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Peter Harrington, the fabulous Chelsea-based book dealer, who has been my downfall many a day, currently has for sale some of C. E. Brock’s original watercolours for the 1907 edition of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.(They also have many other wonderful Austen related items:click here to see)

The 13 original signed illustration for the “Pride and Prejudice” were published in 1907 as part of the “Series of English Idylls” books by J. M. Dent & Co. The illustrations Brock created were a full and original revision of his previous illustrations for the edition of “Pride and Prejudice” published by Macmillan in 1895.

A Photograph of C. E. Brock circa 1928, from "The Brocks: A Family of Cambridge Artists and Illustrators" by Charles Skilton

A Photograph of C. E. Brock circa 1928, from “The Brocks: A Family of Cambridge Artists and Illustrators” by C. M. Kelly

Charles Edmund Brock, above, was elected as a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in the year following the publication of these illustrations. Seen by some as too impossibly pretty, and presenting, perhaps, a chocolate-box image of Jane Austen’s world, I have a sneaking liking for these illustrations. I will be writing about Brock’s work in detail later in the year. But I thought you might like to see the illustrations currently on sale, and I am very grateful to all at Peter Harringtons, in particular Emilie Fournet, for all their help in developing this article.

The illustrations on sale include, below, Will you do me the honour of reading that letter:

Pride & Prejudice. Chapter XXXV. p. 13.

Pride & Prejudice. Chapter XXXV. p. 13.

And these rest of the illustrations are included in this gallery: do click on any of the images to enlarge it.

at Bonhams auction house in New York on the 22nd June in a sale of 20th century original book and magazine illustrations.

(©Bonhams)

It is in fact one of the illustrations we have already discussed in our series on Hugh Thomson’s illustrations for Sense and Sensibility. ( go here to see). Entitled Offered Him One of Folly’s Puppys, it shows Sir John Middleton offering Willoughby ( boo-hiss) one of the puppies recently brought forth by his favourite dog. The groom or huntsman is shown holding the tiny pup. The illustration was first drawn in 1896, and was included in Macmillan’s edition of the novel. Do click on the illustration to enlarge it and appreciate the fine and delicious detail.

It is being offered in a Lot with one more illustration by Hugh Thomson, Oi Goes to Market wi’ Vather’s Hay, but this is not related to Jane Austen. The estimate for the Lot of two illustrations is $800-1200 USD and I must admit I’m tempted at that price. Go here to see the auctioneer’s details of the lot, and here to see the details of the sale as a whole.

The catalogue’s contents, as a whole,  makes my mouth water, I have to admit! On offer are some of Hans Christian Anderson’s famed silhouettes,

(©Bonhams)

a marvellous “hollyhock” by Walter Crane from his book Flora’s Feast, and Ernest Shepherd ‘s Winnie the Pooh ( the companion of my childhood!) amongst other treasures.

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I’ll keep an eye out for the results…..and let you know if I bid!

This week we reach the high point of this passionate tale of first loves…but before we see poor Marianne at that terrible moment when she is about to be snubbed by Willoughby, we must first meet Elinor’s nemeis,Lucy Steele.

The first illustration this week is of the incident in Chapter 22 when Lucy reveals that she is engaged to Edward Ferrars:

   “I dare say you are, and I am sure I do not at all wonder at it. But if I dared tell you all, you would not be so much surprised. Mrs. Ferrars is certainly nothing to me at present — but the time may come — how soon it will come must depend upon herself — when we may be very intimately connected.”

   She looked down as she said this, amiably bashful, with only one side glance at her companion to observe its effect on her.

   “Good heavens!” cried Elinor, “what do you mean? Are you acquainted with Mr. Robert Ferrars? Can you be — — ?” And she did not feel much delighted with the idea of such a sister-in-law.

   “No;” replied Lucy, “not to Mr. Robert Ferrars — I never saw him in my life; but,” fixing her eyes upon Elinor, “to his elder brother.”

   What felt Elinor at that moment? Astonishment, that would have been as painful as it was strong, had not an immediate disbelief of the assertion attended it. She turned towards Lucy in silent amazement, unable to divine the reason or object of such a declaration; and though her complexion varied, she stood firm in incredulity, and felt in no danger of an hysterical fit, or a swoon.

Here I think Thomson conveys Lucy’s sly sideways  glance toward Elinor well, but shows Elinor in some distress, putting her hand to her mouth which,  I think , betrays too much of her emotion. Jane Austen makes it quite clear that Elinor does not betray any of her deeply felt feelings,save for her complexion changing colour. What do you think?

The second illustration is from Chapter 24 where Elinor is again being taunted by Lucy, who is really playing with her like a cat with a mouse, telling her all the pertinent details of her engagement with Edward, while Anne Steele, Lady Middleton , Margaret and Mrs Jennings are playing cards neaby. Marrianne is, of course, playing the newly tuned pianoforte and does not hear then over the noise she is producing by playing her powerful, magnificent concerto.  Anne Steel hears them talking of Beaux and interrupts them…

Strangely Thomson only gives half the quote in the illsutration. This is what Mrs Jennings says in full:

 “I can answer for it that Miss Dashwood’s is not,” said Mrs. Jennings, laughing heartily; “for he is one of the modestest, prettiest behaved young men I ever saw. But as for Lucy, she is such a sly little creature, there is no finding out who she likes.”

