Weekly Round-Up…All Things Austen

Austenprose celebrated its first anniversary this week… so we offer hearty congratulations to Laurel Ann for her consistently insightful “musings” with hopes that she shall continue to enlighten us every day with her “celebration of the brilliance of Jane Austen’s writing.”  It has been an especially fine month of Gothic doings delving into the hidden crannies of Northanger Abbey… 

Jane Austen’s World was selected for two blog awards… 1) Elizabeth from Scandalous Women, and

2)  Alyssa Miller from The Love Coach,  (who also selected Austenprose)…these are both great literary blogs to add to your favorites; and then link to Jane Austen’s World to see her choices for best blogs (hint:  Ms. Place most kindly chose JAIV … so thank you Vic!  I now need to select my own 15 favorites…so stand-by for that!)

AustenBlog has posted information on Sue Forgue’s online Regency Encyclopedia, a first-stop resource for all things Regency, geared toward fan-fiction writers.  The site is searchable and browse-able by subject and includes interactive maps, book lists and links to online resources.   Go to Austenblog for the information and user password that Mags provides.  Expect to be visiting the site for at least the entire weekend… !  I have just taken a fabulous tour through Regency London….and am now perhaps off to Bath…


Jane Odiwe shares one of her watercolors of Austen based on the Cassandra sketch, as well as a few words on the Chawton Cottage and gardens.

Here’s a new one…a horse named Jane Austen won big in the the latest Irish racing event.  Read all about it here at the independent.ie

Ellen Moody’s blog on her latest readings on Austen life and works, along with some lovely pictures of Steventon and Chawton.

Two patterns for cross-stich samplers with Jane Austen quotes can be found at Pattern Mart; click here for the second pattern.

Sunday, November 2, 2008, a lecture at the Princeton Branch of the English Speaking Union on “The Facts and Fictions of Jane Austen”by Elizabeth Steele, the regional coordinator of the Eastern PA JASNA Chapter.  See the article and website for more information.

Paul Johnson at the Spectator.uk writes on “Jane knew All about a Banking Crisis”, giving some history of Jane’s knowledge of banking issues through her brother Henry’s mostly disastrous banking experiences.  But see Jezebel where she sounds off on just being plain exhausted with seeing Jane Austen’s name linked to EVERYTHING going on in the world!  (I heartily concur!)

See the Regency World of author Lesley Anne McLeod blog  for information on a new contest offering the out-of-print book “Everybody’s Historic England” :  the contest begins October 31…. there are also several new additions to her website.

See this Architect Design blog post about the 2006 BBC movie about Beau Brummell, the Regency dandy…starring the always fabulous James Purefoy (Vanity Fair, Rome, he also played Tom Bertram in the newest Mansfield Park); however did I miss this one??

Lady Helga at her Jane Austen PodNovel blog has hit the 50 mark, i.e. her 50th show…stay tuned for her next podcast! [she has been reading P&P]

 This of interest to those in New England:  an interactive touring map linking you to the websites of stores specializing in children’s books in the New England area [the map is at the site of the the New England Children’s Bookselling Advisory (NECBA)]  My favorite shop here in Vermont is the Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne.

For you lovers of Patrick O’Brian, click on the following link for POB’s Riches, a listing of (nearly) all the literary (and non-literary) quotations and allusions in O’Brian’s books. [with thanks to an alert Janeite who posted this on the Janeites discussion group]…. in a very cursory browse, I find only one direct quote to Jane Austen, though we know he loved her dearly.  And speaking of Mr. O’Brian, I have recently added to my bookshelf “Lobscouse & Spotted Dog” a gastronomic companion to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, by Anne C. Grossman and Lisa G. Thomas [Norton, 1997], and will be brushing up on my Whipt Syllabub [page 26], as Jane would be pleased…

For a little much needed humor, here are the rules for “The Jane Austen Drinking Game” created by Mostly Water Theater.  Click on the YouTube link for their rendition of the game while viewing Sense & Sensibility.

Book reviews: I link you to only one this week…(more to come I promise): Ms. Place on Mansfield Revisited.

And I end this post, it being Halloween, I give you a fine post by Ms. Place on some Halloween happenings at Jane Austen Today… see also her link to the History of Halloween.

A Haunting in Bath ~ an Austen-related Halloween

Thanks to Georgie Lee’s blog for this mention:  for information on the “Ghosts of Bath”, visit Hollow Hill, one of the web’s oldest sites for Ghosts and all things spooky… the man in the black hat in the Assembly Rooms; the coach drawn by four horses in the Royal Crescent; the ghost of the Theatre Royal and Garrick’s Head Pub; a hooded figure at the Crystal Palace Tavern; a jilted bride of Queen’s Square… and many more…

and for some additional holiday reading, try this book by John Brooks:


Dickens & Davies

Tonight is the start of the BBC production of Dickens’ Little Dorrit [BBC 1, 8pm].  Andrew Davies, in yet another lavish costume drama of a classic, brings to the small screen Dickens’ tale of financial ruin, love, and mystery all rolled into one …  one hopes that by bringing this long-forgotten masterpiece back to life,  Davies will do what he has done for Austen and Gaskell among others, and inspire viewers to return to the books! 

 I have seen the Derek Jacobi 1988 BBC version several times, so looking forward to this new rendition with Matthew MacFadyen as Arthur Clennam and Claire Foy as Little Dorrit, along with quite the star-studded cast… see this short review from Digial Spy:



Often shows boast of having an “all-star cast” but in the case of Little Dorrit they really mean it. The roster includes (deep breath): Matthew Macfadyen, Freema Agyeman, Ruth Jones, Pam Ferris, Eve Myles, Andy Serkis, Amanda Redman, Russell Tovey, Bill Paterson, Maxine Peake, Annette Crosbie, Alun Armstrong and Mackenzie Crook, to name but a few. Surprisingly Judi Dench isn’t on the list. 
So, the key question: is it any good? Well, it’s a veeery slow starter – with fourteen episodes in the series, we should probably expect a bit of padding here and there – but once it gets going it’s reasonably intriguing. Personally I’m just pleased to see Mr Macfadyen back on the box in a regular role.
[from Digital Spy.co.uk]



Further reading: [a small sampling of the many articles…]

“Between the Covers” ~ Magazine Exhibition in London

There is a new exhibition at the Women’s Library in East London:  “Between the Covers: Women’s Magazines and their Readers” chronicling the history of women’s magazines since 1600 in the U.K..  See this article on the exhibit at the Newham Recorder, and then visit the Library.  Hopefully there will be a catalogue of the exhibition which opens on November 1st. 


and what magazines did Jane Austen read?  ….. aah! another post in the offing perhaps?? …. but in the meantime, you might want to start with this Lady’s Magazine site…


Debut of “Pride & Prejudice, the New Musical”

The long-awaited and much talked about Pride & Prejudice, The New Musical finally had its first run last night in Rochester NY… read a review at the online Rochester City Newspaper.  And read more about it at the play’s website.

Pride & Prejudice, the New Musical

Letter no. 3 ~ “Scene of Dissipation & Vice”

Letter No. 3. 

  • August 23, 1796
  • Jane (in Cork Street, London) to Cassandra (Steventon? not noted)
  • Boston Public Library (since 1966)

There has been a gap of seven months since Letter no. 2 (of January 1796), but Letter 3 finds Jane in London, likely staying at at the home of Benjamin Langlois in Cork Street (see below) and she hurriedly pens a quick letter to Cassandra.  She begins with her oft-quoted

Here I am once more in this Scene of Dissipation & vice, and I begin already to find my Morals corrupted.


and “hoping you are all alive after our melancholy parting.”  She reports on the trip in a Chaise and “without suffering so much from the heat as I had hoped to do.”  She has traveled with her brothers Edward and Frank and “they are both gone out to seek their fortunes; the latter is to return soon & help us to seek ours.  The Former we shall never see again.”

They are off to “Astley’s” to night” [ Astley’s Amphitheatre near Westminster Bridge, an equestrian circus open from Easter through November or so]  See Emma chapters 54 and 55 for references to Astley’s.

Then a reference to Henry driving his then fiance Miss [Mary] Pearson to Rowling, where Jane is headed on Thursday, so her visit to London is a short one [Rowling is in Kent, and the home of the Bridges family; Jane’s brother Edward married Elizabeth Bridges]; and Austen signs off with hopes that Cassandra “pursued your intended avocation with Success.-” not sure what this refers to…will see if mention is made in a subsequent letter.

