By the Seaside with Sanditon: Worthing, the inspiration for Sanditon?

Eastbourne vs. Worthing? As we continue to explore Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel Sanditon it is interesting to ponder what Jane Austen used to model her emerging seaside resort of Mr. Parker’s creation. Julie at Austenonly presents a strong argument for the resort for Worthing in Sussex, also an emerging seaside resort in the early 1800’s that Austen visited with her family.

“There has been much speculation about Jane Austen’s inspiration for the town of Sanditon: was the place completely  imaginary or did she base it on a resort with which she was familiar? Eastbourne in Sussex has been mooted as a candidate, though as far as I am aware, Jane Austen is not recorded as ever having visited that town.

But she is recorded as having visited Worthing, another Sussex resort, and this definitely has possibilities for being her template for the developing resort of Sanditon.”

Visit Austenonly, Julie’s excellent blog to discover the evidence in support of her theory and decide for yourself. 

Upcoming event posts

Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Events Wrap-up

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Sanditon Group Read Chapters 5-8: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day Four Giveaway

“We have consulted physician after physician in vain, till we are quite convinced that they can do nothing for us and that we must trust to our own knowledge of our own wretched constitutions for any relief.” Diana Parker Chapter 5

Quick Synopsis

A letter from Diana Parker updates her brother on their ongoing health issues. She does not believe in doctors. She may have two possible large families for his resort. Charlotte meets Lady Denham and Miss Brereton. One is shrewd, the other a heroine. Lady Denham does not want a doctor in Sanditon. Her husband poor Mr. Hollis would still be alive today without them. Charlotte meets Sir Edward Denham and his sister. He runs on about the “terrific grandeur” of the sea and poets. She thinks him downright silly. Later he tells her he was born to be a seducer and plans to woo Clara by affection or carry her off. Mr. Parker’s three siblings arrive in Sanditon and update him on their health woes. Diana has arrived to make arrangements for the Camberwell Seminary who she has procured through a chain of friends. Charlotte thinks she is activity run mad.

Musings

Chapter four opens with a letter from Diana Parker read by her brother. We begin to learn about the extent of their medical maladies. Diana is suffering from “my old grievance, spasmodic bile.” She thanks her brother for his efforts to find a doctor for Sanditon, but she is entirely done with the whole tribe and they prefer to treat themselves! This is an interesting dichotomy. Mr. Parker is trying to establish a health spa and his sister does not believe in doctors for herself or her siblings but does for others? She understands that having a doctor at Sanditon will attract visitors and help her brother’s enterprise but she wants none of it. She will not visit Sanditon because the sea air would be the death of her, so evidently she does not believe in natural remidies either. Ten days of leeches applied to her sister Susan has not cured her headaches. Her solution is to advise her to have three teeth drawn! This is shocking to Charlotte who thinks it is extreme. Mr. Parker agrees with her. Interesting that the two siblings are not in agreement on medical philosophies. This set up is a great way for Austen to develop the pros and cons of medical treatment and praying upon the sick.

Lady Denham was of middle height, stout, upright and alert in her motions, with a shrewd eye and self-satisfied air but not an unagreeable countenance; and though her manner was rather downright and abrupt, as of a person who valued herself on being free-spoken, there was a good humour and cordiality about her — a civility and readiness to be acquainted. The Narrator Ch 6

Charlotte begins to tour the neighborhood and visits the circulating library where she finds all kinds of trinkets to buy. Among the books is a volume of Camilla.She had not Camilla’s youth, and had no intention of having her distress.” Ha! Camilla: A Picture of Youth is Fanny Burney’s widely popular 1796 novel focused the matrimonial machination of a group of cousins. Austen had mentioned Camilla in her defence of a novel in Northanger Abbey.

“And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language.” Northanger Abbey, Ch 5

I found it quite amusing that her heroine Charlotte has heard of Camilla but dismisses it because of the heroine’s challenges. What we know of Charlotte’s life so far would not put her in the line of a romantic heroine. Quite the contrary. Just to mix things up, later we do see her interest in Clara Brereton, Lady Denham’s companion, who she thinks is a “bewitching heroine in a novel.” Obviously she does read novels and thought she fit the part, but sees no apparent persecution by Lady Denham to qualify her in the Gothic vein. “On one side it seemed protecting kindness, on the other grateful and affectionate respect.”

