Archive for the ‘Austen film’ Category

Anna (Joanne Froggatt) goes to buy an ice, with John Bates (Brendan Coyle) looking on

The canonical song sung near the end of season 2

Dear friends and readers,

For a third time I’m gathering in one place a handy list of the blog reviews I’ve done for a season of Downton Abbey. Here is the previous one where I gather up blogs from Under the Sign of Sylvia as well as Ellen and Jim have a Blog, two.

The fourth season:

A sombre season
1 & 2: Defense of Grieving
3 & 4: House Party
5: Mr Bates no Hamlet
6: Uptick
7: Strangely Moving
8: On a green sward, in a darkened room
Coda: The Advantage of Kindness; the Kraken of Rage
Hats: Cloches and Tiaras, Season 4

From Under the Sign of Sylvia, Two:

A dream — much bewidowed Downton Abbey in need of a pussycat
Respite through Downton Abbey
Sunday: Downton Abbey in the NYC Subway & Pedro Pieti’s Underground Poetry

I’ve done most of my blogging on Downton Abbey on Ellen and Jim have a Blog, Two, but thought I’d transfer over here for this year’s list because I want to end this season with a few thoughts on the centrality of bonding with characters in this mini-series, and some characteristics it manifests and shares with most of movies in the Austen film canon — which transform them into catalyzers for cult memories. It’s not coincidence that the audience for Austen films is coterminous with that of Downton Abbey.


In his Travels in Hypereality witing of Casablanca, Umberto Eco offers a persuasive explanation for why some movies — or groups of movies, and their source too, become cult objects. He agrees with the folklorist of film, Propp, motifs and characters these are attached to, the narrative function of these are crucial — we bond with a presence whose underlying archetype, stereotype appeals personally and deeply. Fellowes offers us a cornucopia — as does Austen — of heroines.

As I admitted in talking of the lacunae of Breaking Bad for me, the core heroine is Anna. It’s she I care intensely about — and Fellowes has said he assumes she is centrally liked. I don’t like her political stance, but she is closest to my experience. How I see my place in that world — if I were lucky. It’s her story I am following, and I am drawn to her charitable character, liking for order, security, and peace; I see why she clings to Mr Bates who means to shelter and love her utterly. Anna doesn’t expect anything; she just hopes things will go okay but knows often they do not. A key to this identification is her low expectations as well as Bates’s.

But this figure or these figures in the carpet do not leave their gratification without that carpet, which must display certain magical features. Some of these are that we should be able to break, dislocate, unhinge a totally realized world. Austen wrote and rewrote her books, so they carry many layers and fruitful opportunities for de-construction. Fellowes’s screenplays are unlike what the handbooks tell you screenplays should be like: they don’t go anywhere, much less rapidly but are imbricated, and the large vision realized auditorily and visually through them seen in the companion books, with their exquisite detail, insider information and insight (“behind the scenes”), multi-generic assemblage of elements and documents from the history of the film. Downton Abbey is also thick with stereotyped images, frames derived from the traditions of costume drama. Intertexual collage Eco calls it.

So when we approach this work we can (as Eco says) “quote characters and episodes” as if they were aspects of our world, enjoy a riot of images: say the people at the railway station, the dinner party, the male fight to the death (if only the other characters would let them), holding hands. The snatched epitomizing line of dialogue. These movies create themselves and speak to one another. I noticed yesterday in Death Comes to the Pemberley Mrs Reynolds’s, Elizabeth’s housekeeper at Pemberley, finds a place for Louisa Bidwell’s illegitimate daughter at her sister’s boarding school in Highbury (we are to think, Ah! Mrs Goddard). When Lady Glencora announces she is pregnant in the Palliser series, Plantagenet is so excited he cites a number of doctors they must visit, including of course Dr Thorne (from Barsetshire books). Evelyn Napier is easily brought back from Season 1 to be important in Season 4. And since we have bonded with these images, it is a difficult business 5 or 25 years later hiring a replacement actor or actress; shall you chose some like, someone utterly different, a compromise? (that is the hurdle the makers of a new Poldark are trying to overcome).

It really did hurt the Downton Abbey world when Dan Stevens insisted on leaving at the close of the third season.

And what the scripts and direction of these movies invariably show is an inner life that comes straight from the experience of the central film-makers and some of the principle actors and actresses. Fellowes’s notes to his scripts show how aware he is of this; Andrew Davies openly discusses his pouring of aspects of himself into his material.

It’s important for our era that the Abbey and Austen worlds present community as a strong value and ethics of compassion even if qualified by the class system outlook, but it’s not necessary.

This is my accounting for the continued success of Downton Abbey; it is central to the way I am studying the Austen film canon — as well as Andrew Davies’s or Sandy Welch’s films (to name two of my favorite film-writers).


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Frances Burney by Edward Francesco Burney (c. 1784-85)

Dear friends and readers,

I’ve put up the first new documents onto my website since my husband died, two to be precise:

Frances’s Fanny: a proposal for the Burney society AGM which will occur just before the JASNA, and at Montreal too, one I developed when I was writing a review of Volume 5 of the Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, 1782-83, ed. Lars Troide, Stewart Cooke: Frances’s Fanny where I propose to develop my idea that Frances performed a character in an on-going novel first for the benefit of herself, Susan Burney Phillips, and her second father, Mr Crisp; and as these deeply congenial interlocutors were taken by death, for herself, her husband, her other sisters, friends and father. She rewrote and added to it over the years, and after the publication by her great-great niece of her diaries and journals (6 volumes, 1842) set up as a multiple volume novel, the character she partly invented so endeared herself to her audience, she came to be identified with as the chief characters of Burney’s novels, especially Evelina;

Mansfield Park at the Movies: the rejected proposal I’ve talked too much about: what the four MP film adaptations have to tell us about Austen’s novel and one another.

Fanny Price’s first sight of the building as she rides up in a carriage next to Mrs Norris (1983 Mansfield Park, scripted Ken Taylor)

Totally by myself in a new configuration it took me a mere 2 hours. I hope to be quicker about this sort of thing next time.


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Marine Pavilion, Brighton, with 1801-2 ground plan

Dear friends and readers,

We can understand these two letters most clearly by reading them as a pair, utterance and answer, antiphony. We are in danger of accepting and then justifying the lack of any sense of what makes for honest art in Clarke’s previous and this letter as “what everyone does,” unless we have before Austen’s direct rebuttal. So let’s start with the two texts in tandem and then read them as a conversation inside the conversation on Janeites about them:

138(A). From James Stanier Clarke, Wednesday 27 March 1816, Pavilion

Dear Miss Austen,

I have to return you the Thanks of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent for the handsome Copy you sent him of your last excellent Novel — pray dear Madam soon write again and again. Lord St. Helens and many of the Nobility who have been staying here, paid you the just tribute of their Praise.

The Prince Regent has just left us for London; and having been pleased to appoint me Chaplain and Private English Secretary to the Prince of Cobourg, I remain here with His Serene Highness & a select Party until the Marriage.’ Perhaps when you again appear in print you may chuse to dedicate your Volumes to Prince Leopold: any Historical Romance illustrative of the History of the august house of Cobourg, would just now be very interesting.

Believe me at all times
Dear Miss Austen
Your obliged friend
J. S. Clarke.
Miss Jane Austen
at Mr Murrays
Albemarle Street

38(D). To James Stanier Clarke, Monday 1 April 1816

My dear Sir

I am honoured by the Prince’s thanks, & very much obliged to yourself for the kind manner in which You mention the Work. I have also to acknowledge a former Letter, forwarded to me from Hans Place. I assure You I felt very grateful for the friendly Tenor of it,
& hope my silence will have been considered as it was truely meant, to proceed only from an unwillingness to tax your Time with idle Thanks. —

Under every interesting circumstance which your own Talents & literary Labours have placed you in, or the favour of the Regent bestowed, you have my best wishes. Your recent appointments I hope are a step to something still better. In my opinion, The service of a Court can hardly be too well paid, for immense must be the sacrifice of Time & Feeling required by it.

You are very, very kind in your hints as to the sort of Composition which might recommend me at present, & I am fully sensible that an Historical Romance, founded on the House” of Saxe Cobourg might be much more to the purpose of Profit or Popularity, than such pictures of domestic Life in Country Villages as I deal in — but I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem. — I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first Chapter. — No — I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way; And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.-

I remain my dear Sir,
Your very much obliged & very sincere friend
J. Austen
Chawton near Alto,” April 1 st – 1816-
[No addressJ

Diana Birchall chose to deal with each letter separately; here she is informative about the first:

It’s a little confusing to deal with Deirdre’s numbering of the letters.  Letter 138A is Rev. Clarke to Jane Austen, written on 27 March 1816, and  Letter 138D is her reply, written on  1 April. Where are B and C I don’t  know. But let’s look at this exchange.

James Stanier Clarke writes from the Pavilion at Brighton. Remember that the domes we associate with the Pavilion had not yet been erected at that date. The structure was still a rather grand farmhouse, with huge stables and some Eastern art, but the work of turning it into a palace was barely begun. Still, it’s where the Prince Regent’s court was at the moment.  Clarke wrote to convey the Prince’s thanks for the handsome presentation volume.  “Lord St Helens and many of the Nobility who have been staying here, paid  you the just tribute of their Praise.” Actually the Prince had just left for London, and perhaps the real purpose of the letter was for Clarke to announce to his friend his new appointment as Chaplain and Private English Secretary to the Prince of Cobourg. This of course was Prince Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg, about to come to England to marry Princess Charlotte, the Prince  Regent’s daughter, which happened on  5 May  at Carlton House. Here Clarke  makes his famously absurd suggestion, “Perhaps when you again appear in  print you may chuse to dedicate your Volumes to Prince Leopold; any Historical Romance illustrative of the History of the august house of Cobourg, would just now be very interesting.” Finishing with an effusive flourish, he directed the letter to Jane Austen c/o Murray, and it had to be forwarded to Henrietta Street, and then Chawton.

