Persuasions #11, 1989                                                                                                                                                   Pages 37-45

Inside Pride and Prejudice

Department of English, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235

In August 1797 “First Impressions” was completed, having been begun the previous October; and while it underwent some revision – in the years 1809-13, but primarily in 1810 – before its publication as Pride and Prejudice in 1813, there can be little doubt that Jane Austen had it down in fairly finished form by the time her father offered it to a London publisher – Cadell – on 1 November 1797.  He had in his possession, said George Austen, “a manuscript novel, comprising 3 vols., about the length of Miss Burney’s Evelina.”  He wished to know “what will be the expense of publishing it at the author’s risk, and what you will venture to advance for the property of it, if on perusal it is approved of.”  The book was declined by return of post.  Cadell preferred to publish Mrs. Radcliffe.

Critics have surmised that the original title was discarded following the publication of First Impressions by Mrs. Holford in 1801, and that the final title might well have been suggested by the last pages of Fanny Burney’s Cecilia (1782), in which the phrase “pride and prejudice” is printed in capital letters three times in a single perorational paragraph.  The original title may well have been taken from the opening chapter of Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), in which we see St. Aubert instructing his daughter Emily “to resist first impressions, and to acquire that steady dignity of mind, that can alone counterbalance the passions” – a lesson of Jane Austen’s novel as well.1

Those who believe that the book was written wholly between 1809 and 1812 cannot be right.  Jane Austen conceived the action of the tale as belonging to the last decade of the eighteenth century.  There can be no doubt that the dates Cassandra gives for the writing of the book (October 1796-August 1797) George Austen offered to Cadell in November 1797 are those for “First Impressions”; Cassandra’s dating of the composition of the novels can hardly be disputed.  As Chapman has pointed out, the militia camps at Brighton were notorious in the years 1793-95, but not afterwards.  Probably Pride and Prejudice began as a burlesque, principally of Cecilia.  Elizabeth, as several critics have noted, is patently anti-Cecilia – though Jane Austen’s heroine does resemble Camilla and Evelina in some ways; and Darcy is not unlike some of Fanny Burney’s patrician heroes.  If, as Mrs. Leavis says, Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s effort to “rewrite the story of Cecilia in realistic terms,” this would also tie it to the 1790s – a period during which the novelist came to literary flower principally as a parodist.  Southam sees Pride and Prejudice as a response as well to such other novels as Sir Charles Grandison – a dramatic version of which Jane Austen was working on in the Nineties – and The Mysteries of Udolpho.  He identifies elements of burlesque in Pride and Prejudice and argues that in its earliest stages it might have been written in letters.  In all of these lights Pride and Prejudice may be seen as the natural spiritual heir of the Juvenilia and a work of the nineties.2

Recently some additional information has come to light which further confirms Pride and Prejudice as a novel of the 1790s.  It must be fairly certain that Chevening Park, in Chevening, Kent, along with its parsonage house, provided the basis for Rosings and Hunsford parsonage, the homes of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice.  Jane Austen did some visiting in Kent in 1796 while she was writing “First Impressions.”  The most direct route from Steventon to Goodnestone, Godmersham, and so on to London would have taken her through Guildford, Reigate, and Westerham, over the Sundridge Cross by Chevening and onwards via Borough Green and Maidstone.  A section of the road at one time actually ran through Chevening Park – built originally around 1630 for the thirteenth Lord Dacre, later (1717) bought by the first Earl of Stanhope, whose family, the Lennards, employed George Austen’s uncle Francis as their solicitor during the latter third of the eighteenth century.  Old Francis Austen owned property in and around Chevening, and may well have taken his grand-nieces over some of the ground.  Certainly Jane Austen had the opportunity to know the Chevening area well.  Due to the absence of letters before 1796 we cannot be sure exactly where she went in her late teens, but we do know that she visited her uncle Francis Austen, and that between 1792 and 1796 she stayed with relations in Kent on several occasions.

