woensdag 26 november 2014
zaterdag 22 november 2014
“At Christmas everybody invites their friends around them and people think little of even the worst weather…”.
And there are plenty of ways to celebrate the festive season in Hampshire’s Jane Austen’s House Museum in the village of Chawton. The rooms of the house will be decorated for the festive season in traditional Georgian style and you can see Stitched Together, a special exhibition of textile artworks inspired by the building and its collection for two weeks only from December 4-16.
The temporary exhibition of The Watsons manuscript (below) – a rare surviving example of one of Jane Austen’s unfinished novels – will be there until December 16. Read more; Jane_Austen_s_House_Museum
zaterdag 25 oktober 2014
York Notes: Could you tell us about what Jane Austen’s House Museum does, and what your role is within the museum.
Mary Guyatt: I am Mary Guyatt and my role is Curator. I work with our trustees, staff and a large team of volunteers to maintain and develop this unique literary site, and to increase public appreciation of Jane Austen’s life, work and times.
YN: What does Jane Austen’s House Museum do?
MG: The Museum welcomes visitors from around the world to see the house where Jane Austen lived with her mother and sister for the last eight years of her life. The Museum is a charity and it has been open to the public since 1948. We are open 330 days a year and located in the village of Chawton, in Hampshire. As well as looking around the house, we have hands-on activities and a programme of events.
Read more: yorknotes/an-interview-with-jane-austens-house-museum-pride-and-prejudice/
zondag 5 oktober 2014
donderdag 2 oktober 2014
maandag 22 september 2014
zondag 21 september 2014
The sisters went to Mrs. Cawley, their uncle's sister, to be educated in 1783. Cawley lived initially in Oxford, and later in Southampton, and, when an epidemic broke out in Southampton, the Austen sisters returned to Steventon. Between 1785 and 1786 the sisters attended the Reading Ladies boarding school in the Abbey gatehouse in Reading, Berkshire. Jane was originally not to go, as she was considered to be too young for schooling, but ended up going along with Cassandra. In their mother's words, "if Cassandra's head had been going to be cut off, Jane would have hers cut off too".
The two Austen girls were tutored at home in drawing and the piano. In 1791, Cassandra produced a series of circular illustrations of British monarchs for Jane's manuscript The History of England, which are noted to have resembled members of the Austen family more than royalty.
Cassandra Austen is also credited with having created two paintings of her sister. One, painted in 1804, is a back view of Jane seated by a tree. The other, an incomplete frontal portrait dated circa 1810, was described by a family member as being "hideously unlike" Jane Austen's real appearance. This sketch is now housed in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
George Austen, the father of Cassandra and Jane was not wealthy and had supplemented his income as a country parson "by taking in pupils and tutoring them for Oxford". After graduating from Oxford University, in 1794, one former pupil, Thomas Fowle, became engaged to Cassandra Austen. Fowle needed money to marry and went to the Caribbean with a military expedition as chaplain to his cousin, General Lord Craven. There, Fowle died of yellow fever in 1797. Austen inherited £1000 from him, which gave her a little financial independence but, like her sister, she never married. wiki/Cassandra_Austen Cassandra benefited from an annuity left in his will (she inherited Tom’s savings of £1000 which yielded about £50 per year.) cassandra-austen
After moving to Chawton Cottage, Cassandra and Mrs. Austen took over most of the duties of the house and garden, allowing Jane to capitalize on the most fruitful period of her writing. Without Cassandra’s physical, mental and emotional support, and her brothers’ contributions to their annual income, Jane would not have had the freedom to actively pursue her career as a writer.
The sisters’ letters are at the heart of what we know—and will never know—about the bond they shared.
Jane died in 1817 in Winchester with her head placed in Cassandra’s lap. Writing to her niece Fanny, Cassandra said: “I have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as never can be surpassed, - She was the sun of my life….I had not a thought concealed from her, and it is as if I had lost a part of myself” (Letter, July 20th 1817).
Cassandra was destined to long outlive her sister Jane. She continued on at Chawton with regular visits to her brothers, nieces and nephews. After Jane's death, Cassandra and Henry arranged the publication of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey and with those 1817 publications,
Most of what we know of Jane Austen today, we owe to her sister Cassandra. It was she who filled in gaps in her sister’s life for generations after, leaving an oral record to supplement the written. It was she who gave us the only two authenticated likenesses of her sister. It was she who, while she did destroy many of the letters, preserved the majority of her sister’s extensive writings and most importantly, it was she to whom the letters were written, without which we might never have known the human side of one of the world’s favorite authors. cassandra-austen
In 1827 Mrs. Cassandra Austen, the girls’ mother, died and was buried in the Chawton cemetery.
vrijdag 19 september 2014
2 1/2 x 2 inches (6.5 x 5 cm).