“I make no apologies for my heroine’s vanity. If there are young ladies in the world at her time of life more dull of fancy and more careless of pleasing, I know them not and never wish to know them.” The Narrator (speaking to the reader directly) Ch 7

More introductions bring Sir Edward Denham and his sister Esther into Charlotte’s new social circle. Esther is cold and indifferent, but her brother is all charm and affability and Charlotte is impressed until he starts spouting romantic nonsense about the “terrific grandeur of the ocean” to her and erroneously quoting poetry which she quickly calls him out on. She believes that Burns’ life had certain irregularities that prevented her from trusting his writing. “He felt and he wrote and he forgot.” Sir Edward passionately defends him, but she thinks Sir Edward overly sentimental and downright silly and changes the subject to the weather. Lady Denham has her own agenda too. She reveals that even though Sir Edward is the heir of her late husband’s estate, he depends upon her for support. He must marry for money. “if we could but get a young heiress to Sanditon! But heiresses are monstrous scarce!” She is giving Charlotte fair warning that even though he is handsome, charming and titled, she should look elsewhere.

“Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive. With such personal advantages as he knew himself to possess, and such talents as he did also give himself credit for, he regarded it as his duty. He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive.” The Narrator Ch 7

Charlotte’s suspicions of Sir Edward are soon solidified when he continues to rattle on about books. “I am no indiscriminate novel reader. The mere trash of the common circulating library I hold in the highest contempt. You will never hear me advocating those puerile emanations which detail nothing but discordant principles incapable of amalgamation, or those vapid tissues of ordinary occurrences from which no useful deductions can be drawn.” He has been influenced by Samuel Richardson and his followers. His “great object in life was to be seductive” and he regards it as his duty. “He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces.” Lovelace refers to anti-hero Robert Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s 1748 novel Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady. Sir Edward openly announces to Charlotte that he has designs on Clara who is young, dependent and his rival for Lady Denham’s fortune. Clara sees his game. He is oblivious and if he can not seduce her with affection, he would carry her off, just like his hero Roger Lovelace.

“Invalids indeed. I trust there are not three people in England who have so sad a right to that appellation! But my dear Miss Heywood, we are sent into this world to be as extensively useful as possible, and where some degree of strength of mind is given, it is not a feeble body which will excuse us — or incline us to excuse ourselves. The world is pretty much divided between the weak of mind and the strong; between those who can act and those who cannot; and it is the bounden duty of the capable to let no opportunity of being useful escape them. My sister’s complaints and mine are happily not often of a nature to threaten existence immediately.” Diana Parker Ch 8

Diana Parker arrives in Sanditon totally unannounced. Like her brother Mr. Parker, she has acted on impulse and brought her two siblings with her even though they are all very ill (in their minds?). Diana has a thousand fears for her sister Susan who bore the travel tolerably well. No hysterics until they reached Sanditon! While Diana talks a blue streak about her medical news and her lengthy chain of communication to procure Mrs. Griffiths and her Camberwell Seminary group to Sanditon, Charlotte is amazed at her energy in the face of her condition. “Unaccountable officiousness! Activity run mad!” Diana explains that the world is divided between the weak of mind and the strong and those who can act and those who cannot. “It is the bounden duty of the capable to let no opportunity of being useful escape them.” We hear Diana and her brother talk about her illnesses and how debilitating they are to her, but we have no evidence of it – yet!

Favorite words

Vouchsafed, beau monde, venturesome, watering-place, milch asses, chamber-horse, physic, verily, beseech, indubitable, vicissitudes, aberrations, coruscations, illimitable, sagacity, forbearance, puerile, emanations, amalgamation, alembic, sublimities, incipient, aberration, amelioration, indomitable, eleemosynary, sagacity, assiduity, alacrity, belles letters.

Further reading

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 4 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Sanditon and Other Stories, by Jane Austen (Everyman’s Library) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by midnight PDT  Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winner to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.

