyable read – it is delightful to see Mary Bennet come into her own, that despite what she viewed as an unhappy childhood, she finds her way through a good number of books in a quest to live a rational, passionless existence. And that the development of some well-deserved self-esteem with the help of various friends and family, might actually lead her to a worthy equal partner in life, just maybe not with Mrs. Bennet’s required £10,000 !

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen is Not in Vermont ~ On Hiatus Across the Country…

So, since the pandemic has changed all our lives to the point of near insanity (thanks goodness for all the efforts of museums and libraries and educational institutions to provide all sorts of virtual activities – who can keep up with it all!) – I am off the grid for awhile in an RV traveling across the country and back again, and though Celebrity Jane is accompanying us on this journey, Jane Austen and all our interest in her Regency world is put on hold while we try to find a certain amount of joy (or anything!) by seeing a bit of the country and remaining completely safe in our isolated life in an RV.

Trooper writes! he drives too!

And so I don’t have to think or write a thing, our dog Trooper (a two-year old English Springer Spaniel) has taken up the mantle and has been rattling on about the trip from his point of view (which is more interesting than ours I do believe). You can follow him here:

https://trooperslog.wordpress.com/

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I do continue reading for our Jane Austen Book Clubs and we are meeting virtually with email discussion groups and zooms – so far we have read:

  • Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
  • Lady Audleys’ Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle

and up next is:

  • The Dead Secret, by Wilkie Collins

What are YOU reading during these strange times??

Celebrity Jane hits Wyoming

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

Guest Post ~ “Cricket, Jane Austen and Me,” by Tony Grant

Gentle Readers: The post last week on Hazel Jones’ book The Other Knight Boys brought up the issue of cricket (in a comment from Lisa Brown) – did Austen’s nephews play it? And from there, we all got cricket-happy. Thankfully Tony Grant, a cricket player in his own right, offered to tell us a little about the game that most Americans haven’t a clue about – along with his own reminiscences of a particular game he played in the Summer of 1973. (sounds like a movie)… so a hearty welcome to Tony, with thanks!

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CRICKET, JANE AUSTEN AND ME

By Tony Grant

History of Cricket at Game Connor

 

When I was seven years old my father bought me a cricket bat. He also bought this book for me, Approach to the Game: CRICKET_HOW TO PLAY, published for the M.C.C [Marylebone Cricket Club] 1955. It had some clear illustrations in it so I could analyse how to play certain skills.

I can remember my father teaching me how to hold a bat, how to form a balanced stance at the crease, how to hold my head level with my eyes looking straight ahead and how to make a forward defensive stroke. Using a tennis ball pitched up to me I soon learned how to watch a ball and time a stroke perfectly while remaining in a balanced pose keeping my head over the bat and ball to keep the ball down on the ground, eventually learning to follow through with a straight bat and so performing a forward drive. I was so enthused I used to practice all these different elements of batting again and again, sometimes with a bat and sometimes just with a stick. I practiced batting strokes until they became automatic.

Cricket is a hard task master: it demands common-sense, imagination, concentration and character,……

but there is something that matters even more than making runs or taking wickets or being a good fielder.

A cricketer should never forget that they are playing with, as well as against the other team and that they are either their host or their guest.

They should strive for all that it is worth to win or, if they cannot win to avert defeat: but there is a price beyond which victory or the avoidance of defeat should never be bought.

For in cricket, however hard it is played- and if it is worth playing at all, it is worth playing hard- the struggle and its result should never obscure the true ends for which it is played, recreation, good fellowship, the training of character. And above all the conviction which the game that can bring with it, that through it and what it gives, life is indeed the more worth living.

H.S. Altham
Chairman MCC Youth Cricket Association

Cricketers warming up

I sometimes wonder why sport is so important. Why are humans so addicted to it? Why is it so enthralling and exciting to see runs made and your team win and why it can be so heart-breaking when you lose? It is all the things mentioned in the above statement but I think it is more than that. It is art and history, philosophy and psychology, courage, self-analysis, creativity and it makes us plan and adapt. It is emotional, bringing joy and pain.   We have to plan, predict and adapt. A sport is not meaningless, it enables us to practice every human trait and it brings good company and friendship.

A cricket team posing at SMC

History of the Game:

A game similar to cricket is recorded as long ago as the 12th century. However, cricket closer to the game we know today was founded at Hambledon Cricket Club in Hampshire in 1750 when many of the laws for cricket were first developed. In 1787 the Marylebone Cricket Club in St Johns Wood near Regents Park in London, was set up. An ad hoc formation of clubs had been happening all over the country independent of each before Hambledon Cricket Club was formed and before the MCC created a unified code for the game. Marylebone Cricket Club is now regarded as the home of English Cricket and cricket worldwide. The ground is called Lords Cricket Ground, named after Thomas Lord who purchased the site and started the Marylebone club. It is commonly called the M.C.C.

 

Chawton Cricket Club pavilion

Jane Austen and cricket:

In the first chapter of Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen introduces the reader to Catherine Moreland.

She was fond of all boys’ plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls, but to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird or watering a rose bush.

Andrew Davies in the recent televised series Sanditon has Charlotte Heywood batting in a cricket match on Sanditon beach and making the winning runs. [fabulous scene!]

Sanditon (2019) – Charlotte and Sidney Parker

We can imagine that Jane Austen with, six brothers, joined enthusiastically too in the “boys’ plays.” Perhaps Jane played cricket?

The Jane Austen Society (UK) has very kindly made their reports free for everybody to gain access to. In the Collected Reports, 2001 – 2005 an article by Margaret Wilson is entitled “The Austens, the Knights and Cricket in Kent.” [link]

George Knight cricketer

 

The Austen family in Kent were players, spectators and administrators of the game. Jane’s brother Francis had a  grandson who played in the Charterhouse School cricket team. Thomas Austen gave ten shillings to help finance the purchase of The Vine Ground in Seven Oaks for the playing of cricket. Fanny Knight, Jane’s favourite niece, wrote about her brothers as being “rather mad about cricket.” Edward Austen Knight’s eldest son, also called Edward, played for Kent in 1822 and for Hampshire between 1827 and 1828. The nephews Edward and George played for Chawton Village in May 1820, although Chawton Village Cricket Club itself was not established until 1883.