Initialed “T.H.” (lower right).
A fine portrait miniature of Jane Austen’s sister in law, Elizabeth Bridges (1773-1808) who married Edward Austen, the brother of Jane Austen. Edward took the name of his second cousin Mr. Knight on inheriting in 1812 his estates in Kent at Godmersham Park. They had 11 children.
This lot sold with an uncolored print of Godmersham Park by Watts.
Literature: Country Life. 27 July 1987, ill. p.111. Est. $2000 – 3000.
donderdag 18 september 2014
dinsdag 16 september 2014
Photo: Edward Knight left
Photo: Elizabeth Bridges right
Children of Edward Knight and Elizabeth Bridges
- 11 children (Elizabeth dying in 1808, 2 days after the birth of the last) including:*Fanny Knight (1793-1882) (Jane Austen's favourite niece) who married Sir Edward Knatchbull (1820) & begat 9 children including Edward Hugessen Knatchbull (1829-1893) (1st Baron Brabourne 1880; edited 1884 Letters of Jane Austen). Fanny became simultaneously the sister-in-law and aunt as well as stepmother to her step-daughter Mary Dorothea Knatchbull when Mary Dorothea married Fanny's brother Edward (see below).
- *Edward Knight (1794-1879) who married his step-niece Mary Dorothea Knatchbull in 1825 & begat 7 children and thence married Adela Portal in 1840 & begat a further 9 children.
Edward Austen first took the name of Knight in addition to his own, but formally adopted the surname Knight in 1812. Of his eleven children, his daughter Marianne never married but lived at Godmersham with her father until his death in 1852, then with two of her brothers in turn, at Chawton till 1867 and Bentley till 1878, before ending her days with a niece in Ireland.
In around 1875 Marianne Knight was visited by a family friend, Miss Eleanor Glubbe, later Mrs Steele. Marianne Knight gave the pelisse to Miss Glubbe during the visit. In later years Mrs Steele wished to return the pelisse to the Austen family and sent it to Mrs Winifred Jenkyns, a great granddaughter of James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother, with a note that reads “I missed the little coat for a long time but lately it turned up. I cannot remember if it was 'Jane's' but it seems probable". austen-pelisse
The sister I enjoyed reading about most was Marianne (May). Her story could have been heartbreaking, but her strength of character and bravery made it one of triumph over adversity. She never married but devoted herself to looking after her father and then,after his death, her brothers. She did indeed begin life as an Emma Woodhouse figure, the daughter of a great house, Godmersham in Kent, administering the household and overseeing the care of the poor in the parish under her care after the marriage of her sister Fanny. She eventually moved from Godmersham to Chawton where she lived with her brother Charles Bridges Knight, who was rector of Chawton, and like her Aunt Jane, she seems to have enjoyed her quiet, settled life in that village. But she ended her life as a Miss Bates, impoverished and without a real home to call her own, settling in Ballyarr in Donegal, with her widowed sister, Lou, where she eventually died. I loved her character, with its refusal to be cowed by circumstances, her positive outlook and above all, her humour. She did indeed seem to inherit some of her Aunt Jane’s strongest character traits. austenonly/book-review-of-maylou-and-cass-jane-austens-nieces-in-ireland-by-sophia-hillan/
maandag 15 september 2014
Bond Street was certainly the most fashionable shopping area of Regency London. The best dress-makers and tailors, jewellers and boot-makers, tobacconists and haberdashers all had well-appointed shops along that street. However, the overtly masculine atmosphere which prevailed along that street meant that young ladies, certainly gently-bred, unmarried ladies, must always be accompanied by a chaperon and must not be seen in public along that street anytime after mid-day. But keep in mind that mid-day in the Regency did not mean high noon, as we would assume today. Rather, young ladies would be expected to make themselves scarce by four or five o’clock in the afternoon. At that time, they should be strolling or driving through Hyde Park, or on their way home to change for dinner and their evening activities. They should most definitely not be seen strolling along Bond Street for any reason as the dinner hour approached. Mornings (in the Regency, the time between arising and dinner) on Bond Street belonged to the ladies. The remainder of the day on Bond Street belonged to the gentlemen.regencyredingote
One of the most up-market fabric shops were Wilding & Kent at Grafton house on the corner of New Bond Street and Grafton Street. On 17 April 1811 Jane and Manon, Eliza Austen’s maidservant,
‘…took our walk to Grafton House, & I have a good deal to say on that subject. I am sorry to tell you that I am getting very extravagant & spending all my Money; & what is worse for you, I have been spending yours too…’
she told Cassandra. It was a very busy shop and in November 1815 Jane complains of ‘the miseries’ of shopping there and most of her references to it mention an early start and long waits to be served – not that this stopped her going there frequently. janeaustenslondon/london-history
The streets were full of enormous coaches, sometimes gilt, hung on high springs, drawn by four, and even six horses; footmen, to the number of four or six, ran beside them, and the wheels splashed heavily in the dirt described, sending up the mud in black spurts. It was early in the nineteenth century that a new kind of paving was tried, blocks of cast-iron covered with gravel, but this was not a success. Resides the large coaches there were hackney coaches, which would seem to us almost equally clumsy and unwieldy. Omnibuses were not seen in the metropolis until 1823.