Rosings is described in Pride and Prejudice as being “well situated on rising ground” and “a handsome modern building,” which fits the account of Chevening Park given in Paterson’s Roads (1826); in Jane Austen’s day it would have been about 165 years old, but it had just undergone extensive renovation.  From 1813 the parsonage house near the Great House at Chevening Park was occupied by the Rev. John Austen, Jane Austen’s cousin.  But the novelist, as we have seen, had ample opportunity to know the area well long before 1813, the year in which Pride and Prejudice was published.

Rosings and Hunsford are almost perfect fits for Chevening Park and its parsonage house.  Sir David Smithers reminds us that, according to Pride and Prejudice, 

Rosings … lay in the village of Hunsford near Westerham, a convenient distance from London and nearly fifty miles from the Bennet home at Longbourn …  Records of journeys between the two, with pauses made in London at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in Gracechurch Street, reveal that the drive from Hunsford to the Gardiners was completed within four hours, changing horses at The Bell … in Bromley.  From Gracechurch Street to the unnamed town … near Longbourn where the travellers were met by Mr. Bennet’s carriage was a distance of twenty-four miles.  It is to be concluded, therefore, that Rosings also lay some twenty-four miles from London to the south near Westerham on a route through Bromley which would be roughly half way. 

But there is more than this.  Rosings Park and Hunsford parsonage are described in some detail in Pride and Prejudice when Sir William Lucas, his daughter Maria, and Elizabeth Bennet visit Charlotte Lucas Collins and her husband at the parsonage house.  Once in Hunsford Lane, Rosings Park is said to form the boundary on one side, and the parsonage house to stand opposite the gate to the Great House, and to be separated from it by a lane.  This perfectly recapitulates the geographical relationship of Chevening Park (still extant) to its parsonage house (since pulled down).  The parsonage is described as having a short gravel walk and standing in a large garden – with walks and crosswalks – which sloped down to the road fronted by green pales and a laurel hedge.  Two glebe meadows are said to be adjacent to it.  Its back room, from which Mr. Collins watches the road for the approach of Lady Catherine’s carriage, fronts the road itself.  Elizabeth’s walks in garden and meadow while at Hunsford parsonage are described in language which easily fits the topography of the parsonage house at Chevening Park.  Indeed, the architect’s plans confirm that Pride and Prejudice gives an accurate picture of the parsonage at Chevening as it existed in the 1790s.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh, both physically and temperamentally, bears many resemblances to the Dowager Lady Stanhope (wife of the second Earl and mother of the third), who would have been in her seventies in the 1790s.  Contemporaries describe Lady Stanhope as a very “determined” woman who dominated her husband while he was alive and his descendants when he was dead.  One source refers to her as “a rather fierce old lady.”  In the 1790s the dowager was living at the Dower House across the park from the Great House at Chevening, but was frequently at Chevening Park.  It is interesting to note that the first Earl of Stanhope’s mother – the dowager’s mother-in-law – was named Catherine Burghill.  The first Lady Stanhope’s portrait hung in the Great House.  Jane Austen probably appropriated both her name and her daughter-in-law’s character with a minimum of alteration.3

The extent to which Jane Austen, by writing for publication at all, was flouting a convention of the period probably has not been adequately realized.  At the time she began to write in earnest, professional women writers were still regarded with suspicion.  Of course there were exceptions.  Fanny Burney had the help of royal patronage, her father’s wide circle of cultivated friends, and Dr. Johnson; Maria Edgeworth also enjoyed the encouragement and even the collaboration of her father, and had written works on education as well as novels.  But the extent of Jane Austen’s distance from the official world of letters of the time is reflected in the fact that all of her books published during her lifetime appeared anonymously.  It was still forward for a woman, except an already famous one, to put her name on a title page.  Nevertheless, Jane Austen wrote for publication – there is no doubt about that – making, as Joan Rees has put it, her own quiet revolution in the novel, and becoming in the process the first great woman writer in English.4

It can hardly be disputed that Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest novels in any language.  It is about the difference between true and false moral values.  It is about the difference between the appearance of things, the ways in which they may be perceived, and their true reality, the ways in which they exist.  Like all great literature, it seeks to identify what is true and expose what is false – and to separate the two from one another.  It accomplishes these things brilliantly.