George Knight especially made his mark on the game of cricket. Jane called him “itty Dordy.” He played for Kent and Hampshire but he helped develop the game of cricket by being a proponent of round arm bowling during the 1820s. This was a revolution in cricket at the time. A smooth under arm bowling action had always been the rule. Over or round arm bowling added extra speed and variety to the bowling technique. Batters had to become more proficient and develop skills to counter this development. Round arm bowling therefore made a big leap in cricket’s development and George was an instigator in how we play the game today. George also wrote about cricket in letters to The Sporting Magazine in 1827. Jane’s nephew, Brook John Knight, played for Kent in1844. Her great nephew Wyndham, the son of the younger Edward Knight, played for a Kent XI in 1862. Apparently he was a good fielder. Fanny Knights husband Sir Edward Knatchbull also had many cricketers in his family.

Bowling delivery, over arm

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WISDEN is the cricketer’s almanac that has been published since 1864. This year it is 156 years old and there have been 155 editions. The cricket season is not over for this year.

Each edition of Wisden comprises 1300 pages of small tightly packed print. It includes everything anybody would want to know about cricket. Each WISDEN particularly focuses on the previous seasons matches. There are articles about players and clubs in the past; there are biographies of famous players past and present. Reports give detailed accounts about today’s cricketing stars and their performances over their career. There are extensive reports about every test match England has played in the previous season along with all the statistics of runs, wickets taken and the performances of each player who played in the match.  Chapters cover each of the County teams, such as Hampshire, Surrey, Worcestershire, Somerset, Nottinghamshire and so forth, providing detailed reports of every match the county teams played and their statistics, runs, wickets, and overs for each match. WISDEN is very entertaining to read providing vivid and descriptive reports and biographies. The writing is amongst the best in sports journalism.

Here are two pages to provide you with a flavour of this annual almanac.A report on the Hampshire v Nottinghamshire match, played between May 31 and the 2nd and 3rd of June 1986  with a report and the statistics. Also I have included the opening part of a biographical piece on the great England and Surrey player Jim Laker. I met Jim Laker once when he came to visit Thames Ditton Cricket Club on Giggs Hill green near Surbiton. It was the Thames Ditton Cricket clubs 100th anniversary and he was invited to our celebrations. He readily helped me do some coaching with the colts before the senior game commenced. I was not only a player at the club at the time but the youth team coach and manager. He offered to umpire in the main match of the day. He was a lovely warm character and we were all in awe of him. In 1956 Jim Laker not only took 10 Australian wickets when Australia played Surrey at the Oval he also decimated the Australians at Old Trafford Test match  bowing 19 wickets in the two innings. He has been regarded as the best England bowler ever. He was a right arm off break bowler.

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A Game of Cricket, Summer of 1973

The Summer of 1973, I was 20 years old and I was working for Southampton Magistrates Courts at the Civic Centre as a clerical assistant. The city council employees organised various social clubs including a cricket team. I was a member of the cricket team.

It was just before my 21st birthday, Midsummers Day had passed and we were enjoying a heatwave in Southern England. The cricket team had their next fixture away, on Saturday 23rd June against the Longparish second eleven.  Longparish is a beautiful Hampshire village west of Basingstoke, not far from the villages of Steventon, Deane and Ash, where Jane Austen lived. The cricket club at Longparish was founded in 1878. On the team list I was down to bat at number four and I was also to bowl third after the two opening fast bowlers needed to rest.

Forward stroke

We fielded first and Chris Long, our captain asked me to field at first slip close in on the batsman facing the bowling. The sun shone down out of a blue sky and I could feel the heat on my back. Luckily the sun was behind the slips so it wasn’t in our eyes. I crouched low, just behind the line of view of the opening batsman. I held my hands cupped stretched out in front of me, my eyes focussed intently on the blade of his bat. Slip fielding needs an intense concentration. Your reactions have to be lightning fast. You have only a split second to react. John Heath our opening bowler ran in on a long curving approach line up to the wicket and sent down a fast lightening ball that I heard thud into the ground in front of the batsman sending up a puff of dust followed by a sharp crack as the batsman met the ball on the rise in the middle of his bat with a forward defensive stroke. For the next six balls the batsman played the same stroke to the same line of bowling. Each time the two other slips and I relieved these moments of intense concentration by standing straight, loosening our arms and legs by stretching and bouncing loosely on the spot. The batsman was trying to tire out John with his furious over arm action sending down bullet fast balls. The batsman was beginning to look confident already. John would need to change his tactics. He decided to bowl round the wicket instead of over the wicket. This enabled him to send in his fast bowls at a different angle. The batsman looked nervous. He moved his feet to get his left foot near the pitch of the ball as it once more zipped into the dusty ground in front of him. He had timed his stroke nearly perfectly but not quite. I heard the sharp snap of an edge. I reacted leaping to my right. The ball was coming very fast. I got my right hand to it in an instinctive reflex reaction. My hand got to the ball but I couldn’t hold it. I parried it to the ground. The batsman thought he had beaten me and the other slips. But my fielding colleague next to me picked up the blocked ball and in one clean under arm action whipped the bails off and with a roar we all leapt into the air. The batsman out of his crease was stumped and he made his lonely walk back to the pavilion with a duck to his name. What a start we had. The palm of my hand smarted and throbbed but I was elated. I had stopped a rocket of a ball. The batsman had really put his shoulders and arms into his stroke.