Poor Elinor would surely have preferred Lucy to have remained silent on this point…..

The last illustration in this week’s article is my favourite of the three, for I think it reveals very subtly, the different reactions of the sisters.; the joy Marianne is feeling,and the caution that rules Elinor. It is of course, that fateful moment at the party  in Chapter 28 when Marianne spots Willoughby and thinks he has at last come to claim her as his own:

They had not remained in this manner long, before Elinor perceived Willoughby, standing within a few yards of them, in earnest conversation with a very fashionable looking young woman. She soon caught his eye, and he immediately bowed, but without attempting to speak to her, or to approach Marianne, though he could not but see her; and then continued his discourse with the same lady. Elinor turned involuntarily to Marianne, to see whether it could be unobserved by her. At that moment she first perceived him, and her whole countenance glowing with sudden delight, she would have moved towards him instantly, had not her sister caught hold of her.

   “Good heavens!” she exclaimed, “he is there — he is there — Oh! why does he not look at me? why cannot I speak to him?”

   “Pray, pray be composed,” cried Elinor, “and do not betray what you feel to everybody present. Perhaps he has not observed you yet.”

Poor Elinor….trying desperately to have Marianne not betray her feelings for Willoughby to the whole room, and poor Marianne who is just about to have her heart broken not a thousand tiny pieces…..

The latest tranche of Hugh Thomson’s illustrations for Sense and Sensibility are an interesting bunch. The first is a complex drawing and portrays for more than the quotation,

“I declare they are quite charming”

suggests. Mrs Palmer is referring to the drawings adorning the room in Barton Cottage where she and Mr Palmer have just been brought to meet the Dashwoods. If you will allow  I’ll quote the passage in full for you, below so that you can judge the complexity of the drawing for yourself.

 

“You may believe how glad we all were to see them,” added Mrs. Jennings, leaning forwards towards Elinor, and speaking in a low voice as if she meant to be heard by no one else, though they were seated on different sides of the room; “but, however, I can’t help wishing they had not travelled quite so fast, nor made such a long journey of it, for they came all round by London upon account of some business, for you know” (nodding significantly and pointing to her daughter) “it was wrong in her situation. I wanted her to stay at home and rest this morning, but she would come with us; she longed so much to see you all!”

Mrs. Palmer laughed, and said it would not do her any harm.

“She expects to be confined in February,” continued Mrs. Jennings.

Lady Middleton could no longer endure such a conversation, and therefore exerted herself to ask Mr. Palmer if there was any news in the paper.

“No, none at all,” he replied, and read on.

“Here comes Marianne,” cried Sir John. “Now, Palmer, you shall see a monstrous pretty girl.”

He immediately went into the passage, opened the front door, and ushered her in himself. Mrs. Jennings asked her, as soon as she appeared, if she had not been to Allenham; and Mrs. Palmer laughed so heartily at the question as to shew she understood it. Mr. Palmer looked up on her entering the room, stared at her some minutes, and then returned to his newspaper. Mrs. Palmer’s eye was now caught by the drawings which hung round the room. She got up to examine them.

“Oh! dear, how beautiful these are! Well, how delightful! Do but look, mama, how sweet! I declare they are quite charming; I could look at them for ever.” And then sitting down again, she very soon forgot that there were any such things in the room.

Chapter 19

Thomson of course , (how could he possibly resist ?) shows us the taciturn Mr Palmer buried in the newspaper, and, or so it seems to me, the conversation Mrs Jennings has with Elinor about her worries for her daughter health during her  pregnancy, quoted  in the passage above. Here, I think Thomson gives us a hint about Mrs Jennings true nature- that she is above all a kind woman, and this is the first hint we have in the text that she is not just a matchmaking gossip.When the chips are down, Mrs Jennings knows how tobe a nurse and a true friend. As the reader will discover much later in the book. I’m glad to see that Thomson gives, in his illustration, a hint to the reader too…

The second illustration really needs no explanation. It shows the sycophantic and  socially ambitious Miss Steeles being tormented by the spoilt and indulged children of Lady Middleton.

