Mansfield Park (1814)
Jane Austen began her third novel, Mansfield Park, in 1811. It was the first novel that she both started and completed while living at Chawton Cottage, the home provided by her brother Edward a few years after her father's death. Her earlier novels, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, had been revised for publication at Chawton, but Austen began writing both of them during her early years at Steventon. Mansfield Park , therefore, is the first novel both conceived and entirely written by the mature Jane Austen. Mansfield Park combines a rather prudish and initially unattractive heroine with a story line that includes discussions of serious issues such as ordination, adultery, and the effects of environmental influences on the individual. This approach creates a novel that differs greatly in tone from Austen's first two publications.
Reactions to the first publication of Mansfield Park tended to be very strong. Many readers were extremely pleased that Austen had written a novel that focused attention on the importance of moral behavior and that so vehemently criticized the corruption that was so prevalent among many in England's royalty and aristocracy at the time. Many of those readers saw the behavior of the Crawfords, and Maria and Tom Bertram as reflections of the behavior of the Royal Princes, Princess, and their companions. The Prince Regent and his brother the Duke of Clarence both lived openly with mistresses. The Duke and his mistress, Mrs. Jordan, had ten children together before he turned her out. The Prince Regent, although married, was rarely seen in the company of his wife, choosing instead to have his mistress as his public hostess as well as his