Monday, July 25, 2011

Winner announced!

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition to win a copy of Mr. Darcy's Secret - I really enjoyed hearing about your ideas.
The name drawn from the hat was:


Congratulations, I hope you enjoy reading all about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, and Georgiana!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mr. Darcy's Secret: Chapter One, and a Giveaway!

Here in England, we are enjoying (I'm not sure that is quite the word I want) a spell of miserable weather, grey skies, and rainy days. It's actually feeling rather cold today, and so for no other reason other than trying to bring a little cheer on a gloomy day, I thought I'd post an extract from Mr. Darcy's Secret, which I hope you'll enjoy! Here is chapter one of my latest published novel. I'm also offering a copy of Mr. Darcy's Secret - all you have to do is either leave a comment below, or send one to me here telling me what you'd like to read about next in an Austen-inspired novel! I'll put the names in a hat and the winner's name will be drawn next Monday, 25th July, 2011.

With little exception, the anticipation of a long-awaited and desirous event will always give as much if not more pleasure than the diversion itself. Moreover, it is a certain truth that however gratifying such an occasion may prove to be, it will not necessarily unite prospect and satisfaction in equal accord.
Mrs Bennet’s musings on the affairs of the day at Longbourn church were similarly divided. The ostrich feathers on her satin wedding hat quivered tremulously as she surveyed her surroundings with a self-satisfied air. Evening sunlight streamed through the long windows of the sitting room gilding her hair and silk pelisse, simultaneously burnishing the top of Mr Bennet’s polished pate with a halo of amber softness.
“Hardly has a day passed during the last twenty-three years when I have not thought about my daughters’ nuptials with the certain foreknowledge that my beautiful Jane and clever Lizzy would do their duty to their parents, their sisters, and themselves,” said Mrs Bennet to her husband on the day that her eldest daughters were married.
“Yes, my dear,” Mr Bennet replied with a wry smile, “even when you professed your resolution that they should both die old maids not two months ago, I am sure you knew better in your heart.”
“Such weddings as Longbourn and, indeed, the whole county have never seen before,” exclaimed Mrs Bennet fingering the new lace about her shoulders with an air of appreciation whilst ignoring her husband’s bemused comments. “Not that there were some matters that would have pleased me better had I been allowed to have a hand in the arrangements myself. I should have liked to host a party if I had been permitted, but Elizabeth did not think it fitting. I am sure our neighbours would greatly have appreciated the celebration, but who am I to be considered? I am only the mother of the brides married to two of the richest men in the kingdom! It is not as if it was a question of money. I am sure dear Darcy would have liked it if not for Elizabeth’s opposition. Still, it was something to see the condescension of our neighbours; I daresay Lady Lucas will not feel herself so superior now. But truly, nothing will vex me today; all has surpassed my greatest expectations.”
“I am glad to hear it, my dear, because without a doubt, if such long anticipation had been disappointed in some way, I am not entirely sure I could have borne the next twenty-three years with the same equanimity.”
“Who would have thought it, Mr Bennet,” said his lady talking over the top of him, “that I should live to see two of my daughters so exceptionally advantaged in married life?”
“Quite so, my dear,” replied he, “though I must add that however well placed I believed my daughters might find themselves, I had always planned on exceeding my own five and forty years to witness their felicity. Indeed, possessing the knowledge that your own long surviving line of aged relatives are still thriving as I speak, I must confess that I am a little astonished to think you had supposed to be dead before our daughters attained the matrimonial state.”
“Oh, Mr Bennet, you speak such nonsense. But you will not tease me out of my present happy disposition. And, I must say, I received some comfort from the fact that Miss Bingley and her sister Mrs Hurst were forced by a rightful sense of obligation and due civility to treat our family in the correct manner today. Oh, yes, Mr Bennet, I cannot tell you how much it gratified me to see the smug, self-satisfied expressions they generally display upon their ill-favoured countenances, quite wiped away. I thought Miss Bingley looked likely to choke when I turned to see Elizabeth and Jane walking down the aisle by your side.”
