Jane Austen’s Allusive Geographies
In Sense and Sensibility, perhaps simultaneously the most urban as well as the most "villagey" of her novels, Jane Austen situates all the major street addresses for the London sojourn of the families within walking distance of Orchard Street and Portman Square. Trusting her intended or "common readers" to make their own connections between specific places and larger themes, she comments implicitly rather than explicitly on how London geographies add to each novel's topicality and thematic development. In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen narrows the London setting to Wimpole Street, the residence of the Rushworths. Jane Austen moves the London locations for Emma out of Mayfair and Marylebone to Brunswick Square, a newly developing part of Bloomsbury to the north of the Inns of Court. Although there are no letters describing this visit from the twelve-year-old Austen, the area around Orchard Street must have made a considerable impression on the imagination of the young writer.