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A Calendar for Pride and Prejudice


This calendar, drawn from the extant text of P&P, demonstrates that the novel went through a number of revisions. The 1796-97 First Impressions was a far more leisurely affair with many more conversations between Darcy and Elizabeth, with something of the pace of MP, and of the didactic outlining of conversations at the close of the extant Sense and Sensibility which recall those of Rasselas and periodical fiction of the period. It was probably epistolary, and the journey into Derbyshire reveals "lopping and chopping".

The reader is invited to study the following with care: A number of the dates and days are given by Austen herself either in letters or by characters who remember back to some previous incident. Time is indeterminate in the first eight weeks of the extant novel where we are told about all sorts of events (dances, dinners, meetings) that we have no record for, and time becomes indeterminate during Jane's visit to the Gardiners and at turning points during Elizabeth's visit to Rosings. Inconsistencies or contradictions occur during Elizabeth's time travelling and the sequence leading up to and culminating in Lydia's running away with Wickham. The reader should notice the one strikingly inconsistent date (August 2nd for Mr Gardiner's letter to Mr Bennet); it would not be inconsistent were we to switch the calendar for just this last climax to 1802.

I suggest that much has been lost because just before publication and after the relative and unexpected success of Sense and Sensibility Austen was so eager that her book should be accepted and sell. The taste of popularity and self-respect made her hope too intensely; that hope spurred her on, but it had an ambivalent effect on the final product which hollowed it out so that she said it was too "light, bright and sparkling". The original had depths and ambivalences of the kind we find in the later books.


1800-2: Mrs Gardiner lived in that part of Derbyshire to which Darcy and Wickham belonged; had many acquaintances in common, Ch 25, p 180

1806: Wickham leaves Pemberley when Darcy's father died (Ch 25, p 180)

1809: Wickham applies to be presented with incumbency of a living Ch 35, p 231

1811, April: Georgiana Darcy taken from school, establishment formed in London, goes to spend summer at Ramsgate

1811, summer: Wickham obtrudes himself upon Darcy's notice by attempting to run away with Georgiana Ch 35, p 231


1811
Sun, Sept 29th:
Book opens just before Michaelmas and his servants to take possession in a week (Ch 1, p 51)
Fri, Oct 4th?
His servants take possession Ch 1, p 51
Mon Oct 7th:
Mr Bennet visits Mr Bingley in the morning and tells family that night
Thurs, Oct 10th:
Mr Bingley returns the call ch 2, p 55
Fri, Oct 11th:
Mr Bingley goes to town Ch 3, p 57
Tues, Oct 15th:
Mr Collins writes his letter, Ch 13,p 107
Sun, Oct 20th:
Bingley returns on the day before the ball with friend, Darcy, two sisters, Caroline Bingley, and Mrs Hurst and sister's husband, Mr Hurst ch 3, p 58
Mon, Oct 21st:
the night of the assembly where Darcy snubs Elizabeth; Jane and Elizabeth talk afterwards Ch 3-4, pp 58ff
Tues, Oct 22nd:
the Miss Lucases come to Longbourn to talk to Bennets Ch 5, p 65
Mon, November 4th:
when the Bennets visit Lucas Lodge we are told that Jane "has only known [Mr Bingley] a fortnight," that she danced 4 dances with him at Meryton, saw him "one morning at his own house," and dined in company with him 4 times. Ch 6, p 69; Mr Bennet answers Mr Collins's letter, Ch 13, p. 106.
Tues, Nov 5th - Wed, Nov 12th:
Darcy danced at Meryton; at another assembly at Lucas Lodge he shows how attracted he is to Elizabeth, Ch 6, pp. 69, 72. These references reveal some of the material that was cut when First Impressionsbecame P&P
Tues, Nov 12th:
Miss Bingley writes Jane inviting her for dinner that day Penguin Ch 7, p 77
Wed, Nov 13th:
Jane writes Elizabeth telling Elizabeth she is unwell; Elizabeth walks to Netherfield, apothecary comes, it is three and she gets reluctant invitation; spends night in her sister's room Ch 7, pp 78-9
Thurs, Nov 14th:
Elizabeth writes to her mother, mother comes, Jane not to be moved, that night Darcy composes his letter to his sister before Elizabeth and Miss Bingley Ch 9, pp 87-9
Fri, Nov 15th:
the next day when Elizabeth comes upon the trio in the shrubbery; Jane better; they hope to go home; Jane comes downstairs that evening Ch 10, p 97
Sat, Nov 16th:
the day Darcy is careful not to speak to Elizabeth, feels himself in danger, Elizabeth writes mother for carriage; mother refuses; Bingleys ask them to stay one more day Ch 12, p 105

