Jane Austen on Her Mansfield Park

Jane Austen on Her Mansfield Park

As we begin celebrating the bicentenary of the publication of Mansfield Park [it was first advertised on May 9, 1814 in The Star], I post here all the references that Jane Austen made in her letters to her third book. My intention for the year ahead is to post about MP’s publishing history and the variety of illustrated and collectible editions. Then a post on Austen’s own “Opinions of Mansfield Park” where she collected and recorded all the comments from family and friends [she also did this for Emma] – she may have called P&P her “own darling Child” – but I think it is “universally acknowledged” that her very own favorite was MP – she seemed most concerned about others’ reactions to it and was discouraged that no review of MP appeared at the time of its publication.  And then I will post on sequels / continuations – not as many as the other works [doesn’t anyone think of Edmund as a romantic Hero? – why hasn’t an oversized sculpture of him been dragged into the Serpentine?], but interesting all the same!  … But first: her own commentary on MP – again, there is that feeling of Austen hovering over my shoulder as I read the letters – if only one could ask the many questions we all have – if you could, what would you ask Jane Austen about Mansfield Park?

References:


1. Austen, Jane.  Jane Austen’s Letters.  3rd ed., edited by Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford, 1997. [I have the 4th edition but alas! it is not with me at present, so I continue to cite the 3rd ed.]
2. _____. Mansfield Park. Introd. Jane Stabler. Oxford, 2008, c2003.
2. Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll, 1997.

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MP-1sted-titlepage

              Image: Mansfield Park 1st edition, Printed for T. Egerton, 1814.

According to Cassandra Austen’s memorandum with regard to the writing of the novels, Austen was working on Mansfield Park from February 1811, finished soon after June 1813. These early letters make it clear that Cassandra was familiar with the story all along…

  • Ltr. 78 Sunday 24 January 1813 from Chawton to Cassandra at Steventon (p. 198-99)

I learn from Sir J. Carr that there is no Government House at Gibraltar. – I must alter it to the Commissioner’s.  

NOTE:  The Commissioner held a shore-posting, usually as rank of Captain; often given to injured sea officers. He was responsible to the administration of naval accounts at a local level. [MP, Oxford, 410]

John_Carr_1809-wp

Sir John Carr (wikipedia)

Carr is not in the Le Faye index …, but according to Gilson, this is Sir John Carr, author of Descriptive Travels in the Southern and Eastern parts of Spain and the Balearic Isles in the year 1809. (1811) – and what Austen must have read to confirm this information [Gilson, 48]

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_John_Carr

Austen uses it here:

He [Henry Crawford] honoured the warm–hearted, blunt fondness of the young sailor [William Price], which led him to say, with his hands stretched towards Fanny’s head, “Do you know, I begin to like that queer fashion already, though when I first heard of such things being done in England, I could not believe it; and when Mrs. Brown, and the other women at the Commissioner’s at Gibraltar, appeared in the same trim, I thought they were mad; but Fanny can reconcile me to anything”… [MP, Vol. II, ch. vi]

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In the same letter (78), Austen writes:

As soon as a Whist party was formed & a round Table threatened, I made my Mother an excuse, & came away; leaving just as many for their round Table, as there were at Ms. Grants. – I wish they might be as agreable a set.  

NOTE:  round table = eleven, less 4 for whist, and JA, leaves 6. The round table in MP consisted of Lady Bertram and Edmund, 2 Prices, and 2 Crawfords [Le Faye, 410].

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  • Ltr. 79. Friday 29 January 1813. From Chawton to Cassandra at Steventon (p. 202)

After a rather lengthy paragraph on the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Austen jumps into another topic:

Now I will try to write of something else; – it shall be a complete change of subject – Ordination. I am glad to find your enquiries have ended so well. – If you discover whether Northamptonshire is a Country of Hedgerows, I sh’d be glad again.

NOTE: This line has led early scholars to believe that she was referring to the theme of her newest novel – but if we notice the previous letter’s references to MP, we know that she is nearly half-way through its composition.  Le Faye notes that the “enqueries” no doubt refer to the time necessary for the process of ordination – i.e. how long Edmund Bertram might be kept away from Mansfield Park for this purpose.  Cassandra was then staying with James Austen, and could have provided these details. [Le Faye, 411]

Speed_Northampton-wp

Image: 17th century map of Northamptonshire, by John Speed (wikipedia)

NOTE: The hedgerows reference: Chapman assumed this meant Austen was thinking of using the device in MP she later uses in Persuasion [Anne overhearing the conversation between Capt. Wentworth and Louisa] – Cassandra told her there were no hedgerows in Northamptonshire – but she does use this in MP:

“This is pretty, very pretty,” said Fanny, looking around her as they were thus sitting together one day; “every time I come into this shrubbery I am more struck with its growth and beauty. Three years ago, this was nothing but a rough hedgerow along the upper side of the field, never thought of as anything, or capable of becoming anything;…” [MP, vol. II, ch. IV]

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  • Ltr. 82 Tuesday 16 February 1813. From Chawton to Martha Lloyd [in Kintsbury]. (p. 208).

A reference to her questions about Northamptonshire as in the above letter to Cassandra.

I am obliged to you for your inquiries about Northamptonshire, but do not wish you to renew them, as I am sure of getting the intelligence I want from Henry, to whom I can apply at some convenient moment “sans peur et sans reproche.” [without fear and without reproach]

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  • Ltr.  86. Saturday 3 – Tuesday 6 July 1813. From Chawton to Capt. Francis Austen on the HMS Elephant, Baltic. (p. 217)

    FrancisAusten-wp

    Francis Austen (wikipedia)

Here she refers to MP as not being as entertaining as P&P, and asks her sailor brother if she can mention his Ships:

You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S&S is sold…I have now therefore written myself into £250. – which only makes me long for more. I have something in hand – which I hope on the credit of P. & P. will sell well, tho’ not half so entertaining. And by the bye – shall you object to my mentioning the Elephant in it, & two or three other of your old Ships? – I have done it, but it shall not stay, to make you angry. – They are only just mentioned.