When their promised visit to the Park and consequent introduction to these young ladies took place, they found in the appearance of the eldest, who was nearly thirty, with a very plain and not a sensible face, nothing to admire; but in the other, who was not more than two or three and twenty, they acknowledged considerable beauty; her features were pretty, and she had a sharp, quick eye, and a smartness of air, which though it did not give actual elegance or grace, gave distinction to her person. Their manners were particularly civil, and Elinor soon allowed them credit for some kind of sense, when she saw with what constant and judicious attentions they were making themselves agreeable to Lady Middleton. With her children they were in continual raptures, extolling their beauty, courting their notice, and humouring all their whims; and such of their time as could be spared from the importunate demands which this politeness made on it, was spent in admiration of whatever her ladyship was doing, if she happened to be doing anything, or in taking patterns of some elegant new dress, in which her appearance the day before had thrown them into unceasing delight. Fortunately for those who pay their court through such foibles, a fond mother, though, in pursuit of praise for her children, the most rapacious of human beings, is likewise the most credulous; her demands are exorbitant; but she will swallow anything; and the excessive affection and endurance of the Miss Steeles towards her offspring, were viewed therefore by Lady Middleton without the smallest surprise or distrust. She saw with maternal complacency all the impertinent incroachments and mischievous tricks to which her cousins submitted. She saw their sashes untied, their hair pulled about their ears, their work-bags searched, and their knives and scissars stolen away, and felt no doubt of its being a reciprocal enjoyment. It suggested no other surprise than that Elinor and Marianne should sit so composedly by, without claiming a share in what was passing.

Chapter 21

I do think the Miss Steeles ought to look a little bit more pleased about the shenanigans of the Middleton children….what do you think?

The last illustration for this week is very subtle but good, in my opinion. This is the passage to which it refers:

To do him justice, he (Sir John Middleton-jfw) did everything in his power, to promote their unreserve, by making the Miss Steeles acquainted with whatever he knew or supposed of his cousins’ situations in the most delicate particulars, — and Elinor had not seen them more than twice, before the eldest of them wished her joy on her sister’s having been so lucky as to make a conquest of a very smart beau since she came to Barton.

“‘Twill be a fine thing to have her married so young, to be sure,” said she, “and I hear he is quite a beau, and prodigious handsome. And I hope you may have as good luck yourself soon, — but perhaps you may have a friend in the corner already.”

Elinor could not suppose that Sir John would be more nice in proclaiming his suspicions of her regard for Edward, than he had been with respect to Marianne; indeed it was rather his favourite joke of the two, as being somewhat newer and more conjectural; and since Edward’s visit, they had never dined together, without his drinking to her best affections with so much significancy, and so many nods and winks, as to excite general attention. The letter F — had been likewise invariably brought forward, and found productive of such countless jokes, that its character as the wittiest letter in the alphabet had been long established with Elinor.

Chapter 21

SIr John is shown at the head of his table , throughly enjoying himself, raising a glass with which to toast Elinor taking the opportunity each time to tease her about her supposed affection for Edward Ferrars. He is not being malicious, because he really does very simply consider that it is entirely natural for every girl to have or want a “beau”. But poor Elinor…look at her body language. Stiff but slightly bowed. She is mortified. I think this illustration is one of the best in the book. And just look at the servant hovering by the screen. Sir John’s pleasantries will be reported downstairs, of that  we can be certain….

Today we reach the third in our series on Thomson’s illustrations for Sense and Sensibility, which we are working on as part of our year of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the book. Out first illustration this week shows a very startled Mrs Dashwood, Elinor and Margaret, witnessing Marianne’s burst of emotion on quitting the room where she had been talking alone with Willoughby.(Do note the illustrations can all be enlarged by clicking on them)

Mrs. Dashwood’s visit to Lady Middleton took place the next day, and two of her daughters went with her; but Marianne excused herself from being of the party under some trifling pretext of employment; and her mother, who concluded that a promise had been made by Willoughby the night before of calling on her while they were absent, was perfectly satisfied with her remaining at home.

On their return from the park they found Willoughby’s curricle and servant in waiting at the cottage, and Mrs. Dashwood was convinced that her conjecture had been just. So far it was all as she had foreseen; but on entering the house, she beheld what no foresight had taught her to expect. They were no sooner in the passage than Marianne came hastily out of the parlour apparently in violent affliction, with her handkerchief at her eyes; and without noticing them ran up stairs. Surprised and alarmed, they proceeded directly into the room she had just quitted where they found only Willoughby, who was leaning against the mantle-piece with his back towards them. He turned round on their coming in, and his countenance shewed that he strongly partook of the emotion which overpowered Marianne.

Chapter 15

Marianne’s distress (and that of Willoughby)  indicate in the text that something truly dreadful has occurred while they were alone. It is the first real clue given to the reader that Willoughby might not be all that he seems. In Thomson’s illustration we are only shown Marianne’s acute emotion,and the reaction of the Dashwood ladies. Who only look slightly stiff and not particularly surprised. I would have liked to have seen a view into the parlour of Willoughby standing at the mantle piece in distress….what do you think? And why only partially show Margaret? This illustration does not really work for me I confess.

Our next illustration shows the moment that Marianne realises the gentleman on horseback is not Willoughby,and is eventually shown to be Edward Ferrars,who is at last calling on the Dashwood family at Barton Cottage.

