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James Stanier Clarke: Librarian to the Prince of Wales

“I am quite honoured by your thinking me capable of drawing such a clergyman as you gave the sketch of… But I assure you I am not. The comic part of the character I might be equal to, but not the good, the enthusiastic, the literary. Such a man’s conversation must be on subjects of science and philosophy, of which I know nothing; or must occasionally be abundant in allusions and quotations which a woman who, like me, knows only her mother tongue, and has read very little in that, would be totally without the power of giving. A classical education, or at any rate a very extensive acquaintance with English literature, ancient and modern, appears to me quite indispensable for the person who would do justice to your clergyman; and I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and ill-informed female who ever dared to be an authoress.” Jane Austen to J. S. Clarke December 11th 1815 Little is known of James Stanier Clarke, chaplain and librarian to the Prince of Wales. If it were not for his connection with Jane Austen, his name might be almost entirely lost to history. Thought to have been born around 1765, he was, early on, a naval chaplain and curate in a country parish where, according to his own letters, he had cause to bury his own mother, a shock he claims never to have recovered from. Unlike his employer, Clarke appears to have been

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