The Novels of Jane Austen. London: Chatto & Windus, 1908-09 [Source: Jonkers Rare Books]
At number E117 in the Gilson Bibliography we find this 10-volume set listed with the following description:
“Printed by Arden Press, Letchworth. Olive green cloth gilt, with small oval colour illustration pasted down on each front board, endpapers [same in all volumes] reproducing a watercolour drawing by A. Wallis Mills, green dustwrappers printed in black. A general introduction and introductory notes by R. Brimley Johnson, title pages printed in blue and black, each volume has a frontispiece and nine other colour plates also by Mills [they plates do not always face the page specified in the illustration].
The volumes were available separately, or as a set bound in whole green parchment. Reissued in 1925 by George C. Harrap, London, bound in mid brown diagonal fine-ribbed cloth, otherwise identical with the original issue.”
So, I don’t actually have this full set, just the Persuasion volume, the one novel I focus my collecting energies on. I was doing a talk on illustrating Persuasion and wanted to have my own copy, and I broke all the rules of collecting to get it – I found it online, knew it was in terrible condition, but bought it anyway – it didn’t cost much and I wanted it for the illustrations and the endpapers. Alas!, it smells – so it is kept in its own place and not on the shelves with my other Persuasion copies – but, no regrets.
I am posting on this for a few reasons – because it is often the illustrated editions that are the most interesting and therefore the most collectible. And while we know our Brock and Thomson and Hammond editions, this set is not as well known.
A[rthur] Wallis Mills [1878-1940] was a British artist of mostly humorous subjects – he is famous for his cartoons and illustrations for Punch and The Strand magazines, and he illustrated more P. G. Wodehouse stories than any other artist.
“Suffragettes at Home” for Punch Magazine, published 14 April 1909.
He: I say, that lady over there looks rather out of it’. She: Yes, you see, most of us here have been in prison two or three times, and she, poor dear, has only been bound over!’
We might wonder why Chatto chose a political cartoonist to illustrate Austen – but at least we can give them credit for acknowledging her satirical wit.
Here is a composite of a number of the illustrations across all the volumes:
A review of the two Sense and Sensibility volumes in the set appeared in The Literary Digest of October 1908, page 561, published by Duffield & Co., New York: the reviewer wrote:
“These two volumes in the new ten-volume set of Jane Austen’s writings, illustrated in colors by A. Wallis Mills, follow closely upon the publication of the first two, which contained “Pride and Prejudice.” Mr. Mills has caught the spirit of the original rather better in these volumes than he did in the other. His Mr. Darcey [sic] was not quite convincing, nor were his Miss Bennets, altho he was more successful with Mrs. Bennet—quite successful, in fact. In the present volume his Sir John is entirely satisfying and so are Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Ferriar. We like immensely, also, his Dashwood girls. His picture of Mrs. John Dashwood’s arrival in her new home is entirely adequate. A more satisfying edition of Jane Austen is not known to us.”
[One can only assume the reviewer never saw a single Brock, Thomson, or Hammond!]
Here’s a larger image of the scene of Elizabeth in “earnest contemplation” of Mr. Darcy’s portrait – I cannot help but agree with the above reviewer’s opinion of Mr. Darcy:
Though I find him a far better Darcy here:
What most interests me about these Mills illustrations is that the Austen illustrator Joan Hassall found them so distasteful, she did the unpardonable [in my view] with regard to a book: She writes, “Unfortunately, I could not like these pictures and spent a long time perseveringly tearing out about 50 coloured plates.” [JAS Report, 1973] – which means she left 50 intact – I wonder which ones! David Gilson calls them insipid! – these are very strong responses to poor Mr. Mills, and sure proof that the illustrations in a Jane Austen novel can either make or break the story for you.
