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

zondag 11 mei 2014

Caroline Knight, a descendant of Jane Austen

A descendant of Jane Austen plans to "harness the passion" for Britain's most famous female author by launching a charity in her name. Caroline Knight is the fifth great-niece of Austen and the last of her relatives to be born and raised in the family seat. Now a successful businesswoman, she has created the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation to raise money for education projects around the world.
Knight, 43, will launch the foundation at the World Literacy Summit in Oxford this week. She is inviting all those who have enjoyed or benefited from Austen's work - from ordinary readers to the film studio behind the Keira Knightley adaptation of Pride and Prejudice - to make contributions.
"I want to harness this passion there is for Jane Austen, to do something about literacy," she said.
"We are coming up to the 200th anniversary of her death in 2017, she is being put on the £10 note - it seemed like a good time to launch. "I would like to engage with anybody who has ever been inspired by or admired Jane Austen, or has gained in some way." Harnessing the Austen name has also caused Knight to look at her own history, and how tightly her life has been bound up with her famous forebear. Austen's brother, Edward Austen Knight, inherited Chawton House near Winchester, Hants, from a childless relative. He offered Jane, her mother and sister a cottage on the estate, and they moved there in 1809.

 Knight was born at Chawton House in 1970 and grew up surrounded by mementoes of "Great Aunt Jane" - sitting down at the same dining table where Austen and her brother took their meals, and using the same Wedgwood dinner service. It was a life of balls, hunts and tea with the village rector, just as it was in Austen's day. But the family fortune had disappeared by the mid-20th century and the Elizabethan manor house was expensive to maintain. In a turn of events that could have come straight from the pages of an Austen novel, Knight lost her home in 1989 when her grandfather died and the remaining family members could not afford to keep it going.

They were forced to sell the lease and the building is now owned by Sandy Lerner, a US tech millionaire who has turned it into a library for women's writing. "It's a typical story with so many of these properties. It's just not practical in today's world to maintain them as private homes," Knight said. "Intellectually, we totally understood what was happening and that another situation had to be found to preserve the house for the future. But that doesn't stop the heart, does it?" Knight said she felt a chill of recognition as a teenager when she read Pride and Prejudice, and the moment when a distraught Mrs Bennet wails, 'What is to become of us all?' when she fears the family will be turned out of their home. "It was a little too close to home for me," she said. "Austen's novels were not romantic historical fiction. I remember reading Pride and Prejudice and thinking, 'How did she know that was the predicament I was going to be in?' "Because of that I couldn't engage with her books or just enjoy them the same as everybody else did." It was only when Colin Firth appeared in the BBC's 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that her interest in Austen was reawakened.

"Colin Firth made Austen much more accessible for me," she said. "That BBC production was the first time I was actually able to just enjoy the story for what it was." She credits Mr Darcy's "wonderful, iconic" wet shirt scene with transforming Austen's fortunes. "When I lived in the house, the visitors who were coming to see us were classical readers or scholars. "But that was before Colin Firth," she said. "Since then, Jane has gone from being somebody who was cherished by academics to somebody who is appreciated by millions around the world who may have never even have read one of the books, but they love a movie and they love Mr Darcy." telegraph

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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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