Pop Quiz for All You Students Suffering Spring Fever

Today brings a little fun and games in celebration of spring. (It comes late to the high desert in Oregon. Our trees are just now in bloom. See the dogwood by the headline.) Today’s blog features a quiz on a variety of Jane Austen topics. There’s no rhyme or reason to topics or order. The quiz has thirty questions. It’s so long I’m putting the answers just below each one. Otherwise, you’d spend all morning scrolling back and forth. It’s an honor system, but keep your score.

Let’s compare scores! Challenges to answers also welcome.

Ratings/Austen Equivalent:

0-12: Mr. Collins, who knows not what he does not know.

13-20: Edward Ferrars/Edmund Bertram, solid but not setting the world on fire.

21-25: Henry Tilney, learned on topics from muslin to crown lands to Udolpho.

26-30: Liz Bennet, fiercely demolishing all comers.

What American game does Jane Austen mention several decades before it was supposedly invented?

In listing the games that Catherine Morland likes to play as a 14-year-old, Austen mentions cricket, running around, riding on horseback, and—baseball.

What was Jane Austen’s pen name during her life?

“A lady.” She never published under her own name during her life.

What American rock star tried to buy Jane Austen’s ring in 2013, but was thwarted by English Janeites who raised £152,450 ($232,836) to keep the ring home?

Kelly Clarkson.

When did readers learn that Jane Austen was the author of “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice”?

December 1817 or January 1818. Her brother Henry provided her name in a short biographical essay when he published “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion” after her death. The books became available in December 1817 but the official publication date was 1818.

How did Jane Austen’s sailor brothers make much of their money while in the service?

Through the sale of captured ships. Captains received one-fourth of the total prize money (reduced in 1806). Charles might have made £5,000. Frank might have made £10,000, which also included bonuses for escorting merchant ships home from India. Neither approached Captain Wentworth’s £25,000.

What item did her brother Charles buy Jane that is mirrored in “Mansfield Park”?

A cross and gold chain to be worn around the neck. Charles bought Jane a topaz cross, and another for his sister Cassandra. William Price buys his sister Fanny an amber cross.

John Murray published Scott, Goethe, Melville, Darwin, and Austen. But who was his most popular author?


What Austen family members are known to have denounced slavery?

Jane’s oldest brother, James Austen, criticized slavery in a college periodical he produced, the Loiterer. Another brother, Frank, in a letter home while stationed on the island of St Helena in 1808, criticized slavery in any form.

Where does the Regency era get its name?

King George III of England, in his second madness, gave way to his son, who was named Prince Regent in 1811. The Regent had most of the powers of the king. Parliament wrestled with the legality of a regency because the King, now mad, would have had to sign off on the transition in power. The son became George IV on the death of his father in 1820.

Why do we know so little of the period between 1802 and 1809 in Jane Austen’s life (which is the time of my trilogy “The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen”)?

Jane’s sister Cassandra burned the vast majority of Jane’s letters and any diaries or journals she may have kept. No one knows why. Frank’s daughter, also named Cassandra, burned his large correspondence with Jane.

How many known proposals did Jane Austen receive during her life?

Only one, from a young, callow Harris Bigg-Wither, in December 1802. She was courted by several other men, including a mysterious clergyman in 1801, who died before he could propose. Though the Bigg-Wither proposal shows up in every biography, its provenance is sketchy. It was not reported until sixty-seven years after the fact, by a niece who was not alive when it allegedly occurred.

What is the most surprising thing about the last few years of the life of the great abolitionist William Wilberforce?

After giving away hundreds of thousands of pounds to charitable causes, Wilberforce died in poverty after an investment with one of his sons collapsed.

How could black slaves in English possessions in the New World earn their freedom?

By joining the British army, either to fight the American revolutionists in the 1770s on the mainland or later to fight the French in the West Indies.

What critical domestic device did Jane Austen have control of?

She had responsibility for the keys to the expensive luxuries: sugar, tea, and wine.

Once she settled in the village of Chawton, how did Austen keep her writing private?

A squeaky door would alert her to anyone coming her way; when it squeaked, she would put her writing aside.

In round numbers, how much money did Austen earn from her writing in her life?

£640. Her work earned another £700 or so after her death, all of which went to her heir, Cassandra.

After his high life as a banker came crashing down in bankruptcy in 1816, what career did Jane’s brother Henry pursue?

He became a clergyman like his father and oldest brother.

What is the most commonly cited reason for Jane Austen’s death in 1817 at age 41?

Addison’s disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands, though no one really can say for sure. This modern diagnosis is based on her complaints of skin discoloration, which could have been caused by a variety of illnesses.

Why were the officials at Winchester cathedral baffled by an increasing number of visitors to Jane Austen’s crypt over the years?

They knew her only as a clergyman’s daughter.

What was the sad truth about the lives of women in Austen’s time, as exemplified by her sisters-in-law?

Five of Austen’s six sisters-in-law died young, three of complications from childbirth.

Beyond showing that she had a tall, spare figure, what does a detailed examination of Jane Austen’s clothing tell us about her physique?

The shape of her torso indicates that the wearing of constrictive clothing when she was a young woman caused her ribs to flatten.

France’s power on land and England’s on the sea caused Napoleon to compare the two nations to which imposing animals?

Buonaparte said the long stalemate was a battle between an elephant (France, unbeaten on the continent) and a whale (England, unbeaten on the sea), because neither had a way to defeat the other.

Who is the only man in Austen’s novels to marry a woman older than he?

Mr. Collins is twenty-five when he marries Charlotte Lucas, twenty-seven, in P&P.

Who is the only female protagonist in Austen’s novels to marry “beyond her bloom”?

Anne Elliot in Persuasion, who is in her late twenties. Except for Emma, who had just turned twenty-one when she married, Austen’s other heroines were in their teens.

During the Regency era, what was the only way by which a husband and wife could divorce?

Through an act of Parliament. Only the wealthy and connected could afford divorce. Only two or three women obtained a divorce on their initiative.

In Austen’s six major novels, how many described kisses are there?

In all six novels, there are only five described kisses; one almost kiss; and one likely sneaked kiss, according to Austen scholar John Mullan.

What major character has the shortest time before becoming engaged in an Austen novel?

Catherine Morland becomes engaged to Henry Tilney in eleven weeks in Northanger Abbey. They married “within a twelvemonth.”

What secondary character has the shortest time before becoming engaged in a Jane Austen novel?

Charlotte Lucas becomes engaged to Mr. Collins after one day of courtship in Pride and Prejudice.

Who coined the term “Janeite”?

George Saintsbury coined the term Janeite in his 1894 introduction to a new edition of Pride and Prejudice.

Who popularized the term “Janeite”?

Rudyard Kipling popularized the phrase in his short story, “The Janeites,” about a soldier in World War I who believes there is a secret society of people, the Janeites, who read the author’s work.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, which traces love from a charming courtship through the richness and complexity of marriage and concludes with a test of the heroine’s courage and moral convictions, is now complete and available from Amazon and Jane Austen Books.

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