Jane Austen’s men

St John's College

Combe’s Oxford

This intriguing title is the subject of a day event hosted by the Institute of English Studies on Saturday 16 February, with papers on the armed forces, Jane Austen and the male mind, Jane Austen’s clergymen, and the marriage market and changing fortunes of the landed class. Senate House Library agreed/offered to support the event with a small display of books from within its special collections – and very challenging it was. We did not think that we could do much with the Georgian male mind. But male writers featured largely in the mind of this inveterate novel reader, so to compensate we selected the first edition of one of the novels Jane Austen is known to have admired, Samuel Richardson’s History of Sir Charles Grandison. The armed forces were represented by Thomas Rowlandson’s Loyal Volunteers, replete with numerous full-page colour illustrations; clergymen by Rector Thomas Knowles’s Advice to a Young Clergymen (1796), and the landed class by John Aikin’s Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles round Manchester (1795), with a picture of Chatsworth (thought to have inspired Mr Darcy’s home, Pemberley). We also wished to acknowledge the men in Jane Austen’s family. As several of her male relatives were students or dons at Oxford – as indeed were a couple of her characters – we opted for another sumptuously illustrated book, William Combe’s History of the University of Oxford (1814). Unfortunately both it and Aikin were too large and heavy for the allotted display case, so we had to make do with scans from them. Hopefully delegates will be tempted to come back some time to look at the real thing …

Rowlandson, Loyal Volunteers

Rowlandson, Loyal Volunteers


One thought on “Jane Austen’s men

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s