She walked eagerly on as she spoke; and Elinor, to screen Marianne from particularity, as she felt almost certain of its not being Willoughby, quickened her pace and kept up with her. They were soon within thirty yards of the gentleman. Marianne looked again; her heart sunk within her: and abruptly turning round, she was hurrying back, when the voices of both her sisters were raised to detain her, a third, almost as well known as Willoughby’s, joined them in begging her to stop, and she turned round with surprise to see and welcome Edward Ferrars.

Chapter 16

Again I find there is something lacking in this illustration: if I have a criticism of Thomson’s work it is perhaps that he fails to adequately convey moments of high drama/ distress. Marianne looks merely slightly started here, not almost crushed by disappointment. I feel that Mr Thomson’s best work involved humour and  not moments of drama…..what do you think?

This is again evidenced I think by the third of our illustrations today. Here we have the ever genial Sir John and his ally in all things involving gossip, Mrs Jennings, arriving at Barton Cottage to get that all important first viewing of the Dashwood’s hitherto unknown male guest.

Before the middle of the day, they were visited by Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, who, having heard of the arrival of a gentleman at the cottage, came to take a survey of the guest. With the assistance of his mother-in-law, Sir John was not long in discovering that the name of Ferrars began with an F, and this prepared a future mine of raillery against the devoted Elinor, which nothing but the newness of their acquaintance with Edward could have prevented from being immediately sprung. But, as it was, she only learned from some very significant looks, how far their penetration, founded on Margaret’s instructions, extended.

Chapter 18

This is perhaps my favourite of today’s illustrations,and I think shows that Thomson’s genius lay in portraying the amusing incidents/characters of the book. You can just see the delight on their faces as they weigh up the situation-a new man,whose name begins with an “F”….what sport  we will have now…..no wonder one of the Dashwood’s loyal maids looks on almost pityingly…

The best representation of the two and of this passage in particular, in any adaptation(, in my very humble opinion ) is in Emma Thompson’s 1995 film version where Elizabeth Spriggs, of blessed memory, and Robert Hardy taunt Elinor, egged on by Margaret innocently joining in the fun. My only problem with the illustration is the age Thomson has decided to attribute to Mrs Jennings and Sir John: would they really have looked that old? Sir John is described in the text as being near forty years old. (This is  something the film accentuated too)

Since I began the series of posts about Hugh Thomson’s illustrations for Sense and Sensibility, (accessible here and here) they have generated a number of emails and comments, both here and on Twitter, about the correctness or not of the costumes worn by the characters. What period do they reflect? Are they accurate ? And how do they relate to the text? I thought it might be helpful and interesting to discuss them and to compare them with costumes of the period.

The style of the clothes, particularly the clothes worn by the female characters in the illustrations, suggest to me that  Thomson set the novel very firmly in the period of the mid 1780s to the mid 1790s. To my eye none of the clothes worn by the female characters reveal any details of the fashions of the late 1790s, and certainly no one wears any dress that could  be described as having the raised waist of the revolutionary Empire style. These waistlines are defiantly placed  by Thomson along the line of a natural waist and are not raised to just below the bust line in any way.

So…why did Thomson use this period and not the costumes of the later period to reflect the time when Jane Austen was writing, adapting, revising the book in the mid to late 1790s and finally publishing her novel in 1811? It might be helpful, at this point, to look at the history of the evolution of this novel.

According to Cassandra Austen’s memorandum Sense and Sensibility was composed by Jane Austen in 1797.  James Edward Austen Leigh’s Memoir of his aunt , first published in 1869, contains this passage about the novel and the work upon which it was based:

It was, however, at Steventon that the real foundations of her fame were laid.  There some of her most successful writing was composed at such an early age as to make it surprising that so young a woman could have acquired the insight into character, and the nice observation of manners which they display.  ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ which some consider the most brilliant of her novels, was the first finished, if not the first begun.  She began it in October 1796, before she was twenty-one years old, and completed it in about ten months, in August 1797.  The title then intended for it was ‘First Impressions.’  ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was begun, in its present form, immediately after the completion of the former, in November 1797 but something similar in story and character had been written earlier under the title of ‘Elinor and Marianne;’ and if, as is probable, a good deal of this earlier production was retained, it must form the earliest specimen of her writing that has been given to the world.

It is thought that Jane Austen began Elinor and Marianne sometime in 1795:

If so she may have used it ( her writing desk-jfw) during 1795 when she embarked on her first full length project- ‘Elinor and Marianne’ the prototype ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Family tradition recalled that this too was written in letters and read aloud in this from….

(see Jane Austen: A Family Record by Dierdre le Faye, page 89)

Apart from the “flashback” scenes recounted  by Colonel Brandon, and possibly this passage in Chapter One of the novel which relates to events ten years prior to the beginning of the action in the novel, below, I cannot find any justification in the text for setting the novel as further back in time than 1795:

The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister. But her death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great alteration in his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received into his house the family of his nephew, Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it.

