This post initially appeared on the Austen Authors’ blog on 26 May 2021. Enjoy!
“Haye Park might do,” said she, “if the Gouldings could quit it—or the great house at Stoke, if the drawing-room were larger; but Ashworth is too far off! I could not bear to have her ten miles from me; and as for Pulvis Lodge, the attics are dreadful.” —Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 50
Pulvis Lodge is, as most of us know, mentioned exactly once in Pride and Prejudice, when Mrs. Bennet is discussing the possibility of the newlywed Wickhams living in the neighborhood. Ridiculous, of course, as Wickham does not possess the income of a gentleman and cannot afford to take any of the houses she mentions. Pulvis Lodge is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it is the one estate from that quote that just about everyone seems to remember. In fact, I dare say it is the one that gets the most airtime in Pride and Prejudice adaptations for the least reason. It seems to make an appearance in many, either as a place Darcy leases to be near Elizabeth, or for some other reason. Pulvis Lodge is also notable for one more factor—the fact that no one seems to know what the heck the name actually is.
Let me explain. First I will ask a question: how many of you are screaming at me through your computer right now? “It’s not Pulvis Lodge, it’s Purvis Lodge!” Or is it? There seems to be some disagreement over the name, and different sources disagree. Let’s go through some of those sources, shall we?
First, let me say that my recent interest in Pulvis Lodge is not the first time the subject has come up. Lelia Eye has an uncanny knack for pulling up emails between us that we exchanged years and years ago, when I have often forgotten we even spoke on the subject. When I asked her what her copy said, she pulled up an email from when we were writing A Bevy of Suitors together, where we spoke of this exact topic. The gist of the matter is that we both had copies that called it Pulvis Lodge, and that is what we had decided to go with.
As an aside, it’s interesting to note that my copy of P&P was lent out a few years ago, and I never did get it back. I replaced it with a three-book box set of P&P, S&S, and Persuasion. That copy, when I looked at it, called it Purvis Lodge. Huh. The plot thickens.
The next step is to look at some online references. Let’s try Gutenberg, for example. The quote above was copied directly from Gutenberg without any edits. Thus, it seems Gutenberg agrees with Lelia and me. If you like, you can check it out here. Search for “pulv” and you will find it.
Surely there are others that agree, right? Yes, in fact there are several others that agree and spell it with an l. In fact, sparknotes, americanliterature.com, and other sites with which I was not familiar, such as novel12.com and cleavebooks.co.uk also agree. This was all on the first page of an internet search—though I did not make an exhaustive search, I’m certain there are many more. Furthermore, though from from definitive, Kitty and Mrs. Bennet both call it “Pulvis” Lodge in P&P 1995, unless I’m completely messing up the British accent.
Case closed, right? No so fast. A search for Purvis Lodge does not reveal similar archive sites that our other search did. I found a few bloggers, one in particular that does a sort of digital mock up of the estate. They did it with Ashworth too. I also found references to a Purvis Lodge on Purvis Street. Doesn’t say exactly where it is, but it was for rent a couple of years back. There’s also a masonic temple in Mississippi called Purvis Lodge. Cool.
But if you dig a little deeper, you can find plenty of references to Purvis Lodge too. One in particular I found was Wikisource’s version. There are several others.
So which is it? As you might have guessed from my writing and this blog, I lean toward Pulvis Lodge. There seems to be a greater number of sites that agree with this spelling. Could I be wrong? Could be! I suspect the only way to know for sure is if someone has access to an original 1813 print of Pride and Prejudice and can look. I assume Jane Austen knew what she wanted to call the estate, and ensured it was printed properly in her first edition. If anyone has access to a copy, please respond as I’d love to know what it says!