Lieutenant Price = Lieutenant Molesworth Phillips?
On Friday (29th April) emeritus Professor Jocelyn Harris spoke at the University of Otago in New Zealand on the subject of the Mansfield Park character Lieutenant Price (the father of heroine Fanny Price) and her theory that he is a satire of the real life Lieutenant Molesworth Phillips, of the Royal Marines. In 1779, Lieutenant Molesworth Phillips reported the only eye-witness account of the explorer Captain Cook's death, and subsequent biographers believe him. But Jocelyn suggested that Phillips is unreliable and self-serving. Austen's reasons to attack Phillips included his ill-treatment of his wife, Fanny Burney's sister Susan, and his failure to save Cook, who was mentor-by-proxy to Austen's brothers. Being in New Zealand the Jane Austen News couldn't get to the lecture, but with a synopsis such as that we wish that we had. If anyone reading this attended then please do let us know how it went and of any conclusions it came to.
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I’d be more impressed if whoever wrote this knew that Mr Price is Fanny’s father – the only one of her brothers that we get to know well is William, who is in the Royal Navy not the Marines and is presented as an admirable young man.
KG1802 July 26, 2020