Upcoming event posts

Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Sir Edward Denham’s Sentimental Stirrings about the Sea & Seduction

He began, in a tone of great taste and feeling, to talk of the sea and the sea shore; and ran with energy through all the usual phrases employed in praise of their sublimity and descriptive of the undescribable emotions they excite in the mind of sensibility. The terrific grandeur of the ocean in a storm, its glass surface in a calm, its gulls and its samphire and the deep fathoms of its abysses, its quick vicissitudes, its direful deceptions, its mariners tempting it in sunshine and overwhelmed by the sudden tempest — all were eagerly and fluently touched; rather commonplace perhaps, but doing very well from the lips of a handsome Sir Edward, and she could not but think him a man of feeling, till he began to stagger her by the number of his quotations and the bewilderment of some of his sentences. Sanditon, Chapter 7

Jane Austen’s anti-hero in Sanditon, Sir Edward Denham, Baronet of Denham Park is a bit of rake and a rattle. He is prone to long inflated speeches in the most pompous and affected style all in an attempt to reinforce his own notion that he is a romantic character born to seduce women “quite in the line of Lovelaces.” Lovelace refers to the villain Robert Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s 1748 novel Clarissa who rapes and ruins the young heroine. With Sir Edward, Austen is poking fun at the dramatic and sentimental heroes and villains of the novels of her times.  

During his speech to Charlotte Heywood, he rambles on about the sea describing in quite unoriginal phrases its “terrific grandeur” of glass surface, gulls and samphire. When I originally read the novel years ago, I had no idea what samphire was, what significance it had and why Jane Austen used as and example of describing the sea. Understanding the cultural context of Austen’s novels can be so enlightening and I asked Julie of Austenonly, a fellow Austen enthusiast and expert on the era to explain it all for me. She has graciously obliged and you can read her excellent post on samphire at her blog.

In addition to his rattling’s about the sea we are treated to his lengthy effusions on poets as he incorrectly attributes Scott to have written about the sea, which Charlotte quickly corrects him on.

“Do you remember”, said he, “Scott’s beautiful Lines on the Sea? — Oh! what a description they convey! — They are never out of my Thoughts when I walk here. — That Man who can read them unmoved must have the nerves of an Assassin! — Heaven defend me from meeting such a Man un-armed.”  

“What description do you mean?”, said Charlotte. “I remember none at this moment, of the Sea, in either of Scott’s Poems.”

“Do not you indeed? — Nor can I exactly recall the beginning at this moment.”  Ch 6

This blunder does not deter him in the least and he continues quoting other poets: Burns, Montgomery and Campbell. Our observant heroine is having none of it and calls him out again.

“I have read several of Burns’ Poems with great delight”, said Charlotte, as soon as she had time to speak, “but I am not poetic enough to separate a Man’s Poetry entirely from his Character; — & poor Burns’s known Irregularities greatly interrupt my enjoyment of his Lines. — I have difficulty in depending on the Truth of his Feelings as a Lover. I have not faith in the sincerity of the affections of a Man of his Description. He felt & he wrote & he forgot.” Ch 8

One wonders if Charlotte has learned that Sir Edward’s “known irregularities greatly interrupt” her enjoyment of his speech? She has difficulty believing the truth of Burns’ poetry because of his personal life. A man’s actions reflect upon his reputation and character. I love the parallel between what she describes as Burns’ faults, “He felt & he wrote & he forgot” with Sir Edward’s want of being a seducer, who we well know are all about the conquest and not the results or consequences!

More on the insincere and insalubrious Sir Edward Denham as he expounds upon “The mere Trash of the common Circulating Library” when ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ continues this week.

Upcoming event posts

Day 4 – March 18 Group read Chapters 5-8
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions

On the Trail of Sanditon: The History of the Manuscript

“She continued to work at it as long as she could work at all.” James Edward Austen-Leigh (1871) 

On the 27th January, 1817 Jane Austen began work on a novel that is now known as Sanditon. It was never completed. She was gravely ill, and after a brief period of remission, her condition worsened until “her mind could no longer pursue its accustomed course” 1 and on the 18th of March 1817 after penning 22,000 words she wrote the last lines of chapter twelve and put down her pen. Exactly four months after abandoning the novel she would succumb to what is generally believed to have been Addison’s disease. She was 41 years old.

Upon her death, all of Jane Austen’s papers, manuscripts and future royalties were bequeathed to her elder sister Cassandra Austen. The Sanditon fragment was among them. With her brother Henry’s help, Cassandra would publish Jane’s last two novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion posthumously in late 1817. The balance of her letters and manuscripts remained in Cassandra’s possession at their last home together in Chawton, Hampshire. On the 9th of May 1843, Cassandra Austen then age 70 wrote her will and named her younger brother Charles Austen as residuary legatee and executor. On the same day she wrote to him itemizing the bequests of personal belonging she wished him to distribute to the family.

