Historians are spilling the tea over Jane Austen’s connections with slave plantations.
A museum devoted to the “Satisfaction & Prejudice” creator, situated at her previous house within the Hampshire village of Chawton, is reportedly investigating the Austen household’s place in “Regency period colonialism,” as evidenced by Austen’s love of tea, clothes and different refinements.
Earlier than father George Austen was a priest of a neighborhood parish, he was a trustee of an Antigua sugar plantation, the place slaves from Africa labored the fields to domesticate the prized ingredient that might be a part of the Austens’ tea behavior.
Launched to the West by means of China, tea turned an English obsession by the early 19th century, notably as soon as they discovered how to develop crops of their very own all through territories in India, Sri Lanka and Africa.
Austen’s penchant for cotton clothes — extra “merchandise of empire” — can be mentioned to be an indication of her household’s connection to plantations within the Caribbean.
The director of Jane Austen’s Home museum, Lizzie Dunford, informed the Telegraph that they intend to highlight this little-discussed side of Austen’s private story.
“That is simply the beginning of a gentle and regarded means of historic interrogation,” mentioned Dunford.
For the reason that Black Lives Matter motion erupted globally, such “interrogation” has already put different British historic figures on blast, together with former Prime Ministers Cecil Rhodes and Winston Churchill, whose statues had been just lately eliminated due to revelations that their households had benefited from slavery.
“The slave commerce and the results of Regency period Colonialism touched each household of means through the interval. Jane Austen’s household had been no exception,” Dunford continued. “As purchasers of tea, sugar and cotton, they had been shoppers of the merchandise of the commerce, and did even have nearer links by way of household and associates.”
Regardless of Jane’s love of up to date vogue and brews, students say her work in “Mansfield Park” and “Emma” bears proof of her distaste for slavery. In gentle of this, curators are additionally planning a show dubbed “Black Lives Matter to Jane Austen,” to spotlight her abolitionist references.
“Jane Austen belonged to that progressive group in society from which got here the anti-slavery campaigners William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson,” the museum literature reads, in accordance to the Telegraph. “She reveals her social conscience in her studying and her writing.”
Added Dunford, “We consider that that is massively essential work and are wanting ahead to sharing this over the following few years.”