Right now I am in Ireland. My daughter was born here, just south of Dublin, and we always said we’d take her back to her “homeland” for her sixteenth birthday. So here we are… And it’s gorgeous!
In thinking about this post, I wondered about Jane Austen’s connection to Ireland. I recalled a few references – listed below — but beyond that I wasn’t sure there was a connection. A little research revealed some interesting things:
- Julia Forsythe, author of Jane Austen and the Irish Connection, states Pride and Prejudice is based on Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals. According to an interview, Jane had read the play in her twenties and seen it before her brothers came home fro Oxford and put on the play themselves.
- In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy’s slight “Every savage can dance” refers to the Irish. Many articles I found confirmed this – Was I the only one to never know this? Did you all?
- Jane’s brother Henry was sent to Cork under General Cornwallis to deal with the 1798 Rebellion. And often she mentioned sailors and their connection to Cork, as she did in Persuasion.
- Her brother Charles’s youngest children, Marianne, Louse and Cassandra Knight lived in Ireland in “long years of exile” as children – as described in May, Lou & Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland by Dr. Sophia Hillan. Yet, despite these somber sounding beginnings, I read that all three girls remained and married in Ireland and led fascinating lives, soon finding their exile to be their home.
- In Emma, the Campbell’s are visiting their daughter with her new husband, Mr. Dixon, in his home country, Ireland. And Ireland is spoken of in glowing terms.
- In Persuasion, not only do the sailors talk of Ireland and Cork, but Austen gives the Dalrymples the honor of being of the the Irish nobility.
- And of course there’s the Irish Thomas Lefroy, whom Austen loved – but he was already set to marry. There’s more to that story, I know, but it’s hard to separate fact from really good romantic fiction here – as is right.
In summary, I was delightfully surprised to find this complex, subtle yet strong connection to Ireland. Of course, none of it has been of any interest to my daughter. But… There is time.
Please let me know any tidbits you have to add to the Irish fun. Thanks for joining me here today…