“As I have leisure, I am looking over and destroying some of my papers – others I have marked ‘to be burned’, whilst some will still remain. These are chiefly a few letters and a few manuscripts of our dear Jane, which I have set apart for those parties to whom I think they will be most valuable. …I have marked the contents of one of the small Drawers of one of my Bureaux for Anna.” 2

Cassandra died two years later in 1845 and Jane Austen’s legacy to her sister was dispersed among immediate family members. This amounted to what we now group together as her Minor Works primarily comprising: the 3 volumes of Juvenilia, the fragment of The Watsons, the novella Lady Susan, the cancelled chapters of Persuasion and the unfinished Sanditon. The last two items were passed to Anna Lefroy (1793- 1872), Jane and Cassandra’s niece and daughter of their eldest brother James. As young child Anna had lived with her aunts after her mother’s death in 1795 until her father remarried. She remained a favorite relation of both Jane and Cassandra. In 1814 Anna married neighbor Benjamin Lefroy, one of the sons of Jane’s dear friend Mrs. Anne Lefroy of Ashe, (Tom Lefroy’s aunt).

In 1871, the fragment was first made known to the public in her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh’s biography of his aunt Jane Austen: A Memoir. Described only as the ‘Last Work’ it included experts of the text and a bit of family lore about the manuscript.

‘The chief part of this manuscript is written in her usual firm and neat hand, but some of the latter pages seem to have been first traced in pencil, probably when she was too weak to sit long at her desk, and written over in ink afterwards. The quality produced does not indicate any decline of power or industry, for in those seven weeks twelve chapters had been completed. It is more difficult to judge of the quality of a work so little advanced. It had received no name; there was scarcely any indication what the course of the story was to be, nor was any heroine yet perceptible, who, like Fanny Price, or Anne Elliot, might draw round her the sympathies of the readers. Such an unfinished fragment cannot be presented to the public.’ James Edward Austen-Leigh 3

According to family tradition, Jane intended to call her novel ‘The Brothers’ presumably after brothers Thomas, Sidney and Arthur Parker in her story. Interestingly, Jane Austen’s favorite poet George Crabbe also used this title for one of his own stories in his book Crabbe’s Tales. Her family chose instead to name it Sanditon when it was published in 1925 by R. W. Chapman. 4 If ‘The Brothers’ had been used it would have been Austen’s second reference to her favored poet in one of her novels. Fanny Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park also has among her small group of books the same volume on her table in her attic room.

There was a bit of an Austen family kerfuffle over what they all deemed worthy of print from the remaining letters, fragments and juvenilia. Anna Lefroy was obviously not among the dissenters who opposed publication and allowed the excerpts of the manuscript of Sanditon in her possession to be included in Jane Austen: A Memoir. She must have had an open mind to ‘publish and be damned’ since she had her own aspirations to be a novelist, attempting to complete Sandition herself. Ironically, she did not finish her version either.

Upon Anna Lefroy’s death in 1872 the Sanditon manuscript remained in the Lefroy family for two more generations. In 1925 when R.W. Chapman researched the manuscript and transcribed the first full copy for publication, it was owned by Mary Isabella Lefroy (1860-1939), grand-daughter of Anna. In 1930 she presented it to King’s College, Cambridge, in memory of her sister Florence Emma Austen-Leigh (1857-1926) and the latter’s husband Augustus Austen-Leigh (1840-1905), Provost of King’s from 1889 until his death. 5 (It appears that the Lefroy and Austen’s intermarried quite frequently)

The manuscript of Sanditon has remained in safekeeping with Cambridge University for eighty years and has been exhibited only twice, most notably during the bicentenary exhibition honoring Jane Austen’s birth in 1975 at the British Library. There is also a copy of Sanditon transcribed by Cassandra Austen for her brother Frank that is owned by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust, at Jane Austen’s House, Chawton and displayed at Chawton House Library.

First page of the Sanditon manuscript

Now, go visit Cambridge University Janeites to gaze upon Jane’s “usual firm and neat hand”  in her last manuscript. 

“One other hill brings us to Sanditon — modern Sanditon — a beautiful spot.”  Ch 4

1.) Austen-Leigh, James Edward, A Memoir of Jane Austen, pg 151
2.) Le Faye, Deirdre, Jane Austen: A Family Record, pg 243
3.) James Edward Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen, pg 170-71
4.) Le Faye, Deirdre, Jane Austen: A Family Record, pg 254
5.) Gilson, David, A Bibliography of Jane Austen, pg 376-77

Upcoming event posts 

Day 4 – March 18 Group read Chapters 5-8
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions

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By the Seaside with Sanditon: Guest Blog with Julie of Austenonly on Regency-era Seaside Resorts

Joining us today to extend the Sanditon celebration across the Internet is a very special guest, Julie the very affable and talented blog mistress of Austenonly. Her expertise in Georgian and Regency era culture and history is astonishing. Her extensive library of resource books would make even Mr. Darcy envious. To tie into to our ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ event this week, she will be blogging about the development of Regency-era seaside resorts similar to what our Mr. Parker and Lady Denham are attempting to create at Sanditon. Enjoy! 

