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She lived in the city for five years from , setting scenes from two novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion here, and providing vivid descriptions of the cultural and social life for which Georgian-era Bath was renowned.

Or you can pay homage to the author at the Jane Austen Centre on Gay Street on which Jane herself lived , taking tea in the Regency Tea Room and dressing up in period outfits. And to really see Bath in traditional style, you can organise a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets. Austen was born and raised in the county of Hampshire, and spent the last eight years of her life in the small village of Chawton.

It was here, in the 17th-century house she shared with her family, that she wrote Sense and Sensibility , Pride and Prejudice , Mansfield Park and Emma. Austen had a connection to the town herself, with two brothers, Charles and Frank, undergoing training for the Royal Navy here. It all sounds so lovely.


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Given the chance, who would not want to go to the ball? But be careful what you wish for. The chances are that you would have been a lowly servant, preparing the food or trimming the candles, working interminable hours, not one of the glittering company on the dance floor. Her novels were not the place to remind readers of current affairs, but perhaps we all need to be reminded before donning our Regency costumes.

Exploring Jane Austen's England| Small group tours - Odyssey Travellers

This is what we set out to do in our new book, Jane Austen's England Viking , in which we unveil the true way of life of the majority of people two centuries ago - even the Austens themselves. Listed below are a few examples to deter you from the foolhardy notion of traveling back in time - stick to reading books instead! US Edition U. News U. HuffPost Personal Video Horoscopes. Newsletters Coupons. This strict Palladian style becomes freer with Robert Adam. It is possible to imagine that Rosings Park, Lady Catherine de Bourgh's house, and Mansfield Park, both of which Jane Austen describes as modern, belong to the style of houses constructed by Robert Adam.

During the same period, rich owners devote a lot of time and money to beautifying the grounds surrounding their house, and to making the approaches and the views from the windows more impressive. The famous English landscape artist "Capability" Brown is in fact active during the Georgian period; his nickname is based on his favourite declaration that certain grounds offered "a great capability of improvement".

We find this preoccupation with landscaping aesthetics reflected in Mansfield Park , during the long discussion where Mr Rushworth speaks of his ambition to improve the grounds of his Sotherton house and the views it offers. Following Capability Brown but going even further, Humphry Repton softens the transition between the houses themselves and their surroundings, where Brown had simply extended lawns right up to the house.

Persuasion (1995) 480p /w optional English subtitles (Jane Austen adaptation)

This too is in reaction against French-style gardens. It is Repton who at Adlestrop in Gloucestershire, where Jane Austen's cousins the Leighs live, remodels the vast grounds of Adlestrop House to combine them with the garden of the adjoining vicarage, and diverts a watercourse to compose a lovely landscape which can be admired equally well from the manor house and from the vicarage.

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The memory of the beauty of English parks is a constant in Jane Austen's novels, and she associates it with the poems of William Cowper , the poet of the English countryside. And in perfect keeping with the aesthetic principles promoted by Thomas Whately in his Observations on Modern Gardening in , the description of the grounds of the houses she depicts is as important as that of the house itself, for the beauty of the place consists of the harmonious and natural union of the two:. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned.

Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. The clergy occupy an essential place in Jane Austen's work, even more than the Royal Navy, because Jane Austen's father himself was a clergyman, as were her brother James, and briefly her brother Henry.

The moral principles taught by her father are found in the moral precepts sprinkled throughout the novels. The position of clergyman at the time was a special one from several points of view.

'Jane Austen's England' was a less-than-genteel place

Firstly, being a clergyman was a profession like any other. Any well-educated, well-spoken man of sound morals could enter it, and no particular religious vocation was called for. And as Mary Crawford points out in Mansfield Park , the living attached to the post of vicar guaranteed a good income for work that was not onerous. Moreover, thanks to the living, a clergyman was in a position to start a family earlier than a naval officer, who might have to wait for years before raising enough money to do so.

Nor do clergymen in the novels benefit from any special consideration on the part of the author. On the contrary, they are frequently depicted in a very unflattering light, although there are others who are shown as more sympathetic and admirable characters. Mr Elton, in Emma , demonstrates an excessive social ambition in proposing to the eponymous Emma Woodhouse, and once he is married later in the novel, he and his wife Augusta patronise the villagers and disgust Emma with their pretentiousness.

In Pride and Prejudice , Mr Collins is an example of what a clergyman ought not to be. He is obsequious towards the powerful, arrogant towards the weak, sententious and narrow-minded. In spite of his faults, however, he seems to be more involved in his job than an Edward Ferrars or a Henry Tilney.

Henry Tilney, in fact, in Northanger Abbey , is absent from his parish half the time and takes holidays in Bath, so that in spite of his intellectual and moral qualities, he bears witness to the lack of commitment of certain clergymen towards their flock. As for Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility , he does give evidence of a more definite vocation when he insists that he has "always preferred the Church" as his profession, even though his family consider a career in the army or the Royal Navy "more appropriate", or the law more worthy of a gentleman.

