On Jane Austen and tea…
In an essay on Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf observed, “Of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness.”
To that double-edged and astute assessment, one can add, she is also the most difficult to catch in the act of tea-time.
This observation might seem irksomely contrarian to the legions of Janeites in hats and bonnets gathered around tea and scones to pay fealty to the novelist on the bicentenary of her death, which falls today.
‘Jane Austen and tea’ is after all, a comely capitalist hustle that has spawned a cottage industry of crockery, tea towels, tea bags, tea rooms and boutique brews named Dashing Willoughby, Marianne’s Wild Abandon and, in a nice comic touch,Compassion For Mrs. Bennet’s Nerves. Austen would have been especially amused by the latter – her mother, a vigorous hypochondriac who lived to the ripe age of 88 and who almost certainly inspired the high-strung Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, was constantly sipping on dandelion tea to soothe her mysterious “bilious complaint.”
But to turn to Austen’s novels to savor her much-paraded relationship with tea is to set oneself up for disappointment…
Read on at The Salt.