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Plays by Alan Richardson


Austensibility sample

(Note: NAR = Narrator. M1 = Male reader. F1, 2, 3 & 4 = Female readers)

NAR  It is Saturday, 9th January, 1796. The twenty year old Jane writes to her sister:

F1  I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved.

NAR  Her “Irish friend” was Tom Lefroy, a visitor to Hampshire, who had completed a degree at Dublin and was about to study law in London.

F1  Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together. He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man.

NAR  But she did have a problem with his dress sense.

F1  His morning coat is a great deal too light.

NAR  By the following Thursday, she had high hopes.

F1  I rather except to receive an offer from my friend in the course of the evening. I shall refuse him, however, unless he promises to give away his white Coat.  

NAR  But, the next day, she wrote to her sister:

F1  At length the Day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, & it will be over —My tears flow at the melancholy idea”

NAR  Tom’s studies were financed by a rich great-uncle who was alarmed at the prospect of a marriage with a penniless girl, and he was quickly sent packing to London. He became a successful barrister and returned to Ireland to do the right thing. He married an heiress.
Jane Austen’s letters, mostly to her sister, Cassandra, provide a fascinating glimpse of her everyday life. It may seem strange to us that so many letters were exchanged by sisters who lived under the same roof, but social visits were a regular feature of their life, and when either sister was away from home, correspondence followed. Jane’s letters covered topics such as the weather.  

F3  What dreadful Hot weather we have! ― It keeps one in a continual state of Inelegance.

NAR  And family health.

F2 Our Aunt has a very bad cough; do not forget to have heard about that when you come.

NAR Or the latest from the papers.

F4  Miss Blanchford is married, but I have never seen it in the Papers. And one may as well be single if the Wedding is not to be in print.NAR    The ever-vexing problem of what to wear.

F3  I cannot determine what to do about my new Gown. I wish such things were to be bought ready made.

NAR  There was news about deaths.

F4  The Neighbourhood have quite recovered the death of Mrs Rider – so much so, that I think they are rather rejoiced at it now.

NAR  New acquaintances to meet.

F2  If Miss Pearson should return with me, pray be careful not to expect too much Beauty.

NAR  Gardening hints.

F3  I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive.

NAR  Disappointment at a ball.

F1  There was a scarcity of Men in general, & a still greater scarcity of any that were good for much. I do not think I was very much in request. People were rather apt not to ask me till they could not help it. There was one young Gentleman, a very good looking young Man, who I was told wanted very much to be introduced to me; but as he did not want it quite enough to take much trouble in effecting it, we never could bring it about.

NAR  And, of course, the latest gossip.

F4  Mr. Richard Harvey is going to be married; but as it is a great secret, & only known to half the Neighbourhood, you must not mention it.

NAR  Reputations to malign.

F2  Mrs Portman is not much admired; the good-natured world, as usual, extolled her beauty so highly, that all the neighbourhood have had the pleasure of being disappointed.

NAR  And scandal.

F3  The little flaw of having a Mistress now living with him seems to be the only unpleasing circumstance about Lord Craven. 

NAR  And being scandalous.

F1  Mrs. Hall of Sherbourn was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright. I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband.