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Jane Austen at Home Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley
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Jane Austen at Home Quotes Showing 1-26 of 26
“And Jane all her life would be interested in ordinary, unexceptional girls and what might happen to them. Her quietest heroine of all, Fanny Price, had ‘no glow of complexion, nor any other striking beauty’, while Catherine Morland had ‘nothing heroic’ about her, and was ‘occasionally stupid’. Jane’s great achievement would be to let even the ordinary, flawed, human girls who read her books think that they might be heroines too.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
“Every generation gets the ‘Jane Austen’ it deserves.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
“... it had become agreed that Jane would be excused household duties. It sounds like a tiny thing – and indeed it was – but a tiny trickle of water gradually hollows out a stone. Jane’s ducking out of the housework in order to write would lead inexorably onwards, upwards, towards women working, to women winning power in a world of men. This is the significance of trying to reconstruct the detail of Jane Austen’s daily life.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“There were, of course, compensatory advantages to growing older. ‘As I must leave off being young,’ Jane admitted, ‘I find many Douceurs … I am put on the Sofa near the Fire & can drink as much wine as I like.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“And thank goodness Jane did not meet in real life an Edmund Bertram, or a Mr Knightley, because if she had married she would doubtless, like her niece Anna, have produced human rather then paper progeny. So – for their failures of courage or determination – we can, must, give thanks to Charles Powlett, who wanted to kiss Jane when she was twenty; to Tom Lefroy, seen off by Madam Lefroy; to the talkative Reverend Samuel Blackall; to the silent Harris Bigg-Wither; to the Reverend Edward Bridges; to Robert Holt-Leigh, the dodgy MP who flirted with Jane in 1806; and to William Seymour, her brother Henry’s lawyer, who failed to ask Jane to marry him as they travelled in that carriage.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“all of Jane’s heroines will marry for love and nothing else. Of course their suitors come with material advantages, and no one chooses foolishly, but what it really comes down to, for Catherine Morland, Elinor Dashwood, Lizzy Bennet, Fanny Price, Emma Woodhouse and Anne Elliot, is finding the right man. Or … so you think at first. Jane’s novels are celebrated for the new meanings you pick up each time you reread them. And when Jane approaches the moment when her heroines must marry, it is possible to argue that something a little strange happens to her storytelling. Yes, this is a highly contentious suggestion, but bear with me. If you look at the exact moments where love is brought to a climax, and matches are made, you may find them a little abrupt, almost perfunctory. We don’t hear Emma Woodhouse accepting Mr Knightley’s proposal, we don’t see Edmund falling in love with Fanny Price. And in the very final paragraph of Mansfield Park, the object of Fanny’s affections, like Charlotte Lucas’s, is defined as a house. It was Mansfield Parsonage that she now finds ‘as dear to her heart’ as anything.24 Perhaps Jane treated these events lightly, almost mechanically, because she didn’t really believe that a man, on his own, could bring a happy ending. So, if there is even a smidgeon of possibility that Jane herself might choose to marry a house,”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
“Long in body, late in arrival, Jane would always have an uneasy relationship with her mother. Her fiction is full of bad mothers: Mrs Dashwood and Mrs Bennet, who lack sense, Mrs Price, who lacks attention, and the absent Mrs Woodhouse and Mrs Elliot, both dead when the story starts. Perhaps the trouble began right at the beginning.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
“As Jane grew up, it was to her sister that she turned for intimacy, as if Cassandra were a second mother. Substitute mothers would appear often in Jane’s novels; it was a role with which she was very familiar, and would play herself in due course to younger women.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
“But the enduring reason for Jane’s popularity today is that she seems born outside her time, to be more like one of us, for she lifelong expresses the opposite point of view: in favour of vitality, strength, independence.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
“Great’ writers were so obviously supposed to be male, and not anyone’s aunt.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“Lizzy Bennet, charming as we find her today, was strikingly bold, almost brash, for her time. When she eventually appeared in print, many Georgian readers would consider her to be offensively uppity.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“Jane’s fictional world was so perfectly, minutely and solidly constructed that it took another brilliant and unusual writer, Charlotte Brontë, a generation later, to pull it down. Brontë memorably described Pride and Prejudice as ‘a carefully-fenced, highly cultivated garden with neat borders and delicate flowers – but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy – no open country – no fresh air – no blue hill – no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen in their elegant but confined houses.’ She concludes her demolition job with ‘these observations will probably irritate’. Yes, Charlotte Brontë, they do irritate, as you could hardly have written Jane Eyre unless Jane Austen had previously constructed something worthy of demolition.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“And the last word may go to Virginia Woolf:

Jane Austen was born before those bonds which (we are told) protected woman from truth, were burst by the Brontës or elaborately untied by George Eliot. Yet the fact remains that Jane Austen knew much more about men than either of them. Jane Austen may have been protected from truth: but it was precious little of truth that was protected from her.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“Jane, in fact, mothered these girls, and her fiction reveals her belief that motherhood could be a social, not a biological function.4 Blood mothers may be ridiculous or ill-advised, like Mrs Bennet or Mrs Dashwood, but mothers in the form of mentors are often wise, generous, caring. Mrs Gardiner, her aunt, gives Lizzy Bennet better advice than Mrs Bennet does, while Emma Woodhouse has a fine surrogate in the shape of Mrs Weston. In this sense, Fanny and Anna were Jane’s own children.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“I hate tiny parties’, Jane also admitted, ‘they force one into constant exertion’. She had always been too introverted to make friends easily, and this grew more pronounced as she grew older. Her manner, Frank admitted, was ‘rather reserved to strangers so as to have been by some accused of haughtiness’. Jane described one heavy evening of socialising, which began at seven, as a ‘Labour’ from which the home team of female Austens were eventually ‘delivered’ at ‘past eleven’.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“Jane admitted, ‘I drank too much wine last night … I know not how else to account for the shaking of my hand to day.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“Jane knew, indeed women knew, all about the politics of housework and household management. But no one before Jane had turned them into art.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
“For until you had seen such a relationship described by Jane Austen, you did not know that you wanted it.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
“Despite the protestations of the Austen family that her closest male relatives formed Jane’s taste and aspirations, it’s recently been proved that the love and friendship of a number of older women would be equally – if not more – important for her future career.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“But Jane also had her friends outside her family. Her preternatural cleverness meant that her closest friends, beyond Cassandra, tended to be women significantly older than herself. Also, she did not lack role models in the form of females who were published writers.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“It would be Jane’s unique contribution to illustrate the effect of these seismic events indirectly, as they played out in the tiny details of the day-to-day life of ordinary people. She made the political into the personal.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“Among Jane’s important innovations as a novelist would be her decision to make her heroines less than perfect, but much more than weak-minded.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“There’s a good explanation for why the Georgian age’s greatest novelist spends so much time in her letters discussing tea and sugar, and the finer details of the trimmings of clothes. These were the things in their lives over which Jane and Cassandra had control. Where the sisters should live was not their choice. Major purchases like furniture were rare. Independent travel, higher education lay out of reach. What did fall within their grasp was the purchase and the use of household supplies, and the ability to give and accept occasional invitations for visits to friends and relatives. No wonder the letters devote so much attention to these matters.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“Consequently, Jane’s letters, like her books, spend little time describing a house. A room’s prospect or temperature, when she was staying away from home, might be mentioned, but she never describes the wallpaper or the curtains. That’s because these too, the permanent fixtures and fittings of life, were beyond her control.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“For Jane, a house, it’s furniture, were given. It was the smaller things, the bonnets, the recipes, that were up for grabs. These represented her personal choice, and were therefore worth describing.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home
“The way Jane lays out her paragraphs, and the frequent use of italics to indicate which words should be stressed, were all intended to aid someone ‘performing’ the novels aloud. It looks like Jane’s books encouraged women’s voices to be heard: not only as words on the page, but also out loud, in real life, in the drawing rooms of late Georgian England.”
Lucy Worsley, Jane Austen at Home