Literature of the English Country House: Jane Austen, Pemberley and the Novel.

This week Learners on Literature of the English Country House will be discussing the Jane Austen, her fictional country houses, and the rise of the novel. 

This week we’ll be joined by Dr Joe Bray, Reader in Language and Literature in the School of English, to discuss where the novel came from and the factors behind its emergence.  Focusing in particular on Austen’s favourite novelist, Samuel Richardson, we’ll discover how the material form of the 18th-century novel was very different from the form it takes today and we’ll consider the impact this has on the way it would have been read.

mighty joe bray

Joe will also introduce us to stylistics, an approach to reading literature that pays detailed attention to the language and style of a text. In particular, we’ll be looking at a stylistic technique known as free indirect discourse. This is used in a narrative style for the representation of speech or thought, and for which Jane Austen is particularly well known.

Chatsworth House is often proposed as a model for Pemberley, the country estate of Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, it is the ideal location from which to investigate this novel. Joe will take us through a segment of the novel in which Elizabeth visits Darcy’s country estate and we’ll examine how Austen uses free indirect discourse to illuminate the thoughts and feelings of her heroine.


At the end of the week we’ll also be discussing those houses use in adaptations of Austen, and there will be a chance to try your own hand at writing in Austen’s style in a very special creative writing activity.

Here on the blog we’ll be hearing from Lauren Nixon, author of The Jane Austen Miscellany, who will be discussing some of the other suggested models for Pemberley.

To find out more about the course and sign-up for free, click here!

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