Sunday, August 21, 2011

BBC and Jane Austen.

I'm a fan of Jane Austen. But the marriage of the BBC and Austen is a miracle made in Heaven. I just cannot tire of anything they render in the historical genre. They do it so well and with such dignity.

I watched a new video just purchased. A new (for me) version of
Sense and Sensability.

Women had such a uphill battle for property rights. We get a sense of it in Pride and Prejudice with the cousin due to inherit the property with the lack of sons, and in Sense and Sensability, we see three young women and their mother relegated to the charity of a relative, while their half brother inherits the property and is persuaded by his evil wife there is no merit in over generosity in the upkeep of a promise to make sure the women are all secure in his care.

This seems an exaggeration, but I have seen that this happens in reality as late as the 1850's. The daughter of one of Australia's earliest free settlers, Mr. Mitchell the Surveyor General of the new settlement of New South Wales, and the name behind the NSW main Library (Mitchell Library). He had a vast library of books, and his offspring were all very well educated, even the girls, but once he was dead, his son soon let down the wife and daughters, despite a large portion of dowry brought to the marriage by Mrs. Mitchell. The brother was a drunk and a gambler and had other places to waste his money.

If anyone is interested the young lady's name is Blanche Mitchell. She is one of the last graves in the Newtown Cemetery buried next to her father. She died at an early age of consumption, but kept some significant diaries which are available in print. An insight into the life of a girl in the 1850's and the life she led in NSW during that time.

The most surprising thing is that a fifteen year old in 1850 is no different to a fifteen year old in 2011.

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