NOTE: the ships mentioned in MP are the Cleopatra, Elephant, and Endymion.

 

HMS_Cleopatra_(1779)-wp
Image: HMS Cleopatra, by Nicholas Pocock (Wikipedia) 

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  • Ltr. 90. Saturday 25 September 1813.  From Godmersham Park To Francis Austen, HMS Elephant, Baltic. (p. 231) 

Where she thanks her brother for permission to use his ships, tells him that the great Secret of her as author is now quite public, and goes on to lay the blame on Henry for telling all!

I thank you very warmly for your kind consent to my application & the kind hint which followed it. – I was previously aware of what I sh’d be laying myself open to – but the truth is that the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret  now – & that I believe whenever the 3d appears, I shall not even attempt to tell Lies about it. – I shall rather try to make all the Money than all the Mystery I can of it. –  People shall pay for their Knowledge if I can make them…

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  • Ltr. 97. Wednesday 2 – Thursday 3 March 1814. From London (Henrietta St.) to Cassandra in Chawton. (p. 255-56)

Austen is travelling with Henry to London – it is assumed the reading she refers to is the proof-sheets of MP – she is returning to London in hopes of having Egerton publish the book in April.

We did not begin reading till Bentley Green.  Henry’s approbation hitherto is even equal to my wishes; he says it is very different from the other two, but not appear to think it at all inferior. He has only married Mrs. R. I am afraid he has gone through the most entertaining part. – He took to Lady B. & Mrs. N most kindly, & gives great praise to the drawing of the Characters. He understands them all, likes Fanny & I think foresees how it will all be.

 And later:

Henry is going on with Mansfield Park; he admires H. Crawford – I mean properly – as a clever, pleasant Man. – I tell you all the Good I can, as I know how much you will enjoy it…
 Brock2-reading-mollands

Image: “His [Henry Crawford] reading was capital.”  Vol. III, ch. iii.  (Mollands) 

Austen makes reference to a “Frederick” when referring to Christopher (Tilson) Chowne – it has been suggested that perhaps he played the role of Frederick in Lovers’ Vows at one of many amateur theatricals at Steventon. [Le Faye, 429]

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  • Ltr. 98. Saturday 5 – Tuesday 8 March 1814. From Henrietta St. to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 258)

Henry has this moment said that he likes my M. P. better & better; – he is in the 3d vol. – I believe now he has changed his mind as to foreseeing the end; – he said yesterday at least that he defied anybody to say whether H. C. would be reformed, or would forget Fanny in a fortnight.  

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  • Ltr. 99. Wednesday 9 March 1814. From Henrietta St. to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 261)

Henry has finished Mansfield Park. & his approbation has not lessened. He found the last half of the last volume extremely interesting.

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  • Ltr. 100. Monday 21 March 1814. From London (Henrietta St) to Francis Austen ? (p. 262) – fragment only

Perhaps before the end of April, Mansfield park by the author of S&S.– P.&P. may be in the World. Keep the name to yourself. I sh’d not like to have it know beforehand. 

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  • Ltr. 101. Tuesday 14 June 1814. From Chawton to Cassandra in London. (p. 263)  cover-JAClergy

In addition to their [Mr. and Mrs. Cooke] standing claims on me, they admire Mansfield Park exceedingly. Mr. Cooke says “it is the most sensible Novel he ever read” – and the manner in which I treat the Clergy, delights them very much. [Mr. Cooke was Rev. Samuel Cooke]

Image: Jane Austen and the Clergy, by Irene Collins (2004)

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  • Ltr. 102. Thursday 23 Jun 1814. From Chawton to Cassandra in London. (p. 265)

We have called upon Miss Dusautoy & Miss Papillon & been very pretty. – Miss D. has a great idea of being Fanny Price, she & her youngest sister together, who is named Fanny. 

Fanny- Sylvestra-dashwoodblog

Image:  Fanny Price – Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny, MP (BBC, 1983)
(Miss Dashwood blog) 

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  • Ltr. 106. Friday 2 September 1814. From London (Henrietta St) to Martha Lloyd in Bath. (p. 274)

Mr. Barlowe is to dine with us today, & I am in some hope of getting Egerton’s account before I go away.

NOTE:  Mr. Barlowe is an employee of Henry’s London bank – she refers here to Egerton’s account of the 1st edition of MP. [Le Faye, 436.]

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  • Ltr. 109. Friday 18-Sunday 20 November 1814. From Chawton to Fanny Knight at Goodnestone Park, Kent. (p. 281)

GoodnestonePark

Image: Goodnestone Park website

You will be glad to hear that the first Edit. of M.P. is all sold. – Your Uncle Henry is rather wanting me to come to Town, to settle about a 2d Edit: – but as I could not very conveniently leave home now, I have written him my Will & pleasure, & unless he still urges it, shall not go. – I am very greedy and want to make the most of it; – but as you are much above caring about money, I shall not plague with my particulars.- The pleasures of Vanity are more within your comprehension, & you will enter into mine, at receiving the praise which every now & then comes to me, through some channel or other.-  

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  • Ltr. 110. Tuesday 22 November 1814. From Chawton to Anna Lefroy in Hendon. (p. 282)

Make everybody at Hendon admire Mansfield Park.- 

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  • Ltr. 111. ?Thursday 24 November 1814. From Chawton to Anna Lefroy in Hendon. (p. 282-83)

Mrs. Creed’s opinion is gone down on my list [i.e. her opinions of MP list]; but fortunately I may excuse myself from entering Mr as my paper only relates to Mansfield Park. I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of “Self-control” as soon as I can; – I will improve upon it… 

Mary Brunton (Wikipedia)

Mary Brunton (Wikipedia)

NOTE: Self-Control was a novel written by Mary Brunton (1811) – Austen refers to it in her letters three times:

Ltr. 72 (p. 186): We have tried to get Self-controul, but in vain.- I should like to know where her Estimate is – but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever – & of finding my own story & my own people all forestalled.

