I’ve been on vacation – from practically everything, including my blog (as you may have noticed). A real vacation is a rarity for me, but I’m making the most of this one: two weeks on the east coast, mostly in the Baltimore/DC area, but as far north as central New Jersey and as far south as Williamsburg, Virginia.
“So much novelty and beauty! I have travelled so little, that every fresh place would be interesting to me… Altogether my impressions of the place are very agreeable.” (Persuasion)
This is not only new territory for me geographically, but it’s like taking a step back in time as well. I live in Washington (the other Washington, the state in the northwest) and our history is short. But here, I run into relics of the past everywhere I turn. I’ve seen the original Declaration of Independence (at the National Archives, DC), and the place where it was signed (Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA). I’ve visited monuments to presidents and to the dead of three wars. And today, in Baltimore, I entered the house where the original star-spangled banner was created, and Fort McHenry where it flew proudly “in the dawn’s early light.” The experience has been inspiring, educational … priceless.
What does all this have to do with Jane Austen? More than you might think. Many of the historical events I’m learning about hearken back to her time period – the late 18th and early 19th centuries – and spring from the tangled relationship between her country (England) and that upstart new nation on the other side of the Atlantic. Although Austen rarely brought world events into her novels, she nevertheless wrote against their backdrop – and so do I. The more I know of that time, the better I can imagine what it must have been like for the people who lived then, including the characters in my books.
Hmm, do you suppose that means I can deduct this whole trip as a business expense? You know, research. Guess I better check with my accountant first.