Jane Austen was no stranger to seaside resorts, having visited Worthing, which was “much frequented by people of fashion, on account of the fine sands, which are esteemed the best in the kingdom.” It rose in popularity as a smart resort. Jane’s inspiration for the story and characters, such as Thomas Parker, was based upon real-life individuals who promoted the fresh “sea air,” which was being touted as a cure for every ailment under the sun.
Jane, too ill to finish the story, stopped writing in March of 1817, after eleven chapters, which gave us an introduction to such characters as the Charlotte Heywood, the Parkers, Denhams, Mrs. Griffiths, Miss Lambe, Miss Beaufort, Miss Brereton, Stringers, and of course, the infamous Sidney Parker of which Jane wrote:
Sidney Parker was about seven or eight and twenty, very good-looking, with a decided air of ease and fashion and a lively countenance.
Of other characters she wrote:
Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive.
The success of Sanditon as a small fashionable place, was the object for which he seemed to live. (Speaking of Tom Parker)
Mrs. Parker was as evidently a gentle, amiable, sweet-tempered woman, the properest wife in the world for a man of strong understanding…
The unfinished novel was published in 1925 under the title of, “Fragments of a Novel by Jane Austen.”
Along came Andrew Davies, the creator of the series Sanditon, who took Jane’s unfinished work, and brought to us a completed version of the characters for which Jane laid a foundation. If you have never read the original work, for Jane’s sake, read it. One must remember, sadly though, that during the time she penned this story she had fallen gravely ill and passed away on July 18, 1817.
If you wish to know more about Jane Austen’s life, I highly recommend, “Jane Austen at Home, a Biography” by Lucy Worsley. It’s a wonderful and engaging read about Jane’s life and journey as an author.