Basic bowling grip

Later on in the first innings I was called on to bowl. I am a medium paced bowler because of my height. I have, however, managed to develop some tricks to fool and confuse any batsman. To warm up in my first over I kept the ball steady, even paced and straight. I placed the ball each time on the same spot, just forward of the batsman’s off side so he had to step out to the ball and strike it on the off. I arranged the fielders so that they could block any balls coming in that direction. The first few balls the batsman managed to drive to the off but they carried straight to the fielders who quickly gathered the ball each time and threw it accurately and straight to the wicket keeper. The batsman managed two runs in my first over. By now my arms and shoulders had loosened up. I thought I would try and fool the batsman with some pace. My run up and action looked the same as before but this time I opened my shoulders wider, and brought my right arm over from behind me, hidden at first from the batsman’s view. This time I had relaxed my bowling wrist at a cocked angle. As I brought my arm over I flicked my wrist into action at the point of delivery giving the ball a much faster pace and I thumped it down slightly more in front of the batsman in line with the wickets. He had to adjust his stance to counteract the more full on ball coming at a faster pace. He struggled to parry it down with a backward defensive stroke. That brought a smile to my face. The next ball I changed tactics again. I vigorously polished one side of the ball on the leg of my cricket whites, as I walked back to the start of my run up. This caused a red stain on my trousers. Polishing one side of a red leather cricket ball until it shines and holding the ball slightly off centre of the seam creates a swing effect. The air moves faster over the polished surface making that side move faster in the air. With the polished side on the off side I manged to create an in-swinging ball and with the extra flick of my wrist I sent it down at a pace, the ball moving  into the batsman’s body.  He edged it fast towards short leg on his leg side flailing hands and some acrobatics from the fielder positioned there but the ball rushed on to the boundary for four. A gasp went up because he had so nearly been caught. I had got him worried. I kept up a barrage of accurately placed balls hitting the same spot on the wicket causing the earth to become rough and pitted. He didn’t score anymore in that over.  When the bowling changed ends the batsmen conversed in the middle of the wicket together. In my next over I was facing the other batsman. I was feeling good and decided to shake him up a little. I zipped in a ball angled from over the wicket and he edged it to the slips one of whom parried it to the ground but didn’t catch it.  I tried another ball over the wicket, zipping it apparently straight at his legs but this time making the ball outswing. The ball took him off guard. It arrowed through his defence between bat and pad and carried to the wicket keepers gloves who with a sudden flurry took off the bails and yelled ”Howzat!!” The umpire unmoved for a moment looked, thought and then raised his finger. We all cheered and ran to the middle of the wicket to congratulate each other. Another wicket taken. The batsman had come out of his crease to attempt a stroke at my delivery and didn’t have time to retreat. The game was going our way.

Later I went into bat at number four during our innings. We had fifty runs on the board. They had scored 234 runs, so we had some ground to make up.

East Molesey Cricket Club, founded in 1735

I stood in front of the wicket and made a mark on the ground with the end of my bat showing me the centre of the crease. This was so I could adjust my stance depending on the angle the bowler was bowling in from. I had watched him for a few overs previously and had a good idea of his pace and how he angled in the balls and where he was likely to pitch the ball. I had it in mind to parry the first few balls with forward defensive strokes until I got my eye in. I noticed some people moving near the boundary and asked the umpire to move them out of the way. I also asked for the sight screen to be moved more to the left in line with where I knew the bowler would approach on his run in.  I could see the bowler’s action better highlighted against the white screen. I tried to be as relaxed as possible standing, my feet parallel to each other and slightly apart, side on to the bowler in a slightly crouching pose with my head up. My eyes looked forward, steadily at the bowler. I held the bat angled directly behind me, my left hand gripping the top part of the handle, my left arm and elbow pointing forward  ready to make the stroke, my right hand gripping the lower part of the bat handle ready to guide the bat. Everything was in line. Timing is all. As the bowler ran in I concentrated on his arm. As he rose up into his action at the opposite crease my right arm lifted the bat up directly behind me, my face and body leaning into a forward pose ready for action. My eyes fixed on his bowling action and within a split second of the ball leaving the bowlers hand I moved my feet swiftly forward, my left foot placed down next to the pitch of the ball as it bit into the  ground surface in front of me, my body straining forward , my head and eyes over the top of the pitching ball to keep the resultant contact on the ball down, my arms following through swinging the bat in a straight fluid smooth arc my head and body in balance, my arms following through. The sound of a sharp  crack, ball on bat, and the ball was speeding across the grassy surface towards the fielder at mid-off. All this happened at once. It’s all about position, timing and a skillful execution of the batting stroke.

Square cuts

I was very pleased to be able to execute my favourite swash-buckling stroke, a square cut off the back foot. The bowler I was facing was getting tired and he was beginning to make mistakes. One delivery came down pitched short on my off side and rose up high. I took a step back with my bat parallel with my shoulders, my eyes firmly on the rising ball and swiftly swung the bat in a graceful arc around my body from right to left hitting the ball at the top of its bounce and smashed it through the covers speeding along the ground for four runs.  Balls like that are a gift. However, some technique is required. If you top edge it you will be caught out and if you try and send it for a six, if you have not the strength and power it will not reach the boundary before landing and you could again be caught.  The skill is to roll your wrists. As you swing the bat into the line of the ball, roll both wrists over the top of the handle as you contact the ball. This will have the effect of playing the ball down at an angle so it will quickly reach the ground and travel at speed along the surface. If it is fielded by one of the opposing players there is no problem, the ball is on the ground. Performed properly it should speed to the boundary for four. During the game I scored a presentable twenty-seven runs before being caught attempting to hit a six to the boundary. I got lazy.

In the club house at Longparish, I remember we had a lovely tea with a selection of sandwiches, brown wholemeal bread with ham, cheese and egg fillings, made by members of the Longparish Cricket Club. Mugs of hot tea were drunk. The bar was opened so some of our team had a pint. The proverbial icing on the cake was that we won the game but only by 15 runs. A close fought match but extremely enjoyable.

Setting a field in cricket

References:

N. S. Creek. Teach Yourself Cricket. English Universities Press, 1964.

Play The Game Series. Cricket:How To Play. Published for the MCC Educational Productions, 1955.

Margaret Wilson. “The Austens, The Knights and Cricket in Kent.” Jane Austen Society Collected Reports 2001-2005. 139-41.

Michael Davis. “Jane Austen and Cricket.” Jane Austen Society Collected Reports 1996-2000. 307-311.

WISDEN (124th year) Cricketers Almanac 1987. Ed. Graeme Wright. John Wisden & Co, 1987.

Links to cricket clubs:

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Thank you Tony for bringing this game so to life for us, and for sharing all your knowledge about cricket! I did find this for my Gentle Readers, in case like me, you are still completely confused! How to Play Cricket, A Beginner’s Guide! and details on the Laws of cricket at wikipedia here.

And here’s one for The Ladies! (along with Charlotte Heywood)

Cricket Match Played by the Countess of Derby and Other Ladies, 1779
Marylebone Cricket Club Collection – public domain – wikipedia

©Jane Austen in Vermont

Book Review: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

Are you a maker of Lists? Do you keep a List of books to read, lists of books read, movies to watch, TV shows not to be missed, lists of gifts, grocery lists, house to-do lists, a master To-Do List? Do you have a List of Lists? Or, as one friend asked me years ago, do you ever add something to your To-Do list already done so you can cross it off? (I said absolutely NO!). But I do love lists – they organize a life, give a sense of control (false though that may be), especially in these troubled times. And so I find that instead of writing a more traditional book review of The Jane Austen Society, that I’d make a List, a very important list of at-least TEN reasons you should read this book – one reason alone is enough; ten means you should buy it immediately and jump right into its world.

1. The Characters: Real and True

The author Natalie Jenner has said she had no outline for this tale, envisioned about eight characters, half male and half female, and essentially let them run amok.* We can only be glad she did! As one of her more Willoughby-like characters says of this rag-tag motley crew of folk all bent on forming a Jane Austen society: they were “a band of misfits with negligible expertise and no head for business: a country doctor, an old maid, a schoolmarm, a bachelor farmer, a fey auctioneer, a conflict-averse solicitor, a scullery maid, and one Hollywood movie star.” [276] – a “band of misfits” indeed. They are all from different backgrounds and histories, all part of the small rural community of Chawton, all with tragedy, pain and grief permeating and controlling their lives. Yet each is fully-drawn – you like, even love, these people.

2. The Plot: So Inventive

This is fiction (more on this below) – and not even historical fiction – it has nothing to do with the Real Jane Austen Society formed in the 1940s, same as our fictional group – so don’t confuse them. Let this story tell itself, as it brilliantly does: how this unlikely cast of characters discover a commonality in Jane Austen of all people, and strive to honor her in some way – they do live in Chawton after all… And in so doing, each finds Hope and Love and Self-Knowledge. And as the tale of each unfolds and their lives become inexorably intertwined, we have mysteries and secrets, stories of war and deaths, disagreements among neighbors, gossipy goings-on, and Love and Romance. What is there not to like? Jane Austen has given them a purpose, a sense of hope and a road map into an understanding of the heart. You find fast friends over Jane Austen, as many of us have found in our own lives.

3. The Setting: Chawton, of course

Chawton House

Not everyone living in this fictional Chawton reads or even likes Jane Austen. Some resent the weird travelers looking for sites associated with her. Even the family heir confesses a preference for the Brontës (especially Villette – pay attention here). But the setting is one we all are very familiar with, if we know a bit about Austen’s life after 1809. Living in Chawton Cottage (now Jane Austen’s House ) and trekking to her brother Edward’s Great House (now Chawton House), Jane Austen walked these walks, sat in these chairs, read in this library, all so beautifully and authentically described by  Jenner. You are in this world in the 1940s, right along with the characters.

Jane Austen’s House

4. The Library [not as “In the Library with Colonel Mustard and the lead pipe”…but a Real Library]

One of my favorite parts of the book (the librarian-bookseller in me). Jenner confesses to a wee mistake about the location of the library at Chawton, but literary license allows just about anything, so she is heartily forgiven. Because she gives us Evie, the aforementioned scullery maid, who at 16 (and without giving too much away) has been secretly cataloguing the entire library in the Great House for the past two years and therefore is more knowledgeable about what’s there, what it’s all worth (and with the added bit of a FOUND letter by Austen, of which I shall say no more…), than anyone else in the family (who have ignored the library for generations) or anyone else in town. Evie is a delightful character – we would like to recruit her for our Reading with Austen / Godmersham Lost Sheep Society project!**

Reading Room at Chawton House

5. Jane Austen in Plain Sight:

One of the pure joys of this book is the light-hearted yet insightful analysis of Austen and her novels: characters actively discussing all the works in their general conversation with each other. Farmer Adam, on first reading Pride and Prejudice considers that “he was becoming quite worried about Mr. Darcy.” [10] The town doctor and the local schoolteacher have a lively chat about Emma: the teacher dislikes Emma, the doctor adores her – they wrangle over Mr. Knightley’s true feelings as Austen drops her clues. [I was delighted to find a new-to-me hint to add to my ever-growing List of Clues that Mr. Knightley is very much in Love.]

Then there are the almost direct correlations between characters – you’ll certainly find a Willoughby or Henry Crawford or a William Elliot in these pages, several of Austen’s couples, maybe even a Mr. Rushworth and a Mrs. Elton – there’s even a Dog! – the fun is finding them and going “aah…” Here’s a standout: one of the characters says “within the pages of Mansfield Park was the playbook for making a good woman fall for a cad.” [151] How true that is – and I never looked at Crawford’s behavior in such a light before…

And then the direct quotes in different contexts, which leads us to…

6. Jane Austen Is Not for “Dull Elves”:

The Austen discussion and character correlations are more straightforward than the many allusions scattered throughout, multiple readings likely needed to flesh them all out. Austen was a master of the allusion herself and again, it’s great fun to find these little crumbs:

“You have borne it as no other woman in England would have…” [295]

“I probably would’ve cut him a lock of my own hair if he’d asked for it.” [188]…

Sense & Sensibility – CE Brock – Molland’s

So many – don’t want to inhibit your “sharp-elves” detective skills, so that’s all I shall share…which leads us to another no-spoilers here item on our list…

7. The Mystery(ies) wherein lies a will and an heir just like an Austen plot

….and shall just say there are secrets and mysteries in abundance. So much under the surface, so much history Jenner gradually allows the reader to see, like the proverbial peeling away of an onion – layers of stories to reveal truths… and again, not unlike Austen, Jenner feeds us more and more of each character and their motivations, and we care largely because of ….