on this evening at Quadrille it was that Lady Catherine advised Collins to marry Ch 19, p 147

Sun, Nov 17th:
the day Lizzy and Jane leave with help of Mr Bingley's carriage Ch 12, p 105
Mon, Nov 18th:
the day Mr B tells of Mr Collins's letter, Ch 13, p 106
Tues, Nov 19th:
the day the girls go to Meryton and Elizabeth sees encounter of Darcy and Wickham

Between the 18th and 19th Elizabeth saw Charlotte Ch 15 pp 115-6, Ch 17, p 133

Wed, Nov 20th:
the evening party at Mrs Philips at Meryton where Wickham tells Elizabeth a story of his childhood Ch 16, pp 121ff
Thurs, Nov 21st:
Jane and Elizabeth's conversation about Wickham's story the next day; the Bingleys brief visit, invite to coming ball Ch 17, pp 128ff
Fri, Mon, Nov 22nd - 25th:
a succession of rain keeps girls in Ch 17, p 131
Mon, Nov 25th:
Mr Wickham goes to town Ch 18, p132
Tues, Nov 26th:
the ball at Netherfield Ch 17, p 129
Wed, Nov 27th:
Mr Bingley obliged to go to London for "a short time," but when he returns he will take up Mrs Bennet's invitation; "next day" Collins proposes to Elizabeth ch 17, p 144; 18, p 145 Charlotte spends day with Collins
Thurs, Nov 28th:
"the morrow" situation the same; girls walk Meryton, meet Wickham; come back to find Miss Bingley's letter to Jane announcing she, Mr and Mrs Hurst and Darcy have followed Bingley to London and mean to stay for at least "six months"; partial text with Jane's response from Jane Ch 21, pp 156-7, 160
Fri, Nov 29th:
Bennets dine at Lucas Lodge; stay till they "part at night" Ch 22, p 162 Since she expects an answer by the third, Jane writes her letter in response to Miss Bingley this day Ch 23, 168
Sat, Nov 30th
Mr Collins is to leave "so very soon", so the earliest morning he rushes out to throw himself at Charlotte; he returns dinner time and does not tell; says goodbye that evening. Mr Collins may have left on Saturday since the next day, Sunday had by 1811-12 become frowned upon as a day for travel. In his letter to Mr Bennet he writes "I ... shall trespass on your hospitality till the Saturday se'enight following". Ch 21, p 156, 22, p 162
Sun, Dec 1st
On "the following morning," Miss Lucas calls after breakfast; brief communication to Elizabeth; later in day Sir William confirms Ch 22, p 165
Tues, Dec 3rd
Mr Collins's letter of thanks Ch 23, p 168-9
Mon, Dec 16th
Mr Collins returns: from his letter of the 3rd he says he will return "Monday fortnight" Ch 23, 1p 169
Tues, Dec 17th-21st:
Miss Bingley's cruel letter to Jane: she sings Miss Darcy's praise, how her wishes for her brother to marry her will be accomplished soon; also how wondeful that Bingley an inmate of Darcy's house Ch 24, p 172
Dec 18th-20th:
Jane and Elizabeth's talk after their mother finally leaves Jane in peace Ch 24, p 173
Sat, Dec 21st:
Mr Collins's second stay comes to a close Ch 23, p 169
Mon, Dec 23rd:
Mr and Mrs Gardiner arrive to spend Christmas at Longbourne Ch 25 p 177
Mon-Tues, Dec 23rd - 31st:
Gardiners remain a week at Longbourne, with Philips, Lucases, and the officers... not a day without its engagement; Jane goes to London with them Ch 25, p 180
Tues-Thurs, Dec 31st-Jan 8th
Mr Collins arrives, stays at Lucas Lodge