However, I think that it may have been possible  that Thomson was aware in 1895 when he was working on the illustrations, of the novel’s history, and  that the novel had evolved from the first serious adult  work that Jane Austen wrote in 1795. This may explain why  he  chose to depict a period of fashion prior to the mid to late 1790s. It is my opinion that he chose an earlier time period, which had a distinctly different dress style to that of 1811 when Sense and Sensibility was first published, to pay tribute to the history of this publication.( Of course, I may be completely wrong in my speculations…..)

We ought now to consider if  the costumes as depicted were accurate for the time frame (1785-1795)that  Thomson chose.

Let’s look at some examples from the period and compare them with the Thomson illustrations. I think you will see that there are many similarities between them but some important differences.

This is a drawing by Rowlandson of the actress, Mrs Abingdon, reclining on a couch circa 1786.

These are real examples of clothing from 1785, the costumes are part of the Kyoto Costume Institute’s collection.

This is Gainsborough’s famous portrait of Mrs Siddons dating from 1783-5…

And here is thomson’s Lady Middleton wearing a very similar style, including the hat….One of the first comments I noticed made about the costumes on Twitter was that , the hats are bigger than you will recall. Not necessarily so, bearing in mind the period Thomson was using.

And this is another work by Gainsborough, again dating from 1785, showing Mr and Mrs William Hallett in their Morning Walk……

Mrs Hallett’s gown is similar in style to the gown worn by Fanny Dashwood in this illustration.

And again the flounces found on some of Thomson’s  dresses reflect those to be found in  this  Angelica Kauffman depiction of Lady Elizabeth Forster, companion of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, in 1786

Looking at the hairstyles we can see that Thomson tried to emulate the fashion of the pre- Revolutionary era, especially if we compare Marianne’s hairstyles with Gainsborough’s 1785 portrait of Miss Catherine Tatton, below.

But……despite being mainly true to the period he decided to adopt, there is something slightly amiss, isn’t there? To my eye the silhouettes drawn by Thomson reflect those of the women of his own era, the late Victorian. The Sense and Sensibility ladies are corsetted within an inch of their lives, and their waists seem far smaller than the more realistic waistlines of the clothes of the period, as is shown in this robe a l’anglaise circa 1790, again from the Kyoto Costume Institute’s collection:

And I do think that there is something indefinably late 19th century about the faces and the hats of the characters Thomson depicts.

Joan Hassell, the marvelous illustrator of Jane Austen for the Folio Society volumes which were published  in the 1970s, had quite a lot to say about illustrator’s desperate attempts to be historically accurate, in an address she gave to the Jane Austen Society Annual General Meeting in 1973. Her comments which are pertinent to this discussion, and if you will allow I will quote her here:

It is a fact that the artist cannot detach himself from the period in which he lives. However hard he persuades himself that everything is historically accurate, there is always a give-away somewhere even though it takes a later generation to see it. It is most often to be seen in the ladies hair styles and a general favour in the type of figure; and this is also true of theatre productions where Edwardian ladies in carefully designed historic costume have discarded neither hair padding nor corsets. Nowadays we may pride ourselves as having more specialised knowledge ,but I have a suspicion that future ages will be able to spot the date of our work by the 70s-ish slant to which we ourselves are blind

(Folio,the Quarterly Magazine of the Folio Society, Summer 1975 pp 3-4)

And this I think is what has happened here. The hair styles are nearly correct, but not quite. The wasitlines are smaller than corsets of the 1780s-1795 would allow….the same with the crowns of the hats…and the flounces.

Thomson quite rightly tried to convey to the reader the fact that  the novel was of a long gestation period, and dated the clothes from the period immediately proceeding its composition and publication to reflect this. Though he was generally accurate in depicting the clothes of the period 1785-1795, in my view he could not escape the influences of his own period, that  of the late Victorian, and it is the tiny differences in the stylistic details that do not ring true to us today.

Today we continue our series of posts on the illustrations made by Hugh Thompson for the Macmillan edition of Sense and Sensibility in the late nineteenth century. Do remember that they can all be enlarged , in order to examine the detail, merely by clicking on them.

In the first we see Marianne and Willoughby at the pianoforte, in Chapter 10:

Willoughby, on his side, gave every proof of his pleasure in their acquaintance, which an evident wish of improving it could offer. He came to them every day. To inquire after Marianne was at first his excuse; but the encouragement of his reception, to which every day gave greater kindness, made such an excuse unnecessary before it had ceased to be possible by Marianne’s perfect recovery. She was confined for some days to the house: but never had any confinement been less irksome. Willoughby was a young man of good abilities, quick imagination, lively spirits, and open, affectionate manners. He was exactly formed to engage Marianne’s heart; for, with all this, he joined not only a captivating person, but a natural ardour of mind, which was now roused and increased by the example of her own, and which recommended him to her affection beyond everything else.

His society became gradually her most exquisite enjoyment. They read, they talked, they sang together; his musical talents were considerable; and he read with all the sensibility and spirit which Edward had unfortunately wanted.