“I did not observe any greater condescension towards our family than that which they usually bestow, Mrs Bennet,” replied her spouse, “though I must admit I did not really pay them any great attention. My own thoughts and looks were only concerned with our dear girls.”
“What a double blow it must have been for Miss Bingley. I expect all the while she was hoping that Mr Darcy might break his promise to Elizabeth and leave her at the altar. And I am sure, whatever she might have said on welcoming Jane to the Bingley family, that the sincerity of her wishes was entirely false. Well, I cannot help feeling our advantage over those Bingley women. And Mr Darcy was as charming and obliging as ever. I think him quite superior to dear Mr Bingley in many ways, even if I hadn’t always liked him.”
“I’m sure Mr Darcy would be delighted to hear it.”
“I daresay he would, for he certainly needed to earn my good opinion after the way he strutted about Hertfordshire with his proud ways. However, I’m not entirely convinced by Lizzy’s partiality, whatever she might protest on his having been misunderstood and winning her round. A man ought to have a tongue in his head, indeed, especially a man of such consequence.”
“I should hate to hear you on the subject of despising a man if this is your approbation, Mrs Bennet. And I loathe to be contradicting you, once more, but I cannot agree with you. I believe Lizzy to be very much in love with Mr Darcy, as much in love, as dear Jane is with her Mr Bingley.”
“Well, I certainly think I might fancy myself in love if I knew I was married to the owner of Pemberley with a house in town and ten thousand a year, at least!”
“I am sure such good fortune helps love along. No doubt, my own prospects animated the feelings you had whilst we were courting.”
Mrs Bennet looked at her husband in exasperation. “Oh, Mr Bennet, it was nothing like the matter. There is no comparison. The wealth of Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley is a hundred times your consequence, as well you know. La! With Jane and Lizzy so well married; ’tis enough to make me distracted!”
“I am pleased to discover our poverty is in no way dispiriting to your outlook, my dear. But I cannot join you in your exertions. I find myself feeling most melancholy. I am delighted that I need not worry that our daughters will suffer any lack of wealth or hardship; but despite the satisfaction these assurances bring, I cannot help but add that I shall miss them very much.”
At this point Mrs Bennet burst into tears. “With my dearest Lydia so lately married and now Jane and Lizzy having left home, I shall have little to do, especially now Mary and Kitty will be gone to their sisters by the bye. I do not know what shall become of me; indeed, I do not. I shall be quite alone in this house with only my memories coupled with the dreadful understanding that William and Charlotte Collins are counting the days to your demise. What misfortune to have our estate entailed away for that odious pair to inherit. It is all Lady Lucas ever talks to me about these days: of her daughter’s delight at the prospect of being able to return one day into Hertfordshire.”
“Come, come now,” insisted Mr Bennet passing over a pocket handkerchief and rising from his seat with the intention of leaving the room. “I see no reason for tears. I am sure one or all of your daughters will accommodate you when that unhappy day befalls you and, until then, I flatter myself that you will have the comfort of knowing that you are not entirely alone. I am here, or at least I will be when I am not away.”
“Away! Do you intend to leave me, sir? Where are you going, Mr Bennet?”
“To Pemberley, of course,” came his emphatic reply.
“To Pemberley and you never said a word of it. But do you intend to go alone and without an invitation?”
Mr Bennet stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I suppose if you should wish to accompany me, then you may enjoy your share of the invitation.”
“An invitation! Has Lizzy invited us to Pemberley so soon?” asked Mrs Bennet, scarcely able to keep the astonishment out of her voice.
“No, Mr Darcy himself, no less,” came the triumphant answer, “has not only issued the invitation, but also expects us for Christmas!”

