From Captain Wentworth’s Travel Journal: Visiting Victory is ‘one off the bucket list’ So Admiral Horatio Nelson has been something of a hero of mine for… well, for as long as I can remember. My hero worship started (believe it or not) with Star Trek’s very own Captain James Tiberius Kirk. When William Shatner accepted the role he had trouble getting into the head of the starship captain whose ship and crew were more important to him than his own life. He asked the shows creator Gene Roddenberry for help in finding the character’s motivation and Roddenberry suggested he read the Hornblower novels by C.S. Forester. Everything you need to understand Kirk resides with Hornblower – his courage, his self doubt, his sense of duty. From there it was a short hop to the wonderful Patrick O’Brien novels and more recently the phenomenal work of Julian Stockwin and Dudley Pope. From there further still, the real life stories of the men and women who served as inspiration to these novelists – Lord Cochrane, Edward Pellew, and of course Admiral Nelson. It is because of my naval history obsession that I was able to turn up for work on my first day at the Jane Austen Centre with my own historically accurate costume. An Admiral’s dress coat and white ‘smallclothes’, breeches, stockings, waistcoat appropriate to a Napoleonic officer. I was most fortunate to be ‘offered the part’ of Captain Frederick Wentworth. I put the badge on for the first time and (more…)
Sea Biscuit, Man o’ War, War Admiral…these are the names of some of the most famous race horses of all time and while there may be six degrees of separation for everything and everyone, at first glance, there may not seem to be much connection between them to Jane Austen.
My daughter (along with at least half of the seven year old girl population) is currently fascinated by horses and I recently picked up Marguerite Henry’s King of the Wind for her to read. The story is a fictionalized account of the Godolphin Arabian. I had not realized that it was a true story when I first began to peruse it, but I quickly became engrossed in the story, which reads like any fairy tale (and, of course, has a happy ending!)
According to Wikipedia, “the Godolphin Arabian (c. 1724 – 1753), was an Arabian horse who was one of three stallions that were the founders of the modern Thoroughbred horse racing bloodstock (the other two are the Darley Arabian and the Byerley Turk). He was given his name for his best-known owner, Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin.
The Godolphin Arabian was foaled about 1724 in Yemen, but moved several times before reaching England. At some time in his early years, he was exported, probably via Syria, to the stud of the Bey of Tunis. From there he was given to Louis XV of France in 1730. It is believed he was a present from monarch to monarch. Even so, he was not valued by his new French owner, and it is believed he was used as a carthorse.
There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her. The hardness of the pavement for her feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it, however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment, ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, “I am determined I will:” he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless! Persuasion, Chapter 12 Lyme Regis is a coastal town in West Dorset, England, situated 25 miles west of Dorchester and 25 miles (40 km) east of Exeter. The town lies in Lyme Bay, on the English Channel coast at the Dorset–Devon border. It is nicknamed “The Pearl of Dorset.” The town is noted for the fossils found in the cliffs and beaches, which are part of the Heritage Coast—known commercially as the Jurassic Coast—a World Heritage Site. Jane Austen visited Lyme Regis three times in 1803 (more…)
Now for Bath… Jane Austen to Cassandra September 13, 1815 Searching For Captain Wentworth, my newest book, was inspired by Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion. In it, my heroine Sophie is invited by her aunt to spend some time in the family townhouse. As she is at a loose end with a broken heart, she thinks it might be a brilliant idea. After all, she’s wanted to visit Bath since she firstt read her favourite novel, Persuasion, and longs to walk in Jane Austen’s footsteps. On arrival, she finds she’s actually living next door to Jane Austen’s own house, but far from being the Regency fantasy she’s imagined, her flat turns out to be a rather neglected place and she only has access to the upper floors. The lower part of the house is occupied by the mysterious Josh Strafford who works at the Holburne Museum over the road in Sydney Gardens. It’s not long, however, before Sophie learns that she’s not alone. A ghostly presence and the discovery of an ancestor’s journal fascinate her. When she sees Josh drop something out on the pavement outside she follows him and picks up the wet object which unfurls in her hand. It looks like Captain Wentworth’s glove. Running after him into the gardens she loses sight of him and when she steps through a cast-iron gate down to the canal that’s where her timeslip adventure begins. I had such fun with this book because I love Bath and am very lucky (more…)
