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Archive for November, 2010

In Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth goes touring to Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle they visit Pemberley and to Lizzy’s horror she comes face to face with Mr Darcy. She’s really embarrassed because she’s turned down his marriage proposal and she is mortified at what he will think of her looking over his house and grounds. But, it’s at this point in the book that Darcy starts to show that he’s really taken notice of Elizabeth’s criticisms of him and he makes an enormous effort to be extra civil and attentive to her and her relatives.

During the visit he introduces his sister Georgiana, and Lizzy discovers that Bingley is with him also. Her sister Jane is in love with Bingley, and been disappointed by him. Yet, it is very clear that he has not stopped thinking about Jane and this is proved when he remembers the exact date when he saw and danced with her last – November 26th.

Here’s an extract from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice followed by one of my favourite scenes that takes place during the Derbyshire visit from the BBC Pride and Prejudice with that ‘look’ from Mr Darcy!

Miss Darcy and her brother appeared, and this formidable introduction took place. With astonishment did Elizabeth see that her new acquaintance was at least as much embarrassed as herself. Since her being at Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was exceedingly proud; but the observation of a very few minutes convinced her that she was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a word from her beyond a monosyllable.

Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother; but there was sense and good-humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Elizabeth, who had expected to find in her as acute and unembarrassed an observer as ever Mr. Darcy had been, was much relieved by discerning such different feelings.

They had not been long together before Darcy told her that Bingley was also coming to wait on her; and she had barely time to express her satisfaction, and prepare for such a visitor, when Bingley’s quick step was heard on the stairs, and in a moment he entered the room. All Elizabeth’s anger against him had been long done away; but had she still felt any, it could hardly have stood its ground against the unaffected cordiality with which he expressed himself on seeing her again. He inquired in a friendly, though general way, after her family, and looked and spoke with the same good-humoured ease that he had ever done.

To Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner he was scarcely a less interesting personage than to herself. They had long wished to see him. The whole party before them, indeed, excited a lively attention. The suspicions which had just arisen of Mr. Darcy and their niece directed their observation towards each with an earnest though guarded inquiry; and they soon drew from those inquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew what it was to love. Of the lady’s sensations they remained a little in doubt; but that the gentleman was overflowing with admiration was evident enough.

Elizabeth, on her side, had much to do. She wanted to ascertain the feelings of each of her visitors; she wanted to compose her own, and to make herself agreeable to all; and in the latter object, where she feared most to fail, she was most sure of success, for those to whom she endeavoured to give pleasure were prepossessed in her favour. Bingley was ready, Georgiana was eager, and Darcy determined, to be pleased. In seeing Bingley, her thoughts naturally flew to her sister; and oh! how ardently did she long to know whether any of his were directed in a like manner. Sometimes she could fancy that he talked less than on former occasions, and once or twice pleased herself with the notion that, as he looked at her, he was trying to trace a resemblance. But, though this might be imaginary, she could not be deceived as to his behaviour to Miss Darcy, who had been set up as a rival to Jane. No look appeared on either side that spoke particular regard. Nothing occurred between them that could justify the hopes of his sister. On this point she was soon satisfied; and two or three little circumstances occurred ere they parted, which, in her anxious interpretation, denoted a recollection of Jane not untinctured by tenderness, and a wish of saying more that might lead to the mention of her, had he dared. He observed to her, at a moment when the others were talking together, and in a tone which had something of real regret, that it “was a very long time since he had had the pleasure of seeing her;” and, before she could reply, he added, “It is above eight months. We have not met since the 26th of November, when we were all dancing together at Netherfield.”

Elizabeth was pleased to find his memory so exact; and he afterwards took occasion to ask her, when unattended to by any of the rest, whether all her sisters were at Longbourn. There was not much in the question, nor in the preceding remark; but there was a look and a manner which gave them meaning.

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Blogger is being naughty this morning and won’t let me post any pictures or hidden links!
I wanted to draw your attention to this wonderful programme about Jane Austen’s early writing which can be listened to on BBC iplayer.
From the BBC with the link: Juvenile Jane – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00w1yqk

Listen now (30 minutes)
Availability:
6 days left to listen
Last broadcast yesterday, 11:30 on BBC Radio 4.
SYNOPSIS
Jane Austen’s surprisingly neglected but delightfully precocious and revealing early works celebrated by Austen expert Janet Todd with the help of the writer and illustrator Posy Simmonds and the actor Anna Maxwell Martin.

Considering how frequently Jane Austen’s six great novels are adapted for film, radio and television, it is perhaps surprising that the three small exercise books containing twenty two little stories and plays written during her teen years have not received more notice. Some of these stories – with titles such as “The Adventures of Mr Harley”, “The Generous Curate” and “The Beautiful Cassandra” – are only a few lines long but others run to many pages and provide both entertainment and surprising insights into the development of the mature writer.

