chapter  10
17 Pages

How Celebrity Name-Dropping Leads to a New Location for Pemberley 1

WithJanine Barchas

Jane Austen was a consummate name-dropper, and her geographies can seem, at times, as maps of celebrity culture. In Pride and Prejudice, exploring famous names may lead to the recognition of a new geographical location for the fictional Pemberley. Still, it may be through her choices of particularly resonant surnames that Austen boldly engages her contemporary culture. During Austen's adulthood, events at Bramham Park often made it into the London papers, since the Prince Regent was a frequent guest there, particularly enjoying its fox hunts. In the thirteenth century, a Robert Wentworth married a rich heiress by the name of Emma Wodehouse. In the sense, even the most well-informed reader today reads Austen at a disadvantage. Two hundred years of politics and celebrity culture since 1813 have altered our responses to the names. Jane Austen's interest in the Fitzwilliams, in the romance of their pedigree and immense wealth, seems to have begun in her childhood.