Fanny Price’s East room in the Bertram estate attracts not only characters in Jane Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park to knock on its door and peer inside, but literary scholars as well. Critics drawn to investigate the significance of this room have discussed its constellation of identities, including that of a study, library, sitting room, theatre, and storeroom. Miranda Burgess, for example, refers to the East room as ‘Fanny’s British Museum’ in which she keeps artefacts of a ‘personal and imperial history’.1 For John Wiltshire, Fanny’s haven is a ‘surrogate maternal space’, but for Claudia Johnson, it acts in part as a storeroom for her gifts and the overall ‘debt’ to the Bertrams they signify.2 Isobel Armstrong argues that the former ‘nursery’ is ‘the place where Fanny constructs her world’, and Penny Gay and Anna Lott depict the former schoolroom as a place where lessons are taught and learned, especially during rehearsals of Elizabeth Inchbald’s play Lovers’ Vows.3 Finally, Barbara Hardy distinguishes the apartment superlatively as ‘the heart of Mansfield Park’.4
- Marriage Market
- Domestic Space
- Imperial History
- Family Record
- Room Door
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See Miranda Burgess, ‘Fanny Price’s British Museum: Empire, Genre, and Memory in Mansfield Park’, in Recognizing the Romantic Novel: New Histories of British Fiction, 1780–1830, ed. Jillian Heydt-Stevenson and Charlotte Sussman (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008), p. 225.
John Wiltshire, Jane Austen: Introductions and Interventions (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 14;
Claudia Johnson, ‘Jane Austen’s Relics and the Treasures of the East Room’, Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, 28 (2006), 217–31.
Isobel Armstrong, Jane Austen: Mansfield Park (London: Penguin, 1988), p. 51;
Penny Gay, Jane Austen and the Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 98–122;
Anna Lott, ‘Staging a Lesson: The Theatricals and Proper Conduct in Mansfield Park’, Studies in the Novel, 38 (2006), 275–87.
Barbara Hardy, ‘The Objects in Mansfield Park’, in Jane Austen: Bicentenary Essays, ed. John Halperin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), p. 185.
Andrea Kaston Tange, Architectural Identities: Domesticity, Literature, and the Victorian Middle Classes (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), p. 46.
The terms ‘dressing room’, ‘closet’, and ‘lady’s cabinet’ became interchangeable in the mid-eighteenth century. See Tita Chico, Designing Women: The Dressing Room in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2005), p. 27. The term ‘boudoir’ came into use in the late eighteenth century and is also a synonym for dressing room (p. 234 n.3).
See Christopher Christie, The British Country House in the Eighteenth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), p. 258.
Deborah Wynne explains that ‘although wives were unlikely to be the legal owners of “their” personal property before the passing of the Married Women’s Property Acts, they probably believed that they were and … a belief in possession and a performance of ownership can in many instances actually constitute ownership’. Deborah Wynne, Women and Personal Property in the Victorian Novel (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010), p. 15.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, ed. James Kinsley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 254, 217, 289.
In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor, who has been nursing Marianne, waits for Col. Brandon to return to Cleveland with their mother and instead spies a carriage arriving from the ‘dressing-closet’ window carrying Willoughby, which leads directly to their drama-filled discussion regarding his honourable intentions and despicable behaviour towards Marianne. Marianne also recovers from illness in Mrs Palmer’s dressing room and Col. Brandon visits her there. Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, ed. James Kinsley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 239, 257. In Persuasion the references are more minor and refer to men’s closets. For example, Admiral Croft tells Anne that he hasn’t changed much while living at Kellylunch Hall, besides ‘sending away some of the large looking-glasses from my dressing-room, which was your father’s’.
Jane Austen, Persuasion, ed. James Kinsley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 104. I found no direct references to dressing rooms in Emma, though the themes of performance, privacy versus public display, and matchmaking suggest its relevance.
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sandition, ed. James Kinsley and John Davie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 142.
See Deirdre Le Faye, Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels (New York: Abrams, 2002), p. 233.
Lefroy quoted in Le Faye, Jane Austen: A Family Record (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 73, my emphasis.
See Le Faye, Family Record, p. 74; Claire Tomalin, Jane Austen: A Life (New York: Knopf, 1997), p. 106.
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, ed. Claudia Johnson (New York: Norton, 1998), p. 36. Further references are given parenthetically in the text.
Jillian Heydt-Stevenson, Austen’s Unbecoming Conjunctions: Subversive Laughter, Embodied Humor (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 207.
See Elizabeth Grosz, Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), pp. 173–5;
Martin Heidegger, ‘The Thing’, in Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), p. 171.
Bruno Latour, ‘From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik or How to Make Things Public’, in The Object Reader, ed. Fiona Candlin and Raiford Guins (London: Routledge, 2009), p. 154.
Lynn Festa, ‘Losing One’s Place in Mansfield Park’, Eighteenth-Century Novel, 6–7 (2009), 444.
Jane Coke, Letters from Lady Jane Coke to her Friend, Mrs. Eyre at Darby, 1747–1758 (Charleston, SC: BiblioLife, 2009), pp. 99–100.
Bruno Latour, ‘The Berlin Key or How to Do Words with Things’, in Matter, Materiality, and Modern Culture, ed. Paul Graves-Brown (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 10.
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© 2012 Kirstyn Leuner
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Leuner, K. (2012). ‘The end of all the privacy and propriety’: Fanny’s Dressing Room in Mansfield Park . In: Boehm, K. (eds) Bodies and Things in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137283658_3
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