8. The Romance: There’s A Lot of It!

So we have eight major characters, and a house full of minors (some of whom, like in Austen, have a lot to say, and a lot to do to move the plot along). Part of the fun (and mystery) is who will end up with whom? Even one of the characters falls asleep one night musing on and making mental lists of possible couplings. Evie at 16 is perhaps the most perceptive at seeing what the heck is going on. It’s all quite endearing – but no spoilers here (though can I say there is a Wentworth-like letter??)

9. It’s Fiction!

Ok, have to repeat this – this is pure fiction, not even great literature (though it is very well written), not based on the real Jane Austen Society as I’ve said (and that real story is compelling it is own right – you can read about it here.)

But even if you are not an avid reader of fiction, but you like Jane Austen, you will get much out of your few hours of time invested. And even if you don’t know squat about Jane Austen, you’ll love this book (you can also listen to it – spending several hours with Richard Armitage is top on my Must-Do list] – because of the humor, the grace, and the romance, and because…

10. We Need This Right Now:

This is a Feel Good book – and goodness, we need that right now more than anything – pick it up and wander back into a simpler (though in so many ways harder) time, to a place ravaged by war, when loss and grief were the bywords of the day, and live for a bit with this delightful “band of misfits” as they each find their way to a better future, all with thanks to Jane Austen, a lesson for us all, especially now…

****************

* You can hear Natalie Jenner’s May 15, 2020 talk for the Chawton House Literary Festival on Youtube here:

Also read her interview with Rachel Dodge at the Jane Austen’s Regency World blog here.

** For a real-life cataloguing project concerning Edward Austen Knight’s libraries at his Godmersham and Chawton estates, please visit the Reading with Austen website and the Reading with Austen blog. Under the direction of Professor Peter Sabor, the hope is to locate (and return if possible) as many of the books that were originally in the Knight library during Jane Austen’s time. We need Evie on this project!

************

About the author:

Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

  • Twitter handles: @NatalieMJenner, @StMartinsPress @MacmillanAudio
  • Hashtags: #TheJaneAustenSociety #HistoricalFiction, #AudioBooks, #AmReading, #JaneAusten #RichardArmitage

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About the Book:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

Book details: Genre: Historical Fiction, Austenesque Fiction

The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin’s Press (May 26, 2020)
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1250248732
eBook ASIN: B07WQPPXFW
Audiobook ASIN: B082VL7VRR

Blog Tour Dates: May 25 – June 30, 2020 – you can read more about the blog tour and the schedule here and here at Austenprose.

You can buy the book at all the usual suspects – but start with your local bookstore!

Indiebound / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Book Depository / BookBub / Audible

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

Blog Tour Shout-Out! “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

Hello there Gentle Readers: I welcome you to join in on the virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel May 25 through June 30, 2020. Seventy-five popular blogs and websites specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, women’s fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature interviews and reviews of this post-WWII novel set in Chawton, England. All is sponsored and coordinated by Laurel Ann at Austenprose. The pandemic has limited the author from engaging in the usual real-life book talks and marketing tours, so we are going all out to be sure that this book gets a full-court press in our now largely virtual world. Please enjoy all the chat, then get thee to a bookstore and add it to your TBR pile (on top!) – you will not be disappointed…

My review will go live tomorrow but wanted to list here all the blog tour sites that over the next month will be offering reviews and interviews of this delightful tale:

 

About the Book:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

************* 

Book details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Austenesque Fiction

The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin’s Press (May 26, 2020)
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1250248732
eBook ASIN: B07WQPPXFW
Audiobook ASIN: B082VL7VRR

Blog Tour Dates: May 25 – June 30, 2020 [see below]

****************

About the author:

Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Accolades:

  • An Amazon Best Book of May 2020
  • One of Goodreads Big Books of Spring & Hot Books of Summer
  • One of Audible’s Top 50 Most Anticipated Spring Audiobooks
  • June 2020 Indie Next Pick
  • May 2020 Library Reads Pick
  • Starred Review – Library Journal
  • Starred Review – Booklist 

Audiobook Narrated By Actor Richard Armitage (!!):

The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).

Link to YouTube audiobook excerpt: https://youtu.be/OJ1ACJluRi8 

Spotify Playlist:

Spotify users can access a playlist for THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY at the following link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5Q1Vl17qyQQIvvPGeIPCkr?si=-iMhVz8uRk2v2mTdolrPdg. The playlist includes music from various film adaptions of Jane Austen’s books, as well as film scores by such incomparable artists as Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Rachel Portman, and Michael Nyman. 

************

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:
[I’ll add live links once the post is active]

  • May 25        Jane Austen’s World
  • May 25        Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog
  • May 26        Frolic Media
  • May 26        A Bookish Affair
  • May 26        Courtney Reads Romance
  • May 26        Margie’s Must Reads
  • May 26        The Reading Frenzy
  • May 27        Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina
  • May 27        Gwendalyn’s Books
  • May 27        Romantically Inclined Reviews
  • May 28        Getting Your Read On
  • May 28        Living Read Girl
  • May 28        The Lit Bitch
  • May 29        History Lizzie
  • May 29        Silver Petticoat Reviews
  • May 30        Cup of Tea with that Book, Please
  • May 30        Historical Fiction Reader
  • May 31        Jane Austen in Vermont
  • June 01        From Pemberley to Milton
  • June 01        My Jane Austen Book Club
  • June 01        AustenBlog
  • June 02        Lu’s Reviews
  • June 02        The Green Mockingbird
  • June 03        The Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
  • June 03        Relz Reviews
  • June 03        Impressions in Ink
  • June 04        The Caffeinated Bibliophile
  • June 04        Life of Literature
  • June 04        Laura’s Reviews
  • June 05        Reading Ladies Book Club
  • June 05        Bookish Rantings
  • June 06        From the TBR Pile
  • June 07        Rachel Dodge
  • June 07        An Historian About Town
  • June 08        Bringing up Books
  • June 08        Austenesque Reviews
  • June 09        Captivated Reading
  • June 09        Savvy Verse and Witt
  • June 10        Lady with a Quill
  • June 10        Drunk Austen
  • June 11        Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
  • June 11        Inkwell Inspirations
  • June 12        Nurse Bookie
  • June 12        A Bookish Way of Life
  • June 13        Calico Critic
  • June 14        Jane Austen’s World
  • June 15        Stuck in a Book
  • June 15        Storybook Reviews
  • June 15        Confessions of a Book Addict
  • June 16        Literary Quicksand
  • June 16        Becky on Books
  • June 17        The Reading Frenzy
  • June 17        Anita Loves Books
  • June 18        Chicks, Rogues, & Scandals
  • June 18        The Write Review
  • June 19        Diary of Eccentric
  • June 20        Cracking the Cover
  • June 21        Short Books & Scribes
  • June 22        Reading the Past
  • June 22        Babblings of a Bookworm
  • June 23        My Vices and Weaknesses
  • June 23        The Book Diva Reads
  • June 24        Books, Teacups & Reviews
  • June 24        Wishful Endings
  • June 25        Robin Loves Reading
  • June 25        Bookfoolery
  • June 26        Lit and Life
  • June 26        Vesper’s Place
  • June 27        Foxes and Fairy Tales
  • June 28        Probably at the Library
  • June 28        Scuffed Slippers Wormy Books
  • June 29        The Anglophile Channel
  • June 29        So Little Time…
  • June 30        BookNAround 