Jane Austen’s unfinished fragment, Sanditon, is set in a small Sussex seaside resort, a place that is being ruthlessly and relentlessly “improved” by Mr Parker, a man obsessed with his creation and the money-making opportunities it affords: 

Mr. Parker`s character and history were soon unfolded. All that he understood of himself, he readily told, for he was very openhearted; and where he might be himself in the dark, his conversation was still giving information to such of the Heywoods as could observe. By such he was perceived to be an enthusiast — on the subject of Sanditon, a complete enthusiast. Sanditon, the success of Sanditon as a small, fashionable bathing place, was the object for which he seemed to live. A very few years ago, it had been a quiet village of no pretensions; but some natural advantages in its position and some accidental circumstances having suggested to himself and the other principal landholder the probability of its becoming a profitable speculation, they had engaged in it, and planned and built, and praised and puffed, and raised it to something of young renown; and Mr. Parker could now think of very little besides…  Sanditon, Chapter 2 

Sanditon is also under the patronage of Lady Denham, the wealthy widow of Mr Hollis and a baronet, a social climber though marriage and a woman rather in the mould of  Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Pride and Prejudice,. Here she is described by Mr Parker: 

“There is at times,” said he, “a little self-importance — but it is not offensive — and there are moments, there are points, when her love of money is carried greatly too far. But she is a good-natured woman, a very good-natured woman — a very obliging, friendly neighbour; a cheerful, independent, valuable character — and her faults may be entirely imputed to her want of education. She has good natural sense, but quite uncultivated. She has a fine active mind as well as a fine healthy frame for a woman of seventy, and enters into the improvement of Sanditon with a spirit truly admirable. Though now and then, a littleness will appear. She cannot look forward quite as I would have her and takes alarm at a trifling present expense without considering what returns it will make her in a year or two. That is, we think differently. We now and then see things differently, Miss Heywood. Those who tell their own story, you know, must be listened to with caution. When you see us in contact, you will judge for yourself.” Lady Denham was indeed a great lady beyond the common wants of society, for she had many thousands a year to bequeath, and three distinct sets of people to be courted by: her own relations, who might very reasonably wish for her original thirty thousand pounds among them; the legal heirs of Mr. Hollis, who must hope to be more indebted to her sense of justice than he had allowed them to be to his… Sanditon, Chapter 3 

In this satire on developing seaside resorts, commercial greed, hypochondria and the type of people these place attracted, it is perhaps no mere coincidence that Jane Austen ensures that Mr Holllis, the first husband of Lady Denham, shares the name of the man who began the development of Lyme Regis from small fishing village to a seaside resort. 

Lyme Regis from A Guide to all the Watering and
Sea-Bathing  Places etc (1803) by John Feltham

Thomas Hollis (1720-1774) was an interesting character. He was a political propagandist and a radical but also a supporter of the house of Hanover. He was a benefactor, amongst other institutions, of Harvard University and owned an estate of 3000 acres at Corscombe near Beauminster. He kept, however, a suite of rooms in the Three Cups Hotel at Lyme and bought up much of the slums and derelict property in Lyme in order to demolish them and improve the town. He created the first public promenade by purchasing land on the shore to create what Jane Austen would have referred to as The Walk ( it is now part of Marine Parade). He knocked down a series of warehouses to clear a site for the building of Lyme’s Assembly Rooms complex and these were completed in 1775 just after Hollis’s death. These are the Rooms that Jane Austen visited in 1804. 