Elizabeth Darcy looked out of the carriage window, her spirits in high flutter as they crossed the ancient stone bridge on the road into Lambton village. Nestled at the foot of a hill, on the western side of the river, a number of stone cottages, a church, and a few handsome buildings formed the landscape. Her eyes were drawn to the rich and romantic scenery of the place, enhanced in beauty by the noble appearance of wood-clad hills, wreathed in mist on this damp, November morning. She could not help but remember her first journey to Lambton, accompanied by her uncle and aunt Gardiner on their northern tour. How different had her feelings been in August when the trees had been lush with greenery, the sunshine dazzling her eyes and burnishing her skin to tones of golden brown. Elizabeth recalled her feelings of dread at the thought of being in near vicinity to that of Mr Darcy and how she had feared visiting Pemberley, the house that was now to be her home. She laughed out loud.
“Are you happy, dearest Elizabeth?” Mr Darcy enquired, taking her hand between both of his and raising it to his lips to kiss her fingertips tenderly.
“I am indeed, though happiness was not the emotion at the forefront of my mind just now. I was engaged on other, quite dreadful recollections, I must admit.”
Fitzwilliam Darcy’s brows knitted together in consternation. He studied Elizabeth’s countenance noting her expression which had suddenly changed to display a look so serious and grave that he could hardly bear to witness it. “I shall never forgive myself for the things I said to you in the past nor for the way in which I behaved. I only trust that in time I shall make sufficient amendment. My wish is to make you feel as I do, to have you love me as I love you. Please, Elizabeth, do not dwell on such bleak remembrances.”
Mrs Darcy turned her face toward him and, being unable to look anything other than completely amused, caused her husband to look searchingly into the dark, fine eyes, which he so admired. “You have clearly forgotten some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.” Elizabeth paused, her curls trembling as she suppressed the mirth bubbling inside. “I am teasing you, Fitzwilliam. I am perfectly happy to dwell on the memories of my first trip into Derbyshire, even if my initial feelings were concerned with mortification and distress. When I first set eyes on Lambton village, I could not help but think of you, and knowing that your estate was but five miles from here, with the possibility of you being in residence, was enough to overturn all my feelings.”
“Am I to deduce from this statement that you felt an inclination toward me that was beyond your own will? You always gave the impression of total disinterest, a self-sufficiency and aloofness. This description of your feelings gives quite a different picture. I think if you really had been so indifferent to me as I believed you were then, no such agitation could have been experienced. No one suffers anxiety when they are truly detached from feeling. I suspect that this distress you speak of was the deep acknowledgement that you were falling in love with me, regardless of your resolution to despise me forever.”
Elizabeth laughed again, her dark ringlets trembling prettily as she shook her head. “Oh, you insufferable, darling man. I hate to admit it, but I think there may be some element of truth in what you say, although I would certainly have denied it at the time. I felt most uncomfortable at the thought of looking around Pemberley, and yet, I was most curious to see the house where I could have been mistress, had I not turned down your wretched proposal.”
“Oh, do not remind me of that dreaded conversation at Hunsford.”
“No, I shall not be so cruel. Instead I shall remind you your second proposal was infinitely more acceptable to me, so much so, that I am sitting here, next to the man who has made me the happiest woman alive.”
“Have I made you happy, Elizabeth? I know we are just at the beginning of our life together and two days spent in exclusive company is hardly enough time for you to know whether or not you were right in your decision to accept me a second time. But, I hope you do not regret the outcome. I only want your happiness.”
“Mrs Reynolds is a very wise woman, I have come to believe.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Your housekeeper was the person who made me think again about my prejudice against you. Her description of you as the sweetest-tempered, most generous-hearted boy in the world could not be without foundation. She, who had known you since you were a child, had to know something of your true character. I suppose it was from that day my idea of you really changed. And what is more, I believe she was correct. I know now just how sweet-tempered you really can be.”
Mr Darcy smiled and looked into her eyes at that moment with such evident longing that she felt her cheeks blush. The pressure of his fingers upon her own increased and though she reciprocated with a returning squeeze, it was too much to sustain his gaze. She must keep something in reserve, Lizzy felt, or her husband’s vanity, so recently curbed and tamed, might stir again like a beast unleashed. In any case, it would be far more fun to keep him wondering quite how far her admiration for him extended. She turned once more to seek the view through the window, simultaneously extracting her hand from his firm grasp and fussing about with her gloves and the fur tippet around her shoulders. “I thought we were to travel straight to Pemberley,” she said as the carriage started to enter the village.
“I have a small commission to fulfil first; we shall not be long,” answered Mr Darcy.
As they turned the corner into the main street the sight that met her eyes was enough to make Elizabeth cry out in surprise; for lining both sides of the road, three people deep, was the entire population of Lambton. At the sight of the carriage up went a roar and a cheer, caps and hats were thrown into the air and everyone burst into applause. Faces, young and old, peered into the carriage as it trundled past. Voices sang out from every side with wishes of joy.