Will look at Jane Austen’s reply later -


Then my commentary: Austen’s response to Stanier Clarke’s letter shows that if his suggestion is not to the ambitious author who can churn out what’s wanted for money and fame “what everyone would do if they could,” it is wholly intolerable to Austen — which he should know. He has spent time with her, she has said in a previous letter and perhaps face-to-face, my dear Sir, these themes are not themes I can write on nor am I comfortable with, he has presumably read the passages on how justifying the church as a career requires real work awakening moral and social consciences alike.

Imagine your self with a friend and a friend makes plain some attitude she has: do you blithely ignore it and repeat your urgent suggestion as if she had never spoke.

I hope not. If you do, you in effect (unless you’re a parent and moralizing or think you have the authority to urge something which goes against your child’s character because the child cannot break off relations, is younger, possibly dependent) are careless of your friend’s feelings or whether you irritate him or her. It does not make me doubt the sincerity of Clarke’s friendship in the sense that he really thinks one can churn out novels: it makes me wonder if he paid any attention to Emma , which it is right to point out he does not even name. In his previous he admitted he had not begun to read it or read very little thus far. His descriptions of her novels show some understanding of their value: he anticipates Scott’s main praise — “there is so much Nature — and excellent Description of character in everything you describe.” But his likening MP to slightly idiotic or vacuous descriptions of his own of clergyman makes one wonder if he really thought these were serious books — or just woman’s romances. 

So to his suggestion:

Perhaps when  you again appear in print you may chuse to dedicate your Volumes to Prince Leopold: any  Historical Romance illustrative of  the History of the august house of 
Cobourg,  would just now be very interesting.

Austen replies (and the honesty plainness and fullness of the reply is poignant since she so rarely does give herself away like this: she has it seems given him the respect of a friend:

You are very, very  kind in  your  hints as to the sort of Composition which might recommend me at present,  & I am fully sensible that an Historical  Romance,  founded on the House  of Saxe- Cobourg might be much more to the purpose of Profit  or Popularity, than  such pictures of domestic Life in Country Villages as  I deal in – -but  I could no more  write  a  Romance  than an Epic Poem. — I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my Life, &  if it  were indispensable for me to keep it up  & never relax  into laughing at myself or other people, I am  sure  I  should be hung before I had finished the first Chapter. –No — I must  keep to my  own style & go on in my  own Way;5  And though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in  any other.- 

Austen is not treating him the way she does the Countess of Morley; in her “your Ladiship’s,” she shows she regards herself as of a much lower rank and does not expect the countess really to regard her as an equal. She apparently did expect Stanier Clarke to listen to her. She here gives one of the most valuable of all her statements about her fiction.

Why doesn’t he? I suggested to a man like him the life of sincerity and integrity is unreal; he can’t conceive of it. I now suggest on top of his maybe finally he didn’t respect her art. We must return to his first paragraph: He may have been the kind of person who respond intensely to his surroundings so we have to remember (as we shall see Jane does) he is in this courtier like place where for a person like himself (in effect a sort of upper servant, equivalent of a governess), who has just achieved a post and salary and place with Leopold of Cobourg, the man who was to be married to Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, the girl who it was thought would be queen, and so father of the next royal set. In the event she died from a horrible childbed experience. He is just full of pride, and has been puffed up as he has puffed others up for several days. I’ve no doubt one of his purposes was to boast about his new place – which as we shall see she tells him point blank she regards as one demanding such a sacrifice of thought and feelings that (it’s implied) barely worth it.

Here again is his boasting intended to make Austen feel all is not over with the list-servs (though a friend of hers has just died):

Lord St. Helens and many of the Nobility who have been staying here, paid  you the just  tribute of their Praise. The Prince Regent has just left us for London;  and having been  pleased to appoint me Chaplain and Private English Secretary to the  Prince of Cobourg.

Her reply was originally from a religious perspective much harsher than the one she sent.

She sent this:

Under every  interesting  circumstance which  your  own Talents & literary Labours have  placed  you in, or the favour of the Regent bestowed,  you have my best wishes. Your recent appointments I hope are  a step to  something  still  better.  In my opinion, The service  of  a  Court can hardly  be  too  well paid,  for immense must be  the  sacrifice  of  Time  &  Feeling  required by  it. 

Given that Clarke’s a literary man (who wants to be published) to get the favor of such a person is a guarantee of it, so good. She hopes he will get something better — which if he read her words carefully (which I doubt he did) would seem strange to him. How could he get anything better than the prospective husband of a queen. Maybe she thinks chaplain is not that respected an office really (remember how Mary Crawford looks at it and says others do), but also it’s not likely to further a writing career. Finally that last line – I take it to mean that like Fanny Burney she regarded time at court as a death in life, preventing her from doing what makes life worth while

The original version points to the continual hypocrisy   these positions required: For once LeFaye tells us something to the point:

In my opinion not more surely should They who preach Gospel, live by the Gospel, than they who live by a Court, live by it – & live well by it too; for the sacrifices of Time & Feeling they must be immense.

In other words, at a court the central of religion to be truthful and moral is not possible because you must continually be lying in some way or other so outside the court they had better live by the gospel for real to make up for the Immense sacrifices of time and feeling.

Time shows this is a literary thought for the Bible emphasizes truthful feeling not time. Austen would hate to give up her writing time to be living at that Pavilion. 

Austen is aware of how much she disliked his letter and how hers contradicts his at every point and sometimes deeply so her opening is very courteous, courtier-like one might say, but not untruthful. In her opening she excuses herself for putting off writing back — she thinks that to him this several month interval between his letter of December (still unanswered) would be slightly insulting: after all is he not chaplain to … living with these big shots, did he not tell these great people paid tribute to her book. (I am not so convinced as others appear to be that the court group liked Emma — would they really? come now, a book where nothing happens but an old man eats his gruel and his daughter copes with him — would they even grasp the satire on her snobbery? her use of Harriet would seem to them nothing wrong at all. So what does she say? does she believe it. Not quite. She thanks him “for the kind manner in which you mention the Work.” She is aware she never answered his previous much more decent letter where he offered her a place to visit at the library; now 5-6 days have gone by since this last one and she just forces herself.

I assure You I felt very grateful for the friendly Tenor of it, & hope my  silence will have been considered as it was truely meant, to proceed only from an unwillingness to tax your Time with idle Thanks. —

She is not lying in the sense that he did praise her and repeat praise of her. She was grateful for his stance of friendliness but knows better than to listen to him literally.   He meant well, he means well by his materialistic point of view to her. But all she can offer are “idle Thanks” of a woman who can do nothing for him (that’s why her thanks are idle).

It matters not if the average ambitious person would understand Stanier Clarke’s offer, Jane Austen is not such a person, her books do not come out of such outlooks and she realizes he can’t get that. Yet she does forgive him as she knows there are far worse fools and meaner people. He has after all paid her the compliment of using her to flatter the Prince Regent by connecting him to an author who was being recognized however slowly as having something fine in her books – that’s why Murray took her and keep the relationship up as best a busy publisher could.

From Diane Reynolds’s reading of the first and second letter:

The ostensible reason for this letter is to thank JA for the advance copy of Emma sent to the PR. Oddly, he refers to it not by name, but with the generic boilerplate, “your last excellent novel.” Does he even remember it’s called Emma?

All through the letter, Clarke’s worldview shines through, leading to the question: how sincere is he in his “friendship" towards Austen? Does he really admire her works or does he sense, with the instinct or calibration of a professional courtier (or in our world, marketer) that the wind is blowing in her favor, and he wants to be on board  with a rising star? Or is it both admiration and calculation? … Clarke does sound uncomfortably like Mr. Collins in this letter in his language towards higher-ups …

I couldn’t agree more with what Ellen’s interpretation says, which certainly echoes my own: that regarding her vocation (what she was supposed to do with her life) Austen had a rare integrity, a singleness of purpose. She knew what she was meant to be–a writer– and what kind of writer she was meant to be … When she says she could only begin such a romance if her life depended on it and even then probably not get beyond the first chapter, she is not joking.

Another voice in this conversation (written earlier) appeared on WWTTA: Fran to whom we may give almost the last word:

I can’t help feeling the fact that she wrote this letter on All Fools’ Day may have been an example of her warped sense of humour as well. She’d gone as far as dedicating Emma to the Prince that year, but I’m rather glad she finished Persuasion before her untimely death, rather than attempting the kind of sycophantic potboiler Clarke suggested.

To be fair, Austen did write a parody version of the sycophantic potboiler, which has been typed out on Republic of Pemberley and includes a father modeled on Stanier Clarke whose adventures

comprehend his going to sea as Chaplain to a distinguished naval character about the Court, his going afterwards to Court himself, which introduced him to a great variety of Characters and involved him in many interesting situations, concluding with his opinions on the Benefits to result from Tithes being done away, and his having buried his own Mother (Heroine’s lamented Grandmother) in consequence of the High Priest of the Parish in which she died refusing to pay her Remains the respect due to them. The Father to be of a very literary turn, an Enthusiast in Literature, nobody’s Enemy but his own …


As Chapman’s notes show (interestingly, from Austen’s own marginalia), Stanier Clarke is not the only acquaintance and friend Austen burlesques in this parody


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2007 MP Star-gazing: escape from social oppression, Edmund (Blake Ritson) and Fanny (Billie Piper)

Dear friends and readers,

You may remember that a few months ago I wrote here some discoveries I made about the four Mansfield Park movies while in the process of writing a proposal to talk about Mansfield Park and its film adaptations at the coming JASNA AGM at Montreal. Yesterday I had the news that this proposal had been rejected — oh I had what I take to be a usual kind of softening of a blow when the person urged me to write the paper anyway and send it to Persuasions or Persuasions On-line. The rationale for this rejection was I would not talk about the novel enough, but as anyone reading the proposal can see the whole purpose of my talk would have been to show how the novel was translated differently and that would depend on a close reading of the novel in four different ways. The perspective was to be what movies bring out about the way a novel is read in any given era as opposed to how it may seem historically considered and what various critics may argue it is in itself (also finally subjective and reflective of eras in which the essay or book gets published).