Critics have tended to agree with much of this, though in recent years Pride and Prejudice has been relegated by some of them to second place among the six novels.  This may be a mistake; it is probably the best of Jane Austen’s books, for all the changes in modern taste.  It has many virtues beyond those already mentioned.  It is not only a very funny novel, it is also highly suspenseful – elements not always noticed by its readers.  The events of the last half of the book race toward resolution at a breathless pace: it must be one of the most perfectly plotted novels in English.  And its dialogue – much of it worthy of a Congreve, a Wilde, an Orton – is often brilliantly witty.  If the book reminds some readers of Mozart’s music, one may recall that the composer died just five years before Jane Austen began to write “First Impressions.”

My concern here is chiefly with what Pride and Prejudice may tell us about its author.  It is unnecessary to rehearse again the process by which Darcy’s pride is humbled and Elizabeth’s prejudices exposed – “your defect is a propensity to hate every body,” she tells him early in the novel; “And yours … is wilfully to misunderstand them,”5 he replies; or how conceit, self-importance, avarice, arrogance, materialism, hypocrisy, and snobbishness are all attacked; or how “first impressions” are shown to be, so often, merely a self-indulgent exercise in egotism, dependent upon the perceiver and his own complicated psyche rather than the thing or person perceived.  “My first impressions of people are inevitably right,” the erring Gwendolen remarks complacently to Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest (1895); this is what Jane Austen’s heroine believes, but never quite manages to say.  Nor need one list contrasts between right and wrong moral conduct in the novel, which sets out very precisely to define these things, and does so.  Such matters have been amply discussed by others.  As in all of Jane Austen’s novels, in Pride and Prejudice the true, the rational way of looking at things emerges out of the false, the unreliable point of view, so that we, like the characters, receive an education in perception as the story unfolds.

But how does the novel reveal the novelist herself?  At the centre of the story are two sisters, close in age and inseparable in most things.  There is something of Jane Austen in both Jane and Elizabeth – though she is present chiefly in the latter.  When the family is assembled in the evening, the conversation among the Bennets loses “much of its animation, and almost all of its sense,” if the sisters are absent – which must have been true of the Rectory household when the three elder brothers had gone off to Oxford.  Both sisters love to dance.  Jane Bennet – though wishing, as she says, “not to be hasty in censuring any one” – always says what she thinks.  Elizabeth, who “dearly love[s] a laugh,” “had a lively playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous”: she “shares her author’s characteristic response of comic irony,” it has been noted.6  Yet there is also a side of her that is reversed, “unsocial, taciturn,” as she tells Darcy – “unwilling to speak” without being able “to say something that will amaze the whole room and be handed down to posterity.”

Darcy says he is the same sort of person – and defines, perhaps, Jane Austen’s special brand of shyness:  “ I … have not the talent which some people possess … of conversing easily with those I have never seen before.  I cannot catch their tone of conversation or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”  “We neither of us perform to strangers,” Elizabeth says.  Shyness and arrogance are often confused; and perhaps some of those who found Jane Austen cold simply encountered her reserve.  There is a reserve in Elizabeth, gay as she can be.  Like Jane Austen at the Rectory, Elizabeth at Longbourn is fond of going to a little copse in a back garden to think over important matters.  She is not easily attached to others.  She tells her aunt Mrs. Gardiner that she has never been in love – but wishes he could find an intelligent, interesting man to fall in love with.  After her first failures with Darcy, she declares petulantly: “Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all.”  Mrs.  Gardiner replies:  “That … savours  strongly of disappointment.”

The “disappointment” Mrs. Gardiner refers to is responsible for Lydia’s torment of Jane: “Jane will be quite an old maid soon … she is almost three and twenty!  Lord, how ashamed I should be of not being married before three and twenty!”  Here is sibling rivalry articulated with a vengeance.  Jane Austen was twenty or twenty-one when she wrote that – Elizabeth’s age.  Unlike her sister Cassandra, she had never been engaged.  Clearly enough, Darcy is the sort of man she was looking for. 

She began … to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her.  His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes.  It was a union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved, and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.