Ltr. 91 (p. 234). I am looking over Self-Control again, & my opinion is confirmed of its’ being an excellently-meant, elegantly-written Work, without anything of Nature or Probability in it. I declare I do not know whether Laura’s passage down the American River, is not the most natural, possible, every-day thing she ever does.

Ltr. 111 (p. 283). I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of “Self-control” as soon as I can; – I will improve upon it; – my Heroine shall not merely be wafted down an American river in a boat by herself, she shall cross the Atlantic in the same way, & never stop till she reaches Gravesent.-

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  • Ltr. 114. 30 November 1814. From London (Hans Place) to Fanny Knight at Godmersham Park, Kent. (p. 287)

Contains one of Austen’s most-quoted lines:

Thank you – but it is not settled yet whether I do hazard a 2d Edition. We are to see Egerton today, when it will probably be determined. – People are more ready to borrow & praise, than to buy – which I cannot wonder at; – but tho’ I like praise as well as anybody, I like what Edward calls Pewter too. 

NOTE: We know that Egerton did not publish this hoped for 2nd edition – Did he refuse? Did he not offer good terms? Or was Jane Austen displeased with Egerton’s printing of the 1st edition? We do not know, but Austen moved to the firm of John Murray to publish her Emma, and Murray took on the 2nd ed of MP, which was published on February 19, 1816.

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John Murray (Wikipedia)

John Murray (Wikipedia)

  • Ltr. 121. Tuesday 17 – Wednessday 18 October 1815. From London (Hans Place)to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 291)

Mr Murray’s Letter is come; he is a Rogue of course, but a civil one. He offers £450- but wants to have the Copyright of MP. & S&S included. It will end in my publishing for myself I dare say. – He sends more praise however than I expected. It is an amusing Letter. You shall see it. 

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  • Ltr. 122 (A) (D). ?Friday 20 / Saturday 21 October 1815. From Henry Austen in London to John Murray [in
    Henry Austen

    Henry Austen

    London]. (p. 293-94)

I include this letter because it shows Henry’s involvement in his sister’s publishing history – he was very ill at the time and Jane was his nurse.  She was in London at Hans Place to negotiate the publication of Emma, as well as the 2nd ed. of MP… [see my previous post on this letter ] – I just love the line: “great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation”!

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

Dear Sir

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

Image of Henry Austen: Jasna.org, essay by Kristen Miller Zohn

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  • Ltr.  124. Friday 3 November 1815.  From London (Hans Place) to John Murray. (p. 295)

I mention this letter because it shows how involved Jane Austen was in her own publishing ventures.  Here she writes about Henry being ill, requesting Murray to visit her at Hans Place to discuss Emma – she might have wished to also talk about the 2nd edition of MP – note that the drafted letter above to Murray was actually not sent until after this one; it also has one of my favorite lines from the letters, which I have underlined

Sir

My Brother’s severe Illness has prevented his replying to Yours of Oct. 15, on the subject of the MS of Emma, now in your hands-and as he is, though recovering, still in a state which we are fearful of harrassing by Business & I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on me here, any day that may suit you best, at any hour in the Evening, or any in the Morning except from Eleven to One. – A short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing.

My Brother begs his Compts  & best Thanks for your polite attention in supplying him with a Copy of Waterloo.

   I am Sir
Your Ob. Hum: Servt
Jane Austen

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  • Ltr. 125 (A). Thursday 16 November 1815. From James Stanier Clarke (Carlton House) to Jane Austen at Hans Place, London. (p. 296)

I include this because Clarke singles out MP so, which must have gratified her very much! I think Clarke had quite the crush on Jane Austen:

Your late Works, Madam, and in particular Mansfield Park reflect the highest honour on your Genius & your Principles; in every new work your mind seems to increase its energy and powers of discrimination. The Regent has read & admired all your publications…

James_Stanier_Clarke-wp.pg

Image: James Stanier Clarke (wikipedia)

NOTE:  See more on the letters between Austen and Clarke and her visit to Carlton House here: https://janeausteninvermont.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/a-visit-to-carlton-house-november-13-1815/

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  • Ltr. 128. Sunday 26 November 1815. From London (Hans Place) to Cassandra [at Chawton ]. (p. 301)

Mr. H. [Haden] is reading Mansfield Park for the first time & prefers it to P&P.

NOTE:  I think Austen and / or her niece Fanny had a wild crush on Charles Thomas Haden. He was a London surgeon. She calls him ” a sort of wonderful nondescript Creature on two Legs, something between a Man & an Angel” [Le Faye, Ltr. 129, p. 303)

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  • Ltr. 130. Monday 11 December 1815. From London (Hans Place) to John Murray in London. (p. 305)

I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I believe, as I can make it.

NOTE:  It is unknown whether Austen gave Murray a marked-up copy of the first edition [which had many errors], or she was working from new galleys…

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  • Ltr. 132(D). Monday 11 December 1815. From London (Hans Place) to James Stanier Clarke (London). (p. 306)

I must make use of this opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other Novels – I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their Merit.

