. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
On Today’s Menu:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
** Share some apple-puff tarts
for the birthday of my very favorite author.
** Linger to admire
a writer with a genius for describing human variety.
** Savor a last ½ cup
on a trip to Hampshire County, England, circa 2015.
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First Sip:

‘Then their uncle comes in, and
tosses them up to the ceiling in a
very frightful way.

‘But they like it, papa;
there is nothing they like so much

If their uncle did not lay down the rule of their taking turns,
whichever began would never give way to the other.’

‘Well, I cannot understand it.’

‘This is the case with us all, papa.
One half of the world cannot understand
the pleasures of the other.’

from Emma
Jane Austen
chapter 9


Slice of Cake:

So many would-be writers dream of the kind of place where they could be productive—
where supports are steady, and distractions are few.

Jane Austen found that place at the age of 33,
when her family moved to Chawton Cottage.

Jane Austen never married and spent her whole life with her family,
especially her mother and her sister, Cassandra.

She grew up in Steventon, where her father was an Anglican clergyman.
Jane loved that home. She enjoyed writing from a young age,
and it was at Steventon that she wrote Lady Susan, Elinor and Marianne, and First Impressions.

But in 1801, when she was 25, the family left Steventon.
Over the next eight years, they moved several times, mostly living in Bath.
In 1805, Jane’s father died, which left the family even more vulnerable and unsettled.

During these years, Jane got almost no writing done.

Then, in July 1809, Jane’s brother Edward offered them a small house near his estate;
Jane and her mother and sister happily moved in.

Life at Chawton Cottage was settled and quiet.
The house was located in a small village surrounded by countryside—
very similar to the house Jane grew up in and loved.
It is here that Jane felt at home, and started writing again.

She began by revising Elinor and Marianne, which
was published the very next year as Sense and Sensibility (1811).
She revised First Impressions, and it was published as Pride and Prejudice (1813).
She went on to write Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), and Persuasion.
She began Sanditon, but then became too ill to write.
Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were both published in 1818,
the year after Austen died.

The 7 years Jane Austen spent at Chawton Cottage were astoundingly productive.
And, by all accounts, very happy.

Happy 244th Birthday
** Jane Austen

born 16 December 1775
in Steventon, Hampshire, England


Linger Awhile:

I’ve been thinking this week about the genius of Jane Austen—
how well she knows us, in all our human variety.

Jane Austen’s novels are full of insights into human nature.
The following is one of my favorite examples of this.

See how clearly she illustrates our different perceptions of sounds—
how a horrendous clamor to one person
is pleasant background noise to someone else.

On one side was a table, occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other…riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard, in spite of all the noise of the others

Mr Musgrove made a point of paying his respects to Lady Russell, and sat down close to her for ten minutes, talking with a very raised voice, but, from the clamour of the children on his knees, generally in vain…. Mrs Musgrove, who got Anne near her on purpose to thank her… concluded a short recapitulation of what she had suffered herself by observing, with a happy glance round the room, that after all she had gone through, nothing was so likely to do her good as a little quiet cheerfulness at home.

‘I hope I shall remember, in future,’ said Lady Russell, as soon as they were reseated in the carriage,
‘not to call at Uppercross in the Christmas holidays.’

When Lady Russell, not long afterwards,
was entering Bath on a wet afternoon, and driving through the long course of streets from the Old Bridge to Camden-place, amidst the dash of other carriages, the heavy rumble of carts and drays, the brawling of newsmen, muffin-men and milkmen, and the ceaseless clink of pattens, she made no complaint. No, these were noises which belonged to the winter pleasures; her spirits rose under their influence;
and, like Mrs Musgrove,
she was feeling, though not saying that, after being
long in the county, nothing could be so good for her as
a little quiet cheerfulness.

– from Persuasion
Jane Austen
chapter 11


“Half Cup More”

In 2015, I got to visit Chawton Cottage.

Me at Chawton Cottage
photo by Prof B

This is the very table where Jane Austen wrote her novels.
I was pretty excited.

It was the next year that I found a Chawton Cottage of my own.

In 2016 I moved to Salt Lake City
where I’ve filled my study with shelves of books,
boxes of journals, and
files of notes about writers I admire and
things I’m curious about.


It’s a good room for working and
a good room for dreaming,
and I’m very happy to have it.




Take-Away Box

Here are 3 favorite, book-ish quotes
from Jane Austen’s novels…

‘Emma has been meaning to
read more ever since she was twelve years old.
I have seen a great many lists
books that she meant to read regularly through—
and very good lists they were,
very well chosen, and very neatly arranged

But I have done with expecting
any course of steady reading from Emma.
She will never submit to anything requiring
industry and patience, and a
subjection of the fancy to the understanding.

– from Emma
Jane Austen
chapter 5

Mr Hurst looked at her with astonishment.
‘Do you prefer reading to cards?’ said he;

‘that is rather singular.’

‘Miss Eliza Bennet,’ said Miss Bingley,
‘despises cards. She is a great reader
and has no other pleasures in anything else.’

‘I deserve neither such praise
nor such censure,’ cried Elizabeth;
‘I am not a great reader, and I have
pleasure in many things.’

– from Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
Chapter 8

‘I see what you think of me,’ said he gravely,
‘I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow.’

‘My journal!’

‘Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the
Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe
with blue trimmings – plain black shoes –
appeared to much advantage;
but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man,
who would make me dance with him,
and distressed me by his nonsense

‘But, perhaps, I keep no journal.’

‘Perhaps you are not sitting in this room,
and I am not sitting by you. These are points in which
a doubt is equally possible.
Not keep a journal! …My dear madam, I am not so
ignorant of young ladies’ ways as you wish to believe me;
it is
this delightful habit of journalizing which
largely contributes to form the easy style of writing
for which ladies are so generally celebrated.’

– from Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen
chapter 3


Thank you for reading!
Kelly J Hardesty

Thoughts? Questions?
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© Kelly J Hardesty 2024

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