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 Family support for success

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Caro
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PostSubject: Family support for success   Thu 10 Jan 2013, 21:30

I have been listening to Paula Byrne talking of Jane Austen, having written a new biography of her. She stressed throughout this interview how much support Austen had been given by her family, in particular her father and her brother, Henry, who took on the work of a virtual agent for her. It seems to me this is an aspect of achievement that is often neglected. We know the names and achievements of ‘great men’ , even if, like Magellan, their achievements aren’t quite what they are credited for, but they are often given in a void, as if they just came out of nothing. Sometimes ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ is given some thought, but generally the support of family and friends and neighbours is to all intents and purposes ignored.

I think of Captain James Cook who schooling was paid for by his father’s employer. While obviously Cook had plenty of oomph, changing jobs and not accepting the navy position offered, nevertheless his career was helped by Quaker friends and others along the way. And Michael Faraday was given every encouragement by the man he was apprenticed to, bookseller George Riebau who gave his access to his library and took an interest in what interested Faraday.

Women achievers seem to me often to have their fathers to thank for their success. Sometimes their mothers – New Zealand’s famous aviatrix of the 1930s Jean Batten wasn’t just encouraged by her mother, she was pushed by her, and her mother made the most of any opportunity that arose for Jean and travelled with her. I think she discouraged her forthcoming marriage so it was cancelled.

And the family of the Garretts ensured their daughters did as well as they could in their chosen fields. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson had children and still managed a medical career so obviously had a lot of determination herself, but her father made the most of his resources to ensure she had the opportunities and the funding to carry out her aims.

There must be lots of other people whose success was due at least as much to their families’ or neighbours’ encouragement and support as to their own innate abilities. Equally presumably there must have been many people who weren’t able to make the most of their talents because of a lack of education or on-going monetary support or an unacceptance of their ambitions.

Are there some that came to your minds specially?

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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Fri 11 Jan 2013, 10:08

I think every successful person has always had someone behind them, doing the day to day caretaking and work that enables the person time to concentrate soley on a career in whatever the chosen field.

Many authors, for instance, will have a note somewhere thanking partners and family for their support. Or an athlete will thank families for the years of driving etc to get children to and from training. But this recognition seems to be a fairly modern phenonomen, I can't think of a historical example where this would be the case. If it was a women doing the behind the scenes drudgery it probably would have been seen as her duty and not worth a mention.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Fri 11 Jan 2013, 16:49

Quote :
Women achievers seem to me often to have their fathers to thank for their success.

I've just deleted a great long message about the Brontes (font sizes on quotes kept coming out ridiculously small) - just as well, as it was probably a load of boring old tosh, but gist of it was that sometimes parental *neglect* can be a good thing.

Branwell Bronte got all the attention, support and funding from his father, Patrick Bronte, but the poor lad, although intelligent and gifted, failed dismally at everything he tried to do. The burden of expectation was too much for him: he was destined to become the Family Star and he just couldn't cope. He ended up hopelessly addicted to drink and narcotics. His sisters, meanwhile, just sat quietly in the parsonage parlour and scribbled away. Their father had no idea they were preparing manuscripts for publication.

Emily would keep watch for Branwell, leaving a light burning for him in the Parsonage. Sometimes, if her brother was too drunk to get home unaided, she would go and fetch him from the Black Bull, helping him to stagger up the lane back home and to the bed in the room he shared with his father. She presumably then went back to her poetry or to the next chapter of her crazy novel.

Pushy - rather than supportive - parents can do an awful lot of damage. Interesting article here, giving the views of a master at Eton:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/9630771/Why-pushy-parents-fail-to-make-the-grade-in-education.html
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Sat 12 Jan 2013, 07:24

Caro - I was not trying to be awkward or off-topic in my response above. I was just trying to get some discussion going.

Obviously - as you suggest - there have been many successful men and women who were helped and supported in their endeavours by warm, loving, understanding parents (and friends). But surely there are many others (I admit I'm thinking here mainly of writers and artists) who were driven to succeed in spite of - sometimes even *because* of - parental neglect, opposition or rejection (sometimes even *abandonment* literal or metaphorical).

Off the top of my head at this early hour I can think of George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Charles Dickens. A quotation from the autobiographical "David Copperfield" comes to mind:

"I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I hope to go to heaven!"
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Tue 15 Jan 2013, 09:24

The book Caro mentions in her original post, "The Real Jane Austen" by Paula Byrne, is BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week this week, Monday to Friday. Episode 2 is to be broadcast at 9.45am this morning. The five episodes are repeated daily at 12.30am. Yesterday's reading is available on IPlayer.
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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Wed 16 Jan 2013, 09:38

I didn't think you were being awkward or off-topic (which never specially worries me anyway), Temperance, but I have had very little spare time this week (which is sadly going to continue for the rest of the week) and I always need a bit of energy to think and write about these things.

Oddly in what spare time we have had we have watched the Jennifer Ehle version of P and P (again). It was played on one of our channels in one long session, and we watched it over three nights. And tonight some documentary about the popularity of Jane Austen particularly since that Andrew Davies production. Amanda Vickery in The Many Loves of Jane Austen. I found it a little unsatisfying and making assumptions from little evidence at times.

Oldest children with parental expectation often do succeed so there was probably something about Branwell Bronte as well as high expectations that meant he didn't cope well. But certainly some perfectionist personalities do have difficulties if they feel they must achieve highly.

Chinese children seem to cope with pushy parents. (though I don't know what studies show about this. I haven't read that site you sent me to, and now that I want to, I can't seem to copy this and think I might lose it all if I open it. It may have addressed that issue.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Fri 18 Jan 2013, 14:42

Well, apologies again for being completely off-topic, Caro, but may I post the following extract? It's the very interesting (well, I thought it was!) account from Bryne's book about the terrible food shortages of 1795 and the appalling punishments inflicted on members of the Oxford Militia (Henry Austen's regiment) who tried to help the poor and hungry. I knew nothing at all about this. It's like something from "The Mutiny on the Bounty":



In 1795, following a cold winter preceded by a poor harvest in the summer of 1794, the Oxfordshire Militia Regiment was billeted in appalling conditions at East Blatchington, in Sussex, whence they could see grain being exported from the port of Tidemills.

With near starvation rife in the English countryside, this sight brought about a spontaneous mutiny in the Militia. Several dozen soldiers marched to nearby Seaford in a “disorderly manner”, took over the bread and flour there, and sold it at reduced prices. Ringleaders were arrested and court martialled in Brighton with four men sentenced to be flogged and two, former blanket weaver Edward Cooke and Chipping Norton’s Sam Parish condemned to death.

Thousands of regular soldiers and militiamen were marched to Goldstone Bottom, near Hove, to witness the punishment. They were there both to see an example set and to quell any disorder that might have arisen, since Sussex people were sympathetic to the prisoners.

Messrs Cooke and Parish were first made to witness the floggings. Then they were made to kneel on their own coffins and shot by ten comrades who had been selected from among the other mutineers. Then the assembled audience were made to march around the bodies.

The day before the execution — at least according to the Rev John Dreng, who was apparently present at the event — Mr Cooke wrote to his brother: “I am going to die for what the regiment done. I am not afraid to meet death for I have done no harm to no person and that is a great comfort to me.”

Even the High Sheriff of Sussex was deeply affected by all this. He wrote to the printer of the Reading Mercury on June 12: “I am proceeding to the execution of the two poor fellows.” And again the next day: “I am just returned from the ground where two soldiers were shot this morning, about quarter past eight. One of them knelt down upon one coffin and one upon the other, and they both instantly fell dead. Though left there, lest there be any remains of life, a firelock was left close to the head of each immediately after.”

As for Henry Austen, he resigned his commission with the Oxfords in 1801. All the same, his sister must have learned much information about the militia from him. For example there is George Wickham, who appears as a lieutenant of the “ -----shire Militia” in Pride and Prejudice.
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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Wed 23 Jan 2013, 07:00

Hi Temperance,

I'm sorry I didn't get to reply to this earlier (or even read it properly). Dreadful story - it's amazing the trivial things the army think/thought worthy of severe punishment. But I suppose it is always fear of disorder. (Australian soldiers in the world wars were never executed when court martialled - they felt volunteers shouldn't be. A novel I read had a NZ soldier condemned to be shot by Australian soldiers and they refused. I don't know whether it was the soldiers generally who refused or whether the officials didn't support execution and never actually ordered it.)

We stayed at the Hook Norton brewery near Chipping Norton in 2007 - one of my husband's favourite accommodation places of all. I had a feeling there might be some plaque on the wall of a different pub there about some uprising, but it was probably quite a different town (maybe even in a different country, Wales. I googled Sam Parish but the only thing I saw was what you had written more or less above and copyright to the Oxford Times. Nothing else at all.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Wed 23 Jan 2013, 18:15

Hi Caro,

Yes, I got that from the Oxford Times. I googled Sam Parish too, after listening to the second instalment of Paula Bryne's book - last Tuesday on BBC Radio 4. Byrne's account - as read out - is very similar to the Koenig article. But the newspaper version is not, as I originally thought, taken from Bryne's book. The article is dated 2010 - I hadn't read/listened carefully enough! Bryne actually gives a more detailed account (I've just listened again): she tells us, for example, that the flogged men received *300* lashes - terrible.

http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/leisure/8628554.print/

I still think great writers and other "arty" folk tend to be a rummish lot on the whole . I came across a site which listed many, many "creative" people who suffered from depression and other problems. Perhaps Jane Austen was an exception; she certainly seems to have been a remarkably sane women from a remarkably sane family - whatever sane means.

I'll see if I can track down the site.


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 24 Jan 2013, 10:15; edited 1 time in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Family support for success   Wed 23 Jan 2013, 18:23

Can't find the original one (which was more detailed), but this is similar:

http://www.depression.8m.com/deplist.html

And, according to this Guardian article, writing is definitely bad for you!!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/dec/13/writers-depression-top-10-risk
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