My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work shd not disgrace what was good in the others. … I am very strongly haunted with the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who have preferred MP. very inferior in good Sense.  

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  • Ltr. 134(A). Wednesday 27 December 1815. From the Countess of Morley at Saltram to Jane Austen at Chawton. (p. 308)

I am already become intimate in the Woodhouse family, & feel that they will not amuse & interest me less than the Bennetts [sic], Bertrams, Norriss & all their admirable predecessors – I can give them no higher praise-

NOTE:  At the time, many believed the Countess of Morley to be the Authoress of both S&S and P&P.

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  • Ltr. 139. Monday 1 April 1816. From Chawton to John Murray in London. (p. 313)

Dear Sir,

   I return you the Quarterly Review with many Thanks. The Authoress of Emma has no reason I think to complain of her treatment in it – except in the total omission of Mansfield Park. – I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reveiwer of Emma should consider it as unworthy of being noticed.

This is Austen’s final word on MP in her letters: she is peeved that MP is not mentioned in this anonymous review – we know now this reviewer of Emma was Sir Walter Scott, but did Austen know that?? Recall that she wrote this about him to her niece Anna, tongue in cheek of course, as we know that she liked his work very much:

Sir_Henry_Raeburn_-_Portrait_of_Sir_Walter_Scott-wp

Image: Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, by Henry Raeburn (wikipedia)

Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. – It is not fair. – He has Fame & Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths. – I do not like him, & do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it-but fear I must. [Ltr. 108, p. 277]

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CEBrock-MP-beautiful-mollands

Image: C.E. Brock – “Oh, this is beautiful indeed!”
Mansfield Park, Vol. II, ch. ix (Mollands)

Stay tuned for more on Mansfield Park. You might also like to follow Sarah Emsley’s (and guests’) blog posts on MP, which will begin in May: http://sarahemsley.com/2014/01/01/200-years-of-mansfield-park/

And I ask again: if you could, what would you ask Jane Austen about Mansfield Park?

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen’s ‘own darling Child’

Gentle Readers: This year we have just entered upon will be a long and interesting 365 days of celebrating the 1813 publication of Pride and Prejudice ! There are festivals, conferences, blog postings, reading challenges, and already many newspaper and journal articles on this timeless work by Jane Austen.  I would like to start off my own celebration of this beloved classic with repeating a post I wrote two years ago, where I had pulled together all the references that Austen makes to this, her “own darling Child,” in her letters.  It makes fascinating reading to “hear” her…
pp-christies-12-7-12
The publishing history of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s most popular book, then and now, is an interesting study in the book trade of early 19th century England.  First completed in 1797 (and called First Impressions) and rejected by the publisher her father took the manuscript to, Austen reworked her draft over time and submitted it to Thomas Egerton, the publishing house of her Sense & Sensibility, in 1812 (it was published on January 28, 1813).   She sold the copyright outright for £110, and did not incur other expenses in its publication, as she did in the three other works published in her lifetime [see links below for more information.]  How we would love to know her thoughts on this road to publication! – how we would love to have her letters written while in the process of the writing to give us some idea of her imagination at work – where WAS the model for Pemberley?  was Mr. Darcy someone REAL?  was Elizabeth Bennet her alter ego? was MR COLLINS drawn from life? – or to have the letters to her brother Henry and his to Egerton – but alas! we have very little, just a few comments scattered among the surviving letters.

Jane Austen’s ‘Own Darling Child’

Laurel Ann at her Austenprose blog is currently posting a month-long group read through Pride & Prejudice – do visit and join in the discussion! – she is as always an insightful reader and discussion leader, and what better way to spend the first month of summer musing on P&P and the finer points of Austen’s magic!
 
The publishing history of P&P, Austen’s most popular book, then and now, is an interesting study in the book trade of early 19th century England.  First completed in 1797 [and called First Impressions] and rejected by the publisher her father took the manuscript to, Austen reworked P&P and submitted it to Thomas Egerton, the publishing house of her Sense & Sensibility, in 1812 [published January 28, 1813].   She sold the copyright outright for £110, and did not incur other expenses in its publication, as in the three other works published in her lifetime [see links below for more information.]  How we would love to know her thoughts on this road to publication! – how we would love to have her letters written while in the process of the writing to give us some idea of her imagination at work [where WAS the model for Pemberley?  was Mr. Darcy someone REAL?  was Elizabeth Bennet her alter ego? was MR COLLINS drawn from life?], or to have the letters to her brother Henry and his to Egerton – but alas! we have nothing, just a few comments scattered among the surviving letters. 
 
Austen does not give us much in her letters as to her writing practices or narrative theory [and thus such a disappointment when they were first published, criticized for their “mundaneness,” their focus on domestic nothings and neighborhood gossip!] – but if you dig for diamonds you will find them, and these scattered mentions are certainly diamonds – it is the feeling of having her right over your shoulder when you read that she is “disgusted” with the way her mother is reading her book aloud, or that she REALLY likes this earning money for her labors, or being miffed [but also full of pride!] with Henry for telling her Secret to one and all – we see Jane Austen here in her own words – the funny, ironic, brilliant Jane Austen – never enough, but this is as good as it is going to get. 
 
