Queen Victoria and her rather large “unmentionables”… Royal Undergarments on the Block

In a follow up to the BBC news a few weeks ago that several pieces of Queen Victoria’s undergarments were being offered at auction, there was some speculation that her bloomers might fetch £500.  So it comes as a surprise that they sold for £4500 ($9,000. !)….  Her chemise, with a 66″ bust, sold for $8,000. and her nightgown sold for $11,000.  See the full article from the Guardian where it is revealed that the bloomers had a 50″ waist: Queen Victoria’s bloomers, and here at Yahoo News with a picture…

The history of undergarments is fascinating…. I offer up a few links to start your study:

Another Round-up…..all things Austen

Another week and all sorts of news… I post here several of interest.  I will do a separate post tomorrow on book reviews and booklists…so make some room on your bedside table…

The Big Read list…a journey through books

I am a lover of booklists, and here is one from Ms. Place on Jane Austen’s World Blog (taken partially from the Big Read on the BBC,  and several other blogs)…  I repeat this here and send it out to you all…a great list, so follow the instructions and see where you have been and where you might go on your reading journey….

(though I do have to add that this is not a list of the 100 BEST books by any means…it seems an interesting compilation of classics and a number of contemporary titles that are not perhaps the best literature, but good reads…there are also some very obvious errors and omissions…, but one cannot quibble with any such list…it is always subjective and bears the bias of the listmaker….but a great place to start in case you need a push.  I also find it hard to believe that the average adult has only read SIX of these titles?  Yikes!   So I append the list with none of my markings as yet…I will post my results in a comment.  So let’s hear from you and what your reading score might be….

“The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them.”

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (a good many of them)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

The Web Round-up: all things Austen

 Some tidbits for this week:

Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine

Beginning August 1, “Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine,”  published by the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, will offer a subscription discount of twenty percent to members of the Jane Austen Society of North America. The offer is not yet “live,” but you can read about it on this preview page: http://www.janeausten.co.uk/regencyworld/page.ihtml?id=12

JASNA has a 2-page article in each issue of the magazine, and favorites Maggie Lane and Sheryl Craig are also regular contributors.  The contents of the current and all back issues can be viewed online with one sample article downloadable from each issue.

Also see Laurel Ann’s post on Jane Austen Today about the latest July Newsletter from the Jane Austen Center.  You can sign up for this online newsletter at the Center’s website….and be sure to take the     “Pride & Prejudice” Quiz …[you might just find you need to re-read the book, a perfect thought for a summer’s day!]

English Country Dance News


A series of 6 Tuesday night classes,
starting Tuesday July 22, 2008

Teaching by Wendy Gilchrist


TIME: 7 pm to 9 pm

DATES: July 22 & 29, August 5, 12, 19, 26

Langlois-Racine Dance Studio
34 Riley Avenue, Plattsburgh, NY

COST: $30/person for the series (6 classes)
Register at the door at your first class
(Registration form attached, more available at door)

Sharon Schenkel at lylfaceem@aol.com or 518-643-0310
Wendy Gilchrist at 518-563-1834

VERMONTERS: Contact Wendy Gilchrist if you’d like a ride to class from the ferry landing in Plattsburgh (that is, you’d go on the ferry as a foot passenger). You must be at the Plattsburgh ferry landing by 6:15pm. Contact Wendy at wgilchrist@cvph.org or leave a phone message a day ahead at 518-563-1834.

CLASSES IN VERMONT: Wednesday nights in August at the home of Tom and Val Medve. Drop in, no advance registration required. Suggested donation $3 per person per class. For more info, please contact Val at valandtom@verizon.net or 802-899-2378.

A Jane Fairfax Conundrum

Over the weekend I read Penny Gay’s thought-provoking Persuasions article: “Jane Fairfax and the ‘She Tragedies’ of the Eighteenth Century.” But I am curious as to where a statement (not footnoted) comes from; can anyone out there help ???

Dr Gay makes a wonderful case for Jane Fairfax to be compared with the type of characters portrayed so well onstage by Sarah Siddons; these characters usually went mad, killed themselves, or simply died. To sustain the proposed connection page 128 has the following parenthetical claim: Austen, of course, knew well where Jane [Fairfax] really belonged as a character: she told her family that Jane did not long survive her marriage to Frank [Churchill].