1812
Wed, Jan 8th
Last conversation between Charlotte and Elizabeth Ch 26, p 182
Fri, Jan 3rd:
Jane sends a few lines Ch 26, p 183
Thurs, Jan 9th:
Marriage of Mr Collins and Miss Lucas
Fri, Jan 10th:
Letters pass between Charlotte and Elizabeth, Ch 26, p 183

Also the day Jane's second letter arrives, Ch 26, p 183

Sat, Jan 11th:
Jane pays visit to Caroline in Grosvernor Square; writes Elizabeth about it, passage quoted Ch 26, pp 183-4
Sun, Jan 12th-Jan 24th:
Jane waits at home every morning for a fortnight Ch 26, p 183
Sat, Jan 25th:
Miss Bingley's curt visit and Jane's letter given in full, Ch 26, pp 184-5. A fortnight had passed away since Jane's visit
Sat, Jan 25th?
"About this time," Elizabeth writes from London to Mrs Gardiner about Wickham's turning to someone else. Text partially quoted
Sat, Feb 1st:
"Four weeks had passed away," and Jane sees nothing at all of Bingley Ch 26, 184

January and February pass away "sometimes dirty and sometimes cold" Ch 27, p 187

1812
Mon, Mar 9th,
Elizabeth goes on a day with Sir William and Maria Lucas to Hunsford with one night stay in London Ch 27, 188 That morning shopping, evening at the theatre
Tues, Mar 10th,
Tues Elizabeth arrives at Hunsford Ch 28, p 191 at dinner hears they will see Lady Catherine "on the ensuing Sunday". The ladies lack 'shoes to encounter the remains of a white frost', p 193
Wed, Mar 11th:
The day Miss de Bourgh sits outside, 'abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this wind', Ch 28, p 193
Thurs, Mar 12th:
Collinses & Elizabeth dine at Rosings Ch 29, p 195
Mon, Mar 16th:
Sir William 'staid only a week at Hunsfor', then Mr Collins returned to his usual activities
Mon, Mar 23rd:
In this 'quiet way, the first fortnight of her visit passed away'. 'Easter was approaching'. Mr Collins walks the whole morning to ascertain the gentlemen have come Ch 30, p 204
Tues, Mar 24th:
Collins brings Darcy and Fitzwilliam to the cottage for the first time. Elizabeth remarks to Darcy that her 'eldest sister has been in town these three months'. Ch 30, p 204
Sun, Mar 29th:
evening of Easter day Elizabeth and Collins at Rosings with Darcy and Fitzwilliam, Ch 31, p 206
Mon, Mar 30th:
Darcy finds Elizabeth alone at cottage. She is writing to Jane. Ch 32, p 211

again an indeterminate interval of Darcy and Fitzwilliam daily calls, of Darcy and Elizabeth's 3 times walking together while they talk Ch 33, p 215

1812
Thurs, Apr 9th:
Fitzwilliam comes upon Elizabeth walk, she puts aside letter from Jane; he tells her of how Darcy stopped a friend from marrying, she gets headache; stays home; Darcy calls, proposes Chs 33-4, p215, 219-220
Fri, Apr 10th:
Darcy hands Elizabeth the letter Ch 35, p 226
Sat, Apr 11th:
Darcy and Fitzwilliam leave Rosings "the next morning;" Collins & Elizabeth again at Rosings Ch 37, p 239
Fri, Apr 17th
Evening spent at Rosings Ch 38, p 242
Sat, Apr 18th:
Mr Collins's adieu, Elizabeth returns to London Ch 38, p 243
Towards end of first week in May:
'She had spent six weeks with great enjoyment'; she and Maria leave Rosings and within four hours reach Mr Gardiner's house where they stay for a few days.
Second week in Mary
Elizabeth, Jane, & Maria set out for Hertfordshire; the luncheon, dinner with Lucases; talk of Brighton, the militia to leave in a fortnight Ch 39, p 246
Next day:
in the morning Elizabeth tells Jane Ch 40, p 251

  • First week at home passes; this would be third in May Ch 41, p 256
  • Fourth week in May: Lydia invited to Brighton 257
  • Very last morning Wickham and Elizabeth talk 260
  • Second to third week in June: Longbourn begins to seem more healthy, cheerful, good humored; families away for winter season returned 264
  • Middle of June: Kitty recovered sufficiently to enter Meryton without crying 264
  • Original plan to go to Lakes: to begin at end of June 189, 264
  • Instead they leave a fortnight later: middle July, told in a letter 264
  • Four weeks pass from time Elizabeth receives letter (middle June): Gardiners arrive; middle July 264
  • Gardiners & Elizabeth set forth after Gardiners stay one night 264

1812
Sat/Sun, Aug 1st/2nd:
Lydia and Wickham run away to Scotland around 12 midnight; they come first to Edward-Street, boarding house of Mrs HYonge,per Mrs's letter Ch 46, p 291; Ch 52, p 335. Elizabeth calls it Sunday night'; but Jane says 'Saturday night about twelve'.
Mon, Aug 3rd?
Evening before they arrive at Lambton, within 5 miles of Pemberley Mrs G expresses a wish to see Pemberley

It was on this day, Aug 3rd, a Monday, that Jane wrote first part of her letter to Elizabeth; the young couple first missed on this morning--for muster Ch 42, 265, Ch 46, p 291

Tues, Aug 4th?
Next day they go to Pemberley; Darcy meets them because he arrives one day ahead; Elizabeth and Gardiners dine and go to Lambton,

second part of Jane's letter, now alarmed, written Aug 4th, father left for London that day as per postscript Ch 43, 276; Ch 46, p 291, Ch 47, p 303

Wed, Aug 5th?
Bingley says it is 'above 8 months ago' that they met on Nov 26th; 8 months would be July, so above 8 gets us into early August: Bingley, his sisters, and Georgianan Darcy at Pemberley; Elizabeth had thought Darcy would bring his sister the day after this, but he brings her the very morning of her arrival; Bingley comes a bit later 277, Ch 44, p 280-1.

On this day Jane wrote her second letter; Aug 5th Mr Bennet also sent her a few lines Ch 46, p 291, Ch 47, p 303

Thurs, Aug 6th?
Morning after Georgiana visits them, Elizabeth and Mrs Gardiner return the visit; Mr Gardiner to fish before noon 285
Fri, Aug 7th?
Next day is dinner invitation: the day after the next after Elizabeth first meets Georgiana fixed on; also the third morning the Gardiners and Elizabeth stay at Lambton Inn, Ch 44, p 283, Ch 46, p 291

Elizabeth receives 2 letters,1st part of 1st sent 5 days ago, which was dated that day and the second part a day later ch 46, p 291; 2nd sent a day later than the conclusion of the first, letters conjecturally dated Aug 3rd, 4th, 5th,

Darcy comes in; she tells, he says this will of course prevent Elizabeth dining at Pemberley today 296

within an hour they are on the road to Longbourne 298

Sat, Aug 8th:
After sleeping "one night on the road," they arrive at Longbourne 'by dinner-time the next day" On this day Darcy left Derbyshire and came to London to hunt for Wickham and Lydia, per Mrs G's letter Ch 47, p 302; Ch 52, 334
Sat Aug 8th-Fri, Aug 14th:
Darcy has spent his some days finding out Mrs Yonge, then 2-3 days trying to get information Ch 52, p 335
Sun, Aug 9th:
No letter from Mr Bennet; Mr Gardiner sets out for London Ch 48, p 310, 311
Tues, Aug 11th:
Letter from Mr Gardiner to Mrs, London to Longbourne; also from Mr Gardiner to Colonel Forster for information ch 48, p 311
Wed-Thurs, Aug 12th-13th:
Letter from Mr Collins to Mr Bennet. Also a letter from Colonel Forster to Mr Gardiner Ch 48, pp 312-3.
Fri, Aug 14th:
Letter from Mr Gardiner to Mrs Gardiner, telling dismal news from Colonel Forster & that Mr Bennet to come home on Saturday; this evening Darcy calls, but finds Mr Bennet still there and cannot see Mr Gardiner, per Mrs G's letter Ch 48, p 313; Ch 52, p 336
Sat, Aug 15th:
Mrs Gardiner leaves Longbourne for London; Mr Bennet returns home in the same coach. Darcy calls at Gracechurch street, per Mrs G's letter Ch 48, p 313; Ch 52, p 334
Sun, Aug 16th:
Darcy comes again and meets Mrs G, Ch 52, p 336
Mon, Aug 17th (dated the 2nd by Austen, and thus originally written or undergoing a revision in the year 1802)
Mr Gardiner's letter to Mr Bennet arrives; Mr Bennet responds, Ch 49, pp 317-8, 50, p 322; it is a fortnight since Mrs B went upstairs (August 3-4th), Ch 50, p 323
Tues, Aug 18th, to Fri, 28th:
an exchange of letters between Mr Gardiner and Mr Bennet, Lydia probably came to Gardiners that day and boring fortnight ensued Ch 50, pp326-7, Ch 51, 331, 52, 336
Mon, Aug 31st:
Lydia's wedding day; she and Wickham come to Longbourn for 'not above ten days' Ch 51, p 328
Tues, Sept 1st:
Darcy dines with Gardiners, Ch 52, p 337
Wed, Sept 2nd:
Jane's letter to Mrs Gardiner describing behavior of Lydia and Wickham, Ch 52, p 336; Darcy to leave town this day or the next, Ch 52, p 337
Fri-Sat, Sept 4th-5th:
Elizabeth writes to Mrs Gardiner for explanation of Lydia's reference Ch 51, 332-3
Sun, Sept 6th:
Mrs Gardiner's reply Ch 52, pp 334-7
Wed, Sept 9th:
Wickhams go north Ch 51, 330, 52, 341
Thurs, Sept 10th-Tues, Sept 15th:
Mrs B very dull for "several days" Ch 53, 341; a twelvemonth ago Mr B had visited, a day draws near, gives a sense of about a week's time passing. From here on all dates are conjectured
Wed, Sept 23rd-Thurs, Sept 24th:
Bingley to return for September shooting Ch 53, p 342-3
Sat, Sept 26th:
Bingley and Darcy come to call on "third morning" after arrival, Ch 53, p 344
Tues, Sept 29th:
Bingley invited to dine, Ch 54, p 349
Thurs, Oct 1st:
Darcy tells Bingley how he has interfered with Bingley's courtship of Jane, Ch 58, p 379
Fri, Oct 2nd:
Bingley calls, Darcy has left for London, to return in 10 days Ch 55, p 354
Sat, Oct 3rd:
Bingley invited and comes very early, stays to dine, Mrs B maneuvers to leave them alone, stays until supper Ch 55, p 354
Sun, Oct 4th:
Bingley comes again, this time early in order to shoot with Mr B, stays to dinner, Elizabeth goes off to write a letter, Bingley proposed, goes to speak with father, Jane with mother 355
Fri, Oct 9th:
The report of double engagement reached Lady Catherine; the night before he wrote the letter Mr Collins mentioned report to Lady Catherine, Ch 56 363, Ch 57, 372
Sat, Oct 10th:
Mr Collins writes the letter, Ch 57, 370ff
Sun, Oct 11th:
Lady Catherine de Bourgh's visit, Ch 56, p 361; she called on Darcy on her return through London, Ch 58, 375
Mon, Oct 12th:
Darcy to return ten days after he left Bingley; Mr Bennet receives letter from Collins, Ch 55, 354; 57, 370
Fri, Oct 16th:
Bingley brings Darcy to Longbourne; the walk, the engagement, Elizabeth's confession to Jane, Ch 58, p 374, Ch 59, 381
Sat Oct 17th:
Long walk of Darcy and Elizabeth, in the evening Mr and Mrs Bennet told Ch 59
Tues, Oct 20th:
'Her uncle and aunt had already lost three days of happiness'. A letter from Elizabeth to her aunt, a letter from Darcy to his, a letter from Mr Bennet to Mr Collins Ch 60, p 390
A few weeks or so later:
A letter from Miss Bingley to Jane and Jane in reply; 4 pages from Miss Darcy to Elizabeth
Later autumn:
Marriage of Elizabeth and Jane to Darcy and Elizabeth on the same day, Ch 61, p 393

One year later Bingley and Jane leave Netherfield and he buys an estate 30 miles from Darcy's Ch 61, p393

Comments:

1)

It is also possible Austen combined calendars of 1799 and 1802. Or that she had dates from 1799 and 1802 and did not change them when she moved the whole thing onto an 1811-2 grid.

2)

A brief summary of the scholarship: Frank MacKinnon and, after him, R. W. Chapman constructed detailed calendars for Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey. Despite a dissenting (and equally detailed) exposition of the chronology of Pride and Prejudice by P. B. S. Andrews in which it was demonstrated the three "complete" dates extant in the present text argue equally for an original time-scheme based on the almanac of 1799 and a revision which used the almanac for 1802,3 the thoroughness and consistency of Chapman's calendar has led most scholars to assume the action of Pride and Prejudice is dovetailed into one year, 1811-12--and also that it was in this year Austen wrote a thorough-going revision of what had been First Impressions.

Bibliography:

  • Chapman, P&P 400-8; MP 554-7; NA & P 297-302.
  • Ralph Nash, "The Time Scheme for Pride and Prejudice," English Language Notes 4 (1966-7): 194-8;
  • P. B. S. Andrews, "The Date of pride and Prejudice" Notes and Queries 213 (1968): 338-42;
  • A. Walton Litz, "Chronology of Composition" and Jo Modert, "Chronology Within the Novels," The Jane Austen Companion, edd. J. David Grey, A. Walton Litz, and Brian Southam (New York: Macmillan, 1986), 51, 54-5.

The reader is invited to look at my essay-posting originally sent to Austen-l and C18-l on how Tuesday is repeatedly a pivotal day in Austen's novels, a day on which some embarrassing or mortifying incident or series of incidents occurs (at a ball, a change of home) which sets off an important change in the plot.

Another interesting element one finds across the novels is the use of September or Michaelmas for the beginning of the action: this is strictly true of P&P, S&S, and Emma. Persuasion begins in the middle of August, but the action picks up in detail and becomes intense in September, Michaelmas, when Anne moves to Uppercross, the Crofts come to rent Kellynch, and Captain Wentworth comes home during an interlude in the Napoleonic wars. The Watsons opens Tuesday, October 13th, so it too opens in the fall. I believe on this list Eugene McDonnell presented an argument for Emma as not only seasonal but centering on the imagery of summer, but like P&P and S&S, the action ends in marriages which occur across the fall or in one fall and then the fall of the following year. Autumn is a beautiful time of year and its imagery dominates Persuasion.


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