As I also know as much about the Austen film canon as anyone alive and (if you read the blurb for the coming AGM) may be unusual in loving Mansfield Park as my near favorite and one of Austen’s two most finished virtuoso performances (the other is Emma), so I’ve decided an appropriate response is to put my proposal on-line so others can read what was proposed, the thesis even if not brought to living direct conversation. I do not have access to my website at the moment and when I do I’ll link in this blog:

Fanny (Sylvestre Le Tousel) as renter and chuser of books (for Susan) (1983 MP)

There have thus far been four film adaptations of Austen’s Mansfield Park, all of them controversial, even the first, the 1983 BBC Mansfield Park, if you take into account persistent attacks on it for choice of actors for Fanny and Edmund (Sylvestre Le Tousel and Nicolas Farrell) as excruciatingly ugly and what I’d call its Chekhovian slow pace as excruciatingly dull. While the 1990 Whit Stillman independent film, Metropolitan, received awards and much praise, it has since grated on critics and viewers alike as insufferably elitist (“insular”), priggish, and too literary. Patricia Rozema’s 1999 Mansfield Park, the usual Miramax fusion of art, heritage, and popular tropes, is still famously controversial. Lastly, of three brief (93 minutes on average) ITV Austen films made in 2007, Mansfield Park may be said to have been targeted for more unqualified ceaseless abuse, for (once again) its choice of actors for the lead characters (especially Billie Piper), script (though to be fair, Maggie Wadey’s similarly free 1987 Northanger Abbey has been much castigated), and pace (this time the film moves too fast).

1999 Rozema’s film: the harp arrives

I will first provide a non-impressionistic concrete study of these four films to show how they thoughtfully transfer Austen’s uses of drama and theater, epistolarity techniques, and literary and socially-critical allusions in her novel to filmic art conventions. I will then look at the films intertextually, in the light of one another and some specific films or texts outside Mansfield Park they use, to suggest they show an intensification of contemporary responsiveness to Austen; novel as each builds on, reacts against, and/or extends insights into the novel from previous films. I hope to offer a way of understanding the nature of Austen’s text and themes that the wider public feels ambivalent about through a use of film adaptation that examines different kinds of relations between the successive films and the novel and the cultural and entertainment work they all perform.

Tom-Edmund asks Fanny-Aubrey to dance (1990 Metropolitan by Whit Stillman)


P.S. See also Mansfield Park as read by Juliet Stevenson.

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There are … unique possibilities of fluidity, suggestiveness, and emotional scoring in the screenplay — all related of course to the demands of motion pictures … the film play merely avails itself of the novel’s freely shifting background. What is unique is the flexible alteration of scenes of varying duration, of contrasting shortness and length for emphasis, of suggestion and symbolization … Seemingly unrelated ‘shots’ of objects in quick succession superimposed on each other or dissolving into each other … poetry of sensation or relations is often achieved by this kind of composition, for which the technical word is montage … speech can be shuttled back and forth … an art of sound devices now parallels the art of camera devices … films habituate us to freedom of movement in time and space … [so a screenplay] is a new form of dramatic literature — John Gassner

Dear friends and readers,

This is to hope for all my readers a good year to come, solvent, productive, happy, choose what adjective you will, and to express my hope for what will come when I’ve finally finished my close reading of Austen’s letters (with the aid and companionship of many people on Janeites and Austen-l), begun more than 3 years ago. We have less than 20 left.

My Valancourt edition of Smith’s Ethelinde is at a standstill for now. My windows computer crashed and neither my daughter or I can find where in the Macbook Pro software that is attached to the printer we may copy the facsimile text of the 1st edition I’ve been using onto Word or OpenOffice.org whereupon I’ve been correcting and editing typescript. All we can manage to produce are copies that are pictures (jogs) or texts (pdfs) that are not changeable: they are pictures not text documents susceptible of alteration. Of course I could simply type the last volume and a half. I’ve not come to accept that arduous job as yet, am still hoping the new Windows computer I should have in say 3 weeks will enable me to return to my task — but it will be belated. It may be I shall have to type it; if so, I’ll use a strict time schedule and the larger work of an edition (introduction, commentary, notes) will be put off for some time.

Similarly I am cut off from my website until I get new Windows computer: apparently Macbook Pro has no filezilla or notepad +- which I need to add, change, take away from the website. I also dare not trust to my ability to keep up work on the website so will not add any more large new works to it, just small reviews and in the case of the Austen timelines and the use of Tuesdays in her novels only necessary corrections. So I won’t go on to revise the Emma calendar as yet, and probably when I do will not make it the complete kind of transformation I did for Austen’s first three novels. It will take more strength and know-how than I have simply to keep my husband’s legacy, this website up, rather than add to it in any major way.

I am glad I did the Winston Graham and foremother women poets pages in time.

So what I am thinking is when I finish the letters, go on a journey through the Austen films. I will gradually return to revising the five chapters I’ve written as A Place of Refuge: the Sense and Sensibility Films in the context of the whole corpus of Austen films. It’s what I’ve wanted to do all along — not to go into detail on all of them, but to have a wider perspective. I do have trouble lifting myself from my micro-analyses, or narrow part of a set of trees to see the whole wood.

I have a multi-system, multi-region Pioneer DVD player so I can watch them all in full size for the first time. I’m trying to think of some new interesting angle to look at them as a body of work from. I found myself fascinated by the underlying scripts of each I studied thoroughly, in several cases taking them down word-for-word in stenography (in my notebooks) when there was (as for most movies there is not) no published screenplay: these include Baron’s Sense and Sensibility (1981); Constanduros’s Sense and Sensibility (1971) and his Emma (1972); Davies’s Sense and Sensibility (2009); Hughes’s Miss Austen Regrets (2008); Menon’s I Have Found It (2000); Taylor’s Mansfield Park (1983); Weldon’s Pride and Prejudice (1979). I’ve more spotty versions of Davies’s Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Northanger Abbey (2007).

It’s relevant to mention that (well timed), Julian Fellowes has just released a book of the (now polished) scripts of Season 2 of Downton Abbey, held back in the US until this past week. For those interested in this mini-series, which many lovers of Austen’s books are (if the Jane Austen Society facebook or listservs are any measure) these are far more central to appreciating and enjoying the films than the expensive luxury art-paper Worlds, Chronicles, and Scenes from DA books. The 2nd season is much fatter than the first season of scripts, not only because they have moved from 7 episodes (or plays) to 9 (including the long Christmas one), but because he has put much more commentary and notes and his fellow producers and director are now quoted by him (I assume with their full concurrence). Again he reveals his own Toryism and fatuities all over the place, and also is insightful about what he’s doing filmically, for the characers, plot-design, serial drama. It has more stills too and this time all in color. I hope he produces a book for each season of scripts.

My view is that while the acting and filmic techniques, muse-en-scene, music, shooting styles of the movies make the experience, the script writers ought to publish the scripts: — Julian Fellowes has been doing this and far from hurting his career (no one can plagiarize these thing, they are too public), it’s helped sales and spread knowledge of Fellowes’s abilities as a script-writer. You can get Fellowes’s Vanity Fair and Gosford Park, for the first complete with many stills, diaries and discussions with the producer & director, Mira Nair. There was an attempt to publish screenplays in the early 1950s as anthologies when film studies first entered the academy, but the books did not sell so it was given up. I have three invaluable anthologies of great screenplays of great famous movies from the 1940s.

I’ll of course use the films to shed light on the books and vice versa. So there’s the plan for some kind of continuous material for this blog, interspersed with blogs on women’s art, the 18th century and any and all things having to do with Austen.

A list of screenplays of Austen films in print (that I own)

Davies’s Emma (1996) (proper published book)
Dear’s Persuasion (1995)
Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail (1998)(proper published book)
Heckerling’s Clueless (an on-line version 1995)
Hood’s Becoming Jane (2007)
Moggach’s Pride and Prejudice (revisions by Thompson) (2005)
Nunez’s Ruby in Paradise (1993)
Rozema’s Mansfield Park (1999) (proper published book)
Stillman’s Metropolitan (1990) (proper published book)
Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility (1995) (proper published book)

Hope springs eternal in the human breast
Man never is but always to be blest …

Scan 7


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Shopping ritual (Metropolitan)

Dear friends and readers,

I like movies and stories where the truth is told about Christmas, how ambiguous it is for most people, grating or desolating for many.

One such movie is Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan: it’s known as a free adaptation of Mansfield Park, but it’s a piece of art in Stillman’s oeuvre and story in its own right. It is also a tribute to the strength of Austen’s texture in her books as like other serious adaptations it seeks an analogies in today’s worlds.

Not from Metropolitan: a prettied up version of what you see on Channel 11 (available on the Net this morning)

On Christmas eve, one of the heroes, Tom Townsend (Edmund character, played by Edward Clements) has Channel 11 in NYC with its burning log and incessant Christmas carol going. His parents were divorced some years ago, both families keep their distance. His mother spends the night sitting on the couch in the front room trying to watch an absurd noisy TV program. He has recently become aware that his father threw out his childhood toys and has faced the reality he likes to deny: his father neglects him, a phone call or so a year is not a relationship.

