All posts by Jennifer Abella

About Jennifer Abella

Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Follow her on Twitter: @nextjen.

The 4-1-1 on Cheapside

“I think I have heard you say that their uncle is an attorney in Meryton.”

“Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside.”

“That is capital,” added her sister, and they both laughed heartily.

“If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside,” cried Bingley, “it would not make them one jot less agreeable.”

“But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world,” replied Darcy.


The London neighborhood of Cheapside is namechecked only twice in Pride and Prejudice, in one passage, but the brief reference holds a lot of information. 

Five things to know about Cheapside

  1. Cheapide is a London neighborhood that still exists today, beginning from about St. Pauls’ Cathedral to the Underground’s Bank station. (Mr. Gardiner’s Gracechurch Street is near Cheapside.)
  1. The name comes from the Old English word for “market.” It was designed as a bustling commercial center — and therefore not very genteel, according to Bingley’s sisters — with a wide main street and narrow exits. Sidestreets have simple names that denote what was sold there: Bread Street, Milk Street, Wood Street. They still exist today.
  1. Before the Great Fire of London of 1666, Cheapside was the center of the jewelry market. Much of the area was destroyed in the blaze.
  1. Tradition states that a Cockney isn’t a true Cockney unless they’re born within hearing distance of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside.
  1. In 1912, workers tearing down buildings in the area made an important discovery. Under the floorboards in an old tenement at Cheapside and Friday streets, they found nearly 500 pieces of jewelry and loose gems dating back nearly 300 years. Most of the haul — known as the Cheapside Hoard — is kept at the Museum of London.

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‘Pride and Prejudice’: What critics said

critics (1).jpgJane Austen was (rightfully) proud of “Pride and Prejudice.” She called the novel “My own darling Child.” In one letter she said of Elizabeth Bennet: “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”

But what did critics and other readers have to say about the novel? Read on.

The Critical Review, March 1813

“Although these young ladies claim a great share in the reader’s interest and attention, none calls forth our admiration so much as Elizabeth, whose archness and sweetness of manner render her a very attractive object in the family piece. … Many silly women as Mrs. Bennet may be found; and numerous parsons like Mr. Collins, who are every thing to every body; and servile in the extreme to their superiors. Mr. Collins is indeed a notable object. … There is not one person in the drama with whom we could readily dispense — they all have their proper places; and fill their several stations, with great credit to themselves, and much satisfaction to the reader.”

The British Critic, 1813

“We have perused these volumes with much satisfaction and amusement and entertain very little doubt that their successful circulation will induce the author to similar exertions.”


Mary Russell Mitford, 1814:

“The want of elegance is almost the only want in Miss Austen. … in every word of Elizabeth, the entire want of taste which could produce so pert, so worldly a heroine as the beloved of such a man as Darcy. … Darcy should have married Jane. He is of all the admirable characters the best designed and the best sustained.”

Mark Twain

“Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig [Austen] up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone,” Twain wrote in one letter to a friend.

Charlotte Brontë

 “I had not seen Pride and Prejudice till I had read that sentence of yours, and then I got the book. And what did I find? An accurate daguerrotyped [photographed] portrait of a commonplace face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck [stream]. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses.”

Anna Waterston
Waterston — an American reader in the 1850s — thought Darcy’s proposal to Lizzy was “one of the most remarkable passages in Miss Austen’s writings.”

Sources: Flavorwire, Deirdre Le Faye’s “Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels,” Juliette Wells’s “Reading Austen in America.”