So in this post I offer all the references she makes to Pride & Prejudice, her “own darling Child” – read them and enjoy!
[NOTE:  page references are to Deirdre Le Faye, ed., Jane Austen’s Letters, 3rd ed., Oxford, 1997;  all abbreviations and spelling errors are retained]
 
Letter 17. January 8-9, 1799 to Cassandra, from Steventon
 
I do wonder at your wanting to read first impressions again, so seldom as you have gone through it, & that so long ago. [page 35]
 
[Le Faye notes that this is the first surviving mention of Austen’s literary work, this prototype of P&P having been finished in August 1797; Note, p. 366]
 
Letter 21. June 11, 1799,  To Cassandra, from Bath
 
I would not let Martha read First Impressions again upon any account, & I am very glad that I did not leave it in your power. – She is very cunning, but I see through her design; – she means to publish it from Memory, & one more perusal must enable her to do it.  [p.44]
 
Letter 77.  November 29-30, 1812, to Martha Lloyd from Chawton
 
P.& P. is sold. – Egerton gives £110 for it. – I would rather have had £150, but we could not both be pleased, & I am not at all surprised that he should not chuse to hazard so much. – It’s being sold will I hope be a great saving of Trouble to Henry, & therefore must be welcome to me. – The Money is to be paid at the end of the twelvemonth. [p. 197]
 
 
Letter 79.  January 29, 1813, to Cassandra from Chawton    
 
I want to tell you that I have got my own darling Child from London; – on Wednesday I received one Copy, sent down by Falknor, with three lines from Henry to say that he had given another to Charles & sent a 3d by the Coach to Godmersham; just the two Sets which I was least eager for the disposal of.  I wrote to him immediately to beg for my own two other Sets, unless he would take the trouble of forwarding them at once to Steventon & Portsmouth – not having any idea of his leaving Town before today; – by your account however he was gone before my Letter was written.  The only evil is the delay, nothing more can be done till his return.  Tell James & Mary so, with my Love. – For your sake I am as well pleased that it shd be so, as it might be unpleasant to you to be in the Neighborhood at the first burst of the business. – The Advertisement is in our paper to day [the Morning Chronicle of January 28, 1813]. – 18s – He shall ask £1-1- for my two next, & £1-8 – for my stupidest of all. I shall write to Frank, that he may not feel himself neglected.  Miss Benn dined with us on the very day of the Books coming, & in the eveng we set fairly at it & read half the 1st vol. to her – prefacing that having intelligence from Henry that such a work wd soon appear we had desired him to send it whenever it came out – & I beleive it passed with her unsuspected. – She was amused, poor soul! that she cd not help you know, with two such people to lead the way [JA and her mother]; but she really does seem to admire Elizabeth.  I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know. – There are a few Typical errors – & a “said he” or a “said she” would sometimes make the Dialogue more immediately clear – but “I do not write for such dull Elves” “As have not a great deal of Ingenuity themselves.”  [from Scott’s Marmion] – The 2d vol. is shorter than I cd wish – but the difference is not so much in reality as in look, there being a a larger proportion of Narrative in that part.  I have lopt & cropt so successfully however that I imagine it must be rather shorter than S. & S. altogether. – Now I will try to write of something else; – it shall be a complete change of subject – Ordination. [p. 201-2]
 
 
 
Letter 80.  February 4, 1813, to Cassandra from Chawton
 
Your letter was truely welcome & I am much obliged to you all for your praise; it came at a right time, for I had had some fits of disgust. – our 2d evening’s reading to Miss Benn had not pleased me so well, but I beleive something must be attributed to my Mother’s too rapid way of getting on – & tho’ she perfectly understands the Characters herself, she cannot speak as they ought. – upon the whole however I am quite vain enough & well satisfied enough. – The work is rather too light & bright & sparkling; – it wants shade; – it wants to be stretched out here & there with a long Chapter – of sense if it could be had, if not of solemn specious nonsense – about something unconnected with the story; an Essay on Writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or a history of Buonaparte – or anything that would form a contrast & bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness & Epigrammatism of the general stile. –  I doubt your quite agreeing with me here – I know your starched Notions. – The caution observed at Steventon with regard to the possession of the book is an agreable surprise to me, & I heartily wish it may be the means of saving you from everything unpleasant; – but you must be prepared for the Neighbourhood being perhaps already informed of there being such a Work in the World, & in the Chawton World! Dummer will do that you know. – It was spoken of here one morng when Mrs. D. [Digweed] called with Miss Benn. – The greatest blunder in the Printing that I have met with is in Page 220 – Vol.3 where two speeches are made into one. – There might as well have been no suppers at Longbourn, but I suppose it was the remains of Mrs. Bennet’s old Meryton habits. [p. 203]

Mrs. George Austen

 
I had a letter from Henry yesterday, written on Sunday from Oxford; mine had been forwarded to him… he says that copies were sent to S. [Steventon] & P. [Portsmouth] at the same time as the others. [p. 204]
 
 
Letter 81.  February 9, 1813, to Cassandra from Chawton
 
I am exceedingly pleased that you say what you do, after having gone thro the whole work – & Fanny’s praise is very gratifying; – my hopes were tolerably strong for her, but nothing like a certainty.  Her liking Darcy & Elizabeth is enough.  She might hate all the others, if she would. I have her opinion under her own hand this morning, but your transcript of it which I read first, was not & is not the less acceptable. – To me, it is of course all praise – but the more exact truth which she sends you is good enough. [p. 205]
 
Yes, I beleive I shall tell Anna – & if you see her, & donot dislike the commission, you may tell her for me.  You know I meant to do it as handsomely as I could.  But she will probably not return in time [p. 205, referring to telling her niece Anna that she is the author of S&S and P&P, note p. 414]
 
…- there is still work for one evening more. [p. 206, to finish reading P&P aloud, note p. 414]
 
 
Letter 85.  May 24, 1813, to Cassandra from London
 
…Henry & I went to the Exhibition in Spring Gardens.  It is not thought a good collection, but I was very well pleased – particularly [pray tell Fanny] with a small portrait of Mrs. Bingley, excessively like her.  I was in hopes of seeing one of her Sister, but there was no Mrs. Darcy; – perhaps however, I may find her in the Great Exhibition which we shall go to, if we have time; – I have no chance of her in the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Paintings which now is shewing in Pall Mall & which we are also to visit. – Mrs. Bingley is exactly herself, size, shaped face, features and sweetness; there never was a greater likeness.  She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I have always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her.  I dare say Mrs. D. will be in Yellow. [p. 212] 
 