zondag 14 september 2014
There is nothing Jane would have recognised in the scene today. Sloane Street was rebuilt, or, in many cases, refaced, in the late 19th century and the inns have all either disappeared or have been replaced by Victorian buildings on the same sites. janeaustenslondon
When Jane Austen visited her brother Henry in 1811, he lived in Sloane Street (today behind Harrods in Knightsbridge). At the time, the street was a wide thoroughfare that connected Knightsbridge with the west part of Pimlico and the east end of Chelsea. The area was still quite rural, for there was no development at the east side of Sloane Street before 1790. In the late 18th century, the approach to London from this side was still regarded as a dangerous, for the area was rural and dimly lit. Chelsea, in fact, had just recently begun to be engulfed by a burgeoning London, but during Jane Austen’s day, the area was still quite bucolic and rural, as these images attest.
By the time Henry Austen moved to Sloane Street the neighborhood had changed enough for Jane to experience pleasant society, although ten years after Jane’s death, Greenwood’s Map (1827) still showed many empty lots and gardens in the vicinity. (See map above.)
While living in Sloane Street, Henry was a successful man:
Henry and two associates had founded a banking institution in London sometime between 1804 and 1806. Austen, Maunde and Tilson of Covent Garden flourished and enabled Henry and Eliza to move from Brompton (where Jane Austen had found the quarters cramped during a visit in 1808) to a more fashionable address and larger house at 64 Sloane Street. Jane’s visits here in 1811 and 1813 were happy events, filled with parties, theatre-going, and the business of publishing Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. – Henry Austen: Jane Austen’s “Perpetual Sunshine” by J. David Grey
In 1813, Henry, who was four years older than Jane, lost his wife after a painful and debilitating illness. In contrast, his Uncle Leigh Perrot and brother Edward helped to secure his appointment as Receiver-General for Oxfordshire, a most definite honor. Soon after Eliza’s death, Henry moved to rooms over Tilson’s bank on Henrietta Street in Covent Garden, a location more centrally located in London. Both Jane and Fanny Knight, their niece, visited him there in the spring of 1814, when Mansfield Park was with the publisher.
As was the custom, Jane brought lists of items to purchase in Town for those who had remained behind in the countryside. In her biography, Constance Hill writes about Jane’s shopping experience:
“I hope,” she writes to her sister, “that I shall find some poplin at Layton and Shear’s that will tempt me to buy it. If I do it shall be sent to Chawton, as half will be for you; for I depend upon your being so kind as to accept it . . . It will be a great pleasure to me. Don’t say a word. I only wish you could choose it too. I shall send twenty yards.” Layton and Shear’s shop, we find, was at 11, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. digital.library./austen/On 24th May 1813 Jane wrote, “I went the day before (Friday) to Layton’s as I proposed, & got my Mother’s gown, 7 yds at 6/6.” [ie six shillings and six pence a yard]
“We did go to Layton & Shear’s before Breakfast. Very pretty English poplins at 4 [shillings and] 3 [pence]. Irish ditto at 6 [shillings] – more pretty certainly – beautiful.” Later in the same letter she writes to Cassandra, “…I am going to treat myself with spending [my superfluous wealth myself. I hope at least I shall find some poplin at Layton & Shears that will tempt me to buy it. If I do, it shall be sent to Chawton, as half will be for you … I shall send 20 yards.”
No. 10 was erected in 1726 under a sixty-oneyear building lease granted to Samuel Denton of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, linen draper. The first occupant was a Mr. Bedford Loddington. (ref. 40) Between 1807 and 1816 the house was occupied by the bankers Austen, Maunde and Tilson, of whom Jane Austen's brother Henry was a partner; the novelist herself stayed here with her brother in 1813 and 1814.
The interior of No. 10 has little of interest save for the original staircase. This has two differing types of turned baluster, two to a tread, the change of type occurring at second-floor level. The bracketed step-ends are similar to those at No. 9, as is the panelling in the stair compartment. The second-floor rooms retain features of interest, the front room having its original panelling and box-cornice, and the main rear room a chimneypiece of Adam character.(ref. 41) british-history
Henrietta St.: Wednesday (March 9).
Well, we went to the play again last night, and as we were out a great part of the morning too, shopping, and seeing the Indian jugglers, I am very glad to be quiet now till dressing time. We are to dine at the Tilsons', and to-morrow at Mr. Spencer's. His second wife. He died in 1853, and was succeeded by his brother, the father of the present earl.pemberley
We had not done breakfast yesterday when Mr. J. Plumptre appeared to say that he had secured a box. Henry asked him to dine here, which I fancy he was very happy to do, and so at five o'clock we four sat down to table together while the master of the house was preparing for going out himself. The "Farmer's Wife" is a musical thing in three acts, and, as Edward was steady in not staying for anything more, we were at home before ten.
Fanny and Mr. J. P. are delighted with Miss S., and her merit in singing is, I dare say, very great; that she gave me no pleasure is no reflection upon her, nor, I hope, upon myself, being what Nature made me on that article. All that I am sensible of in Miss S. is a pleasing person and no skill in acting. We had Mathews, Liston, and Emery; of course, some amusement.
Our friends were off before half-past eight this morning, and had the prospect of a heavy cold journey before them. I think they both liked their visit very much. I am sure Fanny did. Henry sees decided attachment between her and his new acquaintance.
I have a cold, too, as well as my mother and Martha. Let it be a generous emulation between us which can get rid of it first.
I wear my gauze gown to-day, long sleeves and all. I shall see how they succeed, but as yet I have no reason to suppose long sleeves are allowable. I have lowered the bosom, especially at the corners, and plaited black satin ribbon round the top. Such will be my costume of vine-leaves and paste.
Prepare for a play the very first evening, I rather think Covent Garden, to see Young in "Richard." I have answered for your little companion's being conveyed to Keppel St. immediately. I have never yet been able to get there myself, but hope I shall soon.
What cruel weather this is! and here is Lord Portsmouth married, too, to Miss Hanson.
Henry has finished "Mansfield Park," and his approbation has not lessened. He found the last half of the last volume extremely interesting.
I suppose my mother recollects that she gave me no money for paying Brecknell and Twining, and my funds will not supply enough.
We are home in such good time that I can finish my letter to-night, which will be better than getting up to do it to-morrow, especially as, on account of my cold, which has been very heavy in my head this evening, I rather think of lying in bed later than usual. I would not but be well enough to go to Hertford St. on any account.
We met only Genl. Chowne to-day, who has not much to say for himself. I was ready to laugh at the remembrance of Frederick, and such a different Frederick as we chose to fancy him to the real Christopher!
Mrs. Tilson had long sleeves, too, and she assured me that they are worn in the evening by many. I was glad to hear this. She dines here, I believe, next Tuesday.
On Friday we are to be snug with only Mr. Barlowe and an evening of business. I am so pleased that the mead is brewed. Love to all. [Words omitted in Brabourne edition: "If Cassandra has filled my Bed with fleas, I am sure they must bite herself."] I have written to Mrs. Hill, and care for nobody.
Yours affectionately,Miss Austen, Chawton.
By favour of Mr. Gray.
zondag 31 augustus 2014
Could Mr Darcy afford a stately home today? We calculate the modern-day fortunes of Jane Austen's fictional heroes
It turns out that, if converted to 2013 GBP (the most recent year for which full information is available) using the percentage increase in the retail price index since the estimated time the novel was set, Mr Darcy's annual income of £10,000 in around 1803 would be worth £796,000 per year today. That still probably wouldn't be enough to run a modern incarnation of Pemberley, his beautiful fictional stately home in Derbyshire, if its costs were anything like the costs of running real-life Derbyshire stately home Chatsworth House today (£4m per year). Chatsworth stood in for Pemberley in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. But costs such as the employment of servants, and all the other trappings of aristocracy, were much cheaper relative to income in 1803. In terms of spending power, Darcy would have been able to buy more with what he had. So his income, and in particular his financial power and influence, might be more faithfully translated using a measure that takes into account changes in GDP per capita, as well as the far greater gap between rich and poor that existed in the early 19th century. That figure works out at around £12m per year - enough to run three whole Chatsworths.
It's hard to say exactly how much Mr Darcy would have been worth in total, but the Duke of Devonshire, who currently lives in the 297-room Chatsworth House, is estimated to be worth around £500m.
The matchmaking heroine Emma Woodhouse, on the other hand, inherits a lump sum of £30,000 in Austen's novel, Emma, written in 1815. Today, that's the equivalent of a £1.9m windfall. But the "prestige value" of Emma's inheritance - again, what it was worth compared to per capita GDP, or the average of how much most other people had - would actually be worth around £28m in today's money, making her an influential heiress.
This table was calculated using values from 1810 as an indicator for the time in which Austen's novels were written.
SEE THIS: Could-Mr-Darcy-afford-a-stately-home-today
maandag 14 juli 2014
“August 13, 1806.
“MY DEAR MARY, – The very day after I wrote you my last letter, Mr. Hill wrote his intention of being at Adlestrop with Mrs. Hill on Monday, the 4th, and his wish that Mr. Leigh and family should return with him to Stoneleigh the following day, as there was much business for the executors awaiting them at the Abbey, and he was hurried for time. All this accordingly took place, and here we found ourselves on Tuesday (that is yesterday se’nnight) eating fish, venison, and all manner of good things, in a large and noble parlour, hung round with family portraits. The house is larger than I could have supposed. We cannot find our way about it – I mean the best part; as to the offices, which were the Abbey, Mr. Leigh almost despairs of ever finding his way about them. I have proposed his setting up direction posts at the angles. I had expected to find everything about the place very fine and all that, but I had no idea of its being so beautiful. I had pictured to myself long avenues, dark rookeries, and dismal yew trees, but here are no such dismal things. The Avon runs near the house, amidst green meadows, bounded by large and beautiful woods, full of delightful walks. “At nine in the morning we say our prayers in a handsome chapel, of which the pulpit, &c. &c., is now hung with black. Then follows breakfast, consisting of chocolate, coffee, and tea, plum cake, pound cake, hot rolls, cold rolls, bread and butter, and dry toast for me. The house steward, a fine, large, respectable-looking man, orders all these matters. Mr. Leigh and Mr. Hill are busy a great part of the morning. We walk a good deal, for the woods are impenetrable to the sun, even in the middle of an August day. I do not fail to spend some part of every day in the kitchen garden, where the quantity of small fruit exceeds anything you can form an idea of. This large family, with the assistance of a great many blackbirds and thrushes, cannot prevent it from rotting on the trees. The gardens contain four acres and a half. The ponds supply excellent fish, the park excellent venison; there is great quantity of rabbits, pigeons, and all sorts of poultry. There is a delightful dairy, where is made butter, good Warwickshire cheese and cream ditto. One manservant is called the baker, and does nothing but brew and bake.
The number of casks in the strong-beer cellar is beyond imagination; those in the small-beer cellar bear no proportion, though, by the bye, the small beer might be called ale without misnomer. This is an odd sort of letter. I write just as things come into my head, a bit now and a bit then. “Now I wish to give you some idea of the inside of this vast house – first premising that there are forty-five windows in front, which is quite straight, with a flat roof, fifteen in a row. You go up a considerable flight of steps to the door, for some of the offices are underground, and enter a large hall. On the right hand is the dining-room and within that the breakfast-room, where we generally sit; and reason good, ’tis the only room besides the chapel, which looks towards the view. On the left hand of the hall is the best drawing-room and within a smaller one. These rooms are rather gloomy with brown wainscot and dark crimson furniture, so we never use them except to walk through to the old picture gallery. Behind the smaller drawing-room is the state-bedchamber – an alarming apartment, with its high, dark crimson velvet bed, just fit for an heroine. The old gallery opens into it. Behind the hall and parlours there is a passage all across the house, three staircases and two small sitting-rooms. There are twenty-six bedchambers in the new part of the house and a great many, some very good ones, in the old. There is also another gallery, fitted up with modern prints on a buff paper, and a large billiard-room. Every part of the house and offices is kept so clean, that were you to cut your finger I do not think you could find a cobweb to wrap it up in. I need not have written this long letter, for I have a presentiment that if these good people live until next year you will see it all with your own eyes. “Our visit has been a most pleasant one. We all seem in good humour, disposed to be pleased and endeavouring to be agreeable, and I hope we succeed. Poor Lady Saye and Sele, to be sure, is rather tormenting, though sometimes amusing, and affords Jane many a good laugh, but she fatigues me sadly on the whole. To-morrow we depart. We have seen the remains of Kenilworth, which afforded us much entertainment, and I expect still more from the sight of Warwick Castle, which we are going to see to-day. The Hills are gone, and my cousin, George Cook, is come. A Mr. Holt Leigh was here yesterday and gave us all franks. He is member for, and lives at, Wigan in Lancashire, and is a great friend of young Mr. Leigh’s, and I believe a distant cousin. He is a single man on the wrong side of forty, chatty and well-bred and has a large estate. There are so many legacies to pay and so many demands that I do not think Mr. Leigh will find that he has more money than he knows what to do with this year, whatever he may do next. The funeral expenses, proving the will, and putting the servants in both houses in mourning must come to a considerable sum; there were eighteen men servants.” – Letter, Hill, Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friendsstoneleigh-abbey
zondag 13 juli 2014
After Jane’s father died in Bath in 1806, her mother took her daughters to Gloucestershire to stay with her cousins the Reverend Thomas Leigh and his sister Elizabeth at Adlestrop Rectory in the Cotswolds, near Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold.
Elizabeth Weller, a woman happily cast in a different mould from her husband, was an ancestress of Jane Austen who deserves commemoration. Thrifty, energetic, a careful mother, and a prudent housewife, she managed, though receiving only grudging assistance from the Austen family, to pay off her husband's debts, and to give to all her younger children a decent education at a school at Sevenoaks; the eldest boy (the future squire) being taken off her hands by his grandfather. Elizabeth left behind her not only elaborately kept accounts but also a minute description of her actions through many years and of the motives which governed them.
Her son Francis became a solicitor. Setting up at Sevenoaks 'with eight hundred pounds and a bundle of pens,' he contrived to amass a very large fortune, living most hospitably, and yet buying up all the valuable land round the town which he could secure, and enlarging his means by marrying two wealthy wives. But his first marriage did not take place till he was nearer fifty than forty; and he had as a bachelor been a most generous benefactor to the sons of his two next brothers, Thomas and William.
William, the surgeon, Jane Austen's grandfather married Rebecca, daughter of Sir George Hampson, a physician of Gloucester, and widow of another medical man, James Walter. By her first husband she had a son, William Hampson Walter, born in 1721; by her second she had three daughters, and one son, George, born in 1731. Philadelphia--the only daughter who grew up and married. Rebecca Austen died in 1733
Portrait: Francis Austen (1697-1791) portrait by Ozias Humphrey. Philadelphia
However, all that we know of William' s childhood is that his uncle Francis befriended him, and sent him to Tonbridge School, and that from Tonbridge he obtained a Scholarship (and subsequently a Fellowship) at St. John's College, Oxford--the College at which, later on, through George's own marriage, his descendants were to be 'founder's kin.' He returned to teach at his old school, occupying the post of second master there in 1758, and in the next year he was again in residence at Oxford, where his good looks gained for him the name of 'the handsome proctor.' In 1760 he took Orders, and in 1761 was presented by Mr. Knight of Godmersham--who had married a descendant of his great-aunt, Jane Stringer--to the living of Steventon, near Overton in Hampshire. It was a time of laxity in the Church, and George Austen (though he afterwards became an excellent parish-priest) does not seem to have resided or done duty at Steventon before the year 1764, when his marriage to Cassandra Leigh must have made the rectory appear a desirable home to which to bring his bride.
