Friday, May 7, 2010

Jane Austen's World - 1806-1818

This started out as a series of posts of events that happened in the years ending in '10. If you want to read all the posts in one spot, click on "Jane Austen's World" in the sidebar.

Jane’s contemporaries in the arts between 1806 - 1818: Goethe, Byron, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Scott, Mary Shelley, The Grimm Brothers; Beethoven, Rossini, Haydn, Mozart; Canova (Magdalen at left owned by the Hermitage in St. Petersburgh), Goya, Turner, Constable, John Singleton Copley.

Military: Napoleon enters Berlin; Joseph Bonaparte is name King of Naples; Louis Bonaparte is named King of Holland; Napoleon annexes the Papal States. It sounds as if everything is going Napoleon’s way. However, in 1809, Arthur Wellesley defeats the French at Oporto and Talavera and is created the Duke of Wellington. The final showdown will be at Waterloo in six years. Inspires ABBA song.

Important industrial and scientific advances: British cotton industry employs 90,000 factory workers and 184,000 handloom weavers; Humphry Davy invents the miner’s safety lamp; British road surveyor John Macadam constructs roads of crushed stone; The Comet, Henry Bell’s steamship, operates on the Clyde River in Scotland; Beaufort wind scale is designed; Apothecaries Act forbids unqualified doctors to practice in Britain (but where do all the unqualified doctors go).

In 1807, the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade is passed in Parliament. It will be another 30 years before slavery itself is outlawed.

But while all this is going on, what has our dear Jane been doing.

1775 – Jane Austen is born at Steventon on December 16, the seventh child of Rev. George Austen and Cassandra Leigh.
1795 – Eleanor and Marianne is written in epistolary form.
1796 – First Impressions (later Pride and Prejudice) is finished.
1798 – Northanger Abbey is written.
1801 – The Austens move to Bath.
1805 – Austen writes The Watsons and Lady Susan.
1809 – The Austens move to Chawton.
1811 – Mansfield Park is begun. Sense and Sensibility published at Austen’s expense.
1813 – Pride and Prejudice is published.
1814 – Mansfield Park is published.
1815 – Emma is published with a dedication to the Prince of Wales.
1815-17 – Persuasion is written.
1816-17 – Jane works on Lady Susan and Sanditon.
1817 – Jane dies at Winchester and is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
1818 – Persuasion and Northanger Abbey are published posthumously with a biography written by her brother, Henry.
1869 - A Memoir of Jane Austen is published by her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, and reintroduces Jane to the literary world. A second edition was published in 1871 which includes previously unpublished Jane Austen writings.
1969 - One hundred years after the publication of A Memoir of Jane Austen,  Mary Lydon (aka, me) reads Pride and Prejudice in her senior high school English class. Forty years later, her first novel, Searching for Pemberley, is published by Sourcebooks.

Picture is of a first edition of Pride and Prejudice as displayed at Chatsworth House and owned by the Cavendish family, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.


  1. How interesting! This is great to put Jane into historical context! :)

  2. Great bit of research mary. it is great to lives in a context.

    By the way, did you have to write an essay about Pride and Prejudice during your final high school year? eg: "What does Pride and Prejudice tell us about the English class system in the 18th century" OR "Love conquers all: discuss" or maybe something like that.

    I've always thought , do the teachers who think up these titles really want to know the answer?????

  3. I did have to write a paper, and it was about Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's relationship. At 17, the comedic value of Mrs. Bennet was lost on me, and I was pretty hard on her. That's why I liked Brenda Blethyn's portrayal of Mrs. Bennet. You understood why she did the things she did. My hats off to teachers who have to read hundreds of essays, but like you say, with some of the topics for the assignments, they're asking for it.