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The Original of Pemberley Donald Greene O? 17 November 1946, E.M. Forster wrote from Cambridge to the eminent Jane Austen scholar R.W. Chapman at Oxford: A colleague of mine here has noted an interesting discrepancy in Pride and Prejudice. I wanted him to ask you about it, but he prefers that I should write for him. P. 241, your edition, Elizabeth learns at "Lambton" that Darcy is away. But on p. 256 she tells him that she acquired the information at Bakewell. Can "Lambton" = Bakewell, and if it does is there an original for Pemberly [sic]V We do not know what Chapman replied. But undoubtedly he would have pointed out that no discrepancy exists. Forster's colleague had read chapters 42 and 43 of the novel inattentively, and jumped to an erroneous conclusion, as, no doubt, have other readers. If one is not following the story carefully, it is easy to read the statements, on pages 240-41 of Chapman's edition, "To the little town of Lambton ... they bent their steps ... and within five miles of Lambton ... Pemberley was situated. ... To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go," and suppose that the events described on those pages, including the chambermaid's telling Elizabeth that Darcy is not at his country seat of Pemberley, take place in Lambton. But bending one's steps to a place is not the same as being there. In fact, Elizabeth and the Gardiners are "talking over their route the evening 1 Sotheby and Co., sale catalogue 13-14 March 1979, lot 372. I owe this reference to J. David Grey. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION, Volume 1, Numberl, October 1988 2 EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION before" they set out for Lambton (II, 24O).2 The inn where they are spending that evening is in another town, and the name of that town, we are informed somewhat belatedly on page 256, is Bakewell. Forster places quotation marks around the word "Lambton" but not around "Bakewell." His reason for doing so is simple. There is no place in Derbyshire called Lambton: the name is fictitious (though, as we shall see, not far removed from an actual Derbyshire place-name). But, as Forster and other readers would have been aware, Bakewell is a well-known town in Derbyshire, and the closest place with adequate tourist accommodation to a famous attraction for sight-seers. Three (not five) miles east of Bakewell is situated the great country seat of the Cavendishes, Dukes of Devonshire, Chatsworth House, surrounded by its large and magnificently landscaped park, which Förster is surely implying is the "original for Pemberley." The identification of Pemberley with Chatsworth has had a confused and somewhat comic history. After Jane Austen became celebrated as a novelist, tourist publicity, as so often happens, began to capitalize on that celebrity. The story told by these traditionally unreliable publications is conveniently summed up in a notice outside one room in the Rutland Arms Hotel in Bakewell: In this room in the year 1811, Jane Austen revised the MS of her famous book Pride and Prejudice. It had been written in 1797, but Jane Austen who travelled in Derbyshire in 1811 chose to introduce the beauty spots of the Peak into her novel. The Rutland Arms Hotel was built in 1804, and while staying in this new and comfortable inn we have reason to believe that Jane Austen visited Chatsworth only 3 miles away and was so impressed by its beauty and grandeur that she made it the background for Pemberley, the home of the proud and handsome Mr. Darcy. ... The small market town of Lambton is easily identifiable as Bakewell, and any visitor driving thence to Chatsworth must be struck by Miss Austen's faithful portrayal of the scene. Elizabeth Bennet had returned to the inn to dress for dinner, when the sound of the carriage drew her to the window. She saw a curricle driving up the street, undoubtedly Matlock St., which these windows overlook, and presently she heard a quick foot upon the stairs, the very stairs outside this door. So, when visiting this hotel and staying 2 References in the text are to volume and page in The Novels...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 1-24
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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