“God bless you, sir, and God bless you, my lady. Welcome to Lambton!”
So unexpected was the tribute being paid to them that Elizabeth was moved to the point where she could not immediately find her tongue. “Oh, Fitzwilliam,” she uttered at last. “Is this wonderful reception for us?”
“For you, my love. I might inspire a certain affectionate respect in my tenants, but I have never seen them turn out like this before.” He took her hand again. “Welcome to Lambton, Mrs Darcy. Come, we are expected.”
The carriage stopped in front of the smithy. Mr Darcy alighted first, before helping his bride down the steps to yet more cheers and greetings. Elizabeth was quite overawed, but managed to return the smiles of the happy faces around her. A crowd was gathering about them and around by the open doors of the forge as if in anticipation. Just in front was placed a gleaming anvil polished for the occasion with the ruddy-faced blacksmith in attendance, his large muscular arms folded across his chest. A well-dressed gentleman in clerical black stepped forward and was introduced to Elizabeth by Mr Darcy. A handsome young man, Mr Lloyd, the rector of Lambton church, cut a dashing figure—quite unlike any other clergyman Elizabeth thought she had ever met. He welcomed her to the village with a very pretty speech before explaining what was to happen next.
“We have a custom in these parts, Mrs Darcy, that when a new bride arrives at Pemberley House we celebrate this auspicious event by firing the anvil. If you will step this way, Mr and Mrs Darcy, I hope you shall enjoy what is to follow.”
The blacksmith took charge, filling the central hole in the anvil with a small amount of black gunpowder, to which he added the end of a long piece of cord. The audience, which had swelled in number, now including the newlyweds, took up position at a safe distance, and as the blacksmith produced a flaming rushlight, a hushed silence fell on them all.
“Mrs Darcy, you might wish to cover your ears,” pronounced Mr Lloyd, as the blacksmith set the end of the fuse alight. All but the bravest held their hands over their ears and waited, breathless, as the flame crept along the cord. As it reached the top of the anvil there was an audible intake of breath; then, the flame slowed and looked as if it might go out, before it finally gathered pace to surprise them all with the biggest bang Elizabeth had ever heard. Shrieks, laughter, and exclamations of relief resulted as a consequence and the rector announced Mr and Mrs Darcy officially married. Lizzy and her husband offered their thanks, then moved amongst the crowd shaking hands with all their well-wishers, who, without exception, greeted them with great affability.
“’Tis not only Pemberley weddings that are celebrated in this way, Mrs Darcy,” said an elderly lady with a soft Derbyshire burr, who curtsied deferentially before Elizabeth, “but birthdays and christenings too. The heirs of Pemberley receive not only a wetting in the font, but a firing from the forge, and every birthday is remembered. God bless you, my dear. I hope we will not have to wait long before we have reason to celebrate at the smithy once more.”
As she moved along Elizabeth blushed as she thought about the old lady’s sentiments. The thought of a child, an heir to Pemberley, was not one she had ever considered before. Yet, she knew that to provide children and an heir was one of the duties that would be expected of the new mistress of Pemberley. Still, she had been quite taken aback by such forthrightness. However, though Lizzy felt the impertinence of the woman’s words, she realised that they had been spoken in true kindness. Touched by the welcome from the people, Elizabeth thought how lucky she was to have met and fallen in love with the man who inspired such affection. She turned to seek him out, realising that she had momentarily lost him in the crowd that gathered around them. However, she soon had him in her sights. Mr Darcy’s unmistakable profile was highly visible, a clear head height over the multitude. His handsome face looked at its best, his eyes crinkling with good humour, and his dark hair waving back over his forehead to fall in curls against his collar. What a striking figure he cut, all ease, though still retaining an air of stateliness. Lizzy could see him listening carefully to his tenants’ words of advice and congratulations on the married state, receiving all their good wishes with grace and forbearance. His noble stature and his build, so evidently strong under the perfect cut of his black coat, were enough to overset her feelings. Not for the first time did she feel almost overwhelmed by the thought of all that would be expected of her by this powerful man, but she was determined to show him that in choosing her to be his bride, he had made the right decision. Despite the trepidation that she felt, she was confident that she would take it all in her stride.
Eventually, after thanking everyone again, with an extra show of gratitude to the rector and the blacksmith for their special ceremony, they took their leave, climbing back into the carriage for the last leg of the journey. Lizzy felt in high spirits; it had been so pleasurable to be addressed as Mrs Darcy, even if once or twice she had forgotten to respond, being quite unused to being called anything other than Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
As they bowled along, Elizabeth watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with excitement, and when, at length, they turned in at the lodge she could hardly contain the mixture of fear and elation that she felt inside. It was one matter to be greeted so kindly by the villagers, but what would the inhabitants of Pemberley House think of her arrival? And how was she to undertake the job she had to do now, as mistress of the house?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jane Austen's Watsons manuscript...SOLD!!!!