Christmas eve (mother and daughter getting through)

The heroine, Aubrey Rouget (Fanny character, played by Carolyn Farina) fares better. She and her mother (apparently a long-time widow) go to St Patrick’s cathedral, a huge church in Manhattan where they join in the service and carols. They stand amid a huge crowd (people like them, some in pairs or groups, but many alone), but Aubrey-Fanny cannot manage to sing as the Tom-Edmund whom Aubrey has fallen in love with in a recent incident during a party stood her up, has shown indifference and preference for a shallow sharp-tongued, but sexy-glamorous “popular” girl (the Mary Crawford character) amongst them. Aubrey begins to cry silently for the beauty of the place and song as well. The mother is another character enduring it as best as she. She has more money than the Edmund character’s mother, is more upper class and thinks to take her daughter out. The distraction, walk in the cold and snow, meeting a friend and acquaintance on the cathedral stairs helps too.

There are a few stories which tell truth. Bobbie Ann Mason’s Drawing Names in her Shiloh and Other Stories: a 20th century middle class Kentucky family get together. They have a method of exchanging gifts by drawing names and making sure this way no one is angry they gave a more expensive gift than they got. During the time there the divorced daughter and the son who has disappointed them have to endure much tension. The Admiral liked Saki’s Christmas stories, and I remember one Christmas eve or day he read aloud to me an opening which was exhilarating in released bitterness, but as the Admiral is now dead he cannot tell which of the Reginald Christmas pieces it is (it’s not “On Christmas Presents” or “Christmas Revels,” which I’ve just looked at, as they don’t open the way I recall). Margaret Oliphant has a ghost story where “Lady Mary” (the ghost) is unable to retrieve the damage she did during life by being unkind and not altering her will in time to leave her money to a niece who endured her petty tyrannies nor can she reach the niece for sure to apologize. (A riposte to Dickens’s Christmas Carol.) Victorian ghost stories are implicitly and most of the time were written for the Christmas market.

From 1974 Raven’s Pallisers (Prime Minister material: 8:15): coping with Xmas paraphernalia together

Trollope manages not to be too false by various ploys, including telling a real story which happens to occur on the winter solstice. He did leave us his thoughts on such stories in his Autobiography (published after his death):

While I was writing The Way We Live Now, I was called upon by the proprietors of the *Graphic* for a Christmas story. I feel, with regard to literature, somewhat as I suppose an uphosterer and undertaker feels when he is called upon to supply a funeral. He has to supply it, however distasteful it may be. It is his business, and he will starve if he neglect it. So have I felt that, when anything in the shape of a novel was required, I was bound to produce it. Nothing can be more distasteful to me than to have to give a relish of Christmas to what I write. I feel the humbug implied by the nature of the order. A Christmas story, in the proper sense, should be the ebullition of some mind anxious to instil others with a desire for Christmas religious thought or Christmas festivities, — better yet, with Christmas charity. Such was the case with Dickens when he wrote his two first Christmas stories [which were? we cannot be sure which ones Trollope was thinking of]. But since that the things written annually–all of which have been fixed to Christmas like children’s toys to a Christmas tree, have no real savour of Christmas about them. I had done two or three before. Alas! at this very moment I have one to write [said by Julian Thompson to have been "Christmas at Thompson Hall"], which I have promised to supply within three weeks of this time,— the picture-makers always required a long interval,–as to which I have in vain been cudgelling my brain for the last month. I can’t send away the order to another shop, but I do not know how I shall ever get the coffin made.

What Trollope seems to object to is the phoniness of pretending to emotion you do not feel, of enacting a ritual tied to charity when you have or give none: “The Widow’s Mite” is about the unimportance of feeling yourself deprived by having given a present; the important thing is to help, please grace the life of the person you are giving this gift too — he disputes a Biblical parable here. If you really feel an emotion, he will dramatize sympathetically, but like Samuel Johnson (“There is nothing so hopeless as a scheme of merriment” — harsh, brutal, probably out of irritation) and George Sand (in both Lettres d’un Voyageur and Winter in Majorca something about how what happiness we know in life comes unexpectedly, as a surprise), Trollope knows you cannot turn it on like a spiget, especially each year on cue.

Emma (Doran Goodwin) safe upstairs in her room at Hartfield at last (1972 Emma)

Back to Austen, Metropolitan is not the only movie to do justice to a great text when it passes through Christmas. Sandy Welch’s 2009 Emma shows the characters both enjoying themselves as best they can and enduring tension (see stills); Glenister and Constanduros’ 1972 Emma makes centrally climactic Elton’s emphatic proposal about two swelled-up overpreening people, with Emma rightly desolated and appalled afterward. Victor Nunez’s Ruby in Paradise (Northanger Abbey) has an allusion as the year passes. Most of the others join the chorus Trollope and Saki deprecate. Other adaptations of great texts for this season include Tony Huston’s adaptation of Joyce’s “The Dead” which I still can watch because the Admiral downloaded it for me from the Net (he also transferred a video into an MP2 so I have it in two versions) and Caroline rescued it in a transfer to this Macbook Pro. Profound melancholy rooted in Irish landscape and time.

From closing shots of The Dead: Donal McCann as Gabriel meditates

… snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.


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It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind; — but when a beginning is made — when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt — it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more … (Emma, Chapter 29)

The day returns again, my natal day;/What mix’d emotions with the Thought arise! … Austen, 16 Dec 1808)

Dear friends and readers,

I thought this year we could celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday by remembering how she loved to dance (see Dancing in Jane Austen), that she made dance and song sequences important in her novels, and that these provide some of the most sheerly pleasurable moments in the Austen films. I’ve collected a few of my favorites, these unchanged from the films:

Elinor ends up dancing with Willoughby (1996 S&S):

Electric with sensual desire, Darcy and Elizabeth as antagonistic dancers (1995 P&P)


Knightley and Emma: this exquisitely happy moment brings tears to my eyes every time (2009 Emma)


And a few unexpected, playful, & intriguing stills:

Sir Thomas has been bringing up a wife for his son (see Wedding Waltz 2007 MP): Fanny and Edmund mesmerized (1983 MP)


Henry considers a country dance an emblem of marriage; Catherine sees the differences all too strongly (2007 NA)


Anne Elliot plays Moonlight Sonata: is she is his dream or he hers? (2007 Persuasion)

vlcsnap-396964 copy

… when you do dance, I wish you
A wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that; move still, still so,
And own no other function … A Winter’s Tale


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Steventon, an old print of the rectory where Austen lived (1775-99)

Real solemn history, I cannot be interested in…The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all — Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 14)

Dear friends and readers,

The last week or so I’ve begun a slow return to Jane Austen’s novels. I’ve been so concentrating on her letters and biography, and before that the ignored poetry and manuscripts, that until I wrote my proposal for a paper to be given on the 4 Mansfield Park movies, and listened to Juliet Stevenson’s reading of Mansfield Park, I’d begun almost to forget these beloved texts.

First in an effort to return to teaching, but in a new way, no longer as an adjunct (invisible to, stigmatized in the department), I thought I’d try for positions in adult education, programs of non-degree courses, for retired people, continuing education for non-traditional students. And what did I come up with first: courses in Austen’s novels. Although I’ve taught these novels separately (well 4 of them, S&S, P&P, NA, Persuasion, twice each), and sometimes accompanied the text with a study of film adaptations, I’ve never taught a course in Austen’s work as such.

So I submitted proposals (limit of about 100 words) to teach Jane Austen in two different Oscher Institute of Life-Long learning programs, one for winter-spring (10 weeks), the other for the summer (6 weeks). I’ve been told the first “is certainly going to happen:”

Jane Austen, The First Half, or Steventon and Bath

This course aims to understand Austen’s 1st three published novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park through her artistic development; the places the books were written in; their first versions; and modern filmic takes. We begin at Steventon with a caustic (or rollicking) burlesque, Love and Freindship, and discuss letters in and letter-novels before reading S&S and P&P. After both, we watch Lee and Thompson’s S&S (1995 Miramax) and an excerpt from Andrew and Zeff’s Lost in Austen (2008 Granada TV). We move to Austen in Bath, and read her The Watsons, a realistic, grim fragment written there and brief excerpts from Lovers’ Vows and Thomas Clarkson on slavery as prologue to Mansfield Park. After MP, we watch Stillman’s indie, Metropolitan (1990), and learn about heritage and appropriation films. We end by comparing what films make visible about the way film-makers think readers read these novels and how these interpretations differ from grounded autobiographical, aesthetic, & historical readings.

Green Park Buildings — one of the parades Jane lived in in Bath while her father still alive

[Bulletin update: 12/3/13: it's been accepted! Good to go! Oh frabjous day!]

And I’ve returned to my calenders, “the important Tuesday,” and my book on Austen films. This is all interconnected. How? by re-reading Emma and starting a watch-through of the Austen films, beginning with the 1972 BBC Emma, scripted Denis Constanduros, directed John Glenister. I was not sure how much work I’d have to do on Emma‘s calendar, for I know the seasonal shaping and playful use of Tuesdays I found there is accurate and that this is not a novel revised from an epistolary narrative, not one which went through decades of revision (as did P&P, S&S and MP). So I had thought not much, but rereading I see how many references, tiny obsessive almost there are to time and space, and constant counting — we are continually given everyone’s ages, amounts of time events take in page after page, months, weeks, and there is not indication of this in my present timeline. There is a great deal about letters, they play a large role in the novel continually too still.

The 1972 film adaptation is so strong too because it’s a rare one for making irony continually central to all we watch, and the characters feel complex beyond their appearances. Of the faithful or heritage type one can follow the original plot-design, the script very good.


Mr Knightley (John Carson) and Emma (Doran Goodwin) discuss the novel’s first dinner party — one of many scenes of companionable dialogue and debate (1972 Emma)

And the theme of the heroine’s dearth of intellectual companionship except for Mr Knightley and then not consciously understood stares me in the face as well as the centrality of Harriet despite the turns at the volumes being where Frank Churchill comes and goes (as the turns in S&S are about Lucy Steele: end of Vol I, she is engaged to Edward, end of Vol II, she has an invitation to stay with the Dashwoods in London, end of Vol III she wins the new heir, Robert Ferrars).