Chapter 10

These illustrations, early in the book, are quite clever, for they do not give any indication of any real impropriety by Willoughby. He is depicted as a handsome, fashionably dressed fellow, clearly devoted to Marianne and their joint pursuits.

The next illustration, from Chapter 12, might send alarm bells ringing faintly in the reader attuned to Jane Austen’s moral code. Willoughby takes a lock of Marianne’s hair, an intimate action, suggesting that their relationship at the very least was on the verge of becoming formalised by an engagement, or indeed, that such an  agreement had already been settled between them:

Margaret related something to her the next day, which placed this matter in a still clearer light. Willoughby had spent the preceding evening with them, and Margaret, being left some time in the parlour with only him and Marianne, had had opportunity for observations, which, with a most important face, she communicated to her eldest sister, when they were next by themselves.

“Oh! Elinor,” she cried, “I have such a secret to tell you about Marianne. I am sure she will be married to Mr. Willoughby very soon.”

“You have said so,” replied Elinor, “almost every day since they first met on High-church Down; and they had not known each other a week, I believe, before you were certain that Marianne wore his picture round her neck; but it turned out to be only the miniature of our great uncle.”

“But indeed this is quite another thing. I am sure they will be married very soon, for he has got a lock of her hair.”

“Take care, Margaret. It may be only the hair of some great uncle of his .”

“But indeed, Elinor, it is Marianne’s. I am almost sure it is, for I saw him cut it off. Last night after tea, when you and mama went out of the room, they were whispering and talking together as fast as could be, and he seemed to be begging something of her, and presently he took up her scissars and cut off a long lock of her hair, for it was all tumbled down her back; and he kissed it, and folded it up in a piece of white paper, and put it into his pocket-book.”

From such particulars, stated on such authority, Elinor could not withhold her credit: nor was she disposed to it, for the circumstance was in perfect unison with what she had heard and seen herself.

Chapter 12

And now the alarm bells are beginning to ring even louder with the third of our illustrations today from Chapter 13. Here we have Mrs Jennings happily relating to all and sundry the rather surprising news that Marianne toured Allenham with Willoughby (without having first been introduced to Mrs Smith, the owner), contradicting their story that their day had been spent riding about the lanes in the countryside, after the visit to Whitwell had been cancelled:

It was settled that there should be a dance in the evening, and that everybody should be extremely merry all day long. Some more of the Careys came to dinner, and they had the pleasure of sitting down nearly twenty to table, which Sir John observed with great contentment. Willoughby took his usual place between the two elder Miss Dashwoods. Mrs. Jennings sat on Elinor’s right hand; and they had not been long seated, before she leant behind her and Willoughby, and said to Marianne, loud enough for them both to hear, “I have found you out in spite of all your tricks. I know where you spent the morning.”

Marianne coloured, and replied very hastily, “Where, pray?” —

“Did not you know,” said Willoughby, “that we had been out in my curricle?”

“Yes, yes, Mr. Impudence, I know that very well, and I was determined to find out where you had been to. I hope you like your house, Miss Marianne. It is a very large one I know, and when I come to see you, I hope you will have new-furnished it, for it wanted it very much, when I was there six years ago.”

Marianne turned away in great confusion. Mrs. Jennings laughed heartily; and Elinor found that in her resolution to know where they had been, she had actually made her own woman enquire of Mr. Willoughby’s groom, and that she had by that method been informed that they had gone to Allenham, and spent a considerable time there in walking about the garden and going all over the house.

Chapter 13

Again this is another rather clever illustration: Thomson shows us only the backs of the figures of Marianne and Willoughby, but shows the wicked glee with which Mrs Jennings relates her gossip, and the startled nature of Elinor’s reaction( she is shown sitting next to Mrs Jennings, if I interpret this scene correctly).

Everyone in their circle is now assuming what Mrs Jennings is actually articulating, that Marianne and Willoughby must be engaged or on the very point of being so attached, for their behaviour suggests it. The alarm bells are now ringing loud and clear to the attuned reader. And, as a result of their disrespectful and deceitful behaviour, it is evident that Elinor is hearing them loudly and clearly too…

Last week we learnt a little of the life of Hugh Thomson, the Ulster born artist who was one of the most influential illustrators of Jane Austen’s works. In this year of the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Sense and Sensibility, I thought you might like to see all his illustrations for that book, and this is the first of  ten posts I will be writing about them.

All the illustrations have been taken from my copy of Sense and Sensibility – the cover of which is shown above – which was published by Macmillan in 1911. Hugh Thomson began his work on the series of illustrations of Jane Austen’s works for Macmillan in summer of 1895. It was first published, along with an edition of Emma also illustrated by Mr Thomson in 1896.

M. H. Spiellman who wrote the memoir of Hugh Thomson, Hugh Thomson: his art, his letters,his humour and his charm, with Walter Jerrold wrote of his preparation for illustrating the Austen novels:

For about two years the artist may be said to have lived in those social circles so delicately and humorously set forward by the novels( of Jane Austen,jfw)-and to have depicted them with a delicacy and a humour akin to her own.