Continue to full post 

Upcoming event posts

Day 4 – March 18 Group Read Chapters 5-8
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions

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Sanditon Group Read Chapters 1-4: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day Two Giveaway

“But Sanditon itself – everybody has heard of Sanditon. The favourite – for a young and rising bathing-place – certainly the favourite spot of all that are to be found along the coast of Sussex; the most favoured by nature, and promising to be the most chosen by man.” Mr. Parker, Chapter 1

Quick Synopsis

While traveling through Sussex Mr. & Mrs. Parker have a carriage accident on a steep road. Mr. Parker exits the carriage and sprains his foot. Mr. Heywood, a local gentleman farmer and his family take them in and they stay a fortnight. They depart for home with Mr. Heywood’s daughter Charlotte to Sanditon, a seaside resort community that Mr. Parker is developing in partnership with Lady Denham. She is old, rich, shrewd widow who has buried two husbands. Her companion is her young cousin Clara Brereton. Her deceased husband’s nephew is Sir Edward Denham. Her family, Clara and Edward all vie for her fortune. They enter old Sanditon village and Mr. Parker is excited over shop merchandise and improvements. Civilization! They pass his former residence and climb the hill to his new home Trafalgar House. The Terrace, shopping Mall and sea bathing machines are visible from Charlotte’s rooms.

Musings

The story opens with a carriage accident that is brought about by Mr. Parker’s impetuous nature. On a whim and without investigation he has altered his route home and taken a treacherous and steep road in pursuit of a doctor he read about in the morning newspaper. When his carriage overturns he and his wife are not injured. Only after he steps from the carriage onto the firm ground is he injured by twisting his ankle. This made me smile. Here is Jane Austen beginning with an irony, and then doubling it for us when he discovers that he is in the wrong town and that there are two Willingden’s. Mr. Heywood a local gentleman farmer comes to their rescue and offers aid and refreshments. They stay a fortnight! What hospitality! The two gentlemen could not be farther in temperament or personality: Mr. Parker is all about change and progress and the ‘modern’ life and Mr. Heywood is content to never leave home or change anything about his life. Mr. Parker is seeking a doctor and Mr. Heywood has no need of them! Mr. Parker enthusiastically describes Sanditon, a seaside community he is developing and Mr. Heywood thinks that resorts are “Bad things for a country — sure to raise the of provisions and make the poor good for nothing.” Amazingly, even though they are polar opposites they enjoy each others company and Mr. Heywood trusts him enough to allow his daughter Charlotte to return with them to Sanditon for a holiday. The way Mr. Parker enthusiastically defends the need of another seaside resort reminds me of a modern-day time-share salesman. He rattles off a list of amenities off the top of his head without any effort.

“Such a place as Sanditon, sir, I may say was wanted, was called for. Nature had marked it out, had spoken in most intelligible characters. The finest, purest sea breeze on the coast – acknowledged to be so – excellent bathing – fine hard sand – deep water ten yards from the shore – no mud – no weeds – no slimy rocks. Never was there a place more palpably designed by nature for the resort of the invalid – the very spot which thousands seemed in need of!” Mr. Parker, Chapter 1

His colleague in speculation in this development scheme is piece of work. She is the great lady of Sanditon, Lady Denham. She is old, rich, shrewd and has buried two husbands: Mr. Hollis she had married for his money and Lord Denham for his title. She has no children of her own, but Clara Brereton, a poor young cousin is her companion. Her three sets of relations court her for her fortune. The Hollis’ were not in favor with her husband and were passed over in the will. She got everything. They want it back. Sir Edward Denham of nearby Denham Park was the nephew to her last husband and is her most likely heir. When Clara Brereton enters the scene, she is in competition with Sir Edward and has a fair chance of inheriting the fortune too. Money always makes the plot churn!

“One other hill brings us to Sanditon – modern Sanditon – a beautiful spot. Our ancestors, you know, always built in a hole, Here were we, pent down in this little contracted nook, without air or view, only one mile and three quarters from the noblest expanse of ocean between the South Foreland and Land’s End, and without the smallest advantage from it.” Mr. Parker, Chapter 4.

And then their carriage reaches Sanditon and we begin to learn more about the area, the town and the people. As they pass Mr. Parker’s former home, “the house of my forefathers” now occupied by a tenant, we begin to understand Mr. Parker’s ideals of a modern community and see how Austen plays off the old vs. new Sanditon. Mr. Parker has built a new home on the hill in an unprotected spot, opposite of what his ancestors would have chosen. He has named it Trafalgar House in honor of the famous 1805 battle, but now regrets his choice and favors the more trendy Waterloo in honor of the 1815 battle! He is a man of the moment. Ironically, his wife Mary is not. Mrs. Parker looks at their former home with regret and fondness missing its gardens and shade trees “But you know,” still looking back, “one loves to look at an old friend at a place where one has been happy.” This does not faze Mr. Parker in the least. He is immediately distracted when they pass the church and the neat village of old Sanditon with its fishermen’s cottages all tidied up with curtains for “Lodgings to let,” two females in elegant white with books and harp music coming from a home. “Such sights and sounds were highly blissful to Mr. Parker.” He had no hand in the improvements, but it was “valuable proof of the increasing fashion of the place altogether.” After seeing blue shoes in the shoemaker’s window he is certain that civilization has indeed entered the town.