Here are some examples from the set:
From Persuasion – here is the frontispiece, which makes no sense at all – it is the frontispiece, which should be a grand introduction to the book, and here we have Benwick and Mary Musgrove walking the beach at Lyme Regis – can you recall they even did this together?? Certainly no poetry conversation between them…
And this also from Persuasion of Charles Musgrove and Benwick “rat-hunting”: Musgrove a dead ringer for Prince Charles [and again, a rather odd scene to illustrate…]:
We must see Captain Wentworth or you shall never forgive me…he’s on the left looking rather disturbed… cramped “on the same sofa… divided only by Mrs. Musgrove, no insignificant barrier indeed…” and perhaps wondering why he ever left his ship…
I don’t find Mr. Mills’ attempts at giving us Austen’s humor in watercolor as awful as some – I do think they are a tad wishy-washy and far too-cute, but he is spot-on with the fashions and his humorous side is apparent, just maybe not as effective as Hugh Thomson? I do think you need to see all the illustrations from each volume to get the full effect, his comedy more subtle. They in some ways remind me of the 2013 Royal Mail postage stamps by Angela Barrett, where you can see the Persuasion scene is that of Mr. Elliot first spotting Anne on the Cobb:
You find these volumes often sold separately, and often in not great conidtion [be sure to check for those 10 illustrations in each volume!] – full sets appear infrequently and might run to $1000 or more depending upon condition.
Thoughts anyone? Would you cut these illustrations out of your set [thereby making it worthless], or call them insipid??
Gentle Readers: In an effort to offer weekly posts on collecting Jane Austen, I shall start with the basics of book collecting – this a general summary of things to consider with a few examples specific to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice in particular. This will be followed by weekly posts on randomly chosen books in the various categories I list here that I think are essential to a Jane Austen collection.
Let’s start in the pages of Pride and Prejudice in the library at Netherfield where we find Elizabeth, Miss Bingley, Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Darcy:
[Elizabeth] walked towards a table where a few books were lying. He [Bingley] immediately offered to fetch her others; all that his library afforded.
“And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever look into.”
Elizabeth assured him that she could suit herself perfectly with those in the room.
“I am astonished,” said Miss Bingley, “that my father should have left so small a collection of books. What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!”
“It ought to be good,” he replied; “it has been the work of many generations.”
“And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books.” [my emphasis]
“I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these.”
And so, here we have the permission of Mr. Darcy himself to buy as many books as we would like!
II. The Collecting of Books:
Terry Belanger, a veteran book collector and rare book librarian once famously said “you are a collector if you have more than one copy of a single title” –
So, I ask you, how many of you have more than one copy of any of Jane Austen’s novels? And how many of you already realize that to collect all copies of books by and about Jane Austen is surely an impossible task? Even focusing on one title, say Pride and Prejudice, we would find it an impossible undertaking!
So where to start?
1. The first rule of book collecting is Collect what you Love – so I can assume that any of you reading this alllove Jane Austen, and so that will be our focus… and not only the books but also the myriad objects and ephemera. You can collect anything – my son collects Sneakers, only Nike Jordans, which leads to books about sneakers, etc…!
An amusing tale about collecting one title: In a used bookshop in England a few years ago I hit the mother-load of A Child’s Garden of Verses – a title I collect –
I brought five different editions to the register, manned by a young man obviously neither the owner nor all that well-versed in the vagaries of collecting – he hesitated for a moment, looked thoughtful, and finally blurted out “Do you know that all these books are the same?” [epilogue: I bought them all…]
2. Try to find the 1st edition (and by “first edition” I mean “first printing”), and how do we do that?
1st edition Pride and Prejudice [National Library of Scotland]
For most of us, Jane Austen first editions are beyond our pocketbooks – but you will need to know the basics of book collecting to understand why some books are harder to find, and why, when you find them, they can often be expensive.
It is here you will need to decide if you want the first edition in pristine condition or if you only need a reading copy, or not even a first edition at all – this is a question to ask at every purchase.
The most difficult aspect of book collecting is how to identify a first edition – every publisher did it differently and often changed their indicators over time. There are many guides to help with this.
This Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions by Bill McBride is the best starting point for a general understanding of the practices of various publishers. You can also find this information online at Quill & Brush Books: https://www.qbbooks.com/first_ed_pub.php
Then you will need more specific detail on the author/subject you are collecting, and thankfully for us Jane Austen enthusiasts, David Gilson, and Keynes and Chapman before him, have largely done this work for us…
4. Determining value: supply and demand – Desirability+Scarcity=Value
Is the book still in print?