Jane Austen undoubtedly saw “ease and liveliness” as being among the contributions she could bring to marriage with a knowledgeable, discriminating man.  “He wants nothing but a little more liveliness,” Mrs. Gardiner says of Darcy, “and that, if he marry prudently, his wife may teach him.”  Mr. Bennet tells Elizabeth: “I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior.  Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage.  You could scarce escape discredit and misery.”  These passages may help explain why Jane Austen never married.  Where was the man for her?  She found them only in her novels – in extraordinary men like Darcy, Henry Tilney, and Mr. Knightley.  The men she met in real life suffered by comparison.

An important theme of Pride and Prejudice is the danger of detachment.  It seems as if Jane Austen – aware, perhaps, of her own temptation to withdraw, to stand back – exhibits for herself, by putting them into a novel, some of the possible penalties of such conduct.

Elizabeth’s tendency to observe others from afar is clearly delineated. 

“I did not know before,” continued Bingley … “that you were a studier of character. It must be an amusing study.”  

“Yes; but intricate characters are the most amusing. They have at least that advantage.”  

“The country,” said Darcy, “can in general supply but few subjects for such a study.  In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society.”  

“But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.” 

Mrs. Bennet’s assurance that there is quite as much of “that” going on in the country as in town follows, but Elizabeth’s character as an amused observer, a student of human nature “for ever,” is established.  Admitting to Darcy moments later that she loves a good laugh, she adds: “I hope I never ridicule what is wise and good.  Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.”  At the end of the novel she has to hold in check her desire to laugh at her husband-to-be: “he had yet to learn to be laught at, and it was rather too early to begin.”  The habit of laughing at others may bespeak a lively sense of humour or the characteristic of easy amusement; but it may also signal a tendency to distance oneself from such objects of amusement as other people.  Satire embodies both hostility and detachment; and in this sort of laughter – what we might call moral laughter – there is usually an element of satire.

That Jane Austen is fully aware of these possibilities and these dangers is apparent in the character of Mr. Bennet, a frightening exemplar of the perils of detachment.  He is a terrible father precisely because of his bottomless capacity to be amused by others.  Mr. Bennet’s brand of mockery is not unlike his author’s.  He says some witty things, but there can be no doubt that he is dealt with unsympathetically by the novelist.  His most spectacular abandonment of duty comes in connection with Lydia’s proposal to go to Brighton.  “Lydia will never be easy till she has exposed herself in some public place,” says Mr. Bennet, “and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances.”  Fatherly sentiments indeed!  The expense and inconvenience turn out to be enormous.  As Mr. Bennet rightly says later, after the Brighton debacle: “Who should suffer but myself?  It has been my own doing, and I ought to feel it.”  Elizabeth’s judgment of her father is harsh, but just.  She sees that his only response to his wife’s ignorance and folly is to be amused; he won’t take the trouble either to correct or quiet her.  Elizabeth, says Jane Austen, had never been “blind to the impropriety of her father’s behaviour” – a strong word indeed (“impropriety”) to use in connection with a gentleman.  Elizabeth reflects on “that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible.”  And she feels markedly “The disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable a marriage,” and the potential “evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents which rightly used might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters.”  Again, strong words: this man has failed to preserve “the respectability of his daughters.”  So that when, at the end of the novel, Mr. Bennet makes his famous pronouncement – “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn” – it is the uninformed reader who takes this as a declaration of the novelist’s faith.  On the contrary, everything in the book up to this point asks us to read Mr. Bennet’s statement ironically – as the speech of a man who, by practising the kind of detachment he defines here, has ruined the life of one of his daughters and made possible one of the most ill-assorted and unpleasant marriages in English literature.  The only real question is whether or not Mr. Bennet is speaking ironically here – whether he is aware of the monstrous nature of the philosophy he articulates in the “making sport for our neighbours” speech.  If we can see him as speaking ironically, we may get closer to Jane Austen’s point of view.  Mr. Bennet has now experienced at firsthand the perils of detachment; surely he has no further desire to make sport for his neighbours.  It is an important moment in Pride and Prejudice.   His sort of “detachment” is shown to be highly irresponsible.  Mr Bennet is morally defective in becoming “an ironic spectator almost totally self-enclosed, his irony rigidly defensive”; in him “the irony of the detached observer has become sterile.”  Critics have noted this.  Mrs. Bennet, being stupid, can almost be forgiven her silliness, but “there is something more ominous in Mr. Bennet.”  “Ominous,” one feels, is the right word; and it is especially “ominous” that many readers of Pride and Prejudice are so ready to see Mr. Bennet as the author’s spokesman.  This far she doesn’t go: there is such a thing as excessive detachment, and Mr. Bennet personifies it.  As Donald Greene says, Mr. Bennet winds up being an object of contempt, not pity.  Susan Morgan has written that Mr. Bennet’s chief weakness, “the weakness which must finally make him more culpable than his intolerable wife, is his refusal to be responsible for his life … Retiring to his library, he has retired from his life.”7

