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Topic: What does -shire mean in Pride and Prejudice and other English like books?

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Subject: What does -shire mean in Pride and Prejudice and other English like books?
Date Posted: 2/19/2008 9:52 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2006
Posts: 65
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Ok, forgive me if this is in the wrong forum.  

I have read Pride and Prejudice and am in the middle of Jane Erye.  When they talk of a different area in the book, they leave it as "-shire."  What does this mean?

 

Date Posted: 2/19/2008 10:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2006
Posts: 1,443
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a general term meaning a district - towns ended up with -shire at the end of them.

Date Posted: 2/19/2008 10:59 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
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I noticed that, too, especially in Jane Eyre.  They actually wrote ---shire, with a blank in front of shire.  I mean, it's fiction!  Why couldn't they make up a complete name?

Hmmm...just one of life's mysteries, I guess.  And a couple of my favorite books!

Date Posted: 2/19/2008 11:23 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2006
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Thank you for the replies.  It was just one of those things that was bothering me not knowing, lol.

Date Posted: 2/20/2008 2:23 AM ET
Member Since: 7/25/2007
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I've wondered this same thing.  Why couldn't they just make something up?:)

Date Posted: 2/20/2008 11:33 AM ET
Member Since: 2/7/2008
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All counties in England originally have 'shire' at the end of the name. Ie Dorset (where I'm from!) was originally Dorsetshire though nobody says that now. Some of them (Yorkshire for example) have survived with the 'shire' part intact.

As far as Victorian novels go, I think it was more along the lines of not identifying the actual part of the country, partly to preserve the fiction that they were talking about real events in the book and to identify the area would mean you could identify the people, and partly because they were so overly careful with the proprieties. You know, 'names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved' kind of thing. You'll often find it with names too. They'll put 'Mr S-' instead of Mr Smith if they're being particularly precious about it, especially if the character was actually based on a real person somehow.

Don't forget too, that Charlotte Bronte and her sisters were not acknowledged as the authors of those books for a long time. And there was considerable interest in who 'Currer Bell' (her original pen name) might have been. So if she'd out and out said 'Yorkshire' which is where it all takes place, and where they themselves lived, then that would have narrowed the search for the author down to someone who knew Yorkshire very well. And it would all have come out much quicker. (I just thought of this, I'm quite proud of that as a possible explanation in this case! Never thought about it before!)

Alex

 



Last Edited on: 2/20/08 11:35 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/20/2008 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2007
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Like the Lord of the Rings?

Date Posted: 2/20/2008 9:22 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
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Thanks, Alex!  It's nice to get some inside information on this!

Date Posted: 2/20/2008 9:36 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2006
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" Thanks, Alex!  It's nice to get some inside information on this! "

Ditto !!!  That definitely sheds some light on it.  :-)

Subject: Excellent post, Alex
Date Posted: 2/24/2008 1:22 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2008
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I couldn't have said it better myself. I suppose it could have been a motivation for the Brontes - and Jane Austen, too, since she wasn't publishing under her own name - but definitely a secondary one, since as you said it was pretty regularly done. Also, possibly (at least for names of places and people), so they wouldn't make up a name and then find out that there was a real person or place with that name. Stranger things have happened. Charlotte Bronte dedicated the second edition of Jane Eyre to Thackeray and was mortified to find out that he actually had a mentally disturbed wife, so people started speculating that it was written by a woman who was in love with him. Interestingly enough, even though she used completely different names for the horrible school to which Jane Eyre was sent, people who knew Rev. Carus Wilson and Cowan Bridge School recognized them immediately in Rev. Brocklehurst and Lowood.