Sanditon (1817) is an unfinished novel by the English writer Jane Austen. In January 1817, Austen began work on a new novel she called The Brothers, later titled Sanditon upon its first publication in 1925, and completed eleven chapters before stopping work in mid-March 1817, probably because her illness prevented her from continuing.
1 Plot 2 Literary criticism 3 Continuations and adaptations 4 References 5 External links
The novel centres on Charlotte Heywood, the eldest of the daughters
still at home in the large family of a country gentleman from
Willingden, Sussex. The narrative opens when the carriage of Mr. and
Mrs. Parker of
Sanditon topples over on a hill near the Heywood home.
Because Mr. Parker is injured in the crash, and the carriage needs
repairs, the Parkers stay with the Heywood family for a fortnight.
During this time, Mr. Parker talks fondly of Sanditon, a town which
until a few years before had been a small, unpretentious fishing
village. With his business partner, Lady Denham, Mr. Parker hopes to
Sanditon into a fashionable seaside resort. Mr. Parker's enormous
enthusiasm for his plans to improve and modernise
resulted in the installation of bathing machines and the construction
of a new home for himself and his family near the seashore. Upon
repair of the carriage and improvement to Mr. Parker's foot, the
Parkers return to Sanditon, bringing Charlotte with them as their
Upon arrival in Sanditon, Charlotte meets the inhabitants of the town.
Prominent among them is Lady Denham, a twice-widowed woman who
received a fortune from her first husband and a title from her second.
Lady Denham lives with her poor niece Clara Brereton, who is a sweet
and beautiful, yet impoverished, young lady. Also living in Sanditon
are Sir Edward Denham and his sister Esther, Lady Denham's nephew and
niece by her second husband. The siblings are poor and are thought to
be seeking Lady Denham's fortune. Sir Edward is described as a silly
and very florid man, though handsome.
After settling in with the Parkers and encountering the various
neighbours, Charlotte and Mr. and Mrs. Parker are surprised by a visit
from Mr. Parker's two sisters and younger brother, all of whom are
self-declared invalids. However, given their level of activity and
seeming strength, Charlotte quickly surmises that their complaints are
invented. Diana Parker has come on a mission to secure a house for a
wealthy family from the West Indies, although she has not specifically
been asked for her aid. She also brings word of a second large party,
a girls' school, which is intending to summer at Sanditon. This news
causes a stir in the small town, especially for Mr. Parker, whose
fondest wish is the promotion of tourism in the town.
With the arrival of Mrs. Griffiths to Sanditon, it soon becomes
apparent that the family from the West Indies and the girls' school
group are one and the same. The visitors consist of Miss Lambe, a
"half mulatto" rich young woman of about seventeen from the West
Indies, and the two Miss Beauforts, common English girls. In short
order, Lady Denham calls on Mrs. Griffiths to be introduced to Miss
Lambe, the very sickly and very rich heiress that she intends her
nephew Sir Edward to marry.
A carriage unexpectedly arrives bearing Sidney Parker, the second
eldest Parker brother. He will be staying in town for a few days with
two friends who will join him shortly. Sidney Parker is around 27 or
28 and Charlotte finds him very good looking with a decided air of
The book fragment ends when Mrs. Parker and Charlotte visit Sanditon
House, Lady Denham's residence. There Charlotte spots Clara Brereton
seated with Sir Edward Denham at her side having an intimate
conversation in the garden and surmises that they must have a secret
understanding. When they arrive inside, Charlotte observes that a
large portrait of Sir Henry Denham hangs over the fireplace, whereas
Lady Denham's first husband, who owned
Sanditon House, only gets a
miniature in the corner—obliged to sit back in his own house and see
the best place by the fire constantly occupied by Sir Henry Denham.
The people of "modern Sanditon", as Austen calls it, have moved out of
the "old house – the house of [their] forefathers" and are busily
constructing a new world in the form of a modern seaside commercial
town. The town of
Sanditon is probably based on Worthing, where Austen
stayed in late 1805 when the resort was first being developed;
or on Eastbourne; or on
"My name perhaps… may be unknown at this distance from the coast – but Sanditon itself – everybody has heard of Sanditon, – the favourite – for a young and rising bathing-place, certainly the favourite spot of all that are to be found along the coast of Sussex; – the most favoured by nature, and promising to be the most chosen by man." (Sanditon)
Continuations and adaptations Because Austen completed setting the scene for Sanditon, it has been a favourite of "continuators" – later writers who try to complete the novel within Austen's vision while emulating her style. Such "completed" versions of Sanditon include:
^ Claire Tomalin, Jane Austen. Page 261.
^ "Of these three, and indeed of all, Miss Lambe was beyond comparison
the most important and precious, as she paid in proportion to her
fortune. She was about seventeen, half mulatto, chilly and tender, had
a maid of her own, was to have the best room in the lodgings, and was
always of the first consequence in every plan of Mrs. Griffiths."
^ Clarke, Jan,
Austen, Jane. Sanditon and Other Stories. Ed. Peter Washington. New York: Alfred A. Knopf; Everyman’s Library, 1996. Spacks, Patricia Meyer. Gossip. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1985. Tomalin, Claire. Jane Austen: A Life. New York: Vintage, 1997.
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