In the novel there appear unmistakeable strains of cynicism – strains which seem to have made up a part of Jane Austen’s personality.  Some of them we find in the novel’s celebrated irony, some in an attitude of mind which must be characterized by stronger words.  The irony begins, as everyone knows, in the very first sentence, perhaps the most famous opening of any novel in English:  “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  The novel’s nastiness is everywhere – spectacularly in Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but elsewhere as well.  Mrs. Bennet to one of her daughters:  “Don’t keep coughing so, Kitty, for heaven’s sake!  Have a little compassion on my nerves.  You tear them to pieces.”  Mr. Collins to Elizabeth:  “Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the efforts of your loveliness and amiable qualifications.”  The novelist on Sir William Lucas’s younger daughter: “Maria, a good humoured girl, but as empty-headed as himself, had nothing to say that could be worth hearing, and [was] listened to with about as much delight as the rattle of the chaise.”  The gossips of Meryton on hearing that Wickham has finally consented to marry Lydia: “the good-natured wishes for her well-doing, which had proceeded before, from all the spiteful old ladies of Meryton, lost but little of their spirit in this change of circumstances, because with such an husband, her misery was considered certain.”  Charlotte Lucas on marriage: “If a woman conceals her affection … from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him. … In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels.”  Mrs. Gardiner reminds Elizabeth that in matrimonial affairs there is very often no difference “between the mercenary and the prudent motive.”  The cynicism of all this is striking – especially the suggestions that human attachments spring largely from selfish motives, and that women who do not feign affection for men are likely to be left on the shelf.

There is a measure of cynicism too in Darcy’s declaration that no more than half a dozen women among his large acquaintance are genuinely “accomplished”; no woman who refuses to cultivate her mind by “extensive reading” can be truly accomplished, he says.  The speech he makes to Elizabeth about his own prickly nature savours strongly of self-scrutiny on the part of the novelist: “I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself.  My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them.  My temper would perhaps be called resentful. – My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.”  He adds a sentiment which, if it is the novelist’s, may help explain much of the pessimistic assessment of human nature to be found in all of Jane Austen’s books: “There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome” – thus the detached irony and cynicism with which human nature is often depicted in the novels.  Elizabeth’s speech to her sister on the unsatisfactory nature of the human race – and the reasons she gives for not being specially fond of human race – seems to be spoken directly from the novelist’s heart and mind, and in her own sad voice: 

There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well.  The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief  of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.

None of this detracts from the novel’s comedy, black though some of it may be.  Indeed, the razor-sharp wit which flashes through Pride and Prejudice is one of its most striking features – and proof, among other things, that Jane Austen’s sense of humour was fully developed at an early age.  Elizabeth on Bingley: “Is not general incivility the very essence of love?”  On Sir William Lucas: “his civilities were worn out like his information.” On Darcy and Wickham: “There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men.  One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.”  On Darcy, at the end: “Perhaps I did not always love him so well as I do now.  But in such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable.”  On Lady Catherine’s meddling: “Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use.”  Mr. Bennet, after hearing of the engagements of Jane and Elizabeth: “If any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at leisure … I admire all my three sons-in-law highly … Wickham, perhaps, is my favourite.”  This is indeed the wit of a Congreve, a Wilde, an Orton: Jane Austen has the same sort of comic genius.  It is not always so pronounced in her books – perhaps never, after Pride and Prejudice, allowed such free rein.

The novel may also tell us something about her views on a few issues, for there is a good deal of old-fashioned, unashamed preaching in it.  Some examples: 

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.”


