Austen · Emma

Donwell Abbey’s Strawberries

Author: Austen, Jane
Book: Emma
Difficulty rating: Green Eggs and Ham
Deliciousness rating: Acceptable

Part of Afternoon Tea with Emma

The whole party were assembled, excepting Frank Churchill, who was expected every moment from Richmond; and Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talking — strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of. — “The best fruit in England — every body’s favourite — always wholesome. These the finest beds and finest sorts. — Delightful to gather for one’s self — the only way of really enjoying them. Morning decidedly the best time — never tired — every sort good — hautboy infinitely superior — no comparison — the others hardly eatable — hautboys very scarce — Chili preferred — white wood finest flavour of all — price of strawberries in London — abundance about Bristol — Maple Grove — cultivation — beds when to be renewed — gardeners thinking exactly different — no general rule — gardeners never to be put out of their way — delicious fruit — only too rich to be eaten much of — inferior to cherries — currants more refreshing — only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping — glaring sun — tired to death — could bear it no longer — must go and sit in the shade.” (Austen 291)

I guess we could have gotten strawberries from the farmer’s market. But where would the fun and literary authenticity be in that? Especially when we could go to a pick-your-own strawberry field an hour away on the morning of our first Jane Austen book club meeting?



Did it measure up?

I mean … We made sure to pick the smallest, ripest berries, and they were good. They weren’t the best. These strawberries were the big, overgrown variety, and the pick-your-own field was literally next to a fairly busy freeway. (I found myself wondering a little how much car exhaust ends up in these strawberries.)

Jenne also opines that the cream ought to be whipped so it clings to the berries, although it probably wouldn’t have been for Jane Austen’s table.

The best part was really the whole adventure of finding a pick-your-own field and being extra enough to go get a bucket of strawberries ourselves.




  • Fresh-picked strawberries
  • Heavy cream
  • Sugar


  1. Hull the strawberries.
  2. Put them in bowls.
  3. Pour cream over them.
  4. Sprinkle sugar on top.


Austen, Jane. Emma. 1816. Reprint. New York: Penguin Books, 2015. Print.

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