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont 

Interview with Hazel Jones, author of “The Other Knight Boys: Jane Austen’s Dispossessed Nephews”

Enquiring Readers: Today I welcome Austen scholar Hazel Jones in an interview about her newest book The Other Knight Boys: Jane Austen’s Dispossessed Nephews. If you have been following my blog Reading with Austen: Returning the Lost Sheep of Godmersham, you have seen the several posts on the diaries of Charles Bridges Knight, i.e all the excerpts that Hazel shared with me of Charles’ references to his reading in the library at Godmersham Park, home to his father, and Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight [see below for links to these posts]. Hazel has been researching not only the life of Charles, but also the lives of the five other sons of Edward [all six in order are: Edward, George, Henry, William, Charles, and John]. Her recently published book just flows with tales of their childhood into manhood adventures. I highly recommend it, many of the stories worthy of an Austen novel!

So, Welcome Hazel!

JAIV: Can you give a brief summary of the book?

HJ: Jane Austen’s letters provide clear-sighted glimpses of her six Knight nephews as they grew up, but hers was not the only pen to record their privileged upbringing. Cassandra and Henry Austen commented on Edward Austen Knight’s indulgence of his sons and worried about the boys’ ability to cope with future adversity in the wider world; their affectionate sister Fanny noted key moments in their lives – birthdays, holidays, marriages; Charles kept a detailed diary throughout  the 1830s and 40s. The Other Knight Boys explores the character of each nephew in turn, their professional and personal circumstances, their close fraternal bonds as well as the difficulties and disappointments they encountered in adulthood. For five of the brothers, future dispossession of their beloved family home at Godmersham as a consequence of birth order was a reality they had to live with. How it affected the choices they made forms the story that the book attempts to tell.

 JAIV: How did you end up doing this research on Austen’s nephews, the six sons of her brother Edward?

HJ: Quite by chance, in 2010, I was in a small party on a guided tour of Trafalgar (pronounced Traffle-gar) Park near Salisbury in Wiltshire. The property featured as Hartfield in the 1996 ITV film of Emma [with Kate Beckinsale], as well as Barton Park in Emma Thompson’s Sense & Sensibility.  Originally known as Standlynch Park, it was acquired in 1813 by Parliament for Nelson’s brother William, the new 1st Earl Nelson and re-named Trafalgar Park. The Nelson family lived here until 1946. In 2010, the owner was Michael Wade, whose housekeeper conducted us around the ground floor rooms. In the saloon she pointed out a stunning full length portrait of William Nelson’s beautiful wife, Hilare. Wait a minute, I thought, wasn’t she subsequently married to one of Jane Austen’s Knight nephews? Next followed some very intensive sleuthing which uncovered baptismal records in Cornwall and three marriages – to a cousin, to Nelson and eventually to George Knight of Godmersham. The Kent History and Library Centre and the British Library supplied more biographical material and in a room not usually open to visitors at Chawton House, I found a portrait of George as a young man. My research turned into an article on the couple for the 2016 Jane Austen Society Annual Report. After that came the urge to write about the other five Knight boys and uncover as much as possible about the women in their lives. Charles of course never married, but he had close relationships with his father, his brothers and their spouses.

[Portrait of Hilare Countess Nelson, by George Sanders, 1829-34. Courtesy of Martyn Downer and Michael Wade] 

JAIV: Your research took you to materials scattered throughout southern England – “Kent, Hampshire, and beyond” as you say (3). Was most of this known or did you discover any untapped sources?

HJ: The archives in Hampshire Record Office and the Kent Archives at Maidstone have been scoured pretty thoroughly by Austen scholars across many generations, although even here I discovered one or two sparkling gems which had never appeared in any other text. Previously ‘untapped sources’ for me were the Winchester College Archives, the matriculation records held at St John’s and University College in Oxford, the Nelson archive at the British Library and the War Office records at the National Archive, Kew. Articles in the Jane Austen Society Annual Reports (now accessible online) also filled in a number of gaps and put me in touch with other Austen / Knight researchers such as Margaret Wilson, who then provided material I would not otherwise have found. Sophia Hillan, Linda Slothouber, Maggie Lane and Deirdre Le Faye were also happy to have their generous flow of scholarship ‘tapped’. Karen ievers, Andrew Bradford and Hampshire Cultural Trust allowed me to see and reproduce previously unseen images.  

JAIV:  Of the six boys-to-men you researched, was there more information available from sources on any one more than others? And if so, was that frustrating? For instance I know that Charles kept extensive diaries for years – did any of the others leave such behind them?

HJ: Edward’s life is well documented, given that he was the eldest son and lived at Chawton House, but there are few examples, beyond business letters, of his own personal voice. George’s facility with language shines through his amusing poems and articles on cricket written for The Sporting Magazine. His restless character is evidenced by Fanny’s reports of his comings and goings between England and the Continent, his inability to settle to a career in the law and Charles’s revelation of his brother’s wish to try his luck in America. Letters were written to Fanny by all of the brothers, she records their arrival in her daily diary entries, but where are they now? I wish I had found a greater number of letters from Henry to Lizzy Rice. He comes across as the most contentedly independent and self-sufficient of all the brothers; the harrowing nature of his early death tugs at my heart strings. One or two of William’s letters have survived, together with contemporary descriptions of his youthful exuberance and Fanny’s revelation of his affair with the Knatchbull governess. John is the brother about whom least is known and the hardest to pin down on the page, yet his moving account of the loss of Godmersham is the most revealing of all.

