Jane Austen's Country Life

Jane Austen's Country Life

Uncovering the Rural Backdrop to Her Life, Her Letters and Her Novels

Book - 2014
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Jane Austen lived for nearly all her life in two Hampshire villages: for 25 years in her birthplace of Steventon, and then for the last 8 years of her life in Chawton, during which she wrote and published her great novels. While there are plenty of books describing her periods of urban life in Bath, Southampton and London, and the summer holidays in Lyme Regis and other West Country seaside resorts, no book has given consideration to the rural background of her life. Her father was not only the rector of Steventon but a farmer there as well, managing a property of some 200 acres. Her brother Edward, in addition, was a large landowner, holding the three estates of Godmersham in Kent, Steventon and Chawton in Hampshire. Agriculture, in all its aspects, was even more important to Jane than clerical life or the naval careers of her younger brothers. This book fills a gap in the Austen family background, discussing the state of agriculture in general in the south of England during the wartime, conditions which lasted for most of Jane Austen's life, and considering in particular the villages and their inhabitants, the weather conditions, field crops, farm and domestic animals, and the Austens' household economy and rural way of life. Apart from these obvious sources, there are other Austen family manuscripts, as yet unpublished, which provide particular and unique information. Richly illustrated with contemporary depictions of country folk, landscapes and animals, Jane Austen's Country Life conjures up a world which has vanished more than the familiar regency townscapes of Bath or London, but which is no less important to an understanding of this most treasured writer's life and work.

Publisher: London : Frances Lincoln, 2014
Edition: First Frances Lincoln edition
ISBN: 9780711231580
Branch Call Number: 823.7 Au74L 2014
Characteristics: 269 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), color maps ; 22 cm


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Jan 02, 2019

Fascinating details about that period in England, even if you aren't a super fan of Jane Austen.

Dec 05, 2014

For those who love Jane Austen, and want to know more about her life, this book is a treasure. Based on her letters and those of, especially, her sister Cassandra, and documents, including drawings and paintings of the period. I gained a real sense of the round of country life in the time and places where the Austens lived. Now I will need to go back and re-read the novels, and read the few I haven't yet read. For instance, while I caught the role the army played in "Pride and Prejudice," it never occurred to me that the heroine of that book didn't like riding. Neither did Jane. Jane loved gardening, and gave that love to Darcy, as one more point in his favor. Both Jane and Cassandra had no fixed home after their father lost theirs and they moved to Bath. They had mixed feelings about this big city. It encouraged their father's gambling, which ate up their minimal money. But it was also close to the seaside, a love of both of the Austen girls, who had been taught by both parents to revere nature. When Mr. Austen died, Mrs. Austen and the girls were at the mercy of whichever of the their son and brothers would take them in. This was the fate of 19th c. single women whose class didn't permit them to "work" and who had no independent source of wealth. Jane worked in a corner of the living room, hiding her work when company came. This was an enlightening book about a woman who couldn't be enlightened because she lived in non-enlightened times.


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