Jane Austen died in Winchester, Hampshire, on 18th July, 1817, at the age of just 41. She was buried in the city’s cathedral but a small tablet was unveiled in Westminster Abbey to mark her death 150 years later.
Located in Poets’ Corner in the abbey’s south transept, the small tablet was erected on 17th December, 1967, by the Jane Austen Society. Made of polished Roman stone, it simply bears her name and year of birth – 1775 – and year of death.
The tablet was placed on the lefthand side of the (much larger) memorial to William Shakespeare and below that of lexicographer Samuel Johnson.
This is the final in our series on Jane Austen’s London – we’ll be starting a new series shortly.
WHERE: Westminster Abbey (nearest Tube station is Westminster and St James’s Park); WHEN: Various – check website; COST: £22 adults/£17 concessions/£9 chirldren (6-16)/five and under free (check website for more options); WEBSITE: www.westminster-abbey.org
PICTURE: Carcharoth (Commons)/CC BY-SA 3.0 (image cropped)
Jane Austen featured numerous London locations in her novels. Here’s five…
• Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury. In Emma, the main protagonist’s married sister, Isabella, lives here with her lawyer husband John Knightley and children. Isabella is well pleased with her home, noting “We are so very airy”.
• Hill Street, Mayfair. Admiral Crawford, uncle of Henry and Mary Crawford, lives in this street in Mansfield Park.
• Harley Street, Marylebone (pictured). John and Fanny Dashwood took a house in this street for the “season” in Sense and Sensibility.
• Bond Street. Well known to Austen, she has Marianne, then upset over Willoughby (who has lodgings here), visit here on a shopping trip in Sense and Sensibility.
• Grosvenor Street, Mayfair. The Hursts have a house in this fashionable West End street in Pride and Prejudice and here Jane Bennet visits Caroline Bingley hoping to see her brother Charles. Continue reading “10 sites of significance in Jane Austen’s London…9. Literary locations…” →
It’s said to be the “only reasonably certain portrait from life” – a sketch by Jane’s older sister Cassandra which purportedly depicts the artist.
Found on display in Room 18 of the National Portrait Gallery, the pencil and watercolour sketch dates from about 1810 and was purchased by the gallery in 1948 for £135.
The image was the basis for a late 19th century water-colour image of Jane which was created by Maidenhead artist James Andrews who traced Cassandra’s sketch.
Andrew’s image had been commissioned by Jane’s nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, and he used an engraving of it – made by William Home Lizars – as a frontispiece to his biography, A Memoir of Jane Austen.
It is an image of that engraving which features on the new £10 polymer banknote going into circulation tomorrow.
The decision to use the later image rather than the original has attracted some criticism – not for the subject but for the fact that, as historian Lucy Worsley told The Sunday Times, it represents “an author publicity portrait after she died in which she’s been given the Georgian equivalent of an airbrushing”.
There has, we should also note, been some criticism of the choice of quote on the note – “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading” comes from Pride and Prejudice and was uttered by the deceitful Caroline Bingley who really has no interest in reading at all!
WHERE: Room 18, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place (nearest Tube station is Charing Cross or Leicester Square); WHEN: 10am to 6pm daily; COST: Free (donations welcome); WEBSITE: www.npg.org.uk
PICTURE: Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen (pencil and watercolour, circa 1810 – NPG 3630) © National Portrait Gallery, London
Jane Austen is known to have patronised many shops while in London (mainly concerned with fabrics) – here’s just a few…
• Twinings – The Austen family is known to have bought their tea from the famous merchant’s 300-year-old premises which still stands in the Strand near Temple Bar; a letter survives which Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra in reference to an order.
• Newton’s – A linen drapers formerly located at 14 Coventry Street just off Leicester Square. Jane is known to have visited here with her niece Fanny.
• Wilding & Kent – Upmarket drapers, located in Grafton House on the corner of New Bond and Grafton Streets. Jane, who is known to have visited frequently, complained of the queues there.
• Layton & Shear’s – A fashionable mercer’s shop located at 9 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, conveniently located next door to where Jane lived for a time with her brother Henry.
There are others – this is just a sample!
Correction: The Fanny mentioned who visited Newton’s with Jane Austen was her niece, not her sister (although she apparently thought of her like “almost another sister”).
As you may have realised (the new £10 banknote anyone?), this month marks 200 years since the death of Jane Austen in Winchester on 18th July, 1817, so to mark the occasion, we’re looking at 10 sites of interest from Jane Austen’s London. To kick off our new Wednesday series, we’re looking at one of the locations where she is known to have resided while in London – number 10 Henrietta Street.
Number 10 in those days was the location of a bank – Austen, Maunde and Tilson – in which Jane’s older (and favourite) brother Henry was a partner. Above the bank’s offices was a flat Henry moved into after the death of his wife Eliza in 1813. It was also where Jane stayed when visiting publishers in the summer of 1813 and again in March, 1814, the latter when she was working on the proofs of Mansfield Park.
As well as a dining room at the front on the first floor, it had a sitting parlour, small drawing room and bedchambers (Jane is known to have stayed in one on the second floor). She described the property as “all dirt & confusion, but in a very promising way”.
Austen is known to have visited nearby theatres including the Lyceum and the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane while staying in London and during 1813 also visited the “blockbuster” exhibition of Sir Joshua Reynold’s paintings at the British Institute in Pall Mall ( a fascinating reconstruction of which can be found here).
A City of Westminster Green Plaque (erected in partnership with the Jane Austen Society) commemorates Jane’s stay here.
PICTURE: Diane Griffiths/Flickr/CC BY 2.0