Told her family made me conclude that A Memoir of Jane Austen was the source; but that cannot be, for here are all the statements regarding the ‘future’ of Austen’s characters in the 1871 edition:

“She [Jane Austen] certainly took a kind of parental interest in the beings whom she had created, and did not dismiss them from her thoughts when she had finished her last chapter. … She would, if asked, tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of some of her people. In this traditionary way we learned that Miss Steele never succeeded in catching the Doctor; that Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary obtained nothing higher than one of her uncle Philip’s clerks, and was content to be considered a star in the socitey of Meriton; that the ‘considerable sum’ given by Mrs. Norris to William Price was one pound; that Mr. Woodhouse survived his daughter’s marriage, and kept her and Mr. Knightley from settling at Donwell, about two years; and that the letters placed by Frank Churchill before Jane Fairfax, which she swept away unread, contained the word ‘pardon.’ Of the good people in ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’ we know nothing more than what is written…” (pp. 148-9)

Did Dr Gay mix up Mr Woodhouse’s demise with the Frank-Jane ‘pardon’?? Or does a more extensive list of what happened to Jane Austen’s characters after the book(s) ended exist elsewhere??

I do have Le Faye’s Reminiscences of Caroline Austen to check, but see nothing there in a cursory look; I do not own Caroline’s My Aunt Jane Austen, but have searched through MA Austen-Leigh’s Personal Aspects of Jane Austen and find no mention of ‘fairfax’ or ‘churchill’ – so I throw open the question for discussion:

Did Jane Fairfax, according to Jane Austen, not long survive her marriage??

Austen’s Obituaries

July 18, 1817.  Just a short commemoration on this sad day…

No one said it better than her sister Cassandra who wrote

have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed,- She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, & it is as if I had lost a part of myself…”

(Letters, ed. by Deidre Le Faye [3rd ed, 1997], From Cassandra to Fanny Knight, 20 July 1817, p. 343; full text of this letter is at the Republic of Pemberley)

There has been much written on Austen’s lingering illness and death; see the article by Sir Zachary Cope published in the British Medical Journal of July 18, 1964, in which he first proposes that Austen suffered from Addison’s disease.  And see also Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A life, “Appendix I, “A Note on Jane Austen’s Last Illness” where she suggests that Austen’s symptoms align more with a lymphoma such as Hodgkin’s disease.

The Gravesite: 

Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral, where no mention is made of her writing life on her grave:

 It was not until after 1870 that a brass memorial tablet was placed by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh on the north wall of the nave, near her grave: it tells the visitor that

Jane Austen

[in part] Known to many by her writings, endeared to her
family by the varied charms of her characters
and ennobled by her Christian faith and piety
was born at Steventon in the County of Hants.
December 16 1775
and buried in the Cathedral
July 18 1817.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

The Obituaries:

David Gilson writes in his article “Obituaries” that there are eleven known published newspaper and periodical obituary notices of Jane Austen: here are a few of them:

  1. Hampshire Chronicle and Courier(vol. 44, no. 2254, July 21, 1817, p.4): “Winchester, Saturday, July 19th: Died yesterday, in College-street, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen formerly Rector of Steventon, in this county.”
  2. Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle(vol. 18, no. 928, p. 4)…”On Friday last died, Miss Austen, late of Chawton, in this County.”
  3. Courier(July 22, 1817, no. 7744, p. 4), makes the first published admission of Jane Austen’s authorship of the four novels then published: “On the 18th inst. at Winchester, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen, Rector of Steventon, in Hampshire, and the Authoress of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.  Her manners were most gentle; her affections ardent; her candor was not to be surpassed, and she lived and died as became a humble Christian.” [A manuscript copy of this notice in Cassandra Austen’s hand exists, as described by B.C. Southam]
  4. The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle published a second notice in its next issue (July 28, 1817, p. 4) to include Austen’s writings.

There are seven other notices extant, stating the same as the above in varying degrees.  The last notice to appear, in the New Monthly Magazine(vol. 8, no. 44, September 1, 1817, p. 173) wrongly gives her father’s name as “Jas” (for James), but describes her as “the ingenious authoress” of the four novels…

[from Gilson’s article “Obituaries”, THE JANE AUSTEN COMPANION [Macmillan 1986], p. 320-1]  

Links to other articles and sources:

Austen-Byron Quiz

The JASNA website has posted an Austen-Byron quiz, from the Greater NY Region’s Spring Conference “Austen and Byron:  Together at Last”….  See the JASNA site for submission information (answers will be posted later this summer)…

Gore Mansion tours

Jane Austen tours of the Gov. Gore mansion

Gore Place, the historic estate at 52 Gore Place, Waltham/Watertown line (Massachusetts), will offer Jane Austen Tours of the mansion July 18 and 20. A guide in period costume will use Austen’s words to describe the decor of the mansion and the lifestyle of the Gores. Admission to the evening tour, 7 p.m. Friday, July 18: $12 adults and $8 children, age 5 to 12. Admission for the daytime tours, Sunday, July 20, at 11 a.m., noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.: $10 adults and $5 children, ages 5 to 12. Reservations recommended. Call 781-894-2798. All attending will receive a 10 percent savings on the traditional three-course afternoon tea service at the Tea Leaf on Moody Street in Waltham. Reservations required in advance for tea. Call 781-891-1900. Offer valid through Aug. 15. For more information, visit http://www.goreplace.org.