“The Admiralty,” he continued, “entertain themselves now and then, with sending a few hundred men to sea, in a ship not fit to be employed. But they have a great many to provide for; and among the thousands that may just as well go to the bottom as not, it is impossible for them to distinguish the very set who may be least missed.” Captain Wentworth, Persuasion by Jane Austen While this comment may cause readers to wonder whether Captain Wentworth is joking or whether the seaworthiness of British Naval vessels was actually in question, at this moment in time, 200 years distant from the author’s experiences, readers may simply scratch their heads and read on. After all, who wants to stop reading and research a single obscure quote. Captain Thomas Cochrane As it happens, the disregard, which the Admiralty showed for the safety of the men under their command, was a topic of discussion in Jane Austen’s day. The deplorable situation prompted Captain Thomas Cochrane to run for Parliament. Once elected, as a reform candidate in 1807, he raised questions before Parliament about the manner in which the British Navy was being run, singling out Lord St Vincent, First Lord of the Admiralty, for allowing unchecked corruption within the British Navy. While John Jervis, fist Earl of St. Vincent, was not corrupt himself; he was a political animal, who knew better than to cross conservative forces within the government by ending age-old-privileges. St. Vincent’s most striking innovation was the (more…)
Jane Austen’s Aunt was once at risk of transportation to Botany Bay for shoplifting. It is piquant then, that Austen named two of her major male characters Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion), because a leading inhabitant of New South Wales in those years was D’Arcy Wentworth, a disreputable but acknowledged kinsman of Lord Fitzwilliam. D’Arcy Wentworth’s career smacks more of Georgette Heyer than Jane Austen, since he was a highwayman four times acquitted. Rather than push his luck further, he went, a free man, as assistant surgeon with the Second Fleet in 1790. As a young teenager Jane Austen may have read about him in the Times. Remembered in Australian history, his origins somewhat fudged, as father of the better-known W.C. Wentworth, D’Arcy turns out to be a complex and significant character. All his life he was an outsider. Born in Ireland in 1762, he was the youngest son of a Protestant innkeeper whose family had come down in the world. D’Arcy qualified as an assistant surgeon in London, but then gravitated to vice and crime; through flash arrogance, Ritchie thinks, rather than a self-destructive urge. Once in Australia, Wentworth spent his first six years on Norfolk Island, the margin of marginalised New South Wales. Back in Sydney, he still seemed too raffish for intimacy with the New South Wales Corps clique, the Macarthurs and their like. Because of his professional skills and an economic clout built up through trade, notably in rum, Wentworth could not (more…)
Dressing Captain Wentworth Ah! Who can resist the thought of a man in uniform? Certainly not Mrs. Bennet (“I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well — and indeed, so I do still at my heart…”) From her ever warm admiration, Jane must have had similar feelings for Naval Officers. She would have been surrounded by them during her stay in Portsmouth, living with her brother, Captain Francis Austen. There, she would have had firsthand knowledge of “the character of the navy; their friendliness, their brotherliness, their openness, their uprightness… convinced of sailors having more worth and warmth than any other set of men in England; that they only knew how to live, and they only deserved to be respected and loved.” What then, made up the uniform of a Captain in the British Navy? British Naval Uniform Regulations were first implemented by Lord Anson in 1748. They were, reportedly, lobbied for by the officers, themselves, who “wished to be recognized as being in the service of the Crown.” The color blue, while seemingly a natural one for the Navy to choose was actually decided upon by the then monarch, George II, who, seeing the Duchess of Bedford ride out in a habit of blue faced with white, was so taken by the combination that he chose the same for his officers’ uniforms. The “best uniform”, consisting of an embroidered blue coat with white facings, worn unbuttoned with white breeches and stockings, was worn for (more…)
How to Write a Love Letter I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce mysoul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight yearsand a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I haveloved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alonehave brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to haveunderstood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W. I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to (more…)