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 25 juli 2015

Miss Benn.

Mary Benn was the younger sister of Reverend John Benn (1766-1875) who presided over the parish of Farringdon, nearby Chawton in rural Hampshire.  Mr. Benn and his wife had as dozen children, which probably meant they could not do much to help Miss Benn. She was unmarried and living in very poor circumstances in Chawton, close to the Austen’s. She dined with them frequently, as we can see in some of Jane’s letters and is often remembered by Cassandra who gave her a gift of a shawl.


On May 25, 1811, Miss Mary Benn dined at Chawton Cottage with Jane Austen, and -- one assumes -- her mother Mrs. Cassandra Austen and their co-resident, Martha Lloyd.

Jane tells her sister that the Pinks and Sweet Williams are blooming and the Syringas coming out. She relates family news, upcoming journeys  and that very day a second encounter with Miss Benn  over their tea table.


Miss Benn is a poor spinster who lives in reduced circumstances in Chawton; though we know little about her, she is mentioned in Jane Austen's letters more than a dozen times in the few years between the Austen's arrival in Chawton and Miss Benn's death at age 46 in early January, 1816.  Some biographers have speculated that her extreme poverty caused the Austens to invite her for meals frequently.  In her 1997 biography Jane Austen: A Life, Claire Tomalin  writes, "'Poor Miss Benn' appears very much oftener in Jane's letters than their few better-off neighbours; she was not very interesting, but then nor were they"

Thatch Cottage (below) was home to Miss Benn,  She lived in this building until 1816


 
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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Fashion - Regency 1

Edward Austen Leigh wrote down this description of Jane's appearence in the years just after the family left Southampton.

"She was tall and slender; her face was rounded with a clear brunette complexion and bright hazel eyes.

Her curly brown hair escaped all round her forehead, but from the time of her coming to live at Chawton she always wore a cap, except when her nieces had her in London and forbade it."

Henry Austen said of his sister, " Her stature rather exceeded the middle height; her carriage anad deportment were quiet but graceful; her complexion of the finest texture, it might with truth be said that her eloquent blood spoke through her modest cheek." Henry applied these lines to Jane: " Her pure and eloquent blood spake in her cheeks and so distinctly wrought that you had almost said her body thought."


Austen's niece Caroline recollected: "As to my aunt's personal appearance, hers was the first face I can remember thinking pretty. Her face was rather round than long, she had a bright, but not a pink colour—a clear brown complexion, and very good hazel eyes. Her hair, a darkish brown, curled naturally, it was in short curls around her face. She always wore a cap