The first illustration,which we have discussed before, is from Volume 1,Chapter 1, and is used as the illustration to the frontispiece of my edition of the novel.

This is the passage from Chapter One that it illustrates:

The old Gentleman died; his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave as much disappointment as pleasure. He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful, as to leave his estate from his nephew; but he left it to him on such terms as destroyed half the value of the bequest. Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for the sake of his wife and daughters than for himself or his son; but to his son, and his son’s son, a child of four years old, it was secured, in such a way, as to leave to himself no power of providing for those who were most dear to him, and who most needed a provision, by any charge on the estate, or by any sale of its valuable woods. The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child, who, in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained on the affections of his uncle, by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three years old: an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received from his niece and her daughters. He meant not to be unkind however, and, as a mark of his affection for the three girls, he left them a thousand pounds a-piece.

Inserting the reflection of Fanny Dashwood, watching the Old Gentleman becoming very attached to her son, is a very clever little detail, in my view. It paves the way for the comic but truly dreadful exchange between Fanny and her husband John when they interpret exactly what  financial arrangements they were compelled to honour as a result of John’s deathbed promise to his father. Chapter 2 of the novel is almost wholly taken up with their reasoning away their responsibilities, and part of the debate  is illustrated here:

To be sure it will. Indeed, to say the truth, I am convinced within myself that your father had no idea of your giving them any money at all. The assistance he thought of, I dare say, was only such as might be reasonably expected of you; for instance, such as looking out for a comfortable small house for them, helping them to move their things, and sending them presents of fish and game, and so forth, whenever they are in season. I’ll lay my life that he meant nothing farther; indeed, it would be very strange and unreasonable if he did. Do but consider, my dear Mr. Dashwood, how excessively comfortable your mother-in-law and her daughters may live on the interest of seven thousand pounds, besides the thousand pounds belonging to each of the girls, which brings them in fifty pounds a-year a-piece, and, of course, they will pay their mother for their board out of it. Altogether, they will have five hundred a-year amongst them, and what on earth can four women want for more than that? They will live so cheap! Their housekeeping will be nothing at all. They will have no carriage, no horses, and hardly any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expences of any kind! Only conceive how comfortable they will be! Five hundred a-year! I am sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it; and as to your giving them more, it is quite absurd to think of it. They will be much more able to give you something.”

And, of course, as a result of having no carriage, no horses, hardly any servants and being dependant on others for a home, Fanny very carefully fails to mention that the Dashwood ladies would have had to lead very constrained lives socially. Not excessively comfortable at all. She is a mistress of spin.

The third and last illustration for this week is from Chapter 6, showing the visit of the disappointingly cold Lady Middleton to the Dashwood ladies on the second day of their living at Barton Cottage :

Conversation however was not wanted, for Sir John was very chatty, and Lady Middleton had taken the wise precaution of bringing with her their eldest child, a fine little boy about six years old, by which means there was one subject always to be recurred to by the ladies in case of extremity, for they had to inquire his name and age, admire his beauty, and ask him questions, which his mother answered for him, while he hung about her and held down his head, to the great surprise of her ladyship, who wondered at his being so shy before company, as he could make noise enough at home. On every formal visit a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse. In the present case it took up ten minutes to determine whether the boy were most like his father or mother, and in what particular he resembled either; for of course every body differed, and every body was astonished at the opinion of the others.


 

The illustration gives a hint as to the deficiencies of Lady Middleton in her profession as A Mother, something we experience later in the novel when we meet the other members of her brood. The looks on the faces of Elinor and Marianne speak volumes, don’t you think?

There have been many illustrators of Jane Austen’s works. Some have been more successful than others. My joint favourite, with Joan Hassall who illustrated the complete works for the Folio Society, is Hugh Thompson. I thought you might like to know a little about him, his life and works.

Hugh Thomson was born in Kingsgate Street, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, shown below, on 1 June 1860

I should like to thank the Ulster History Circle for permission to use these two images, the one below showing in detail the blue plaque they affixed to the building to celebrate Mr Thomson’s life and work.

He was first employed in the Ulster linen industry, for which Coleraine was justly famed, as a clerical worker for E. Gribbon and Son.He was however a keen and very talented amateur artist and as a child was noted by members of his family to have been constantly drawing. In 1877, when he was 16, Hugh Thomson produced an illuminated address for the retiring headmaster of Coleraine Model School, James Bresland, see below:

As a result of its beauty he was offered a job in the firm of Marcus Ward and Co of Belfast who were art printers. His work for the firm was so successful that in 1884 he was offered a job at the English Illustrated Magazine,which was published by Macmillan and Co, and which necessitated him moving to London.

