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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

News re Excavating the Steventon Rectory

The other day, a good Janeite friend just brought the following to my attention not off the Internet wire:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-16002088

At first I was really excited, without thinking too much, wondering what Austen family artifacts lie buried at Steventon?

But then I was brought back to reality when I read the following:

"The house was demolished early in the 19th Century soon after Austen and her family moved to Bath."

Early in the 19th century? I recollected that it was not demolished by Edward Austen Knight till sometime _after_ James Austen died in 1819! Le Faye's 3rd edition quickly verified that it occurred in 1824. Not so early in the 19th century, especially from the point of view of Janeites.

But what was sobering was recollecting that because the rectory was occupied by James Austen and his family for nearly two decades after the entire Austen family lived there, it means that it's unlikely that we will find evidence of life among the original Austen family, but only stuff from James's family--still interesting, but not from a time when JA lived there!

Then earlier today, I came across a 4 minute news video clip by the BBC, that is worth watching:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-16227579

It is _not_ just a repeat of the above linked BBC written article that made the rounds yesterday, it shows some of the actual excavation work that went on last month, and also a brief interview with the leader of the excavation project:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-16002088

And....for those curious about the inconsistency between two depictions of the rectory which is briefly mentioned in the video, my friend Linda Robinson Walker, in her 2007 article about Jane Austen's being sent away at 7 and almost dying, also goes into painstaking detail in analyzing the inconsistency of those two depictions, which, as Linda suggests, bears on the decision of Revd. and Mrs. Austen to send JA and CEA away:

www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol26no1/walker.htm

Cheers, ARNIE

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