“Civilization, civilization indeed!” cried Mr. Parker, delighted. “Look, my dear Mary, look at William Heeley’s windows. Blue shoes, and nankin boots! Who would have expected such a sight at a shoemaker”s in old Sanditon! This is new within the month. There was no blue shoes when we passed this way a month ago. Glorious indeed!” Mr. Parker, Chapter 4

They begin ascending the hill and pass Sandition House, the last bastion of the former days of the parish and climb to the modern area. (More old vs. new civilization examples by Austen) Charlotte Heywood has been a silent observer so far. No wonder since this is her first experience traveling to another town, and compared to her parent’s staid existence in Willingden this is awe inspiring new scenery. When they reach Trafalgar House and she is installed in her apartments, she looks out her Venetian windows (what luxury) that face the ocean and sees The Terrace where people take the air, the Mall with its shops and library and the descent to the beach and the bathing machines.

And this was therefore the favourite spot for beauty and fashion. The Narrator, Ch 4

I think our young heroine is dumbfounded.

Favorite words: portentous, remonstrances, effluvia, insalubrious, sanguine, coadjutor, perturbation, pecuniary.

Further reading

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 2 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Oxford World’s Classics edition of Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sandition, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by 12:00 pm PDT  Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winner to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.

Upcoming event posts

Day 3 – March 17 Regency seaside resorts
Day 4 – March 18 Group Read Chapters 5-8
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

 

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Introduction & List of Characters: Day 1

Welcome

Over the next week will be delving into Jane Austen’s last work, her uncompleted novel Sanditon. Considered one of her minor works, Sanditon has not received much attention in comparison to her major novels since it was first published in 1925. Because it has not been adapted to the screen, most of the general reading public is not aware of it. Some classify it as a scholarly tidbit, but I know that if you have not read it before that it might surprise you. You may be asking yourself why you should read a fragment of a novel that leaves the story unresolved. Two words. Jane Austen. Nuff said.

On the 27th January, 1817 Jane Austen began work on a novel that is now known as Sanditon. It was never completed. Her declining health robbed her of what she dearly loved most, writing, and on the 18th of March 1817 after penning 22,000 words she wrote the last lines of chapter twelve and put down her pen. Four months later at age 41 she would succumb to what is generally believed to have been Addison’s disease.

Set in the emerging seaside village of Sanditon on the Sussex coast we are introduced to a large cast of characters dominated by the two minions of the community: Mr. Parker a local landowner with grand designs to turn a fishing village into a fashionable seabathing spa for the invalid and his partner Lady Denham, the local great lady who has ‘a shrewd eye & self satisfying air’ and cares little about the community and only her pocketbook. There are several young people to add a spark of romance, character foibles galore, plot ironies to raise an eyebrow at business speculation, hypochondria, and a sharp jab at the effluvia of novels and poetry to keep the narrative whizzing along until an abrupt halt just when we are hooked.

The uncompleted novel is a great loss to literature but also to the characters who after a bright and comical beginning are left with uncertain futures. What does remain is more than a novelty of Austenalia. Sanditon’s levity despite the author’s failing health when it was written is quite remarkable. On my first reading years ago I thought it quite energetic and satirical, similar to the burlesque humor of Northanger Abbey. I then put it aside and did not reflect on it further. On my second reading after twenty five years, of what I hope has been a period of enlightenment and appreciate of the author and the era, brought an entirely new reaction. Austen has taken a new and fresh direction from her usual 3 or 4 families in a country village and sets her novel not about an individuals struggle but an entire community. Money is still the fuel that powers the plot, but her physical descriptions of the landscape and town are entirely new in her cannon foreshadowing what may have been an evolution in her style.

I hope that you can join us as we discover the delights of seabathing and leeches during ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ event this week. You can check out the event schedule and join in the group read of the novel fragment which begins tomorrow, March 16th. Bring your green parasol.