Jane Austen's manuscript went on sale yesterday sold for  £993,250 ($1.6m) yesterday in London - three times more than expected. There's a clip from the BBC which makes fascinating viewing!
Oxford University’s Bodleian Library later said it had bought the Austen manuscript and it would go on display this year.

Here's another clip from the BBC with Sotheby's Gabriel Heaton talking about The Watsons - enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Austenesque Extravaganza

Meredith Esparza from the wonderful Austenesque Reviews has popped over to tell us all about the Austenesque Extravaganza she is holding in August! I'm thrilled to bits because I've been asked to participate, and there will be copies of Mr. Darcy's Secret to be won.
I'm looking forward to joining in the fun. Over to you, Meredith!

 Austenesque Extravaganza

Hello dear readers, it's time to share with you all the fun and festivities planned for AUSTENESQUE EXTRAVAGANZA!  
Austenesque Extravaganza is a month-long celebration of Austenesque novels and authors!  Each day of the week has it's own special event.  Are you curious to know what events you can look forward to??

Here they are, my friends!

SOCIABLE SUNDAY - This event takes place on Twitter and will consist of a Twitter Party with several Austenesque Authors.  Here's your chance to chat live with your favorite Austenesque Author, ask them your questions, and learn more about their writing!  (Twitter Parties will be at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time)

MY RECOMMENDATION MONDAY - Don't you just love to talk about your favorite Austenesque novels?  Are you curious to know what books are at the top of everyone's lists?  Well here's your chance!  Who knows, maybe you will find some titles to add to your wishlist!

TRAVELING TUESDAY - Time to travel through the blogsphere and take a few stops at some spectacular Austenesque author and blogger sites!  Lot's of fun and interesting posts for you to enjoy!

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE WEDNESDAY - Let's talk Austenesque!  What's your favorite original character?  Love scene?  Showdown?  Time to talk about your favorite scenes and elements from your favorite Austenesque novels!

TOURING THURSDAY - Just like on Traveling Tuesday, you will be leaving Austenesque Reviews to visit other Austenesque author and blogger sites and check out the awesome Austenesque posts they have written!

FUN AND GAMES FRIDAY - On Fridays we will indulge in some fun with Mad Libs, quizzes, and surveys! 

SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY - Make sure you set aside some time each Saturday to check out all the fantastic posts Austenesque authors who don't have their own blog have contributed to Austenesque Extravaganza.  There are so many wonderful authors for you to meet and learn about!

Curious about THE AMAZING AUSTENESQUE GIVEAWAY???? That info will be coming soon!

Thank you, Meredith! We're all very excited about this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Rice Portrait Provenance by Mrs. Henry Rice - Edward Rice 1899-1973, and Henry Rice 1928-2010

Edward Rice

As we come to the close of this fascinating history of the Rice Portrait provenance, I'd like to tell you about a new website, which gives more detail and information about the painting. The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen is to be found at, and will cover every aspect of the portrait's history from its provenance to concerns and addresses the Mary Anne Campion attribution,  amongst other matters. It is a work in progress, and more pages are being added daily!

And now, I'd like to thank Mrs. Rice for joining us again to tell us about the tenth owner, Edward Rice, and poignantly, about her late husband, Henry Rice, the eleventh owner of the portrait.

Edward Rice 1899-1973
Edward Rice inherited the portrait as the tenth owner on his father’s death in 1943. He married a great heiress, Lord Curzon of Kedleston’s stepdaughter, Marcella Duggan, and built a ballroom onto Dane Court, which was large, echoing, and rather draughty when I knew it. However, the painting looked well there. Unfortunately, Marcella and Edward Rice were divorced having had three children, and Henry’s new French stepmother (who owned a home in Normandy) was an acquisitive and unkind lady. On Edward Rice’s death in 1973, she stripped the whole of Dane Court, sending most of the contents to Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and the rest to France. Very luckily, she was unable to take the family portraits, or the books, but she even removed the marble baths and wash hand basins, a clean sweep: (This last, however, she was forced to return.) My Henry, sickened at this rape of his family’s possessions, sold Dane Court and the estate in 1975. We were married in that year and lived for some time in Guernsey.   