In any case it necessitates a re-read! And I find I’m buoyed up by the fiction, just so rejuvenated and restored. I recently wrote:

I clearly love Jane Austen’s six major texts, and if I want to justify this to others, often talk of how I first read her at age 12-13 (P&P and S&S) and again at 15 (MP), so she is interwoven with my earliest traumas and if it’s true Doris Lessing might have done me more good, I didn’t know about her. I knew about Austen. And how I don’t read her for the romance at all, but the sentiments, thoughts of the text, narrator’s presence. A favorite line from P&P (and picked up as emphatic in the 1995 S&S) is that a basis for marriage is esteem and gratitude. Well I esteemed the Admiral and was intensely grateful to him. I also cling to her reasonableness, her steadiness, her sense of order and control. That way lies what peace there can be when alone. But not safety. Alas, not safety. Austen knew there was no safety for women.

Amanda Price (Jemima Roper) loses herself in Austen

The male dream figure (Elliot Cowan as Darcy) seen through the novel’s text (2009 Lost in Austen)

And I’m also reading Catherine Schrine’s appropriation-sequel to S&S, The Three Weissmans of Westport am surprised to find how much I’m liking it. I find I prefer sequels _which don’t use the original characters or Austen and her family, but create a story that has analogies. Here instead of the shocking death with not enough money left at all, or the house (which was possible if you read carefully) as in S&S, a wife of 48 years is one day told by her husband he finds they have ‘irreconcilable differences.”


Then it emerges he has a girlfriend, his assistant in the office and in a brilliant second chapter Fidelity (an ironic name) persuades the husband he should take the long-time apartment he lived with wife his wife on Central Park West from her. After all she never worked a day in her life for it, did she. It’s not known to the sisters or mother that the father has this girlfriend for sure, nor that she’s Fidelity. So the dramatic irony revelation will make Fidelity also analogous to Lucy Steele: and Fidelity has steel for a heart.

Each of Schrine’s characters who are analogous to Austen’s original only very slowly emerge; you can recognize the analogy and yet you have an original character. It’s witty and captures the quality of modern life for women. Elinor is now Annie, a librarian. Marianne Miranda, a literary agent who over-reached herself and was too trusting. Betty the mother Mrs Dashwood who didn’t pay attention to practicalities. Margaret is omitted – as she is in the 1983 movie. The analogous half-derelict house. Schine follows the structure and seasons of Austen’s book too, so now the three are set up in Connecticut in late August (not early September as in JA’s book)

Angela Goddard’s cover — Schrine has embodied Diasporic Jane in this book

Schrine’s has a depth of feeling or maybe moral consciousness (I’m not sure what is the word – I like the characters I’m supposed to like?), is far enough away from S&S and yet you can follow the analogous plot-design as you go. One problem though is a retelling of it would inevitably lead you to tell the parallels in the stories and characters — rather like talking about a film where people point out differences and similarities. Maybe it’s too tethered like faithful heritage films — in feel or presence of writer and depth it is on a level of a Downton Abbey sequel I recently read: While we were watching Downton Abbey. While its author, Wax, is nowhere as ethical a presence as Schrine, Wax does create a fiction which is further away — as did Karen Joy Fowler (Jane Austen Book Club). More like an appropriation film.

What interests me though is that while Schrine is getting more and more place in the prestigious periodicals (she wrote the first article in the latest issue of NYRB), is strongly praised by respected people for some of her other novels (Barbara Kingsolver on Evolution of Jane), just about all the reviews on line that I read (blogs mostly) disliked the book, panned it. Readers expressed strong irritation. So I’m wondering if my reaction here is akin to the way I have reacted differently to a secondary heroine, Lady Edith of Downton Abbey, for along with a very few people I liked and sympathized with this character. The coming season (4) is advertised by Fellowes telling us what he likes about the central favored heroine, Lady Mary is she doesn’t need others to like her — a telling statement.

I’m almost keeping reading The Three Weissmans to try to guess or figure out what others didn’t like …



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James Stanier Clarke (1766-1834) by James Nixon (1799)

Jane Austen (!) as dawn by Clarke (the first visit?), from his Friendship Book

Dear friends and readers,

WE are come upon a few letters that have provoked much discussion and towards Clarke ridicule. I will try to summarize a very good biography by Chris Viveash when I return from my trip — it’s worth it to disseminate a juster picture of Clarke. In our time librarians have been an open targets in the US at least, laughing stocks out of anti-intellectualism, reverse snobbery, the reality that librarians have not made much money historically and also, showing human nature, a lack of respect for an occupation that is usually inside the library not so cutthroat or competitive (at least it’s thought). The letters are significant enough to warrant more than one blog even if there are only a few left.

Viveash’s book on Clarke shows the man to have been underneath his courtier’s behavior and values no fool, literary (caring about books and learning) and thus someone of a type Austen rarely came close to — and later on we see her confiding in him her worries that with Emma she is beginning to exhaust her vein, that she has not had enough experience to bring into another book necessary variety, that she repeats herself. She knew that as an unmarried woman she could avail herself of limited subjects, and that she (as the world understands these things, partly truly) had had limited access to experiences unchaperoned men can have. His suggestions for her seem ludicrous to us (and to Austen), don’t help her but after the joking over them, Persuasion does use the sea and war and implicitly at a distance romantic adventures — seen through the business and hard-headed perspective of Wentworth (that is Austen too). She also makes a comment on the courtier’s life as a life-in-death she’d rather anything than endure (maybe more than teaching which as Emma Watson she so reprehended) which suggests she watched him at times and perhaps they met more than once.

This is a duologue, first Diana Birchall and then mine:


Letter 125D to James Stanier, GOn Wednesday, 15 November 1815, Jane Austen makes a copy of her letter to James Stanier Clarke, the Prince Regent’s librarian and chaplain, who has just shown her around Carlton House. Respectfully she writes, and I transcribe in full:

“I must take the liberty of asking You a question. Among the many flattering attentions which I recd from you at Carlton House, on Monday last, was the Information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future Work to HRH the P.R. without the necessity of any Solicitation on my part. Such at least, I believed to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I intreat you to have the goodness to inform me of how such a Permission is to be understood, & whether it is incumbent on me to shew my sense of the Honour, by inscribing the Work now in the Press, to H.R.H. – I shd be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or Ungrateful.”

So the famous Carlton House visit has already taken place. Deirdre describes how it came about in A Family Record, which I will summarize. During Henry’s illness he was attended by a young Mr. Charles Haden, but during the crisis another doctor, probably Dr. Matthew Baillie, who had treated Henry before, was called in. He was one of the Prince Regent’s physicians, and according to her nephew he told her:

“that the Prince was a great admirer of her novels; that he often read them, and had a set in each of his residences – That he, the physician, had told His Royal Highness was now in London, and that by the Prince’s desire, Mr. Clarke, the Librarian of Carlton House, would speedily wait upon her – Mr. Clarke came, and endorsed all previous compliments, and invited my aunt to see Carlton House, saying the Prince had charged him to show her the Library there, adding many civilities as to the pleasure his R.H. had received from her novels.”

And so on 13 November Jane was shown over the Regent’s “small but luxurious palace, which contained “A hall with walls of green and verd-antique, and Ionic columns of brown Siena marble led into ante-rooms and drawing-rooms of crimson, gold, blue and rose with flowered carpets and hangings of velvet and satin elaborately draped…” and “a cathedral-like conservatory, an Ionic dining-room and a Gothic library.” “It was during this visit that Mr. Clarke declared himself charged to say that if Miss Austen had any other novel forthcoming, she was quite at liberty to dedicate it to the Prince.”

Had Jane Austen ever seen apartments of such opulence as Carlton House, before? Deirdre suggests that “to see for herself the Regent’s extravagances if anything probably increased Jane’s disapproval of him.” She made proper acknowledgements, but evidently had no intention of accepting the.honour, until, as JEAL puts it, “she was advised by some of her friends that she must consider the permission as a command.” That was when she wrote to him, and we will contemplate his answer next week.

In the meantime we might consider the visit. This was Jane’s second time of meeting Clarke, if he called upon her first to invite her to the Palace. Nothing today remains of Carlton House, which was torn down in 1826, but Julie of the AustenOnly blog did a lovely post on Jane’s visit with contemporary pictures of the rooms, which were certainly as ornate and over-the-top as possible!

Grand StaircaseCarltonHouseblog
The Grand staircase

The Lower VestibuleCarltonHouseblog
The Lower Vestibule

There are other wonderful blogs about Carlton House, especially a virtual tour laid out by a gorgeous blog I’ve never heard of before, called The Lothians

Carlton House, in St. James’s Square facing Pall Mall, was the Prince Regent’s residence from 1783 till 1826. He spared no expense in decoration, getting heavily into debt. Henry Holland did the remodeling in French neoclassical style, though with much Chinoiserie and Gothic design as well. A Gothic dining room and library were completed by John Nash, and this library must have been the one Jane Austen saw, though in all the virtual tours I have not found a picture of it. At the time of the King’s death in 1821, the Prince Regent was working on getting financing for the future Buckingham Palace. Nash declared Carlton House was in poor structural condition and it was demolished in 1827 with the exception of the portico which can still be seen in Trafalgar Square at the National Gallery. “Carlton House had become a lost palace that passed away with the Regency and late Georgian era. Those who enjoy Georgian history imagine it as the setting of not only Prinny’s extravagant lifestyle but also of Jane Austen’s visit and tour of the library there.” (From the Georgian Index blog)

Whatever Jane Austen’s feelings about the Prince Regent, she must have been sensible of the compliment and the honour done her; she, who collected the remarks and opinions of friends and strangers on her books, would have been gratified to know that the Prince, a man of taste whatever his morality, liked her books enough to have copies in his every palace. Her visit, something of a command performance, comes flashing like a lightning bolt or like Emma’s own arrow, into the quietest of domestic lives: it must have been an indication to her of how truly she had “arrived.” The woman who refused to meet Madame de Stael (which was voluntary) seems to have been quite composed, with no vapours or nerves, on visiting Carlton House. She did not, after all, have to meet the odious prince; and his clergyman/librarian was a type she very well understood. Indeed, had she not written Mr. Collins years before the visit, it might have been pardonable to think Clarke was her inspiration. There was much more to him than his rather naive, fatuous letters imply, and Chris Viveash has examined his life in an interesting book, but no time for that now. Instead, I will close by referring to the watercolour portrait James Stanier Clarke did in his “Friendship” book, that some people think is his visitor, Jane Austen (see above).

