Illustrations for Sense and Sensibility by Chris HammondText by Ruth Williamson, Chronicle Editor, The Jane Austen Society of Australia
These 12 original drawings are the work, not of ‘Christopher’, but of Christiana Mary Demain Hammond (1860-1900). In the 1890s she illustrated classic novels, including several by Austen. This set of drawings was prepared for a lavishly illustrated edition of Sense and Sensibility published by George Allen & Co in 1899. Hammond also illustrated an edition of Emma, and Pride and Prejudice before her early death. This set is therefore all the more precious. She hand-drew the title page in the style of Hugh Thomson’s Peacock edition, but much of her vision was refreshing and new. Thus she shows Elinor at work upon her own drawings in what could have been a personal pose, and she must have empathised with the straitened circumstances of the Dashwood ladies in the novel.
Hammond died young, aged 39. Earlier, she had earned three years’ free study at the Royal Academy art schools on merit. Poor health probably curtailed her formal training, and her financial circumstances were insecure. She has left readers of Austen with the lasting legacy of her work, often executed under intense pressure created by looming deadlines.
Hammond’s work found its way into the marketplace after her death. Although it is not known exactly which member of the Florance/Moffatt family purchased this set, or when he or she took it to New Zealand, there it remained in family archives until October 2016, when enquiry revealed its subject matter and significance in Austen circles. The family agreed the drawings should go on display ‘where they could be appreciated by many thousands of Austen lovers and by generations to come,’ as Peter Moffatt said. After contacting the Museum, Peter and Sandra Moffatt brought the drawings ‘home’ to Chawton in 2018.