Austen expert Janet Todd leafs through two of the precious volumes which are held at the British Library in London and discusses their wonderfully uninhibited style and content with the writer and illustrator Posy Simmonds who has long been a fan of Austen and fascinated by juvenilia in general. It is well documented that, during her lifetime, the adult Jane Austen used to read from these books to her close family. For this programme, the actor Anna Maxwell Martin reads extensive extracts from three stories – “Frederick and Elfrida”, “Henry and Eliza” and “love and Freindship” (sic) to reanimate them for a contemporary radio audience.

Producer Beaty Rubens.

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Here are some photos of Bath at night showing Pulteney Street and Pulteney Bridge accompanied by a short extract from Northanger Abbey. Pulteney Street is where Catherine stays with her friends, the Allens, and apart from the cars looked very much as it does today.

I love this exchange between Catherine and her brother James which is full of Jane Austen’s humour!

“Well, Catherine, how do you like my friend Thorpe?” instead of answering, as she probably would have done, had there been no friendship and no flattery in the case, “I do not like him at all,” she directly replied, “I like him very much; he seems very agreeable.”

“He is as good–natured a fellow as ever lived; a little of a rattle; but that will recommend him to your sex, I believe: and how do you like the rest of the family?”

“Very, very much indeed: Isabella particularly.”

“I am very glad to hear you say so; she is just the kind of young woman I could wish to see you attached to; she has so much good sense, and is so thoroughly unaffected and amiable; I always wanted you to know her; and she seems very fond of you. She said the highest things in your praise that could possibly be; and the praise of such a girl as Miss Thorpe even you, Catherine,” taking her hand with affection, “may be proud of.”

“Indeed I am,” she replied; “I love her exceedingly, and am delighted to find that you like her too. You hardly mentioned anything of her when you wrote to me after your visit there.”

“Because I thought I should soon see you myself. I hope you will be a great deal together while you are in Bath. She is a most amiable girl; such a superior understanding! How fond all the family are of her; she is evidently the general favourite; and how much she must be admired in such a place as this — is not she?”

“Yes, very much indeed, I fancy; Mr. Allen thinks her the prettiest girl in Bath.”

“I dare say he does; and I do not know any man who is a better judge of beauty than Mr. Allen. I need not ask you whether you are happy here, my dear Catherine; with such a companion and friend as Isabella Thorpe, it would be impossible for you to be otherwise; and the Allens, I am sure, are very kind to you?”

“Yes, very kind; I never was so happy before; and now you are come it will be more delightful than ever; how good it is of you to come so far on purpose to see me.”

James accepted this tribute of gratitude, and qualified his conscience for accepting it too, by saying with perfect sincerity, “Indeed, Catherine, I love you dearly.”

Inquiries and communications concerning brothers and sisters, the situation of some, the growth of the rest, and other family matters now passed between them, and continued, with only one small digression on James’s part, in praise of Miss Thorpe, till they reached Pulteney Street, where he was welcomed with great kindness by Mr. and Mrs. Allen, invited by the former to dine with them, and summoned by the latter to guess the price and weigh the merits of a new muff and tippet. A pre–engagement in Edgar’s Buildings prevented his accepting the invitation of one friend, and obliged him to hurry away as soon as he had satisfied the demands of the other. The time of the two parties uniting in the Octagon Room being correctly adjusted, Catherine was then left to the luxury of a raised, restless, and frightened imagination over the pages of Udolpho, lost from all worldly concerns of dressing and dinner, incapable of soothing Mrs. Allen’s fears on the delay of an expected dressmaker, and having only one minute in sixty to bestow even on the reflection of her own felicity, in being already engaged for the evening.

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I’ve just been in Bath this last weekend and inevitably find myself wandering round the shops, which at this time of year is a real treat as there are all sorts of tempting gifts on offer with Christmas in mind. Jane Austen enjoyed a little bit of shopping too, if this next account is anything to go by. In 1811 she was staying with her brother Henry in Sloane Street to go through her edits on Sense and Sensibility. After Chawton village, London must have seemed to offer limitless choices. Here she is writing to her sister Cassandra and describes how she was tempted by the fabrics on offer, trimmings and stockings.
I am sorry to tell you that I am getting very extravagant, and spending all my money, and, what is worse for you, I have been spending yours too; for in a linendraper’s shop to which I went for checked muslin, and for which I was obliged to give seven shillings a yard, I was tempted by a pretty-coloured muslin, and bought ten yards of it on the chance of your liking it; but, at the same time, if it should not suit you, you must not think yourself at all obliged to take it; it is only 3s. 6d. per yard, and I should not in the least mind keeping the whole. In texture it is just what we prefer, but its resemblance to green crewels, I must own, is not great, for the pattern is a small red spot. And now I believe I have done all my commissions except Wedgwood.
I liked my walk very much; it was shorter than I had expected, and the weather was delightful. We set off immediately after breakfast, and must have reached Grafton House by half-past 11; but when we entered the shop the whole counter was thronged, and we waited full half an hour before we could be attended to. When we were served, however, I was very well satisfied with my purchases — my bugle trimming at 2s. 4d. and three pair silk stockings for a little less than 12s. a pair.