I am one of those who hopes it is, as I love this portrait. She is so fashionably dressed, with unusual and very becoming black chapeau and trimmings; surely Jane Austen would have put on her best for such an occasion, and the lady has the same sort of round face as is seen in Cassandra’s portrait. Jane Austen was approaching her fortieth birthday at the time of this visit (she would have only one more), but the lady in the painting looks animated and interested, and could be the right age; she doesn’t appear to be either very young or very old. What I like most is that it reminds me so powerfully of an Austen description, that I always associate it with the painting. In Persuasion, Austen writes about Anne, “Twelve years had changed Anne from the blooming, silent, unformed girl of fifteen, to the elegant little woman of seven-and-twenty, with every beauty excepting bloom, and with manners as consciously right as they were invariably gentle.”

If the Friendship book portrait is not that of “an elegant little woman” I do not know what is.


My take:

Austen’s dedication as printed in Chapman’s 1920s edition of Emma

The content of the letter is Austen’s anxiety over how to understand the official rhetoric of the court. What is of immediate is her obvious reluctance to dedicate her work to the regent: is it “incumbent on me” to do this with the “Work now in the Press” (Emma)? Also the formality of the language. If she and Clarke had met twice already, these were not meetings where they had become familiar. Austen’s next extant letter to Clarke a month later (11 December, 132D) is much more familiar, much less distant and more comfortable. So if there were not more meetings, maybe there was more correspondence, but my feeling is familiarity in this era could only be developed face-to-face. The open attitudes of mind we find here on the Internet are very recent.

More or equally of interest is Austen’s intense awareness of the difference between what words literally mean and a cliched conventional understanding or subtext. Is “she is now at liberty to dedicate” mean you had better dedicate the writing to the prince. This reminds me of Catherline Morland suggesting how hard it is to understand people when they say one thing and mean another.

Diana in her posting then turns to use James Edward-Austen Leigh’s proud imagining of what took place (in his Memoir) between his aunt and the royal librarian as told to JEAL by Baillie, the physician, and as quoted by LeFaye. So we have two turns here: three really: Baillie to JEAL to LeFaye. Quite a distance from Austen. We are further reading LeFaye’s quotation of JEAL by Diana. We can factually see that it was the prince’s physician who set the meeting up. Dr Matthew Baillie is clearly eager to please JEAL. In the film Miss Austen Regrets, Charles Haden (an apothecary) attends Henry — so we can know that well before the first flirtatious mention of Haden, Austen had met and become familiar with him. The film (as films do) compressed and eliminated the less eligible male (who presumably Austen did not flirt with and had a higher rank (physician). The delight in opulence is JEAL’s, not Austen’s and the way JEAL puts it “Mr. Clarke declared himself charged to say that if Miss Austen had any other novel forthcoming, she was quite at liberty to dedicate it to the Prince.” We can see JEAL was not at all reluctant for his aunt to take this invitation up.
In other words, the filter through which we see this scene skews it into another mood than we find in Austen’s letter.

By contrast, Austen is tight in tone; she has not yet unbent (as she has a month later – the courtier in Clarke presumably worked on her); as Henry’s letter about the invitation to the salon where Stael suggests, Austen was not eager to go out into these “high” circles. I would agree with LeFaye’s guess that the rich luxury of these apartments increased Austen’s dislike or disapproval — we see from the few objects that have come down to us she preferred simplicity. According to JEAL, the letter was prompted by Austen’s “friends” (an old-fashioned term which includes relatives) who told her she must dedicate Emma to the Prince.

I looked at the contemporary drawings of Carlton House as well as the rooms and agree they are as lush and theatrical as money at the time could make them: I confess my reaction to be something like Gillray’s whose satiric cartoon “Austenonly” also includes. Moreover, it’s ironic to know that the place was built in an unsound way. Money for ornamentation but not pillars and a stress system to keep the thing up.

The citation of the fashionable architects brings Mansfield Park to mind (which I’ve been slowly listening to for weeks now) to mind and the ironic attitude not so much towards Repton but those who hire him to spoil the historicity of their houses and centuries of growth of trees. In MP the sympathetic characters focus on cost (how much will it cost to fix Edmund’s parsonage so extravagantly), need, usefulness, and the narrator ironically brings in how all these changes are partly intended to hide the poverty-striken which are not too far off, and the working world around which supports the “gentlemens’” houses.

As a comparison with JEAL, I too will offer a far-away take: how Gwyneth Hughes scripts the dialogue of the imagined scene JEAL attempted for his audience in a much more satiric spirit for Miss Austen Regrets. Olivia Williams as Jane is saturnine and mocking before she shows up, and Imogen Poots as Fanny naively echoes, but Jack Huston as Haden urges them both about how useful this visit will be, that it is an honor. The march through the over-done corridors but in the film library-like corridors:


She hesitates

The stately parade

When Jason Watkins as Clarke shows up, the excellent actor manages to convey indirectly the probability the prince never read the books (though he may have done), but that Clarke has and that he is delighted to see her. He has set out three of her books on the table before them:


Olivia Williams directed to put a mocking expression on her face

The language Hughes gives the actor is endlessly multi-syllabic, filled with hot air (little content) but flattery and he does not give a sense he understands what Williams as Austen means when she says she fears her MP has not pleased as much as P&P because it’s “more serious” and yet other readers will find it “not serious enough” (the Hannah More or Laetitia Hawkins type?). The perspective of the one joke is that of the 20th century reader: the 19th century reader did find Byron and Scott readable:

Jane: they [her novels] are my darling children. I send them out into the world to compete with the likes of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron

Clarke (laughing lightly): No competition at all, madame, the gentlemen are unreadable.

Woolf said she found Byron often unreadable, and from experience I know modern students don’t get through much Scott with ease; he’s in deep remote storage in many modern libraries when he’s there at all.

Hughes brings in Austen’s lines to her nephew about working on ivory, doubting her accomplishment, and then reverts to JEAL’s scene with the lines from JEAL’s Clarke about how she is at liberty to dedicate Emma to his royal highness.


I agree with Diana that Austen would have been complimented, gratified to be so invited. I doubt she’d have openly made fun; if she had, Henry would have quickly urged the advantage. Francis Burney was sent to court to gain advantages for her family which never materialized. Who would not? it’s hard to resist even if say you disagree with the powerful person’s politics or dislike their social behavior. Austen had intensely longed to be published, yes she gathered every opinion she came across. But I’d say that Austen would have had to go though — a party at which Stael shows is not at all the same as the son of the head of state who himself will inherit.Literati were respected mostly by themselves. There is just so much patronage in the hands of the prince — so much the Austen family could gain if a friendship even at third hand (with the librarian) could ensue. I suggest that Mr Collins is rather based on Samuel Blackall who in Austen’s younger years snubbed Mrs Lefroy’s attempt to persuade him to court Austen at a ball. He was big and heavy as is Mr Collins in the book, and the size of the character is re-created in the stupid self-centered Rushworth.

I also agree with Diana that the small picture by Clarke may well be a drawing of Austen — and we have the experts of the Antique Roadshow and two scholars to support this. So Olivia Williams is far too plainly dressed, for, talk about opulent. The family certainly went all out for this outfit. And if she let herself be dressed up like this she could not have been that adverse. Still Austen would have felt unusually dressed up — the film Miss Austen Regrets did not pick up on this. Diana likes the outfit; I think it lovely too, the colors but the face is just so pinched — I admit it reminds me of the face in the picture Claudia Johnson wants us to believe is Austen (a nymph like chubby girl).

I note in a picture of Princess Caroline below we see the same arm position Cassandra caught Austen in more famously: tightly crossed, on guard? Caroline disliking having her picture taken too? The opulent outfit does not remind me of Anne Elliot in the passage from Persuasion which emphasizes the moral qualities of Anne Elliot, not what she is wearing. It’s much more how the ladies are dressed in the musical, My Fair Lady when at ascot — has anyone seen the older Forsyte Saga which includes a scene of such opulent dressing; Downton Abbey has the woman extravagantly dressed in this way now and again — especially the hats, Downton Abbey is big on large fancy hats.

Elizabeth McGovern may be delighted with her hat.

Let us hope Austen was too — as it enabled her to hold her own in the immediate environment, but is Downton Abbey the analogy we want for Austen’s attitudes and work?

How to end? We could look at the dedication to Emma which says as little as possible about the regent as language can get away with: simply “by his royal highness’s permission,” it’s “most respectfully dedicated” by a “dutiful and obedient humble servant.” I.e., she had to do it.


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Emma — the first edition in question

Henry is an excellent patient, lies quietly in bed & is ready to swallow anything …

Tuesday is in my brain …

Dear friends and readers,

A separate blog for an important letter — it is rich with matter. It introduces another phase of the letters (121-133), about Austen’s publication as a respected author, of Emma, with ensuing correspondence by Henry to John Murray, Jane to Murray; the letters to the Prince Regent’s librarian, James Stanier Clarke, whom, like it or not, represented a rare meeting for Jane Austen with a professed and actual literary person, with connections. Henry falls ill, partly under a strain from coming bankruptcy.

