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Recently I’ve been re-reading Jane Austen’s Letters (1995, edited by Deirdre Le Faye), and I’ve been collecting some of my favourite quotations, such as this one:

I do not mean to take any other exercise, for I feel a little tired after my long Jumble. (August 24, 1814)Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal

Austen was writing to her sister Cassandra after the journey to her brother Henry’s house in London. I love the idea of a long, tiring road trip as a “jumble.” She says it was “a very good Journey, not crouded,” but the coach was “late in London” and then they traveled to Henry’s house in Hans Place “in all the Luxury of a nice large cool dirty Hackney coach.” In Hans Place, Jane had the use of a downstairs room that opened onto the garden, and she describes her pattern of working indoors, then taking a break in the garden: “I go & refresh myself every now & then, and then come back to Solitary Coolness.” I like Claire Tomalin’s comment in her biography of Jane Austen (1997) that this is “very much what someone settling down to write does, getting up, pacing, thinking, returning to the page she is working on.”