How many copies were printed?
Is this the author’s first book? – Sense and Sensibility is the most valuable
How did the book first appear? – binding, dust jacket? [value greatly reduced if lacking jacket: 75% – fiction, 20% – non-fiction]. Eg. S&S first published in boards is more valuable than the finest leather binding
S&S 1st ed in boards and leather bound]: estimated value: $200,000 / $50,000.
Illustrations present? are they all there?
Condition, Condition, Condition! – most important factor! [see more below]
Where do you find values? There are many guides to consult:
Allen and Patricia Ahearn. Collected Books: A Guide to Identification and Values. 4th ed. (2011); see also their author guides – one on JA from 2007
American Book Prices Current: auction sales, so actual value
Bookseller catalogues: what titles are selling for
Author and subject bibliographies
Internet: bookselling sites: be wary – prices all over the place
5. CONDITION is the most important issue: prices will vary depending upon condition – even if you have the 1st edition – if it is in deplorable condition that will affect the value.
Booksellers grade a book’s condition using the terms below, from “As New” down to “Poor”: for instance VG [for the book ] / VG [for the jacket] – anything less than a VG is really not collectible:
VERY FINE/NEW [VF / NEW]: As new, unread.
FINE: Close to new, showing slight signs of age but without any defects.
VERY GOOD [VG]: A used book that shows some sign of wear but still has no defects.
GOOD [G]: A book that shows normal wear and aging, still complete and with no major defects.
FAIR: A worn and used copy, probably with cover tears and other defects.
POOR: a mess really, but might have some redeeming qualities
READING COPY: any book less than VG
An interesting tale to demonstrate this: The rare bookseller Stuart Bennett [no relation to our esteemed Bennet family!] writes in his book Trade Bookbinding in the British Isles 1660-1800.
Alas! pre-Austen, but we find her in a NOTE: [an aside – always check indexes for Jane Austen – you will be pleasantly surprised to see how often she turns up and in the most amazing places!]
Bennett writes in a footnote on the issue of publishing in boards vs. the wealthy having their favorite books bound in leather:
What is certain is that wrappered and boarded popular literature was not part of the visual landscape of country house libraries. In my experience these books, when kept, found their way into cupboards underneath the display bookcases, or into passages or rooms used by servants. In my days at Christie’s I once spent hours in the pantry cupboards of a Scottish country house, searching through stacks of these wrappered and boarded books among which I found, virtually as new, Volume III of the first edition of Sense and Sensibility. When I found the other two volumes I remarked to the aristocratic owners that this was one of the most valuable books in the house, as exceptional survival in original condition, and doubtless so because one of their ancestors had bought Jane Austen’s first novel, read it, and hadn’t cared enough to send it to for rebinding, and never bought another. My ebullience was arrested by an icy stare from the Countess, who replied, “I am sure, Mr. Bennett, that our ancestors would never have felt that way about Jane Austen.” 
Stuart tells me: this S&S set the then-record auction price in 1977 or 1978 (he was the auctioneer!), and turned up about twenty or maybe 25 years later offered by a London bookseller for, as he recalls, $200,000. Then it disappeared again.
Question: Should you buy a less collectible book because you cannot afford the higher price? – do you just want a reading copy or need to fill a gap in your collection? – you can decide this on a case-by-case basis – what becomes available and when and how much you can spend…
6. Where to find Books:
“Beauty in Search of Knowledge” – Thomas Rowlandson
– Local bookstores: sadly less of them, but still the best resource of Jane Austen books – a bookseller who will know your likes, will buy with you in mind, someone to trust… – Specific booksellers: those who specialize in Jane Austen and other women writers – shops, catalogues – you can find at book-fairs, being on their catalogue mailing list, and on the internet. For eg. Jane Austen Bookshttps://www.janeaustenbooks.net/ – Auctions / auction catalogues – The Internet: major used bookselling sites: you need to be an informed consumer!
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Internet: I could write a very lengthy post just on this – so I will only emphasize the biggest positive – you have at your fingertips a Global marketplace – no longer dependent on a brick & mortar shop around the corner [sad as this is to me!]
