Jane Austen and the Clergy

Overview

Jane Austen was the daughter of a clergyman, the sister of two others and the cousin of four more. Her principal acquaintances were clergymen and their families, whose social, intellectual and religious attitudes she shared. Yet while clergymen feature in all her novels, often in major roles, there has been little recognition of their significance. To many readers their status and profession is a mystery, as they appear simply to be a sub-species of gentlemen and never seem to perform any duties. Mr Collins in ...

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Overview

Jane Austen was the daughter of a clergyman, the sister of two others and the cousin of four more. Her principal acquaintances were clergymen and their families, whose social, intellectual and religious attitudes she shared. Yet while clergymen feature in all her novels, often in major roles, there has been little recognition of their significance. To many readers their status and profession is a mystery, as they appear simply to be a sub-species of gentlemen and never seem to perform any duties. Mr Collins in Pride and prejudice is often regarded as little more than a figure of fun.

Astonishingly, Jane Austen and the Clergy is the first book to demonstrate the importance of Jane Austen's clerical background and to explain the clergy in her novels, whether Mr Tilney in Northanger Abbey, Mr Elton in Emma, or a less prominent character such as Dr Grant in Mansfield Park. In this exceptionally well-written and enjoyable book, Irene Collins draws on a wide knowledge of the literature and history of the period to describe who the clergy were, both in the novels and in life: how they were educated and appointed the houses they lived in and the gardens they designed and cultivated; the women they married; their professional and social context; their income, their duties, their moral outlook and their beliefs. Jane Austen and the Clergy uses the facts of Jane Austen's life and the evidence contained in her letters and novels to give a vivid and convincing portrait of the contemporary clergy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a hugely readable book, which will provide the greater possible pleasure to all Janeites and will tell all but the most fanatically learned a good deal they did not know." —The Daily Telegraph
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781852851149
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.86 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Irene Collins graduated in History at Oxford and taught for many years at Liverpool University, where she is now Reader Emeritus. As a popular lecturer to history societies throughout the U.K., and the author of several books and articles on Britain and Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, she was awarded in 1996 the Historical Association's Norton Medlicott Medal for Services to History. Her interest in the connection between history and literature has led her to focus her attention on the life and novels of Jane Austen, on which she has lectured widely in both England and America. She is a Vice-President of the Jane Austen Society, and Patron of the Northern Branch.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Preface
1 Jane Austen's Clerical Connections 1
2 Patronage 19
3 The Parson's Education 35
4 The Parson's Income 49
5 The Parson's Dwelling 61
6 The Country Parish 85
7 The Clergy and the Neighbourhood 103
8 The Parson's Wife 121
9 Manners and Morals 143
10 Morals and Society 159
11 Worship and Belief 179
Appendix 197
Notes 201
Bibliography 223
Index 231
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