Henry Rice 1928-2010
My late husband, Henry Rice, was the 11th owner of the portrait, and it is because of his fury at those who doubted its authenticity, and the untiring efforts to put this right, that it is now known as the ‘Rice Portrait’. He minded the slur on his family’s veracity as much as the attack on his own truthfulness – as his old uncle remarked plaintively, “They may not like you, Henry, but what on earth have they got against the rest of us?” What indeed? I suspect it was because of his decision to sell the portrait to help his family; if money had not been involved things would have been easier. The N.P.G. (having decided their sketch was the only authentic picture of Jane) did not wish to buy it, although its provenance is ‘impeccable’, vide Chapman! So when Henry applied for an export license for the picture it was granted. It was about this time he also discovered the correspondence that showed Sir Henry Hake’s attempts to buy the portrait from his grandfather in the N.P.G. archive.
Henry Rice
He was greatly helped by Brian Stewart, the Director of the Falmouth Art Gallery. Brian had written, ‘A Dictionary of English Portrait Painters’, (with Mervyn Cutten whom Henry also knew. He attributed ‘Jane’ without question to Ozias Humphry, (and also latterly, the large oil of Edward Knight, her brother), and lectured on this in New York. Sadly, he had an accident last year, 2010, and died not long after Henry.

‘The attribution to Ozias Humphry was recently confirmed by the discovery of a Christie’s valuation made in 1985, which identified the monogram of Ozias Humphry, and attributed the work to him in full. The monogram was impaired shortly after the valuation during Conservation work. The Brushwork, colouring, cherub lips, inconsistencies in drawing, and the characteristic habit of “Topping and tailing” (saving the highest quality of finish for the head and lower legs) are typical of the artist.’ Brian Stewart

The portrait thought to be Cassandra, literally the ‘sister’ portrait hanging at Kippington descended in that line, inherited by John Austen first, Colonel Thomas’s heir and nephew, then by his only child, Marianne, a daughter who married a gentleman called Smith Marriot. She was an heiress, and he was well heeled, so they emigrated to the South of France where they lived in a Bastide in Grasse, Maganosc, the Villa Mariquita on the Rue Auguste Renoir. They again had only one child, a daughter Charlotte Marianne known as May or Mai. She married firstly, a man called Dodgson, (a relative of Lewis Carroll,) by whom she had a much-loved son, Raymond, and secondly, a chap called Harrison, who died in the late 40’s. In 1951 she decided to return to her birthplace, France, her son had been killed in Somalia in the early part of the war, and the Knights of Chawton were her nearest living relations, indeed, they inherited her son’s monies on his death. May Harrison sent back some of her Austen collection to her Austen cousins, and also wrote to R.W. Chapman November 28th 1952 (from the Chapman archive in the Bodleian Library) saying she owned by descent, a portrait which she believed could be Jane Austen, and asking for an opinion. He sent her request and, (a now lost,) photograph of the picture to R.A. Austen Leigh asking for his opinion. The Austen Leigh family looked at the portrait (the letter is quoted below,) and returned the letter from Mrs. Harrison to R. W. Chapman. It never seems to have occurred to them that the portrait could have been Cassandra.

Extract from a letter written by R. A. Austen Leigh to Dr R. W. Chapman

November 28th 1952
Great Abshot

Mr Dear RWC                                              

As to the portrait it is charming and Margaret would like to believe it is JA, but after careful consideration today, helped by Winifred Jenkins, we decided against it being JA and thought the picture was more like the Zoffany girl than like JA.
Indeed, as it comes via Mrs. Harrison from the Kippington (or Capel Manor) stable, the Zoffany one belonged to a Kippington Austen, there seems quite a probability of it and the Zoffany being the same person.
But perhaps Adams will say that they cannot be the same person owing to the costume!
Many thanks for your note about the Knight pictures. I knew they were coming up for sale – but not the actual date. But I don’t want to buy any and certainly haven’t got the money.
I return the portrait.

Yours ever

R. A. Austen Leigh

P.S. I return Mrs. Harrison’s letter

Henry and I met a nephew of Mrs. Harrison’s who vaguely remembered a portrait of a girl in a white dress who looked older than the ‘Zoffany girl’, (ours,) but being young at the time, could recall no more about it. By the time Henry found out where in Grasse Mrs. Harrison could be found, she had died, leaving no will, at the age, I believe, of ninety. However, this bore out our belief that Cassandra and Jane had been painted together in 1788.
Henry carried on his research valiantly until he went nearly blind before his death in January 2010. My brother and I have continued his work to establish the true identity of the painting, and will publish our results shortly. We believe in the painting as passionately as Henry did, that this is a portrait of Jane Austen executed by Ozias Humphry R.A. in 1788, and also that it will be recognised for what it is.