“Do any thing rather than marry without affection.”


“How little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue.”


“Nothing is more deceitful … than the appearance of humility.  It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.”


“It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us.”


“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.” 

And there is the irrepressible Mary Bennet’s lecture on female virtue; “loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable … one false step involves her in endless ruin … her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful … she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.”

These pronouncements are quite sensible.  Elizabeth, however, remarks at the end of the novel: “We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing.”  Some things cannot be taught; some things cannot be learned.  It would make an appropriate epigraph for a novel which laughs at human nature without any real hope of changing it … an appropriate mixture of the comedy and pessimism that run in parallel streams throughout the book.  Like Byron, Jane Austen laughs so as not to weep.  The melancholy of Thackeray, another comic genius, is made of similar stuff.  You laugh because people are ridiculous; you cry because they will never change; and again you laugh because you know it is useless and unproductive to try to change what is both unchangeable and amusing. 


1 On the titles, chronology, and offer of publication of Pride and Prejudice, see B.C. Southam, Jane Austen’s Literary Manuscripts: A Study of the Novelist’s Development through the Surviving Papers (Oxford, 1964), p. 60; Douglas Bush, Jane Austen (New York, 1975), p. 90; A. Walton Litz, Jane Austen: A Study of Her Artistic Development (New York, 1965), p. 101 ;R.W. Chapman, Jane Austen: Facts and Problems (Oxford, 1948), p. 43; and Chapman’s Introductory Note and Appendices to The Novels of Jane Austen, ed. R.W. Chapman, 5 vols. (London, 1923; repr. 1926, 1933; rev. eds., 1943, 1946, 1948, 1954, 1959, 1965); The Works of Jane Austen, ed. R.W. Chapman, Vol. VI: Minor Works (London, 1954; repr. 1958; rev. eds., 1963, 1965). See Vol. II, especially pp. xi and 406-09. 

2 On elements of literary parody in Pride and Prejudice, see Q.D. Leavis, “A Critical Theory of Jane Austen’s Writings,” in Scrutiny, 10 (June 1941), 61-87 (the passage quoted appears on 71); Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (Oxford, 1975), p. 199; and Southam, pp. 59-62, passim. 

3 The connections between Chevening Park and its parsonage with Rosings and Hunsford in Pride and Prejudice, as well as those between Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the Stanhopes, were examined systematically for the first time by Sir David Smithers in Jane Austen in Kent (Westerham, 1981), on which my discussion is chiefly based (see especially Chapter 3).  I am grateful to Sir David for talking to me about these probable connections, taking me over the ground itself, and making available to me the typescript of his book when in press.  My conclusions are drawn primarily from his.  Sir David’s views are also published in abbreviated form in “Where Was Jane Austen’s Rosings?:  The Case for Chevening,” Country Life, 158, No. 4341 (30 October 1980), 1568-71. 

4 On the position of women writers in the 1790s see Joan Rees, Jane Austen: Woman and Writer (London and New York, 1976), p. 49. Much of what is said in this paragraph is indebted to Rees’s commentary. 

5 All quotations from Pride and Prejudice are taken from Chapman’s edition of The Novels of Jane Austen (see above, n. 1), Vol. II. 

6 Marvin Mudrick, Jane Austen: Irony as Defense and Discovery (Princeton, NJ, 1952; Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1968), p. 95. 

7 On Mr. Bennet’s role and meaning in Pride and Prejudice, see Butler, p. 210; Mudrick, p. 113; Litz, p. 105; Donald Greene, “Jane Austen’s Monsters,” in John Halperin (ed.), Jane Austen: Bicentenary Essays (Cambridge, London and New York, 1975), pp. 269-70; Susan Morgan, In the Meantime: Character and Perception in Jane Austen’s Fiction (Chicago and London, 1980), pp. 96,98, and 102; Alistair M. Duckworth, The Improvement of the Estate: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels (Baltimore and London, 1971), p. 128; and Julia Prewitt Brown, Jane Austen’s Novels: Social Change and Literary Form (Cambridge, MA, and London, 1979), p. 75.

Back to Persuasions  #11 Table of Contents

Return to Home Page