He married-above is a picture of Mr Thomson with his father and son- and became a very succesful illustrator for Macmillan, producing illustrations for the Addison and Steele Spectator papers, Days with Sir Roger de Coverley,  Coaching Days and Coaching Ways, by W. Outram Tristram in 1887-8, published in book form in 1878. His biggest hit was illustrating Mrs Gaskell’s Cranford, and this led to him being asked by a different publisher,George Allen and Co., to produce a series of illustrations for Pride and Prejudice in 1893. As he wrote:

This book I am to get £500 for and a royalty of 7d a copy on every copy sold after 10,000.

Work on Pride and Prejudice began in 1893, and despite a debilitating attack of influenza, the 160 drawings  were completed and then published by October 1894. Mr  Thomson seems to have been a very modest and unassuming man of great charm, as is illustrated by this extract form one of his letters:

I saw in the column ‘Books Received ‘that Alllen has sent forth ‘Pride and Prejudice’…I have given up hope of artistic successes now but feel that at my time of life (thirty-four!) I may count myself lucky if one can do good business. In the ardent hope that the golden shekels may roll in I have found refuge.

It was indeed a hit- 11,605 copies were sold in 1894-5 and by 1907 no fewer than 25,000 copies of this edition had been printed.

In 1895 he was ill yet again,but he was then commissioned by his old firm, Macmillan, to work on the other five of Jane Austen’s novels: Emma (1896), Sense and Sensibility (1896), Mansfield Park (1897), Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (1898).

I love the tiny details that Hugh Thompson was able to include in his profuse illustrations for these books. Two of my favourites are below…..The moment when Mrs Elton appears at church in Emma….

And quite possibly my favourite of them all..the moment Mrs Bennet hears from her daughter Elizabeth that she is to marry Mr Darcy. Struck dumb for probably the first time in her life……

she sits, unable to utter a syllable..

From the early 1890s Thomson’s drawings were exhibited on several occasions, beginning with a joint exhibition with Kate Greenaway at the Fine Art Society in 1891. He was able to take advantage of the improvements in publishing technology and  his illustrations for last two volumes in the Cranford series included colour plates, as did many of his later commissions, which included works by Shakespeare, Sheridan, Goldsmith, and Hawthorne, and the popular plays of J. M. Barrie.

J. M. Barrie was a great admirer of Hugh Thomson and his works. Writing to M. H. Spiellman who wrote the memoir of Hugh Thomson, Hugh Thomson: his art, his letters,his humour and his charm, with Walter Jerrold in 1931 he noted:

He was a man who drew affection at first sight, so unworldly , so diffident, you smile over him and love him as if he were one of his own delicious pictures.What the man was came out in his face and in all his attractive ways; it might be said of him that he was himself the best picture he ever made. His heart was the gentlest,the most humourous and so was he….

This observation by Barrie is interesting,because Thomson was said to be the illustrator who revived the humour in Jane Austen’s novels:

I am writing your publisher a testimonial that no sufferer or invalid should neglect a course of Hugh Thompson’s marvellous tonic-the restorative effects on impaired vitality.,etc found in your illustrations to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and no household should be without a case-I mean a bookcase full. You have revivifed(sic)  the gently humourous Jane and given her a new lease of life….

(Letter from Joseph Grego quoted in Hugh Thomson :his art, his letters,his humour and his charm,page 98)

His books had a very special feature: he designed sumptuous covers for them. This is my copy of his Pride and Prejudice (1894) with the famous peacock-tail cover. I’ve had this for years and am frightened to even touch it these days so astronomical is the price it now fetches on the open market….

This is his equally sumptuous cover for Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer

Here are his working sketches for the cover of Sheridan’s School for Scandal, so that you can see how he worked around a continuing theme of  fans….

And here is his finished article. Do note all these illustrations  can be enlarged by clicking on them so you can see all the delicious detail.

Hugh Thomson struggled through the First World War,suffering from il health and decreasing commissions.He eventually died of heart disease in 1920.But he left a vibrant and loved legacy in his illustrations, particularly those he completed for the editions of Jane Austen’s novels.

One of my favourite books is a very tactile edition of Sense and Sensibility published in 1912.

Covered in a sort of suede embellished in gold leaf it is one of my favourite editions of all Jane Austen’s books that I own. Thomson’s illustrations for this book are clever and ingenious. Look at this illustration below, showing how subtle he could be in illustrating this tiny passage from Chapter 1;

….but to his son, and his son’s son, a child of four years old, it was secured, in such a way, as to leave to himself no power of providing for those who were most dear to him, and who most needed a provision, by any charge on the estate, or by any sale of its valuable woods. The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child, who, in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained on the affections of his uncle, by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three years old: an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received from his niece and her daughters.

Note the reflection in the looking-glass showing Fanny Dashwood coldly and calculatingly watching the Old Gentleman becoming ever more enamoured of her son…hmmmmm…..

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Sense and Sensibility I’m going to post a few of these illustrations each week, putting them in context and hopefully adding some interesting comments to them. I find the art of book illustration absolutely fascinating I wanted to be a book illustrator as a young girl,but then I took a completely different career turn! – and I hope you will enjoy some of these posts in the next few weeks.

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