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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsWe're here at Chatsworth House, one of the houses affected by the massive transformation of the English country house towards the end of the 19th century. At this point many English landowners were spending less and less time at their country estates and much more time in London. This meant that they could use their houses as a tourist attraction and indeed, as a source of some income. But it was never enough to really support and maintain these large country estates. And so English landowners began to look for other sources of money to support their estates. Some indeed lost their estates as they were bought up by overseas investors. Dr.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 secondsAndy Smith will join us to talk about how Oscar Wilde explores changes wrought in the country house at the turn of the century. And in this, the final week of the course, we'll also reflect on what we've learned and return to the questions that we posed at the outset of the course. How is the country house depicted in literature? What is the role of the country house in literature? And what is the literary appeal of the English country house? So let us gather our thoughts together and exit through the gift shop.

Welcome to Week 6

Welcome to Week 6, our final week!

In the first part of this week, we will discuss the beginning of the transformation of the English country house in the 19th century. As the financial base of the English country house was undermined, it is their money that allowed wealthy Americans to buy country houses like Canterville Chase in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Canterville Ghost’.

Wilde’s story was a reflection of a very real trend in the late 1800s which saw a large number of American heiresses marrying English landowners, bringing with them the money to modernise their husbands’ very expensive houses. For example, in 1895 Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough of Blenheim, married Consuelo Vanderbilt, the daughter of a New York railroad millionaire. In the same year, George, Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, married Mary Leiter, the musical daughter of Levi Zeigler Leiter, a Chicago millionaire and philanthropist.

The last part of the week will conclude the course with a fun literature game and also the end of course test.

As we approach the end of the course we’ll be reflecting on what we’ve learned and returning once again to those questions posed at the outset of the course:

  1. How is the country house depicted in literature?
  2. What is the role of the country house in literature?
  3. What is the literary appeal of the English country house?

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This video is from the free online course:

Literature of the English Country House

The University of Sheffield