Anne Rice
June 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Rice Portrait Provenance by Mrs. Henry Rice - Lady Northbourne, née Gwenlian Rice 1871-1952, and Henry Edward Harcourt Rice 1864-1943

 Lady Northbourne, née Gwenlian Rice 1871-1952

Jane Austen, the Rice Portrait
Lady Northbourne, the eighth owner of the portrait gave the painting back to the main branch of the family, Henry Rice 1864-1943, her first cousin. Her father, Sir Ernest had considered giving it to the National Portrait Gallery, but eventually decided his cousin should have it, as he still lived in the large house, Dane Court, which had been bought by Edward Royd Rice and Elizabeth Austen on their marriage. (The then Henry Rice had owned a fast ship, the East Indiaman ‘Dutton’, which made three trips to India collecting a fortune in tea, silks, and spices.)
He had married ‘The Heiress of Dover’, Sarah Sampson, some say for a bet, and he was also known affectionately as ‘The Pirate’, again probably quite true! (She is mentioned in Jane Austen’s letters, as is their reprobate eldest son Henry, whose mother constantly paid his large debts.)
Gwenlian Northbourne stipulated that Jane should no longer hang over the fireplace, ‘as the smoke was spoiling her.’
She died in 1955.

Henry Edward Harcourt Rice 1864-1943
Left the portrait in 1928, the ninth owner of the picture did not hang it over a hot fire, and presided over an odd episode in its history. (All the following history can be checked in the files on the ‘Rice Portrait’ in the National Portrait Gallery.)
Admiral Rice and Henry Edward Harcourt Rice
In 1930, the National Portrait Gallery was expanding their stock of pictures, and the public were agitating for an image of Jane Austen. Indeed, this was the N.P.G.'s priority at that time, as they did not possess one. They deputed a lady called Mrs. Graveson to find one, and she came across an old gentleman whom she described as a ‘delightful old Victorian’. This was one John Hubback, the grandson of Admiral Sir Francis Austen, Jane’s brother. This old chap was nearly 90, but in full possession of his faculties, and had lived in the same house as his grandfather when a boy, indeed, Admiral Sir Francis had taught him to play chess. (His father, the husband of the Admiral’s daughter went insane, and they both lived with his grandfather.) He told Mrs. Graveson that his cousins, the Rices, possessed the only portrait ever painted by a professional artist, e.g. Zoffany. Mr. Hubback visited Henry Rice, my Henry’s grandfather, but was told that although he had no intention of parting with the portrait, he had, however, consented to a copy of it being made for the National Portrait Gallery. This, the family has always considered is primary evidence that it is Jane, Mr. Hubback’s grandfather Admiral Sir Francis having been unlikely to tell a lie about his own sister.
Sir Henry Hake, Director of the National Portrait Gallery somewhat huffily declined the offer of a copy, saying that the ‘N.P.G. do not deal in fakes’ – but asked for first refusal should the picture ever be sold. They then acquired the tiny ‘scratch’ by Cassandra Austen, and at this time announced in the Times that they possessed the only portrait of Jane that could be authenticated, which the Rice family felt to be an unnecessary crack at them, as they had a perfect right to keep their Great-Great-Aunt Jane if they wished to.
 However, in the 1940’s R.W. Chapman raised doubts over the ‘Zoffany’ attribution, Zoffany having been in India until 1791, whilst Ozias Humphry had returned to England in the spring of 1788. He consulted a man called Adams, who because he himself could not discover a girl wearing a comparable dress to the Rice portrait, pronounced that the dress was 19th century, not 18th century. Marie Antoinette herself sent a high-waisted muslin gown to the Duchess of Devonshire in the 1780’s, which she wore to the Prince Regent’s ball to great acclaim. From the 1760’s, children and young adolescents had been wearing this type of gown, the forerunner of the fashion, which adults adopted.
The Rice portrait remained quietly at Dane Court until inherited by my Henry’s father, Edward Rice, in 1943.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Rice Portrait Provenance by Mrs. Henry Rice - The Rev. John Morland Rice, 1823-1897, and Admiral Sir Ernest Rice, 1840-1927

Mrs. Henry Rice continues the fascinating history of the Rice portrait with the Rev. John Morland Rice, and Admiral Sir Ernest Rice. Thank you for joining us again!