Biggest negative: be in be-wary mode – who are you buying from? – how to decide which is the best copy with so many price and condition discrepancies? – my best advice? – choose a bookseller who knows what they are about: valid and complete descriptions and a price that seems reasonable in light of other copies on offer.
A word about EBAY: a Gigantic auction house always open! – an amazing resource but also the biggest potential for getting a bad deal – you need to be an informed consumer!
Best use of the internet: Want Lists – most book sites do this and auction houses offer “alerts” – you will be notified when an item becomes available…
7. Caring for your collection: lots of information here to consider…just not today.
II. What to Collect:
Now comes the hard part – with so much out there on Jane Austen, where do you even begin? The need to focus on one particular aspect [say just collecting copies of Pride and Prejudice], or by zeroing in on a certain illustrator you like [the Brock brothers], or only books with fine decorative bindings [so many] – this list covers the gamut of possibilities – you just need to choose what you are most interested in. You must however start with a core collection:
A. A Jane Austen Core Collection
1. The Works: the Oxford edition, ed. by Chapman (1923); the Cambridge edition, general editor Janet Todd, with each volume edited by a a different scholar; a set of reading copies of each novel – ones you can markup, underline, and make notes
2. The Letters – all editions [Brabourne, Chapman, Le Faye, Modert]
3. R. W. Chapman’s books on Jane Austen
4. Biography: the Memoir and everything since!
5. A Chronology of Jane Austen, Deirdre Le Faye (Cambridge, 2006)
6. The Bibliographies: Keynes, Chapman, Gilson, Barry Roth’s 3 volumes, and those continued annually in Persuasions; the Cambridge Bibliographies, etc…
7. Brian Southam. The Critical Heritage. Vol I. 1811-1870. Routledge, 1979; The Critical Heritage, Vol. II. 1870-1940. Routledge, 1987. – now available as digital reprints, 2009
8. Critical works: starting off point to further study – where to start?? The bibliographies; “Companions” – “Handbooks” – “Casebooks”
9. The World of Jane Austen: [endless material!]
The Arts: Music, Art, Architecture; Interior Design and Decorative Arts; Landscape
Georgian and Regency History: Political, Economic, Social, Religious
Social life and customs: Etiquette; Gender / Class issues; Dancing; Costume and Fashion
Domestic Arts: Cookery, Needlework, Women’s work, Family life, Home-life, Servants
Military History: the Royal Navy, the Militia, The French Revolution, the American Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, War of 1812
Geographical History and Maps
Travel and Transportation: Carriages, Roads, Guidebooks, etc…
Literary Theory, History of the Novel, Narrative Theory, Language
B. Collecting a specific Jane Austen novel: as an example Pride & Prejudice
Specific Publishers: Bentley, Macmillan, Dent, Oxford, Folio Society, LLC, Penguin, etc.
Illustrators: also single illustrations
Decorative bindings / cover art – to include paperbacks
Critical editions: with scholarly editing and introductions
Books where P&P shows up
Association copies: e.g. Sarah Harriet Burney’s copy
Books that influenced Austen: e.g. Frances Burney’s Cecilia
Adaptations: Editions for young readers; Dramatizations; Films, Audiobooks
Sequels! – endless potential!
History / Social Life and Customs of the times, specific to P&P – fill your bookshelves!
Ephemera and Physical Objects – P&P merchandise in popular culture, many to do with Colin Firth…(!)
Ok, now you know everything to know about Book Collecting – you can begin this lifelong fun-filled endeavor! Join me next week for the first of many [I hope] Jane Austen-related titles you must have on your shelves…all with Mr. Darcy’s approval. Any questions or suggestions, please comment.
My plan: to post each week a book by or about Jane Austen that a collector should have in their growing library. The post that follows was first posted in August 2010, but I must start with this Gilson Bibliography because if your plan is to actively collect Jane Austen, this book is your starting point, an absolute must-have. I hope each week to give short snippets on the various books in my own collection, as well as books that never made it to my shelves but should be there…I welcome your comments on what your favorite books are, the essentials in your collection, or any questions you might have about how to go about starting such a collection. It’s a lifetime endeavor!
Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. New Introduction and Corrections by the Author. Winchester: St. Paul’s Bibliographies / New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1997.
I am often asked what I would consider the most important book to add to ones own “Jane Austen Library.” Primary sources of course, the Chapman Oxford set of all the novels, minor works, juvenilia, etc – these volumes remain the source for citation in any scholarly work. The new Cambridge edition is lovely [and now thankfully in paperback and more affordable], and this edition of the works has begun to supplant the Chapman for citation purposes – so, you really need both…[more on this in a future post].
But after that, what? I would choose and most highly recommend David Gilson’s Bibliography of Jane Austen. Originally published in 1982, Gilson had set out to revise and update the Sir Geoffrey Keynes’ 1929 Nonesuch Press Austen bibliography, after discovering the lack of information in the Keynes relating to the early American editions of Austen’s works. Gilson wrote about these and other discoveries of the various early translations in his articles for The Book Collector. At Keynes’ suggestion, Gilson began a second edition but found it best to present a whole new work based on Keynes but with much additional information and to include the work of Chapman in his 1955 Austen bibliography. The 1997 edition is not a revision of the 1982 work but does include a new introduction, corrections, some additions, and a brief bibliographic essay on material published since 1978. It is less physically attractive and lacks the frontispiece illustrations of the 1st edition, but I consider this very comprehensive work [at 877 pages!] the starting point for all Austen research. Gilson writes a very informative essay prefacing each of the twelve chapters, includes a chronological listing of editions and reprints and an exhaustive index that links back to all the entries.
I offer here a brief capsule of each of these chapters, essentially a list of what to collect:
A. The Original Editions: Gilson follows the principles set down by Philip Gaskell in his New Introduction to Bibliography  and the entry for each original edition is exhaustive: full bibliographical details of the physical book [title; collation; contents; technical notes on the paper, printing, headlines, chapter headings and endings, binding; etc]; its publishing history; reviews and contemporary comments; later publishing history; auction records [fascinating!]; listing of copies examined; and other copies known to exist. [I LOVE this stuff!]
B. First American Editions: as Austen mentions nothing about foreign editions of her work, Gilson assumes she knew nothing about the Emma that was published by Matthew Carey in 1816, a very rare edition, and unknown of by the earlier bibliographers – [Gilson B1]. Gilson again gives full bibliographical data as for the original editions, noting the textual variations in punctuation and spelling.
C. Translations: as Gilson states, despite that “JA’s opinion of the French seems not to have been high [citing her letter of Sept 8, 1816]…the French first paid her the compliment of translating her novels in 1813 and 1815.” [Gilson, p. 135] Same full bibliographic details here for the various translations.
D. Editions Published by Richard Bentley: no reissue of Austen’s novels is known after 1818 until 1832 when Richard Bentley decided to include them in his series of Standard Novels [quoting Chapman]. The copyrights had been sold to him by Cassandra for £210 and the P&P copyright was purchased from Egerton for £40. [Gilson, p. 211] Covers all the Bentley editions through 1882, with bibliographical details.
E. Later Editions and Selections: lists “as far as it has been practicable” all other later editions of the novels from the 1830s onwards, with cursory bibliographical details and a focus on the statistical details for these editions, excepting the “textually significant edition edited by Chapman (E150)” [Gilson, p. 238] – there are 425 entries in this section.
F. Minor Works: great literary history here! – with complete bibliographical details for Lady Susan, The Watsons, Charades, Love & Freindship, Sanditon, “Plan of a Novel”, Persuasion chapters, Prayers, the Juvenilia, etc.
