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<---More Recent 52. Discussions in Northanger 51. Maps of Jane's England Earlier Answers––>

Name:Sandi Snyder                     Top
Question 53 There is a Jane Austen Quilt Pattern available somewhere in England.  I am a Quilter and have been looking for this pattern for over a year.  If you can direct me to the correct location, I would appreciate it very much.
Reply Dear Sandi

I'm not certain exactly what you need in order to settle down to make a quilt enough like my own to please you. However there is an explanation of the pattern (along with two quite good pictures of the quilt) on a page of the Jane Austen Society of Australia's website. Be warned, though, that using certain technologies, the words are as white as the page, so you may have to 'highlight' them in order to see them. We never had the least part of this difficulty in 1800! As for the quilt itself, it hangs in my old house, now my museum, in Chawton, Hampshire (their website) -possibly in my bedroom upstairs? There is a little information about the quilt, Jane and needlework at The Sophisticated Stitcher.
Enjoy your craft.

With best wishes.

Jane Austen.

April 17, 2004 01:02:03 (GMT Time)

Name:Uriel Wittenberg (                     Top
Question 52 Dear Miss Austen,

In Northanger Abbey, when Eleanor and Henry hear the news of Frederick's intention to marry Isabella, Eleanor says:

"[H]ow strange an infatuation on Frederick's side! A girl who, before his eyes, is violating an engagement voluntarily entered into with another man! Is not it inconceivable, Henry? Frederick too, who always wore his heart so proudly! Who found no woman good enough to be loved!"

Henry responds:

"That is the most unpromising circumstance, the strongest presumption against him. When I think of his past declarations, I give him up. Moreover, I have too good an opinion of Miss Thorpe's prudence to suppose that she would part with one gentleman before the other was secured."

I cannot understand the words, "That is the most unpromising circumstance, the strongest presumption against him." I take it this could be paraphrased as: "The fact that Frederick has said in the past that no woman was good enough to be loved is the most persuasive reason we now have for considering that this report is true, and that he indeed plans to marry Isabella." But why would this past declaration of Frederick's lend credence to the report of Frederick's present plans? The only explanation that occurs to me is that Henry has seen signs of love for Isabella in Frederick, and that this indicates that for Frederick, Isabella is a unique woman. But there is little indication in the text that Henry has seen such signs.

Henry then continues:

"It is all over with Frederick indeed! He is a deceased man -- defunct in understanding. Prepare for your sister-in-law, Eleanor, and such a sister-in-law as you must delight in! Open, candid, artless, guileless, with affections strong but simple, forming no pretensions, and knowing no disguise."

Is this simply sarcastic irony? That would be curious -- and would also seem inconsistent with "defunct in understanding."
Reply Dear Uriel,

It is true that Northanger was my ‘callowest’ work, intended to be published first of the great six, tho’ in the event only posthumously (1818), and perhaps I might even have revised it further had I lived on. It does not aspire to be a ‘great’ novel, and we may still ‘quiz’ it. But with reference to Frederick we can see some clear intellectual ‘sight-lines’. His views of love, romance, desire, and femininity are apparently dry-eyed and rational to the point, not only of disillusionment, but even of cynicism. He will not be taken in, given that the process which leads to marriage is what Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park styles a ‘manoeuvring business’. The wonder which Henry expresses is that Frederick seems to have succumbed, not to lady who is abnormally free from self-interest and low motives, but one who embodies the very qualities he despises—hypocrisy, venality, affectation—a ‘gold-digger’ repertoire of attitudes encouraged by a ‘very indulgent mother’.