Morland Rice, the sixth owner of the portrait was the fourth son of Elizabeth Austen and Edward Royd Rice, who must have been devoted, producing fifteen children in all. He was called Morland after his mother's 'dear friend from girlhood' Margaretta Morland, and received the portrait in 1883. He wrote to various members of the family about it, and was told by the elderly family historian Miss Fanny Caroline Lefroy (whose mother had known Jane Austen) that she 'knew before of the portrait in your posession, and but for one or two difficulties would have no doubt about its authenticity'. She also believed that 'the date on your picture is (she thinks) 1788 or 9, making her (Jane) not 14.' She was correct, we have discovered a date on the back of Jane's canvas of 1788, making her in that year, not quite 13. The other small difficulties were that the Rice family believed the false 'Zoffany' attribution, and were wondering if the portrait could have been painted in Bath.

In 1884 Morland's first cousin Lord Brabourne, Fanny Knight's eldest son, published the first book of Jane Austen's letters. He discovered that Morland Rice posessed Jane's portrait and enquired of Mr. Cholmondley Austen-Leigh (who knew the portrait) about it. Mr. Cholmondley Austen-Leigh wrote to Lord Brabourne who then wrote to his publisher Bentley, as follows: 'Mr. Austen-Leigh writes that the evidence seems against the authenticity of the picture, which must be if authentic of Jane when a young girl of 14 or 15.' Lord Brabourne then continues: 'Mr. Rice's letter, without communication with Mr. Austen-Leigh, says it is of a girl of 15, I incline to think therefore it is a true bill.' He then published it, half-length as the frontispiece for his book.
Another letter describing John Morland's enjoyment of the portrait was written by his niece, Marcia Rice:
"Over his drawing-room hung the portrait of Jane Austen by Zoffany - it was his great pride. Often did he relate the story of how Dr. Newman of Magdalen used to say to him - 'You ought to posess the portrait of your great-aunt, I shall leave it to you.' He had never the slightest doubt as to its authenticity to mar his joy in the posession of the portrait."
Morland Rice married Caroline York in 1864 but died childless in 1897 leaving the portrait to his younger brother's wife, his sister-in-law who had married Admiral Sir Ernest Rice.

Admiral Sir Ernest Rice 1840-1927

The seventh owner of the portrait, Sir Ernest Rice, rose to the rank of Admiral and at one point was made Governor of Malta. He is reputed to have been more than attached to the Queen of Greece, and although certainly dashing, managed to run two of his ships aground which caused him to be known as 'Ground Rice' in the Navy! (My husband met Lord Louis Mountbatten who asked him if the 'Ground Rice' who had taught him navigation was any relation. Henry said that he was, and added that the family believed his navigational skills were somewhat sketchy!) He received the painting from his wife, the sister of Morland Rice's wife on their deaths. He hung it over the fireplace, at his home at Sibbertswold House near Dover, but unfortunately one cold December night he burnt his house down. Although 80 at the time, he himself threw all the family portraits out of the drawing room windows. Tradition has it that Jane went first, but he broke her frame when she hit the lawn, and afterwards he cut the picture down (as was the somewhat barbaric custom then to fit her into a smaller, plainer Victorian frame.)
Thus it was that Ozias Humphry's notes along the back of the top of the portrait were folded back and hidden under the stretcher and a new lining. Ozias had run a large studio, and wrote on the back of his pictures noting the name, the date, and often initializing these notes with his distinctive OH monogram. He also did this on his miniatures and pastels. (My husband sold a small portrait of Edward Knight which had belonged to Elizabeth Austen to Chawton House Museum. A member of the public sent in a sketch of it to the museum which was inscribed on the back with his name and the date. It was painted in 1783, at the time of his adoption, and is also by Ozias Humphry.)
On his death in 1927, his daughter Gwenlian inherited Jane's portrait; she had married Lord Northbourne, a local peer.

Next time, we shall be hearing about Lady Northbourne, and Henry Edward Harcourt Rice, the eighth and ninth owners of the portrait!