JAIV: Edward, of course, was the heir, and while he appears to have maintained a close and friendly relationship with each of his brothers, there had to have been some bad feelings about how he really dispossessed all of them from their Godmersham Park home. Do you feel sympathetic toward him? Did he have any choice?

HJ: Edward’s siblings must have understood that maintaining Chawton House and Godmersham Park was impossible. The drain of his first and second families on Edward’s finances would have been excessive. The sons from his first marriage were at the stage where they required cash, so when Edward Austen Knight died, money came their way via their father. What appears inexplicable is Edward’s expensive and architecturally unsympathetic alterations to Godmersham in 1853, shortly before he decided to lease the property for 20 years. I can understand his attachment to Chawton – it had been his permanent home since 1826, although his frequent and lengthy returns to Kent each year might have misled his brothers and sisters into believing he would eventually move back and continue to make Godmersham available to all the family. When he sold it in 1875, of the brothers only John was still alive.

Chawton House

JAIV:  Some great drama in the family! What is your favorite story? [then I’ll tell you mine!]

HJ: Difficult to choose one … Louisa Lushington’s* description on her visit to Godmersham of the boys somersaulting into the river fully clothed comes near the top of the list and I rather like the story Henry and George concocted, featuring Uncle Henry Austen’s imprisonment for poisoning his second wife. Scandal is always irresistible too … Fanny’s snide references to Fanny Jones, the consequences of Edward’s elopement with Mary Dorothea, William’s affair with the governess.

*[The Journal of Louisa Lushington (1821-22), with an introduction by Linda Slothouber, Chawton House, 2017]

Ok, so you mention my favorite! Edward’s elopement with his sister’s step-daughter is quite compelling, and definitely worthy of a novel – I cannot tell anymore, readers – buy the book!

Photograph of a lost portrait of Edward Knight,
held by Kent County Cricket Club, Canterbury.

 JAIV: There was so much tragedy in their lives: not unlike their father and uncles (excepting the youngest John, and Charles who never married), all suffered the loss of first wives in childbirth or illness. It is really wrenching to read – how do you think they all handled this?

HJ: Tragedies such as these are almost unimaginable in our modern age of effective remedies, reliable diagnoses and informed medical expertise. Death in childbirth happened so frequently that many women – judging by their correspondence – did not expect to survive, so perhaps their husbands anticipated the worst before it happened. As for the Knight husbands, they certainly grieved for a time, it’s difficult to tell for how long, but from Charles’s diaries we learn that Edward was decimated by the loss of Mary Dorothea and that William and Henry were emotionally affected on the first anniversary of their wives’ deaths. Two or three years later, they are all married again, and embarking on the creation of second families. Life went on. Perhaps a combination of strong religious belief, practical rationality and fraternal support carried them through the worst. 

Elizabeth Bridges Knight – Jane Austen blog by Kleurrijk

JAIV: Any sense that the death of their mother after the birth of her 11th child (Brook John, known as John) in 1808 (Edward was 14) had a long-lasting effect on any/each of them?

HJ: John would not have remembered his mother and Charles’s recollections were probably indistinct at best. The affection the brothers felt for each other, for their sisters, and for their father – and his for them – strengthened the familial tie after Elizabeth’s death. Their easy, happy life at Godmersham appears to continue much the same as before, with Fanny standing in as a very capable and loving presence. Male and female occupations and interests were largely separate and distinct, which perhaps helped to lessen the sense of loss at the time and later. Edward, George, Henry and William were away at school for most of the year, Charles and John were initially under Fanny’s care until the time came for them to leave. Any long term effect might have manifested itself in a very understandable anxiety when their own wives became pregnant.

JAIV: Was Jane Austen a big factor in any of their lives growing up (she died when Edward was 23 in July 1817)? But when she became more popular and James Edward Austen Leigh (James’s son) wrote her memoir in 1869 – did any of Edward’s children contribute to that?

HJ: According to Anna Lefroy, Jane Austen was not loved by the Knight children, although they appreciated her story-telling skills. Anna had her own reasons for holding this view, but the probability is that Jane was merely tolerated by the nephews while at Godmersham, especially as they grew older and beyond female influence. Given their hunting, fishing and shooting pursuits, Jane called it ‘sporting mania’, they would see little of her during the day and there is evidence that at and after dinner, she found their their male acquaintance and their talk of wholesale slaughter distasteful. Maria Bertram, bored silly by Mr Rushworth’s boast of game bagged and poachers apprehended, comes to mind. A spinster aunt casting disapproving looks across the table, however, would have had little effect on these confident, indulged young men.  At Chawton, out of the hunting season, the nephews appear to have proved more congenial company, especially Henry and William, whose visits to the Cottage in their aunt’s final year are recorded with great affection in her letters. In 1822, Henry Knight wrote to his sister Lizzy that he expected Chawton to feel ‘sadly unreal’, surely on account of Aunt Jane’s absence, when he next visited.

James Edward Austen-Leigh attempted to access Fanny’s letters from Jane Austen, but did not succeed. He stayed with William Knight at the new Steventon Rectory for a day and night, in order to walk the familiar lanes and remind himself of where the old rectory used to stand. At the time the Memoir was written, Henry, George and Charles were dead.

JAIV: In reading about Edward’s family, do you feel that at any time in her writing that Jane Austen was modelling a character after a real-life family member?

HJ: No. [ha! Love this very succinct answer!]

JAIV: What surprised you the most? – Something previously unknown to you or anyone else in the Austen research world?