It seems that Frederick’s character has been significantly warped by the villain of the piece, his father the General (Tilney) himself, whom Catherine has seen reproving Frederick with a ‘disproportionate severity’. Hence, we may say, his ‘oedipal’ aggressivity leads him to ‘seduce’ Isabella’s affections from James Morland with an unlikeable lack of compunction, especially as he casts her off once he is successful. His need to triumph over another man seems to be stronger than his desire to love a particular lady, apparently. (Isabella then tries to renew her addresses to James through her correspondence with Catherine, but her meal-ticket mentalité has by now become all too clear.) Isabella had permitted all this as Frederick is bigger social ‘game’ than the modestly endowed brother of Catherine, herself to be found wanting in this respect in due course by the General himself.

Henry is perhaps not a reliable reporter of the behaviour of Frederick partly as he is not privy to all that occurs, doesn’t understand the particular form in which Frederick’s slightly warped personality has been led to express itself, and has a certain parti pris with respect to his own brother which makes the ingenuous Catherine the juster judge of his sibling’s behaviour: ‘I must say, I do not like him at all . . . I do not like him at all’. Quite. But at least we can see how Frederick got the way he turned out to be. As Henry himself pointed out, Catherine’s mind was ‘warped by an innate principle of integrity’. Perhaps, in assessing his own brother’s actions, his own has momentarily slipped.

With best wishes.

Jane Austen.

April 10, 2004 01:43:49 (GMT Time)

Name:Jill Melancon                     Top
Question 51 do you know where i can find maps of jane austen's england? particularly for Emma--highbury, etc.
Reply Dear Jill,

Maps of my locale, etc., no doubt of varying degrees of usefulness, depending on one’s purposes here, are provided in the recent, very full biographies by Park Honan, Claire Tomalin, and David Nokes. For much pictorial information, including some local maps, about me and my time, and all the places associated with me, perhaps the best single guide is the British Library’s Writers’ Lives series volume on me (Jane Austen) by Deirdre Le Faye. Also hugely informative about my life times and places is Jane Austen’s England, by Maggie Lane. In the more strictly academic field there is a helpful map in Christopher Gillie’s A Preface to Jane Austen.

However, if perusing my fiction rather than going on jaunts is your bent, it’s worth considering how I used places and place-names in my novels which varied with the individual production and could be tricky. It’s true that Northanger Abbey sounds a bit like a guide to Bath, and there are trace-elements of this in Persuasion, which also presents Lyme Regis and the Cobb, etc. as it was in my day. But some of the places are fictional or un-pin-downable. Highbury is a good example: we know it’s in Surrey, in the ‘stockbroker belt’, but it doesn’t exist by this name there. Mansfield clearly invokes Northamptonshire (and even Peterborough), but Mansfield Park is strictly unlocatable. We know Darcy was a Derbyshire landowner but can’t, strictly speaking, visit Pemberley. ‘Sanditon’, the place-name for the fragment I wrote while already very ill is not on maps but seems to be somewhere between Hastings and Eastbourne. The same may go for Northanger Abbey, and Mr Knightley’s Donwell, in Emma, also based on an abbey foundation. I was rather fond of abbeys, wasn’t I? My family had a personal interest in one, the grandiose Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire, which I visited, and no doubt got some ideas from!

In general, unlike Thomas Hardy, I didn’t want the reader to get too carried away by particular places, though there are certainly plenty of places with Austen associations. I located Longbourn and Meryton in Hertfordshire in Pride and Prejudice, but didn’t particularly wish to connect these names with particular towns. Similarly, Mr Collins’ Hunsford is in Kent, and Rosings is nearby—nothing further established. On the other hand I did have an acute sense of the England of my day, and was quite well-travelled, and my travels did stimulate my imagination. My seaside trips from Bath into Devon are commemorated in Sense and Sensibility, with Dawlish and Longstaple well to the fore. The first location is the original Dashwood property, ‘somewhere’ in Sussex. In much the same style, when we get closer to my main characters, Barton Cottage (the impoverished Dashwoods) and Barton Park (Sir John and Lady Middleton) might be a little more difficult to pin down.

I do hope all this helps a little, whatever your particular purposes here.

With best wishes

Jane Austen.

March 31, 2004 22:22:58 (GMT Time)