In Willoughby’s Return I wanted to show how exciting it would have been for a young Margaret Dashwood to arrive in London to stay with Marianne and the Colonel. Margaret is starting to attend dances and balls, and she has her own beau, Henry Lawrence, who calls to take her to Gunter’s tea-shop. When I was researching Willoughby’s Return, I visited the shopping areas that Jane Austen mentions in Sense and Sensibility in the area around Bond Street where it it still possible to imagine what it must have been like to go shopping in Jane’s day. Sadly, Gunter’s teashop is no longer in Berkeley Square, and much of it has been modernised. Here, in the following extract Margaret comes to London for the first time and is driven down the thoroughfare to admire the shops.
After travelling for three days with two nights spent in comfortable inns, Margaret felt tired but elated to find that they were entering London and being driven down Oxford Street at last, moments from their destination. Fascinated by everything she saw, marvelling at the shops on every side, Margaret exclaimed at all she witnessed. Watchmakers, silk stores, and silversmiths displayed their wares behind sparkling glass, illuminated by the amber glow of oil lamps. Exotic fruit and towering desserts in the fruiterers and confectioners formed a dazzling spectacle; pyramids of pineapples, figs, and grapes cascaded from porcelain epergne. Marchpane castles, rosewater creams, and fruited cake vied for attention on platters of every shape and size. And the crowds of people stretching across the wide pavements, the ladies gathered outside in admiration of the linen shops, draped with silks, chintzes, and muslins were a sight to behold; such fashionably dressed gentility as Margaret had never seen before.
Later on, Henry arrives to take Margaret for her promised visit to the famous teashop. They were interrupted by Henry’s arrival. He greeted them both with great cordiality and immediately applied to Marianne for permission to take Margaret out in his curricle.
“I hope you will grant this small wish, my dear Aunt Brandon,” he beseeched her, “We have a little time before the dinner hour and I promised Margaret I would take her to Gunter’s on our very first afternoon. There may not be another chance. My mother has gone to see her dressmaker and my father set off for his club as soon as he arrived, so you see, I would be left all alone and feeling very miserable if not for this opportunity to sample London’s supreme ices and your sister’s finest company.”
Marianne recognised the look in Margaret’s eyes, which begged her agreement to the scheme. Nodding her approval, she was amused to see them hasten out of the room with hardly a nod or a backward glance. As Margaret wrested her pelisse and bonnet from the arms of the waiting servant, giving no time to fastenings or ribbons, the front door opened as if conspiring to let them out as quickly as possible.
“Good day, Uncle Brandon,” shouted Henry, taking Margaret’s arm with a movement toward the iron railings and white steps as the Colonel passed through into the hallway. “Please forgive me for not stopping, but Miss Margaret and I have an appointment to keep.”
With barely a nod of his head or a curtsey from his friend, the pair escaped as Colonel Brandon started to open his mouth to acknowledge them. With a bemused expression he watched them mount Henry’s vehicle and drive away at a trot.
Henry’s route was not the most direct but all the more colourful for riding down New Bond Street so that Margaret should be able to see the very best of the shops from her wonderful vantage point. After the relative quiet of life in Devon and Dorset, she could not believe how noisy London was to her ears; not only the sound of rumbling carriages and carts, but the clatter of pattens on pavements and the distinctive cries of street sellers rang everywhere about. Henry pointed out the landmarks and shops, not failing to direct Margaret’s attention to any sight, which he thought might amuse or entertain. They were in high spirits as they trotted into Bruton Street.
“I’ll take you to Piccadilly and Hyde Park next time,” Henry announced, reining in his horse as they rapidly approached their destination. “Here we are arrived at Berkeley Square for your pleasure and there under the sign of the pineapple is Mr Gunter’s celebrated tea shop. Now, which is your favourite ice?”
“I have no idea,” Margaret admitted, “I really have little experience of exotic flavours such as I have heard Marianne describe.”
Helping her down from his equipage and taking her across the road to see the window of the shop with every variety of ice imaginable, Margaret was stunned into silence by the display. Glasses of fruit ice decorated with crystallised rose and violet petals, sugar baskets filled with painted paste flowers and artificial gardens with parterres of mousseline and gravel walks of sugar sand occupied every tier in the window. Pastilles de chocolat, curled wafers, and candied jonquils overflowed from bonbonnieres onto snowy cloths. But the centrepiece, a sugar turban on a tasselled cushion complete with flowers, crescents, and a tall, waving feather, made Margaret catch her breath with pleasure.

I often go into London just before the Christmas rush just to look at the window displays which is almost as much fun as shopping itself. Some of the large department stores like Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges, and Liberty’s have stunning displays. What are your favourite shops that you like to visit?

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