 [Portrait of a Lady, by J.F.M. Huet-Villiers]
a.k.a. Mrs. Bingley
 
 
I am very much obliged to Fanny for her Letter; – it made me laugh heartily; but I cannot pretend to answer it.  Even had I more time, I should not feel at all sure of the sort of Letter that Miss D. would write… [p. 213, referring to a letter from Fanny written to and expecting a response from Georgiana Darcy – Note p. 417]
 
We have been to both the Exhibition & Sir J. Reynolds’, – and I am disappointed, for there was nothing like Mrs. D. at either. – I can only imagine that Mr. D. prizes any Picture of her too much to like it should be exposed to the public eye. – I can imagine he wd have that sort [of, omitted] feeling – that mixture of Love, Pride & Delicacy. [p. 213]
 
 Letter 86.  July 3-6, 1813, to Francis Austen from Chawton
 
You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S.&S. is sold & that it has brought me £140 – besides the Copyright, if that shd ever be of any value. – I have now therefore written myself into £250. – which only makes me long for more. – I have something on hand – which I hope on the credit of P. & P. will sell well, tho’ not half so entertaining… [referring to Mansfield Park] [p. 217]
 
 Letter 87.  September 15-16, 1813, to Cassandra from London
 
Lady Robert [Kerr, nee Mary Gilbert] delighted with P. & P – and really was so I understand before she knew who wrote it – for, of course, she knows now. – He [Henry] told her with as much satisfaction as if it were my wish.  He did not tell me this, but he told Fanny.  And Mr. Hastings – I am quite delighted with what such a Man writes about it. – Henry sent him the Books after his return from Daylesford – but you will hear the Letter too.  // Let me be rational & return to my two full stops. [p. 218]
 
I long to have you hear Mr. H’s [Warren Hastings] opinion of P&P.  His admiring of Elizabeth so much is particularly welcome to me. [p. 221]
 
 
Letter 89.  September 23-24, 1813, to Cassandra from Godmersham Park
 
Poor Dr. Isham is obliged to admire P.&P. – & to send me word that he is sure he shall not like Mde. Darblay’s new Novel half so well. – Mrs. C. [Cooke] invented it all of course. [referring to Frances Burney’s The Wanderer, published in 1814] [p. 227]
 
 
Letter 90.  September 25, 1813, to Francis Austen from Godmerhsam Park  
 
I thank you very warmly for your kind consent to my application & the kind hint that followed it. [asking Frank if she can use the names of his old ships in her her current work, MP] – but the truth is that the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret now – & that I beleive whenever the 3d appears I shall not even attempt to tell Lies about it. – I shall rather try to make all the Money than all the Mystery I can of it. – People shall pay for their knowledge if I can make them. – Henry heard P. & P. warmly praised in Scotland, by Lady Robt Kerr & another Lady; – and what does he do in the warmth of his Brotherly vanity & Love, but immediately tell them who wrote it! – A Thing once set going in that way – one knows how it spreads! – and he, dear Creature, has set is going so much more than once.  I know it is done from affection & partiality – but at the same time, let me here again express to you & Mary my sense of the superior kindness which you have shewn on the occasion, in doing what I wished. – I am trying to harden myself. – After all, what a trifle it is in all its Bearings, to the really important points of one’s existence even in the World!  [p. 231]

Henry Austen

 
There is to be a 2d Edition of S.&S. Egerton advises it. [p. 232, referring to her publisher]
 
 
Letter 104.  August 10-18, 1814, to Anna Austen from Chawton
 
Now we have finished the 2d book – or rather the 5th – I do think you had better omit Lady Helena’s postscript; to those who are acquainted with P.&P it will seem an Imitation. [p. 268, referring to Anna’s manuscript sent to JA for advice]
 
  
Letter 128.  November 26, 1815, to Cassandra from London
 
Mr. H is reading Mansfield Park for the first time & prefers it to P&P. [p. 301, referring to Mr. Haden, London surgeon, who brought good Manners & clever conversation]
 
  
Letter 132(Draft).  December 11, 1815, to James Stanier Clarke from London
 
My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work [Emma] shd not disgrace what was good in the others.  But on this point I will do myself the justice to declare that whatever may be my wishes for its’ success, I am very strongly haunted by the idea that to those readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who preferred MP. very inferior in good sense… [p. 306]
 
 
Letter 134(A).  December 27, 1815, from the Countess of Morley to JA at Chawton
 
I am most anxiously waiting for an introduction to Emma…. I am already become quite intimate in the Woodhouse family, & feel that they will not amuse & interest me less than the Bennetts [sic], Bertrams, Norriss & all their admirable predecessors – I can give them no higher praise- [p. 308]
 
************************************
 [a letter-writing Fanny Austen-Knight by Cassandra]
Ah! indeed! – no higher praise…
 
 
Further reading:

[Posted by Deb]

Letter no. 3 ~ “Scene of Dissipation & Vice”

Letter No. 3. 

  • August 23, 1796
  • Jane (in Cork Street, London) to Cassandra (Steventon? not noted)
  • Boston Public Library (since 1966)

There has been a gap of seven months since Letter no. 2 (of January 1796), but Letter 3 finds Jane in London, likely staying at at the home of Benjamin Langlois in Cork Street (see below) and she hurriedly pens a quick letter to Cassandra.  She begins with her oft-quoted

Here I am once more in this Scene of Dissipation & vice, and I begin already to find my Morals corrupted.