Edmund Bertram alone, in Mansfield Park , shows an unshakeable vocation that all Mary Crawford's charm and seductiveness never succeed in weakening. Try as she may, incessantly praising the superior merits and prestige of a military career, the solidity of his principles and his deep conviction prevent him from doubting. The income of a clergyman varied a great deal depending on the living assigned to him.

The allocation of the living, and therefore of the benefits attached to it, was often in the hands of the local lord of the manor , though a number were held by the diocesan bishop and even some university colleges. This right was called the right of advowson and could be bought and sold or donated like propertty.

The two components of the living were the tithe and the glebe of which the incumbent was the beneficiary. The tithe in theory guaranteed the clergyman one tenth of the product of all the cultivated land in the parish; it constituted a sort of tax which had existed in England since the 9th century, with the clergyman himself as the tax-collector. Legally, however, the beneficiary of the tithe was not the clergyman who might find that only part was allocated to him , but the rector. Thus when Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility informs Edward Ferrars that "Delaford is a rectory", he is also informing him that if he were awarded the parish, he would receive the whole of the corresponding tithe.

Jane Austen's father was himself rector of Steventon. Once collected, the revenue had to be managed, since in a poor rural economy the tithe was often paid in kind. This led to a clergyman's needing to have the use of a tithe barn in which to store what he had collected. He also had to negotiate with his parishioners to get all that he was owed.

About Jane Austen's England

The parishioners did not always react well to his role as tax collector, which took up a large part of a clergyman's time, so much so that Mr Collins, at the Bingleys' ball Pride and Prejudice , lists it as the first of his duties, ahead even of writing sermons, which comes in second place. The patron of the living also of course had an interest in increasing the revenue raised by the incumbent since this raised the value of the charge he could sell or bestow. The curate or rector's protector is a major personage in the region, as for example are Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr Collins' patron in Pride and Prejudice and Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility.

The glebe was a parcel of land donated to the church, often in the distant past, whose produce was designated for the incumbent of the corresponding parish. This necessarily made the clergyman into a farmer, a job which therefore took up a large part of his time.


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Thus Parson Trulliber, in Henry Fielding 's novel Joseph Andrews , spends six days out of seven on his farming activities, and Parson Adams, when he visits him at home, finds him "with an apron on and a pail in his hand, just come from serving his hogs". Even when it didn't go that far, this necessary farm work further reduced the time actually spent on religious tasks as such. In Jane Austen's time, girls' boarding schools already existed, even if for the aristocracy a governess was the normal choice for the education of the girls in the family. Thus in Emma , young Harriet Smith, whose origins are very modest, is placed in Mrs Goddard's boarding school to receive a minimal education.

On the other hand, Emma Woodhouse, daughter of a good family with a fine fortune, has her own governess, Miss Taylor. And Lady Catherine de Bourgh Pride and Prejudice is scandalised to learn that the five Bennet girls, who belong to the minor gentry, have not benefited from the services of a governess. Jane Austen herself, whose family was no better off than the Bennets, got her education essentially through contact with her father and brothers, and through making good use of her father's well-stocked library.

Slow progress in the education of girls needs to be seen in relation to the absence of suitable employment for women from good families, except, in fact, for a job as a governess or schoolmistress. The very idea that a woman might have a profession, with the attendant status and financial independence, was virtually inconceivable. As Mary Wollstonecraft wrote in in her famous A Vindication of the Rights of Woman : "How many women thus waste away the prey of discontent, who might have practiced as physicians, regulated a farm, managed a shop, and stood erect, supported by their own industry, instead of hanging their heads?

This state of affairs was well-known to Jane Austen, since being unmarried herself, she was seeking through the sale of her novels to contribute to earning her own living by her work. Her writing perfectly reflects her situation, even though she did not rebel against it directly, in that she almost never depicts women involved in anything other than domestic activities, except for those who teach either as a governess or at a boarding school.

The situation of Jane Fairfax in Emma is the best illustration of this: of very humble origin, but intelligent, cultured, close to the ideal of the accomplished woman she sings and plays the piano perfectly , her only prospect for the future is a post as governess in the home of people much inferior to her in terms of talent. Lady Bertram Mansfield Park , whose faults Jane Austen makes fun of, offers a perfect example of the ideal fashionable at the time of the elegant, leisured lady so strongly denounced by Mary Wollstonecraft.

The situation of women appearing in Jane Austen's novels shows at times their inferior status, on a legal as well as a financial level. Thus, according to William Blackstone , in his Commentaries on the Laws of England Oxford, , man and woman become, by marriage, one and the same person: as long as the marriage lasts, the woman's legal existence is viewed as "suspended", and all her actions are done "under her husband's cover" becoming herself a feme-covert. The rights and duties of the spouses derived from this principle.


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  5. Thus, a man could not donate any piece of property, nor enter into any agreement with her, as her separate legal existence would be required for such deeds. On the other hand, he could bequeath property to his wife by will, since his wife's "coverture" would cease with his death. A woman who had been wronged—either herself or through her property—could not sue whoever had wronged her without the agreement and legal involvement of her husband. Conversely, no one could sue a married woman except through prosecuting her husband.