Laurel Ann

Main Characters in Sanditon

Mr. Thomas Parker: of Trafalgar House, Sussex. Age about 35. No profession. Eldest son and succeeded to family property. In partnership with Lady Denham in developing Sanditon. Brother to Mary, Diana, Arthur and Sidney. Married 7 years to Mary, father of four children. An amiable man with more enthusiasm than judgment.

Mrs. Mary Parker: wife of Thomas Parker, mother of four children, Mary & 3 other siblings. Regrets the changes her husband’s enthusiasm produces.

Mr. Sidney Parker: Age about 27. Single. Younger brother of Thomas Parker. Witty, fashionable, young man possibly to emerge as the hero.

Miss Susan Parker: Single. Elder of two Parker sisters. Hypochondriac

Miss Diana Parker: Age about 34. Single. Younger of two Parker sisters. Hypochondriac. Active organizer.

Mr. Arthur Parker: Age about 20. Youngest Parker brother. Stout, broad made with a lusty appetite for hot chocolate and buttered toast. Cosseted into believing himself to be of delicate health.

Lady Denham: of Sanditon House, Sussex. Age 70. Née Brereton with £30,000 dowry. In partnership with Mr. Parker in developing Sanditon. Twice widowed: first husband Mr. Hollis, second Sir Harry Denham of Denham Park. Rich old lady with ‘many thousands a year’. Has ‘a shrewd eye, & self satisfying air’ She knows the value of money.

Miss Clara Brereton: of Sanditon House, Sussex. Poor cousin and companion to Lady Denham. Elegantly tall, regularly handsome, with great delicacy of complexion, soft blue eyes, sweet modest and yet graceful address.

Sir Edward Denham, Baronet: of Denham Park, Sussex. Single. Nephew of Sir Harry Denham (dec), brother of Esther. Handsome, but a rake and a rattle. Thinks that he was born to be a villain ‘quite in the line of Lovelaces’.

Miss Esther Denham: of Denham Park, Sussex. Single. Sister of Sir Edward, niece of Sir Harry Denham (dec). A fine young woman, but cold, reserved and superficial.

Mr. Heywood: of Willingden, Sussex. Age 57. Well looking, hale, gentleman farmer. Married with 14 children including Charlotte, and at least one son. Never leaves home unless to collect his dividends in London.

Mr. Heywood: Age 31. Son of Mr. & Mrs. Heywood of Willingden. Brother of Charlotte and 12 other siblings.

Miss Charlotte Heywood: of Willingden, Sussex. Age 22. Single. Eldest daughter at home of Mr. & Mrs. Heywood. Quiet, perceptive, observing heroine. Sensible and level headed.

Mrs. Griffiths: of Camberwell. Proprietress of a Ladies Seminary. Brings her three changes to Sanditon for the cure. Visitor to Sanditon.

Miss Beaufort: of Camberwell. Elder of two sisters. ‘just such young ladies as may be met with, in at least one family out of three, throughout the Kingdom’ Visitor to Sanditon.

Miss. Letitia Beaufort: of Camberwell. Younger of two sisters. Visitor to Sanditon

Miss Lambe: of Camberwell. About age 17. A young West Indian of large fortune in delicate health. Half mulatto, ‘chilly and tender’. Visitor to Sanditon.

Minor Characters in Sanditon

Merchants, tenants and servants:

Andrew: gardener at Sanditon House, William Heely: shoemaker in Sanditon, Hillier: tenant in Thomas Parker’s old house, Jebb: shopkeeper of Jebb’s in Sanditon, Morgan: Butler to the Parkers, Mullins: ‘Mullins’s, the poor’, Sam: old servant at Sanditon Hotel, Stringer: market-gardeners. There are two Stringers, referred to as ‘old Stringer’ and ‘young Stringer’. One is a shopkeeper in Sandition, Mrs. Whitby: librarian of Circulating Library. Has a ‘Miss W.’ and also ‘a young W.’ and Woodcock: hotel-keeper in Sanditon.

Sanditon visitors:

Mr. Beard: of Gray’s Inn, Dr. and Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Jane Fisher & daughter, Rev. Hanking, Capt Little: of Limehouse, Matthews family, Miss. Merryweather, Richard Pratt, Miss. Scroggs and Lt. R.N. Smith.

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Giveaway Day 1

Enter a chance to win one copy of Penguin Classics Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by 12:00 pm PDT  Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winner to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.

Upcoming event posts 

Day 2 – March 16 Group Read Chapters 1-4
Day 3 – March 17 Regency seaside resorts
Day 4 – March 18 Group Read Chapters 5-8

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com