“Now I must give one smirk, then we may be rational again”

A guest-post from JANEITE MAE, a JASNA-Vermont member, who writes most happily of our June 22 meeting on Northanger Abbey and the history of JASNA:

What a merry party we were at the Vermont chapter meeting on Sunday. Several members having sent their apologies (it is the summer, after all), twenty-four Vermont (and New Hampshire) Janeites gathered in the Conference Room at the Hauke Family Campus Center, Champlain College, for an afternoon of lively discussion, camaraderie, and just plain fun.

The activities began with former JASNA president Lorraine Hanaway’s presentation on the beginnings of JASNA in the late 1970’s. It was interesting to hear about how it all started. (Who knew that JASNA’s formation was due in large part to the urgent need for restroom privileges at Chawton?) Then we were treated to 94-year-old Mildred Darrow’s musings on being a long-time Janeite. How many of us could disagree with her observation that “my favorite Austen novel is the one I just finished reading”?

The dramatic readings from Northanger Abbey were a lot of fun. Janeite Deb provided accessories and props for the readers to help them get into character. Could anyone resist a chuckle at Catherine’s innocence, or a smirk at Henry’s teasing?!

Following the readings, we joined in a group discussion of Northanger Abbey. Topics included:  What does Henry see in Catherine?  How does the voice of the narrator in Northanger Abbey differ from that of Austen’s other novels? and, of course, what people thought of the two television films adapted from the novel.

An interesting twist to the discussion came when Lorraine shared with us her idea that Amy Heckerling, screenwriter of the film Clueless, could write a fun screenplay of Northanger Abbey as an animated film. Lorraine suggested that John Thorpe should be a walrus and Catherine a goose. Personally, I found this an intriguing idea. I wondered which animal should represent Isabella? (Some suggested a cat.) And what about Mrs. Allen? Imagine the possibilities! Imagine the fun! Imagine John Thorpe as a walrus. (Perhaps you already have?)

All kidding aside, though, I was very pleased to finally attend a gathering in my home state of people who share a love of Jane Austen. It was the realization of a long-time wish. And what a surprise to bump into Debbie L. upstairs at Barnes & Noble on the very next afternoon. We looked quizzically at each other and said at the same time, “Weren’t you at JASNA yesterday?” Debbie said it best: “It was wonderful to be in the same room with so many people who were so knowledgeable about Jane Austen’s novels,” to which I replied, “And no one thought we were strange.”

[ Submitted by Janeite Mae ]

A Signed “Emma” on the block…

I append the following story from BBC News:   

“From BBC News:  Record price for inscribed Austen

An inscribed first edition of Jane Austen’s novel Emma has fetched a record £180,000 at a London auction.  The three-volume set inscribed on behalf of Austen to Anne Sharp, her friend and governess to her niece, was sold at Bonhams to a telephone bidder.  Of 12 presentation copies sent by Austen’s publisher, it was the only one given to a friend of the author. The book, first published in 1816, tells the story of Emma Woodhouse and her matchmaking exploits.  The price was a new world record auction price for a printed book by Austen. 


The British vendor, who wants to remain anonymous, is descended from a family that married into the family of Richard Withers, who was left property belonging to Ms Sharp when she died. They said: “The family are delighted with the price fetched today. The novel had been sitting in my family library for at least three generations.”


‘Slightly spoiled’

Austen gave nine presentation copies of Emma to family, one to the library of the Prince Regent and one to a countess. Ms Sharp’s was the only one given to a personal friend – a demonstration of the bond between the two women.  They became friends while Ms Sharp was working as governess to the author’s brother Edward, and remained close for many years.  For the novel, Austen created a governess character called Miss Taylor.  Set in Regency England, the novel’s heroine, a young woman aged 21, is described in the opening paragraph as “handsome, clever and rich”, but also “slightly spoiled”.


In March, Bonhams sold a rare, inscribed first edition of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit for a world record-breaking £60,000.  And in November last year, it sold a first edition of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights for £114,000. “

Story from BBC NEWS:

See also:  Laurel Ann’s wonderful post on Jane Austen’s Dearest Friendship on “Austenprose” for more information and a list of resources about Austen’s friendship with Anne Sharp.