Tag Archives: society

Challenging the status quo

Another minor character that Austen crafted to challenge the status quo is Mrs Crofts from Persuasion. Mrs Crofts’ marriage is equal as well as romantic and adventurous. She has “crossed the Atlantic four times” with the admiral and was “shrewd” and seemed more conversant with business”  than her husband the admiral.

Jane Austen is portraying a very competent and happy woman here, able to participate in seafaring, one of the most difficult and dangerous occupations of the time. Continue reading

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What do Fanny and Julia have in common?

Once upon a time in a little land called Australia, ok it was a big land but a small population, there was a female politician called Julia. She had been born from immigrants who had seen education as the key to advancement and this she did. She advanced in spades until one day she entered Parliament. She worked hard, got on well with others and negotiated through such hostile environments that she was accepted and became very important – so important that she played second fiddle to the very important white males who were the leaders. And then one day, when things weren’t going so well amongst the important white males she thought she may as well be the leader. Naturally, as happens in quaint little democracies, there were loud howls of protest. But she put her head down, did what lots of women do, cleaned up the mess, and got on with business. Continue reading


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Jane’s mother’s little helper at Jane’s birth – Philadelphia Austen Hancock


Jane’s birthday was yesterday and in her honour I ask: who was with Jane’s mother, when Jane was born? Interestingly it was her sister-in-law Philadelphia Austen Hancock, George Austen’s sister. From this we can assume that Phila, as she was called, was a well liked and trusted sister-in-law. George, Phila and Leonora were left orphaned and penniless but with family connections – their mother had been a baronet’s daughter. George used education as an avenue for advancement but this was not an option for Phila.  Denied an education as a path to advancement she initially stayed living in London with an aunt. She had no dowry and so had to work for a living, hence she was apprenticed to a milliner in Covent Garden. It must have been a big step down for this baronet’s granddaughter. At that time, many milliner shops around Covent Garden were actually Continue reading

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What have Dame Elisabeth and Jane Austen got in common?

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch as a young woman and later, enjoying the simple pleasures
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch as a young woman and later, enjoying the simple pleasures.

Sometimes the modern dilemma may be that we cannot see outside ourselves and our own worries. Naturally our worries can take up an inordinate amount of time. Just this week I listened to a woman say that it is impossible to be focused on oneself if you think about others; when you are actively helping another, your own concerns seem to drift away. Is this why our very special Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who passed away peacefully in her sleep this week, was so happy? Sure she had a fortunate life, but she chose to use her talents and her wealth to help others. She could have been jetsetting around the world partying with the hoi polloi  but instead she dedicated her life to others and lived a quiet domestic country-style life that reminded me of the values that I have so enjoyed in the Austen Six. Did you hear the story that her cleaner, Queenie, was finding it hard to manage her duties for Dame Elisabeth? Continue reading


Filed under Resilience

Should parents be a friend to their child?

Sometimes parents take the democratic values of equality between parents and children to such an extent that the roles can be reversed; the case of the parentified child shows the pitfalls of this. Should we allow the child to parent the parent? The child is often very independent and might even wake the parent or remind them of their jobs. Sometimes a child will play confidant to their parent’s troubles.

Often children can take on the parenting role when the actual parent has Continue reading


Filed under Childhood