                                                         

and “hoping you are all alive after our melancholy parting.”  She reports on the trip in a Chaise and “without suffering so much from the heat as I had hoped to do.”  She has traveled with her brothers Edward and Frank and “they are both gone out to seek their fortunes; the latter is to return soon & help us to seek ours.  The Former we shall never see again.”

They are off to “Astley’s” to night” [ Astley’s Amphitheatre near Westminster Bridge, an equestrian circus open from Easter through November or so]  See Emma chapters 54 and 55 for references to Astley’s.

Then a reference to Henry driving his then fiance Miss [Mary] Pearson to Rowling, where Jane is headed on Thursday, so her visit to London is a short one [Rowling is in Kent, and the home of the Bridges family; Jane’s brother Edward married Elizabeth Bridges]; and Austen signs off with hopes that Cassandra “pursued your intended avocation with Success.-” not sure what this refers to…will see if mention is made in a subsequent letter.

 An interesting note about this letter is in the viewing of it in Modert’s compilation of facsimiles; one finds Austen’s writing  much larger and sprawling than most of her other letters…. she perhaps had no concerns here about the costs of posting, or wrote it very quickly and just wanted to send it off without thinking of adding more the next day, as she often did…

 

 One of my great finds at the AGM was this book titled Jane Austen Visits London by Vera Quin.  Ms. Quin was one of the presenters, giving a delightful talk on Austen’s Landscape.  In this book, just published in 2008 by Cappella Archive, Quin takes us through Austen’s letters from London, numbering thirty out of the 160 or so extant letters.  So I will return to this book again and again as I read the letters.  But here I am interested in what she says about this letter and Austen’s stay at Cork Street.  Quin takes us along the street to identify what was there during Austen’s time…and the house she likely stayed in was that of Benjamin Langlois, an MP and Under-Secretary, and a bachelor who lived alone in this small house at 18 Cork Street, but more importantly the Uncle to Tom Lefroy, the subject of Jane’s previous two letters, and this home is where Tom stayed when he was in London.  Ms. Quin references the theory, albeit she adds with no evidence, that Jane stayed here with perhaps the intention of seeing Tom and seeking his Uncle’s approval for a possible engagement… (p. 9)

…but that not forthcoming, Quin continues with her thoughts that Jane would have walked the streets of the surrounding squares and perhaps put her imagination to work…this is where you find Mrs. Ferrars, Mrs. Jennings and her daughters, John and Fanny Dashwood, all of S&S and the Hursts of P&P. (p. 10)  Austen’s later trips to London found her at her brother Henry’s.  All speculation aside, it is an interesting question as to why Jane spent these two days at this house, noted as being too small to house guests comfortably…is there any more thought or research on this?  I know that Joan Ray’s article on Austen and Lefroy makes it clear that Tom would not have been there at this time because his classes were not in session.  And I agree wth Ray that there is no reason to link the comment about her “morals being corrupted” with Lefroy being there… this is just Austen making fun of the prevailing take on London as a place of lose morals….

Further reading: there is no beginning with links to Regency London; I collect books on London and am well-aware that it is a lifetime commitment!  Here are just a few of the good sources out there.  I will refer to more of them as I come upon other Austen letters sent from London.

  • Wikipedia on Philip Astley
  • Ray, Joan Klingel.  “The One-Sided Romance of  Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy” Persuasions Online, vol.28, no. 1 (Winter 2007)
  • There are a number of good books on London at this time, notably Liza Picard’s Dr. Johnson’s London [St. Martins Press, 2000] with its tantalizing sub-title:  “coffee-houses and climbing boys, medicine, toothpaste and gin, poverty and press-gangs, freakshows and female education.”
  • Also Roy Porter, London: A Social History [Penguin, 1996] and Stella Margetson Regency London [Cassell / Praeger, 1971]; and Peter Thorold, The London Rich, the Creation of a Great City, from 1699 to the Present [ St Martin’s, 2000]
  • and there is an excellent collection of essays on Jane Austen in London at the JASA website, which covers a number of topics on life in London during the Regency.
  • Regency London Tour at Sara Freeze’s Romancing the Regency page.

Austen Letter No. 2 ~ “My Tears Flow…”

The Times Online in this Then and Now article re-publishes the Times Literary Supplement review of November 10, 1932,  E.M. Forster on Chapman’s edition of Austen’s letters.  It is a fascinating read.

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

And on that note, I continue my Austen Letters journey, here with Letter No. 2:

  • January 14-15, 1796 (Thursday, Friday)
  • Jane Austen (Steventon) to Cassandra Austen [Kintbury, Newbury: Rev, Fowle’s home]
  • Present ownership and location unknown

Austen begins with a response to Cassandra’s last letter, and feeling disappointed that their plans to be reunited have gone awry; she then talks of the upcoming ball at Ashe and the friends she will see there:  Edward Cooper, James, Buller, and of course Tom Lefroy.  This passage and the later one penned the next day have long been the subject of a wide range of conjecture in articles, essays, biographies, and movies.  Little did Jane suspect that these few lines would give rise to such a mass of words!…so I quote these directly:

…I look forward with great impatience to it [the ball at Ashe], as I rather expect to receive an offer from my friend in the course of the evening.  I shall refuse him, however, unless he promises to give away his white Coat.

…Tell Mary that I make over Mr. Heartley & all his Estate to her for her sole use and Benefit in future, & not only him, but all my other Admirers into the bargain wherever she can find them, even the kiss which C. Powlett wanted to give me, as I mean to confine myself in future to Mr. Tom Lefroy, for whom I donot care sixpence….

Friday.- At length the Day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, & when you receive this it will be over – My tears flow as I write, at the melancholy idea.