G. Letters: Brabourne, Bodley Head, Chapman editions, Le Faye coming later [the 3rd edition, in 1995, 4th ed. in 2011]
H. Dramatisations: Gilson states that in 1929 Keynes could only find three dramatic adaptations, but fifty are listed here, and only those that are published works, and surprise of surprises, P&P being the most popular. [Gilson, p. 405]
J. Continuations and Completions [there is no “I” section]: Gilson lists 14, adds a good number in his 1997 update, but since then the world has been inundated with all manner of sequels, prequels, and mash-ups – this chapter is a good starting point for some of the less known early sequels that have gotten lost in the back room library stacks – some are quite good [Brinton and Bonavia-Hunt for example]
K. Books Owned by Jane Austen: there is much evidence of what Austen actually read – in Chapman’s indexes and other studies on literary influences on her – but as Gilson states, “the actual copies prove more elusive” [p. 431], so these twenty entries listed are noted in some way to have been subscribed to by her or inscribed in some way – the essay here is very informative and great to learn of the provenance of some of these titles Austen owned and read. [Note: I have set up a page in the Bibliography section on this blog titled Jane Austen’s Reading ~ a Bibliography – a list of all the books that Austen owned or is known to have read, compiled from various sources – it makes a great reading list! ]
L. Miscellaneous: the ever-needed catch-all and quite a little find, as Gilson says “unclassifiable miscellanea (with yet a curious fascination of their own!) [p. 449] – for example, an Elizabeth Goudge short story “Escape for Jane”, a romanticized re-telling of the Harris Bigg-Wither episode (L24), a number of works adapted for children, and a few works on the Leigh-Perrot trial.
M. Biography and Criticism: everything from 1813 on, to include books, journal articles, reviews, etc, chronologically arranged and annotated [though not consistently], 1814 items in total, with a bibliographical essay in the updated version to touch on recent resources, ALL examined by Gilson personally. No words here to adequately explain this section – just an amazing piece of scholarship –
Appendix: a chronological listing of all editions, reprints and and adaptations of JA’s works recorded in the bibliography
Index: pp. 753-877 – exhaustive!
… but here of course is where any printed book falls short – before it hits the stands, it is outdated. Recent efforts to keep Austen bibliography current have been largely produced by Barry Roth in his three works:
Roth, Barry and Joel Clyde Weinsheimer. An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1952-1972. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1973.
Roth, Barry. An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1973-1983. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1985.
__________. An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1984-1994. Ohio University Press, 1996.
The annual “Jane Austen Bibliography” in the JASNA journals Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line began in 1993, first by Patricia Latkin, then by Latkin and Barry Roth, then by Roth alone, followed by yours truly from 2007-2018, and since by Carol Grigas, Lise Snyder, and Claire Bellanti. Starting with the 2020 bibliography, Eileen Horansky has joined the team.
The Internet gives us such immediate access to journals and books, tons of bibliographies, etc. – this has made all of us capable of being completely on top of everything every minute of the day – but for me, there is nothing quite like going to my Gilson to get back to those earlier days of bibliography, when a scholar such as he lovingly handled each work and made the effort to describe with such fullness each edition so it may become present before you and thus we are brought a little bit closer to the Austen we all love and admire – indeed, we can feel as excited as she did upon receipt of her own first copy of Pride & Prejudice as she exclaimed to Cassandra “ I want to tell you that I have got my own darling Child from London “ [Le Faye, Letter 79, p. 201]
If you don’t have this book, get it – it makes for fascinating reading! [I confess to being a librarian and I know we are all a little bit weird about this bibliography and classification thing, but this book will give you much to ponder, trust me…]
Chapman, R.W. Jane Austen: A Critical Bibliography. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Keynes, Geoffrey. Jane Austen: A Bibliography. NY: Burt Franklin, 1968 [originally published in London, 1929]
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 thisvillage 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).
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.
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.
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’ 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.
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.
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.
Images of Shere for your viewing pleasure: [Ed. I will take any one of these houses!]
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]
1797: Henry Austen marries his cousin Eliza de Feuillide, by special license.
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.
I pull this Christmas Eve post from the archives, first posted on Dec 24, 2010
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Festive Holidays!!
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]
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.
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….
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.
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.
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 …’.
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
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.
Hugh Blair – wikipedia
Hugh Blair. Sermons. Vol. 1 of 5 published in 1777.
“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.”
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.
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!]
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.
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
Machiavelli – is referred to by Mary, so assume she is familiar with his The Prince (1513).
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
John Milton. Paradise Lost. A mention by Mr. Ryder who is defeated by its length, so we know Mary was familiar with it.
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…
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 !
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: