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

zaterdag 16 juli 2011

Following in Austen's footsteps. Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, and their search for a place in society. Their pathway begins in Sussex, diverts to Devon in the West Country, gets sidetracked to London, then turns westwards again to Somerset.

Sense and Sensibility begins at Norland Park in Sussex, the ancestral home of the Dashwood family, with an estate earning £4000 a year. On the death of their father, Elinor and Marianne are left with little money by the heir, their half-brother, and are forced to move with their mother to a cottage on the Devonshire estate of a rich relative, Sir John Middleton.

Saltram House is one of Britain's best preserved Georgian mansions, located in Plymouth. In Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, it is the setting for Norland Park, the "fine old house in the county of Sussex" which Elinor and Marianne are forced to leave when their father dies.

Austen set most of Sense and Sensibility in Barton Cottage in Devon, which she placed "four miles north of Exeter". Although a shock after the grandeur of Norland Park, Barton's prospect, set in a valley surrounded by hills, was pleasing and the nearby society tolerable. There's Colonel Brandon, "the wrong side of five and thirty" but owner of the Delaford estate in Dorset, worth £2000 a year; and John Willoughby, the heir of nearby Allenham and owner of a small estate over the county border in Somerset.

It's an ancient landscape marked by combes (valleys), rounded hills and wooded slopes of trees. Narrow winding lanes and high hedges block out the light and the surrounding farmland is still dotted with old cottages on the fringe of hamlets and villages.

Marianne twists her ankle on a hillside and Willoughby, out hunting with a gun and dogs, rescues her. She falls in love with him but he leaves for London suddenly. Elinor, meanwhile, has fallen for her sister-in-law's brother, Edward Ferrars, but learns that he is secretly engaged to Lucy Steele.

Today's Barton Cottage, while not the original and nowhere near Exeter - it was, however used by the BBC in its 2008 adaptation - can be hired by holidaymakers. It's a 15th-century cottage on the estate of Hartland Abbey, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in North Devon. Rates from £775 ($1262) a week

Ad Feedback Hartland Abbey is close to the village of Clovelly, 24 kilometres west of the 14th-century market town of Bideford. With its woodlands and walled gardens, Hartland is a stunning stopping-off point for walkers on the South West Coastal Path, a continuos path running along the wild coastlines of the West Country's Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

Sidmouth, the scene of Austen's three-week romance, figures in this year's Sense and Sensibility celebrations and is the venue for this year's Jane Austen Society (UK) conference on September 1-4 (http://www.janeaustensoci.freeuk.com/).

Austen set nearly a third of the novel in London, where Elinor and Marianne stay at the house of a family friend, Mrs Jennings. At a society party Marianne is snubbed by Willoughby, who has left her for an heiress.

When Austen was in London in April 1811 to read the proofs of Sense and Sensibility, she stayed with her brother, Henry, in Sloane Street. Henry had married their exotic cousin, Eliza de Feuillide, whose first husband, a French aristocrat, had been guillotined in the revolution.


Austen disliked Bath society but after her family moved there she took the chance to travel around the countryside and is thought to have visited Weston, presumably Weston-Super-Mare, a drab seaside town on the Bristol Channel.

Nearby is the small town of Clevedon, called Cleveland in the novel, and turned into the house of Mrs Jennings' married daughter, Charlotte Palmer. Elinor and Marianne break their journey to Devon here and Marianne, fancying she might glimpse Willoughby's estate over a distant ridge of hills, catches a chill on a twilight walk and falls seriously ill.  in-search-of-jane-austen-at-stoneleigh
Marianne recovers and back at Barton Cottage she agrees to marry Colonel Brandon. Elinor discovers Edward's engagement has been broken off. He has decided to be ordained as a priest and is offered the curacy of Delaford parsonage by Colonel Brandon. Elinor accepts Edward's proposal of marriage.

The golden hues of Bath stone and its Georgian street architecture still evoke Austen's world. At 4 Sydney Place is the bronze plaque commemorating Austen's "principle domicile" in Bath.


After her father died in 1806 Austen was able to leave Bath, with "happy feelings of escape!" and, with her mother and sister, moved briefly to Bristol, then to Southampton in much reduced circumstances. Her brothers donated towards their upkeep and, in 1809, Edward, newly widowed, offered them a cottage in Hampshire at Chawton.

Austen settled back to her writing and from Chawton House would complete six novels and begin a seventh. In a letter to Cassandra about the excitement of Sense and Sensibility, her first published novel, she wrote: "I can no more forget it, than a mother can forget her suckling child."

A two-storey brick Georgian house, Chawton sits on the old London to Winchester road and was to be Austen's last home. It's a museum now and many personal items have been carefully preserved, including letters and her music books (Austen loved to play the piano). There is the family china, jewellery and the patchwork quilt made by Austen, her mother and Cassandra.

From the mahogany writing desk she submitted the manuscript of Sense and Sensibility to her London publisher, Thomas Egerton, in the autumn of 1810. It was accepted for publication the following year.

The museum is celebrating the Year of Sense and Sensibility with musical events: on June 25 is a recital by harpsichordist Christian Matjias; on September 10 a piano recital by Katharine May; on November 26 is Marianne's Songs, an evening of songs from the period reflecting the character of Marianne. There will be writing workshops and lace and quilting demonstrations (jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk).

College Street House


At 41, Austen was dying of what is now thought to have been Addison's disease, an endocrine disorder, and was sent to a physician in the city of Winchester, 16 miles from Chawton and once the capital of Saxon Wessex. She and Cassandra lodged at College Street House. Austen died on July 18, 1817, and was buried in the north aisle of Winchester Cathedral, England's longest cathedral, built in the Norman style in 1079.
Literary pilgrims can visit her tomb and a new permanent exhibition to commemorate this year's bicentenary. Rare items of memorabilia are on display: the burial register that records the wrong date for her death, Henry Austen's draft of the text of her memorial stone, a poem by James Austen on her death and one of Austen's poems (winchester-cathedral.org.uk).

- Sense and Sensibility, published anonymously "By A Lady", appeared on October 30, 1811, in three volumes, priced at 15 shillings. The first edition sold out by the summer of 1813. The second edition, published in November 1813, cost 18 shillings, and Austen was still receiving royalties a few months before her death.

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Geri, I'm reading Sense&Sensibility right now! After watching the Emma Thompson version recently, I wanted to read it again. It had been a very long time and I had forgotten many things that are in the book that are not in the movie. I remember liking the BBC version very much and want to watch it again now.
    all of the homes, even the little cottage, are just wonderful and it would be so fun to visit them...epecailly the estates!
    Another perfectly timed post... ;)
    xo J~

  2. O, I wished I could visit all these places as well.


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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