The wife that George Austen chose belonged to the somewhat large clan of the Leighs of Adlestrop in Gloucestershire, of which family the Leighs of Stoneleigh were a younger branch. Her father was the Rev. Thomas Leigh, elected Fellow of All Souls at so early an age that he was ever after called 'Chick Leigh,' and afterwards Rector of Harpsden, near Henley.
Cassandra Leigh's youth was spent in the quiet rectory of Harpsden, for her father was one of the more conscientious of the gently born clergy of that day, living entirely on his benefice, and greatly beloved in his neighbourhood as an exemplary parish-priest. 'He was one of the most contented, quiet, sweet-tempered, generous, cheerful men I ever knew,' so says the chronicler of the Leigh family, 'and his wife was his counterpart. Towards the end of his life he removed to Bath, being severely afflicted with the gout, and here he died in 1763.
George Austen perhaps met his future wife at the house of her uncle, the Master of Balliol, but no particulars of the courtship have survived. The marriage took place at Walcot Church, Bath, on April 26, 1764, the bride's father having died at Bath only a short time before. Two circumstances connected with their brief honeymoon--which consisted only of a journey from Bath to Steventon, broken by one day's halt at Andover--may be mentioned. The bride's 'going-away' dress seems to have been a scarlet riding-habit. reveriesunderthesignofausten
The village Horsmonden was home to Jane Austen's grandfather and several other of her relatives, many of whom lived at Capel Manor House. Many of the family's graves can be seen in the churchyard of St. Margaret's Church. Horsmonden
Henry Austen was a grandson of Elizabeth Weller and a cousin of Jane's father George. Born in 1726, he was educated at Tonbridge School, being Head Boy when his cousin George was lower in the school, so they must have known each other. Like George he became a clergyman, serving in several parishes, the last of which was West Wickham, where his clerical career ended in some controversy when he adopted Unitarian views. Among his various homes was one in Tonbridge High Street called Fosse Bank (No. 182, now replaced with an office block.) His wife was the daughter of John Hooker, Lord of the Manor of Tonbridge.
If Jane Austen ever paid a visit to Tonbridge it is likely to have been to Henry's house when Jane was young. There are memorials to Henry, his wife and two sons in the parish church.
Philadelphia Hancock was a popular aunt of Jane Austen, one of her father’s sisters. She was born in Tonbridge in 1730 but lived with relations after her parents died. A spirited girl, she travelled to India at the age of 20 to find a husband. The man she married was Tysoe Hancock, a surgeon in the East India Company. She and their only child, Eliza, returned to England where the two of them saw much of Jane and her family. Mother and daughter were helped financially by the famous Warren Hastings, a friend of Mr Hancock. Philadelphia died in London at the age of sixty.
Austen werd geboren in Hampshire. Haar vader was een geestelijke. Het grootste deel van haar leven bleef zij in haar geboortestreek. Austen had zes broers en een oudere zuster, Cassandra, met wie zij zeer hecht was. Het enige onbetwiste portret van Jane Austen is een gekleurde schets die door Cassandra werd gemaakt en nu in de National Portrait Gallery in Londen hangt. In 1801 verhuisde de familie naar Bath. In 1802 werd Austen ten huwelijk gevraagd door de rijke Harris Bigg-Wither en zij stemde toe; de volgende dag deelde ze echter mee dat zij haar woord niet kon houden en trok haar instemming in. De reden hiervoor is niet bekend, maar Austen is nooit getrouwd. Na de dood van haar vader in 1805 woonden Jane, haar zuster en haar moeder daar nog verscheidene jaren tot zij in 1809 naar Chawton verhuisden. Hier had haar rijke broer Edward een landgoed met een plattelandshuisje, dat hij aan zijn moeder en zusters schonk (dit huis is tegenwoordig open voor het publiek). Zelfs nadat zij naam gemaakt had als romanschrijfster bleef zij in relatieve stilte leven, maar haar gezondheid ging sterk achteruit. Er wordt nu aangenomen dat zij de ziekte van Addison had, waarvan toen de oorzaak nog onbekend was. Ze reisde naar Winchester om behandeling te zoeken, maar stierf daar en werd begraven in de kathedraal.
Tot Austens beroemdste werk behoort de roman Emma. Het boek wordt vaak aangehaald vanwege de perfectie van vorm. Moderne critici blijven ook nieuwe perspectieven ontdekken op het scherpe commentaar van Austen betreffende de klasse van jonge, ongehuwde, aristocratische Engelse vrouwen in de vroege 19e eeuw.