Jack Huston as Haden and Adrian Edmondson as Henry (Miss Austen Regrets, 2008)

We glimpse from afar one possible flirtation: with William Seymour, Henry’s firm’s lawyer, and we will see another (her rival Fanny Austen Knight) Charles Haden, the apothecary hired to help during Henry’s momentarily grave illness.

No less important in understanding the atmosphere and milieu that Jane did have to live in daily: niece Caroline sends a manuscript of her novel for her aunt to read.

We begin with the text:

Tuesday 17- Wednesday 18 October 1815
Hans Place, Tuesday Oct. 17.

My dear Cassandra

Thank you for your two Letters. I am very glad the new Cook begins so well. Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness — 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. — Henry came home on Sunday & we dined the same day with the Herrieses — a large family party — clever & accomplished. — I had a pleasant visit the day before. Mr Jackson is fond of eating & does not much like Mr or Miss Papillon — What weather we have — What shall we do about it? — The 17th of October & summer still! Henry is not quite well — a bilious bilious attack with fever — he came back early from Harley Street yesterday & went to bed — the comical consequence of which was that Mr Seymour & I dined together tete-a-tete. — He is calomeling & therefore in a way to be better & I hope may be well tomorrow. The Creeds of Hendon dine here today, which is rather unlucky – for he will hardly be able to shew himself — they are all Strangers to me. He has asked Mr Tilson to come & take his place. I doubt our being a very agreable pair. — We are engaged tomorrow to Cleveland Row — I was there yesterday morning. — There seems no idea now of Mr Gordon’s going to Chawton — nor of any of the family coming here at present. Many of them are sick. Wednesday.–

Henry’s illness is more serious than I expected. He has been in bed since three o’clock on Monday. It is a fever — something bilious, but cheifly Inflammatory. I am not alarmed — but I have determined to send this Letter today by the post, that you may know how things are going on. There is no chance of his being able to leave Town on Saturday. I asked Mr Haden that question today. — Mr Haden is the apothecary from the corner of Sloane Street — successor to Mr Smith, a young Man said to be clever, & he is certainly very attentive & appears hitherto to have understood the complaint. There is a little pain in the Chest, but it is not considered of any consequence. Mr Haden calls it a general Inflammation. — He took twenty ounces of Blood from Henry last night — & nearly as much more this morning — & expects to have to bleed him again tomorrow, but he assures me that he found him quite as much better today as he expected. Henry is an excellent Patient, lies quietly in bed & is ready to swallow anything. He lives upon Medicine, Tea & Barley water. — He has had a great deal of fever, but not much pain of any sort — & sleeps pretty well. — His going to Chawton will probably end in nothing, as his Oxfordshire Business is so near; — as for myself, You may be sure I shall return as soon as I can.

Tuesday is in my brain, but you will feel the Uncertainty of it. — I want to get rid of some of my Things, & therefore shall send down a parcel by Collier on Saturday. Let it be paid for on my own account.- It will be mostly dirty Cloathes — but I shall add Martha’s Lambswool, your Muslin Handkerchiefs.-(India at 3/6) your Pens, 3 shillings & some articles for Mary, if I receive them in time from Mrs Hore. — Cleveland Row of course is given up. Mr Tilson took a note there this morning. Till yesterday afternoon I was hoping that the Medicine he had taken, with a good night’s rest would set him quite to rights. I fancied it only Bile — but they they say the disorder must have originated in a Cold.

You must fancy Henry in the back room upstairs — & I am generally there also, working or writing. — I wrote to Edward yesterday, to put off our Nephews till friday. I have a strong idea of their Uncle’s being well enough to like seeing them [tornJ that time. — I shall write to you next by my parcel — two days hence — unless there is anything particular to be communicated before, always excepted.–

The post has this moment brought me a letter from Edward. He is likely to come here on Tuesday next, for a day or two’s necessary business in his Cause.

Mrs Hore wishes to observe to Frank & Mary that she doubts their finding it answer to have Chests of Drawers bought in London, when the expense of carriage is considered. The two Miss Gibsons called here on Sunday, & brought a Letter from Mary, which shall also be put into the parcel. Miss Gibson looked particularly well. — I have not been able to return their call. — I want to get to Keppel Street again if I can, but it must be doubtfuL — The Creeds are agreable People themselves, but I fear must have had a very dull visit. —

I long to know how Martha’s plans go on. If you have not written before, write by Sunday’s post to Hans
Place. — I shall be more than ready for news of you by that time. — A change of weather at last! –Wind & Rain — Mrs Tilson has just called. ~ Poor Woman, she is quite a wretch, always ill. — God bless you.-
Yours affectionately

Uncle Henry was very much amused with Cassy’s message, but if she were here now with the red shawl she woul make him laugh more than do him good. –
Miss Austen
[Letters missing here J


Adrian Edmondson as Henry Austen (Miss Austen Regrets, 2009) who will swallow anything

First Diana’s reading:

“Writing to Cassandra from London, Jane Austen starts out in pleasantly epigrammatic manner: “Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness,” she remarks, about the new cook. Then turning to her letter from the publisher John Murray, she delivers her famous quote: “He is a rogue of course, but a civil one.” Like a sharp businessman, he offers £450 for Emma – but “wants to have the Copyright of MP and 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.”

There are some cheerful goings-on – Henry has returned, they dined with the Herries family, a large party of friends, “clever and accomplished,” and the day before was a pleasant visit with Mr. Jackson who “is fond of eating and does not like Mr. or Miss P.” Mr. Jackson, Deirdre tells us, married Miss Sarah Papillion. The Papillions were distant connections of the Knights, but more importantly, the Jacksons had three daughters, one of whom, Eleanor was to marry Henry Austen in 1820.

One more joking epigrammatic remark: “What weather we have! – What shall we do about it?” It’s summer still. And then the tone turns more serious. “Henry is not quite well – a bilious attack with fever – he came back from H. St yesterday & went to bed – the comical consequence of which was that Mr. Seymour & I dined tete a tete.” Wiliam Seymour was Henry’s friend and lawyer, a widower who contemplated proposing to Jane Austen but never did. Interestingly, I see that he is also the man who offered Jane Austen’s novel Susan to the publisher B. Crosby & Co.! Makes sense, as who better to do this business than Henry’s lawyer. It is of Seymour that Jane Austen writes in her signed “MAD” letter of 5 April 1809: “In the Spring of the year 1803 a MS Novel in 2 vol. entitled Susan was sold to you by a Gentleman of the name of Seymour, & the purchase money £10 recd. at the same time.”

However, a brisk search turns up many mentions of Seymour’s contemplated proposal but maddeningly no citations! He is said to have told Henry he would like to seek her hand, and he once escorted her from London to Chawton, but never made the proposal. The vague attributions are to Deirdre’s A Family Record, 2004 edition, but my edition is older and doesn’t have this reference. And nowhere does it say where Deirdre got her information. Argghh. Maybe someone else can find this? A Persuasions article by Deirdre cites her own article, “Jane Austen’s Laggard Suitor.” Notes and Queries ns 47 245.3 (Sept. 2000): 301-04. but I don’t have that lying around.

Jane continues about Henry, “He is calomeling & therefore in a way to be better & I hope may be well tomorrow.” A reminder (as if the vague mentions of bile and fever weren’t enough) how bad was medicine of the period; calomel is toxic mercury used at that period as purgative and laxative – we may recall how it wrecked the health of Louisa May Alcott. Still Jane is not seriously alarmed, and makes the social rearrangements necessary in Henry’s illness: “The Creeds of Hendon dine here today, which is rather unlucky – for he will hardly be able to show himself – & they are all Strangers to me. He has asked Mr. Tilson to come & take his place. I doubt our being a very agreable pair.” Deirdre’s biographical notes are unsatisfactory; she tells us that a Catherine Herries married 1813 Henry Knowles Creed, who later took Holy Orders, and that a Mr. William Creed and daughter “were living in Hampstead, near Hendon, in 1795, and in 1815 a Mr. H. Creed was living at 19 Hans Place, who may be the same HKC.” Well maybe he is and maybe he isn’t; but I do myself note that Hendon is where Anna and her husband were living recently, so maybe there’s some connection.

Mr. Gordon, a business friend of Henry’s, won’t be going to Chawton, nor any of the family coming here, for “Many of them are sick.” Then she writes the next day (Wednesday): “Henry’s illness is more serious than I expected. He has been in bed since three o’clock on Monday. It is a fever – something bilious, but cheifly Inflammatory. I am not alarmed – but I have determined to send this Letter today by the post, that you may know how things are going on.”

Mr. Haydon is called in. He is “the apothecary from the corner of Sloane St – successor to Mr. Smith, a young man said to be clever, & he is certainly very attentive & appears hitherto to have understood the complaint. There is a little pain in the Chest, but it is not considered of any consequence. Mr. H. calls it a general inflammation.” (Deirdre tells us he is Charles-Thomas Haden, not Haydon as Jane wrote it, 1786-1824), apothecary and surgeon, and a few more details about him, including that he was “delighted with Emma.”)

Then back to the ghastly period medicine: “He took twenty ounce of Blood from Henry last night – & nearly as much more this morng – & expects to have to bleed him again tomorrow, but he assures me that he found him quite as much better today as he expected.” Eeek! We have 12 units of blood in an average-sized man’s body, there’s 15.2 ounces in a unit. So if this much blood was taken from Henry in two days, that’s 60 ounces – that’s 4 units – A THIRD OF THE BLOOD IN HENRY’S BODY!! Can that be POSSIBLE? Holy cow. It’s no wonder Byron died partly from excessive blood letting…as well as many others. Reading about blood letting (Wiki), I see this is pretty standard treatment for “inflammation,” and the article says succinctly, “some successful, some not.”