HJ: A small discovery involved Henry’s attendance at University College, Oxford. There is no reference to this in other texts and it was even a surprise to Deirdre Le Faye. Another concerns George’s final years, after his wife’s death. I am intrigued by his relationship, whatever it entailed, with Fanny Jones. George’s sister Lady Knatchbull certainly suspected something untoward, especially when her brother moved to Hereford to share a house with Fanny and her husband. One that almost got away is the small sheet of paper, Plate 8 in my book, comprising poems written by Edward Knight II and his second wife Adela. It was listed in the HRO catalogue, but missing from the file. It had still not surfaced when my last day at the Record Office came, but in the three hours it took to drive home, the Archivist had located, photocopied and forwarded it.

Charles Bridges Knight

JAIV: For instance, Charles went to Cambridge not Oxford like the rest of his family – do you know why that was?

HJ: One of my theories is that he was sent to Cambridge to detach him from certain school friends who had involved him in a rebellion at Winchester College in 1818. A number of the expelled ringleaders went on to Oxford, with which Winchester was closely associated. His sister Fanny reveals that Charles was ‘intended for the Law’ at this point – maybe Cambridge had a better reputation for training lawyers. One can only speculate.

JAIV:  All the brothers had very interesting and novel-worthy love interests – some thwarted by parental involvement – but there were elopements, governess shenanigans, some intermarriage with cousins, etc., some of which you have mentioned above  – Charles was the only brother not to marry – was there any love interest found in his diaries?

HJ: From time to time, Charles expresses a lukewarm interest in what he calls ‘domestic happiness’ but he recognized at the same time that it would very likely result in a diminution of his income and the luxury it afforded. While living at Godmersham he attended balls with his sisters, usually reporting afterwards that he had found them ‘stupid’ or that he ‘had not been up to the mark’. He is open to the appeal of women and notes their beauty, or lack of it, and liveliness. In the summer of 1847, when Charles was forty-four, heavily inked deletions appear in his diaries, which appear to be linked to Lizzie Pole, a young woman he encountered at Wolverton Rectory. That Charles himself was not responsible for these obliterations is a possibility, since not all of the references to ‘dear Lizzie’ are removed. His end of the year summary for 1847 expresses ‘shame and sorrow’ at his unbecoming behaviour and ‘cold unfeeling heart’. What happened remains a mystery.

JAIV:  Charles’ diaries are quite detailed and extensive. Are you hoping to do more with them? Make them available to a larger audience? [You were terrific in sharing excerpts from the diaries about Charles’ reading while at Godmersham – see links below]

HJ: Yes indeed. See the answer below!

JAIV: Your previous books, Jane Austen and Marriage (2009, paperback 2017 by Uppercross Press), Jane Austen’s Journeys (2014) are both excellent and informative reads where you discuss the times Jane Austen lived in and how the understanding of that helps us understand her plots and characters. Did you enjoy researching the real people in Austen’s life more or less than delving into a subject?

HJ: I loved creating both of my previous books, but have found biographical writing fascinating and wholly compelling (for that, read obsessive). The Other Knight Boys was my first foray as a writer into this territory and I must admit I did find this kind of study more absorbing than focusing on a set subject. It’s something of a cliché to say it, but I did develop a strong sense of each nephew as a living breathing individual, and consequently able to make informed leaps into speculative musing where there were gaps in the records. Where the boys’ experiences overlapped – attendance at Henry and Sophia’s wedding, for example, or the visit to Ireland on their sister Cassandra’s death – deciding in which chapter or chapters to locate the material and at the same time avoiding unnecessary repetition, was a very complex but rewarding process, rather like solving a six-dimensional puzzle.

JAIV: Which leads us to: What’s up next?

HJ: I am currently working with Peter Sabor on the transcription and annotation of Charles Knight’s diaries – 1832 – 1851.

[The Sophia Hillan book May, Lou & Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland  (Blackstaff Press, 2011) covers the lives of Marianne (May), Louisa, and Cassandra Jane – much has already been written about Fanny, so what about Elizabeth (Lizzy) – is there a story to tell there?

M.C. Hammond’s Relating to Jane has already covered Lizzy Rice’s life.

[JAIV: Goodness, I have this book on my shelf and have never read it – more than half the book is on Lizzy Knight!:  Relating to Jane: Studies on the Life and Novels of Jane Austen with a Life of Her Niece Elizabeth Austen/Knight,  by M. C. Hammond (Minerva Press, 1998)].

JAIV: What is your favorite Austen and why? Your favorite character?

HJ: This reminds me of that question from a famous BBC Radio 4 programme: ‘Which book would you choose to take with you to your desert island?’ My answer would have to be ‘The Complete Works of Jane Austen’.  I find it impossible to single out for special notice one novel or one character. Heroines, heroes and minor characters, they are all perfectly realized and crafted.

JAIV: An absolutely perfect answer! So, what else do you like to read?

HJ: I love reading biographies, by Claire Tomalin and Hermione Lee in particular, also intelligent detective and thriller fiction – P.D. James, Ian Rankin, Stella Rimington, Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, Kate Atkinson; authors from other genres include Dorothy Whipple, Hilary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, Tracey Chevalier … I could go on.

JAIV: well. Thank you for that – a perfect reading list to add to my already toppling TBR pile! [and I see that many of Dorothy Whipple’s books have been republished by the incomparable Persephone Books.]

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A hearty Thank You! Hazel, for sharing so much about your book and research into the world of Austen’s nephews. You give a very loving picture of their varied lives, emphasizing their continued connection and affection for each other, and giving us a compelling view into this next generation of the Austen family. The amount of your research alone astounds me! And again, I highly recommend it to all. If you have any questions for Hazel, please comment below and I will forward them to her for answering.

Hazel Jones, Denman College, Oxfordshire

About the author:

Hazel Jones taught English at Exeter University’s Department of Lifelong Learning. She has lectured to Austen Societies in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands and contributed articles to a number of their journals. Since 1995 she has tutored residential courses on Jane Austen’s life, letters and novels in a range of locations. Her published books include Jane Austen and Marriage (2009) and Jane Austen’s Journeys (2014).

The Other Knight Boys: Jane Austen’s Dispossessed Nephews, by Hazel Jones
Crediton, Devon, UK: Uppercross Press, 2020.

165 pages, color illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.

You can find Hazel’s book at:

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The blog posts on Charles Bridges Knight’s reading at Godmersham Park can be found here:

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont