On the theme of writing as an escape, I sometimes wonder to myself if Jane Austen used writing to withdraw from the unsatisfying reality of her own life. We are told that her Mother tended to the garden and her sister, Cassandra managed the house whilst she scribbled away, creating her wonderful novels. It sounds like a perfect arrangement and one which worked for them as a family.
In the last few years of motherhood to my four daughters, during which I have graduated from laughing at Mrs Bennet to empathising with her, I have often contemplated what would have happened if Jane Austen had married Harris Bigg-Wither. He was a wealthy suitor who proposed to Jane whilst she and her sister were staying on his estate. Jane accepted him that evening but obviously spent a sleepless night regretting her decision as she then told poor old Harris she had changed her mind the next morning, leaving his house immediately. Most awkward, but as I occasionally tell my husband and children in my very rare frustrated moments (because I love them all really), I very much doubt if Austen would have written such wonderful novels if she had been running a home and looking after her children. Well, in the case of Jane Austen, we will never know.
As for me, well, my Mum and sister have other things to do rather than run my house, or garden, so I will just have to rely on the wonderful modern conveniences of the washing machine, the microwave and the occasional babysitter…..