So..let’s begin our tour of the places in Pride and Prejudice in earnest.
Today, I thought we ought to have an overview of England and Wales, to ascertain just how the country was organised in Jane Austen’s day. Looking at modern maps with reference to Pride and Prejudice is not really acceptable to my mind because modern country boundaries have changed so much, and, indeed, some old counties to which Jane Austen refers have now disappeared during the numerous local government reorganisations that have taken place since she wrote her most famous novel.
It is much easier to orient yourself in Jane Austen’s world if you refer to a contemporary map.
And first an apology to you, my readers. I have again been the subject of theft: another person, who really should have known better, has used some of my images published here for commercial use, without my permission. So from now on my images will be watermarked to prevent theft. Or at least deter it. I have resisted doing this for nearly four years but my patience has now worn too thin. I do apologise and hope it does not detract from your enjoyment.
Back to happier topics.
Here, below, is a rather beautiful map, engraved by John Cary and hand coloured( by some poor child no doubt) which appears in my copy of his Itinerary of 1812.
You will see that I have annotated it to indicate all the historic counties in England that are mentioned by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice. And also to indicate that one spot in Scotland- Gretna Green – that receives an honourable( or should that be dishonourable?) mention in the novel.
The numbers relate to the counties as follows:
1. Gretna in Scotland ( Note this arrow does not indicate the precise location of Gretna.We will be coming back to it in due course)
2. The Lakes. The Lakes were situate in three counties in Jane Austen’s lifetime: Lancashire, Westmoreland and Cumberland. Westmoreland and Cumberland no longer exist, and since 1974 they have formed the new country of Cumbria.
4. Somersetshire. Bath features in all six of Jane Austen’s completed novels and was found in this county.
7. Middlesex. London was found in this country. Since 1965 it no longer exists for official administrative purposes.
8. Surrey, spelt “Surry” by Jane Austen and many of her contemporaries.
12. Derbyshire, home of Mr Darcy
You will see that the novel roams far and wide over the country, which I think some of you may find surprising. Next in this series, we shall take a closer look at Hertfordshire, home of the Bennet family.