Poor Henry “is an excellent Patient, lies quietly in bed & is ready to swallow anything. He lives upon Medicine, Tea & Barley water. – He has had a great deal of fever, but not much pain of any sort – & sleeps pretty well.” Jane Austen writes of the arrangements – she will send down a parcel to Chawton (“mostly dirty Cloathes but I shall add Martha’s Lambswool, your Muslin Handks…”) She fancied the illness “only Bile – but they say, the disorder must have originated in a Cold. You must fancy Henry in the back room upstairs – & I am generally there also, working or writing.”

She says she wrote to Edward to put off their nephews till Friday, “I have a strong idea of their Uncle’s being well enough to like seeing them by that time.” Edward himself is likely to come next Tuesday, “for a day or two’s necessary business in his Cause” (the Hinton lawsuit).

More chatter: advice to Frank and Mary from a Mrs. Hore about furniture (she seems to be a relation of Mary’s), and more of Mary’s relations, the Gibsons, have called, but JA could not return their call, nor get to Keppel Street, home of Charles’s wife’s family. The weather has changed, rainy now, and Mrs. Tilson has called, “quite a wretch, always ill.”

She closes with an unaccustomed “God bless you,” perhaps showing her anxiety, but to ease Cassandra’s, she mentions that Henry was amused by a message from Cassy, and if she was there “she wd make him laugh more than wd do him good.”

She is trying to be reassuring, but Deirdre’s note tells us that Henry “grew worse, and on Sunday 22 October JA wrote by express post to Cassandra, James, and Edward. Edward set off immediately for London on 23 October, James collected Cassandra from Chawton and they arrived in London on 25 October.”
This is not reflected in the letters, but I’ll end here, and take up the rest of the story next week.


My response and additions:

Henry’s Hans Place provides a congenial atmosphere for socializing: Olivia Williams as Jane now proud of her publishing (Miss Austen Regrets, 2008)

This is an important letter: real news of dealings over Emma (followed by a remnant of a letter by Henry to Murray), we see that Austen is dealing with a pre-eminent publisher of her day by this time. Her stature is coming along; whatever might be the stupidities of the remarks she copies out or the press, all three novels, S&S, P&P, and MP have been recognized as finished fine novels, moral, of a highly intelligent writer. Whence the review by none other than Scott of mostly Emma (we’ll come to that later).

Henry’s sickness. Details of medicine, his strain over coming bankruptcy coming out? More suitors? Henry looking for a wife, Henry’s friends and associates attracted to his sister? Mr Seymour, the so-called “laggard suitor” (the phrase is LeFaye’s) is said to have been someone who at least thought of proposing, was involved with the attempt to publish Northanger Abbey as Susan in 1803. A relationship with Haden, the apothecary begun.

One of the segments of Miss Austen Regrets conveys very well the sequence where Henry sickens, the bleeding, the real worry, and intertwine it accurately enough with the visit of Austen to Clarke. There they fictionalize by having Haydon the go-between, or (perhaps this is what was meant) someone accompanying her in the coach.

Both highly unlikely, but that there was a flirtation and real interest in this young man in Austen I am persuaded and the movie does justice — but not too much as he is attracted to the younger Fanny more (as the letters seem to suggest). It’s of interest that they call an apothecary; such a person is much less expensive, plus (to us paradoxically) apothecaries were more likely to hand out remedies, what passed for medicine. As today status is all in professions throughout the 19th century a man who made and sold medicines was of a muc lower stature than a surgeon (who could perform things) and surgeon lower than physician (theoretical). The doctor was gentleman, could and did dine with the family (remember Mr Gibson of Wives and Daughters), surgeons were lower and (paradoxically to us) took the title of Dr (Dr Thorne of Trollope’s novel of that name). There was slide though and Lydgate in Middlemarch is both surgeon and learned physician, but then he was a reformer (Deerbrooke by Harriet Martineau is another book which explores this). And here’s Val Sanborn’s good discussion in her Jane Austen’s worlds:

WE have one of the rare spots in the letters which makes for important Tuesdays however enigmatic. “Tuesday is in my brain.” I know this can be interpreted locally but the phrase itself is suggestive of something much more.

Cassandra hired a new cook — things looking up. Jane liked to eat and to drink. The phrase “domestic happiness” is redolent of 18th century values.

The publication of Emma: I add to Diana’s comments: Jane, Henry and Murray compromised in the end: published and advertised on 21, 22, 23 December 1815, Murray brought it out, but at the Austen’s expense with profits to her after 10 per cent commission to publisher, with copyright remaining hers. I wish we had that “amusing” letter – what was amusing about it, I wonder. His hypocrisy and dealings over money because in the next letter we find that Henry was not amused — but he is often austere and slightly disdainful, anything but pleased in his letters meant for public consumption.

Murray was not wrong to offer a lower price; when the price of the expensively printed book was set against the profits for it and a second edition of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen got only £121 and then £38 18. In fact she’d have done better to take the 450. (It’s not true that one should always hold onto copyrights if the case if you can get a large sum for a first copy; Trollope took big fees for his books upfront, sold the copyright and did very well — he didn’t want to be bothered with later cheaper editions, trying to make more money that way. ) By 1820, 529 copies of Emma were still in stock! There are similar disappointing figures for the second edition of Mansfield Park (the first sold briskly aftter P&P; so 1820 498 copies still on hand and remaindered). By contrast, the post-humous publication of NA and Persuasion did much better (1818 only 312 ot of 1,750 copies printed left with a profit of £ 515 17s 7d for Cassandra and Henry) — perhaps attention had been attraced by _telling her name_ and offering biogrpahy. That’s the way of the world. The clearest least tendentious account of this with numbers is by David Gilson, “Editions and Publishing History,” in J.David Grey’s The Jane Austen Handbook.

A very hot October. Then we find Austen in Henry’s world. The people mentioned are associates, friends, lawyers, all of whom connected with Austen as Henry’s sister. So the Jacksons have intermarried with the Papillons (remember the later joke by Jane that she will Papillon, no sacrifice too small); Eleanor would become Henry’s wife. I am impressed this morning by the reality that she was not a great catch (so like Francis’s choice of Mary Gibson); he was a bankrupt and curate by then, but also that he did marry non-materialistically. Austen alas characterized Eleanor as dumb in an earlier letter (see Diana’s quotation). Let’s hope Austen was unfair. Tilson is someone that Austen does regard as a partner they must visit Gordon connects to other marriage possibility as well. Seymour as Diana says was Henry’s lawyer, negotiated that niggardly £10 with Crosby; he does not seem to be a very good negotiator. This is the price Fanny Burney got in the later 1770s; the women at Minerva Press did better than this. And no clause demanding immediate or quick publication. It also shows how Austen was a nobody in 1803.

Then the long worrying sequence of Henry’s serious illnes,for so it was even at the start. Again I’m just adding to Diana’s comments: That’s a lot of blood all right to take out. Here I’d like to compare what’s being done to Henry today’s cancer treatments. Calomel was a hard poison — so is chemotherapy and chemotherapies are not well understood at all, why sometimes they work for this person, have disastrous adverse effects on other. Haydon did not try cupping but that’s burning which is how radiation feels. Finally the blood taking: a show of force like enemas (and today’s drastic surgeries).

How I love Henry for being ready to “swallow anything.” A man after my own heart. That’s a joke that extends beyond the food Austen makes him; he also swallows the concoctions Haydon puts together. Barley water is a traditional British Herbal tea — so she’s giving him this to be soothing. I note that in the paragraphs there is a strong tendency to look on the best side, and the attitude of mind reminds me of Elinor in the book (as opposed to the movies since 1995): Austen herself is hoping for the best, that this is not serious: “I was hoping that the Medicine he had taken, with a good night’s rest, would set him to rights.” Elinor at first hoped much from a good night’s rest for Marianna; alas, the next morning Marianne was worse.

Visits planned have to be given up: Cleveland Row, the Tilsons. Nephews put off until Uncle better and will “like seeing them.” They feared contagion? Edward coming for his lawsuit. I note that Tuesday is when Edward is coming (no resonance there) but again Henry had some business to transact (given up) but it seems Jane was not hopeful the business end would come out well, “the uncertainty of it” is tied to Tuesday in her brain.

Things needed are being sent (Jane will now pay!) and things sent (dirty clothes). I note Martha is not forgot: she has given Jane some lambswool she made.

I agree that note on Creed is evasive.

She ends on family news. I add to Diana’s on Mary and Frank, Keppel Street is where the Palmers reside — so that’s Charles news. There’s a slight dig about the Palmers (alas). Austen thinks the Creeds (whoever they were) would have a dull visit with the Palmers (as lower class, not as well educated?)

Again though Martha not forgot: “I long to know how Martha’s plans go on.” If Cassandra has not written before, she should write by Sunday to Hans Place.” I feel her anxiety there, the tone a spill over from Henry, but the content is she wants to know what is going on with Martha at Chawton. I see in these last phrases a sense of a woman’s world Jane implicitly assumes (but our editor and our male-dominated culture overlooks), it’s this association that brings Henry’s partner’s wife to mind: the wife is wretched all the time because if you pay attention you find she is often pregnant – and pregnancies meant childbirths with aftereffects, miscarriages (rarely mentioned in letters – Austen an exception here), I take it she’s tired.

I shall be more than ready for news of you by that time. — A change of weather at last! — Wind & Rain. — Mrs Tilson has just called. Poor Woman, she is quite a wretch, always ill. — God bless you …

Cassandra as dependable person.

Let us remember Cassy’s letter — No 93 — a clever one showing a girl who actually could identify servants as people like herself (Lefaye, 4th edition, pp 252-53, dated Mon-Thurs 18-21 Oct 1813). So Palmers are not always dull, are they? I take it Cassy is succeeding in making witty jokes to cheer her uncle: she apparently made laughter with something she did with a red shawl.

Cast ensemble of Miss Austen Regrets used to give us a feel of the gaiety Henry attempted in his London life, which Austen joins in herre.

We all need laughter, and Jane Austen too.


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