 So much speculation on all this, coupled with Austen’s later reference to Lefroy in her letters, as well as other family references…one is not sure how to interpret Austen’s feelings for Lefroy.  The various biographers have their own opinions, from Park Honan, who says that Austen pursued Tom Lefroy and “fell deeply in love” and was “long obsessed with [him]” and equates Anne Elliot’s “we do not forget you” speech in Persuasion  with Austen’s not forgetting Tom Lefroy all those years later; Honan has a very romantic interpretation that Jane was very forward and suffered much in his leaving.  David Nokes in his Jane Austen: A Life [Farrar, 1997] emphasizes Austen’s love of flirtation and concludes that the attachment between Jane and Tom was very real.  Claire Tomalin in Jane Austen: A life [Viking 1997] states that Austen’s first extant letter is the “only surviving letter in which Jane is clearly writing as the heroine of her own youthful story” and that by Letter 2 she already has her defences up [p.119].  Tomalin believes that Austen’s reference to Fielding’s Tom Jones [in Letter 1] is a very provocative remark…Austen is making clear that “she doesn’t mind talking about a novel that deals candidly and comically with sexual attraction and sexual behaviors and she is telling Cassandra that she and Lefroy have openly discussed this book [p. 117].  But she is gravely injured in his leaving, and henceforth “her writing becomes informed by this knowledge of sexual vulnerability, running like a dark undercurrent beneath the comedy” [p.122].   

But the book and movie “Becoming Jane” has played upon the most romantic notions that stay with us in our hopes that Jane did have such a love and lost [see the references below that try hard to refute all this, especially by Joan Klingel Ray, who makes a strong case that Lefroy was already spoken for and realized he he was acting badly to Austen knowing she was “interested” in him…shades of Frank Churchill and Edward Ferrars?].  The Family Record makes it clear that as there was no further information as to what happened at the ball that last night, “it is unlikely he proposed or that Jane Austen thought that he would;” Tom was never asked there again as Madame Lefroy “did not like Tom because he had behaved badly to Jane”… but concludes that this was all a “temporary disappointment” as she shortly afterwords began her “bright and sparkling” story of “First Impressions” [later P&P]

Is Austen just evoking humor here to give Cassandra a laugh, offering up all her potential beaus to others, or does she really care something for Lefroy and really hurting at his going away?  Does the “offer” she refer to mean a marriage proposal or an offer to dance [as Ray suggests in her article]?  The fact that Cassandra did not destroy or edit these passages seems to indicate that they did not mean as much as “Becoming Jane” would like us to believe.  It is so easy to let our imaginations fill in the gaps that the letters leave for us.  So I put this out there for discussion… what do you think Austen means in these passages??  How much is she just playing and being facetious?

Though Austen speaks of Tom Lefroy in several places in this letter, there are other lines of interest:  one oft-quoted passage is “I am very much flattered by your commendation of my last Letter, for I write only for Fame, and without any view to pecuniary Emolument.”  Here is Austen at her very best!  And there are the usual references to friends and family, those whose names will appear again and again :  Eliza; Charles Fowle (“I hope he will be too hot for the rest of his life for it!” (regarding her stockings…); the Coopers, Anna; the Miss Biggs; Tom Fowle; the Rivers; and a comment to Cassandra that “I am very glad to find from Mary that Mr. & Mrs. Fowle are pleased with you…I hope you will continue to give satisfaction.”… and so on to Letter 3 for another day… with a huge jump from January 1796 to August 1796…

Further reading: (just a few of the many…)

  • Auerbach, Emily.  “Searching for Jane Austen: Restoring the ‘Fleas’ and ‘Bad Breath.’ ”  Persuasions, No. 27 (2005),  pp.  31-38.
  • Bander, Elaine.  “Jane Austen’s Letters:  Facts and Fictions.”  Persuasions, No. 27 (2005), pp. 119-129.
  • Fergus, Jan. ” ‘The Whinnying of Harpies’? – Humor in Jane Austen’s Letters.” Persuasions, No. 27 (2005) pp.13-29.
  • Wenner, Barbara. “Following the Trail of Jane Austen’s Letters.”  Persuasions, No. 27 (2005), pp. 130-141.
  • Ray, Joan Klingel.  “The One-Sided Romance of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy”  Persuasions Online Vol. 28, No. 1, Winter 2007.
  • Canal Academie: “The True Love Life of Jane Austen”  discusses the movie “Becoming Jane.”
  • Spence, John.  Review of Jane Austen: A Family Record  in JASNA News (Summer 2005), where Spence questions Le Faye’s interpretation of this letter about Tom Lefroy.
  • Huff, Marsha.  “Becoming Jane:  Sorting Fact from Fiction,” at JASNA.org.
  • Walker, Linda Robinson.  “Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy: Stories”  Persuasions Online, v.27, no 1 (Winter 2006)
  • ” ‘I was too proud to make any inquiries’ ” Jane Austen’s Eleventh Letter” at the The Loiterer
  • Nokes, David.  Jane Austen: A Life. Farrar, Straus, 1997.  See online,  Chapter 5 “Proflilgate and Shocking.”
  • Tomalin, Claire.  Jane Austen: A life.  Viking, 1997.
  • Honan, Park.  Jane Austen, her life.  St. Martin’s Press, 1987.
  • Austen-Leigh, William and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh.  Jane Austen: a Family Record; revised and enlarged by Deirdre Le Faye.  London, 1989.  See also the 2nd edition published by Cambridge University Press, 2003, which includes additions and corrections and a changed format.
  • The Becoming Jane Fansite, the go-to place for all things Jane & Tom.
  • Fashion and Fun in 1796 (from the Regency Fashion Page), for thoughts on what was going on when Austen wrote this letter.