Quote Jane


“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

maandag 6 juni 2011

Anne Sharp, “my dearest Anne”.

Anne Sharp served as governess to Fanny Knight (1793-1882) Jane Austen’s niece, at Godmersham from 1804 to 1806, resigning for health reasons.  She is mentioned fondly several times in Jane Austen’s letters to her sister Cassandra.


None of Edward’s (Austen Knight) many in-laws and their neighbors seem to have become her (Jane) regular correspondent; instead, the closet friend she made in Kent was a Godmersham employee, the governess Anne Sharp. In Miss Sharp she found a truly compatible spirit. She was delicate in health, clever, keen on acting and quick enough with her pen to write a play for the children to perform; it was called Pride Punished or Innocence Rewarded, and was put on, although only to amuse the servants. And she was obliged to earn her bread by the only possible means, the hard labour of teaching. Jane took to her at once, and formed a lasting friendship with her; and although Anne Sharp left Godmersham in 1806, and worked mostly in the north of England afterwards, the two women kept up a regular correspondence.

Miss Sharp became “my dearest Anne”. In 1809, feeling rather “languid and solitary” a Godmersham, Jane could not help recalling a much more animated time when Miss Sharp had been present. Jane worried about her circumstances, and invited her to stay more than once; and she did manage to get her to Hampshire at least once, in the summer of 1815.

She sent her copies of her books and cared for her opinion of them, some of which we know: Pride and Prejudice the favorite, Mansfield Park excellent, Emma somewhere between. Jane worried about her as she might about a sister. On one occasion she was concerned enough for her to express the desperate romantic wish that one of her employers, the widower Sir Wm. P. of Yorkshire, would fall in love with his children’s governess: “I do so want him to marry her! …. Oh! Sir Wm – Sir Wm – how I will love you, if you will love Miss Sharp!” Sir William, needless to say, did not oblige; neither he nor Miss Sharp were figures of romance, and it would take a later novelist to marry a working governess to her employer.

It was Jane, not anyone at Godmersham, who wrote to Miss Sharp to inform her when her erstwhile employer, Elizabeth Austen (wife of brother Edward), died. Jane wrote one of her last letters to her dearest Anne; and after Jane’s death, Cassandra felt it right to send Miss Sharp – as she still called her – a lock of her sister’s hair and a few mementoes. The modest nature of the gifts underlines the poverty and thrift all three women took for granted: one was a bodkin that had been in Jane’s sewing kit for twenty years. It was no doubt treasured for another thirty. Miss Sharp lived into the 1850′s…It seems that in Kent, Jane found a semblable and made her into one of her very close friends; someone who was neither rich nor particularly happy, but who was entirely congenial. What’s more, she was not shared with the family; she was entirely her own friend. That she was also a working woman who was later to set up and run her own boarding school in Doncaster suggests a good deal about what interested and attracted Jane Austen.
From: Claire Tomalin’s biography of Jane Austen.

In 1814, Miss Sharp was employed by the widow Lady Pilkington of Chevet Park, near Wakefield, Yorkshire as governess to her four daughters Eliza, Anne, Louisa and Catherine.


It is thought that Jane Austen drew from Miss Sharp’s experiences in the profession and included them in her novel Emma in the characters of Mrs. Weston and Jane Fairfax. Both of these two characters find love and marriage by the end of the novel, but that was not to be for Miss Sharp who never married, established a boarding school for girls in Everton near Liverpool, and died there in 1853.

After Jane Austen’s death the following July, her sister Cassandra sent Miss Sharp a lock of Jane Austen’s hair and some small tokens as a memento of her dear friend whose memory would now have to sustain their relationship.
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Lot No: 107•

AUSTEN (JANE)

Emma, 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY TO ANNE SHARP, inscribed "From the author" by the publisher (on fly-leaf of volume one), and with the signature of Anne Sharp (on the fly-leaf of each volume), half-titles, occasional mainly light foxing and staining, a few corners creased, one or two minor paper flaws, contemporary half calf, gilt panelled spines, rubbed, one or two joints cracked [Gilson A8; Keynes 8; Sadleir 62d], 8vo, John Murray, 1816

Sold for £180,000 inclusive of Buyer's Premium
Auction Emma

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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.

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