 An interesting note about this letter is in the viewing of it in Modert’s compilation of facsimiles; one finds Austen’s writing  much larger and sprawling than most of her other letters…. she perhaps had no concerns here about the costs of posting, or wrote it very quickly and just wanted to send it off without thinking of adding more the next day, as she often did…


 One of my great finds at the AGM was this book titled Jane Austen Visits London by Vera Quin.  Ms. Quin was one of the presenters, giving a delightful talk on Austen’s Landscape.  In this book, just published in 2008 by Cappella Archive, Quin takes us through Austen’s letters from London, numbering thirty out of the 160 or so extant letters.  So I will return to this book again and again as I read the letters.  But here I am interested in what she says about this letter and Austen’s stay at Cork Street.  Quin takes us along the street to identify what was there during Austen’s time…and the house she likely stayed in was that of Benjamin Langlois, an MP and Under-Secretary, and a bachelor who lived alone in this small house at 18 Cork Street, but more importantly the Uncle to Tom Lefroy, the subject of Jane’s previous two letters, and this home is where Tom stayed when he was in London.  Ms. Quin references the theory, albeit she adds with no evidence, that Jane stayed here with perhaps the intention of seeing Tom and seeking his Uncle’s approval for a possible engagement… (p. 9)

…but that not forthcoming, Quin continues with her thoughts that Jane would have walked the streets of the surrounding squares and perhaps put her imagination to work…this is where you find Mrs. Ferrars, Mrs. Jennings and her daughters, John and Fanny Dashwood, all of S&S and the Hursts of P&P. (p. 10)  Austen’s later trips to London found her at her brother Henry’s.  All speculation aside, it is an interesting question as to why Jane spent these two days at this house, noted as being too small to house guests comfortably…is there any more thought or research on this?  I know that Joan Ray’s article on Austen and Lefroy makes it clear that Tom would not have been there at this time because his classes were not in session.  And I agree wth Ray that there is no reason to link the comment about her “morals being corrupted” with Lefroy being there… this is just Austen making fun of the prevailing take on London as a place of lose morals….

Further reading: there is no beginning with links to Regency London; I collect books on London and am well-aware that it is a lifetime commitment!  Here are just a few of the good sources out there.  I will refer to more of them as I come upon other Austen letters sent from London.

  • Wikipedia on Philip Astley
  • Ray, Joan Klingel.  “The One-Sided Romance of  Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy” Persuasions Online, vol.28, no. 1 (Winter 2007)
  • There are a number of good books on London at this time, notably Liza Picard’s Dr. Johnson’s London [St. Martins Press, 2000] with its tantalizing sub-title:  “coffee-houses and climbing boys, medicine, toothpaste and gin, poverty and press-gangs, freakshows and female education.”
  • Also Roy Porter, London: A Social History [Penguin, 1996] and Stella Margetson Regency London [Cassell / Praeger, 1971]; and Peter Thorold, The London Rich, the Creation of a Great City, from 1699 to the Present [ St Martin’s, 2000]
  • and there is an excellent collection of essays on Jane Austen in London at the JASA website, which covers a number of topics on life in London during the Regency.
  • Regency London Tour at Sara Freeze’s Romancing the Regency page.

Round-up…all things Austen, and a few others besides

This is a great mishmash, as I have been a tad out of the loop these past two weeks ( I think I am still in 19th-century mode after 4 glorious days in Chicago…), so please excuse the the lack of any order (and perhaps sense) in this selection…

*As always, I direct you first to Austenprose’s Go Gothic study of Northanger Abbey. You will need a quiet day at your computer to catch up, but well worth the effort!

*Ms. Place at Jane Austen’s World has several posts on Bath (on bathing and dancing, in that order…), to accompany Laurel Ann’s NA journey.

*A review of Colleen McCullough’s new book about Mary Bennet:  at The Australian online

*Another Cassandra and Jane (by Jill Pitkeathley) review at the always insightful Ripple Effects.  Blog author Arti also has posted a poll on “Which Austen heroine do you think Jane was most like?”   A good question and one I think has not one answer, i.e. I think that Austen was a little bit like each of her characters…   Arti also continues his Jane Austen reading with reviews of two of the Austen biographies:  by Claire Tomalin and Carol Shields.

*Some fashion thoughts at Pride & Sensibility on an evening dress circa 1823.

*See this interesting blog at Publisher’s Weekly  where the question  is posed:  “which book would you rescue if your house was on fire?”  I did not see a single Austen [or Shakespeare for that matter] in the comments, but they are worth looking at nonetheless (“I capture the Castle” had TWO saves…. I mean I LOVE this book, but really, this over Shakespeare??, though I do understand some of the comments focus on the monetary value of the book they wish to save]  So it is a great question…which of YOUR books would you grab on the way out the door (i.e after you first saved Fido… and just maybe your husband’s golf clubs?)

 *And this from alert Janeite Arthur L. about Elizabeth Jane Howard’s new book:  Love All ~ the name of the protagonist is Mary Musgrove.  See this review of the book at Telegraph.co.uk and another at Timesonline.

*Here is a blog I just discovered:  Books Please, Ramblings of a Bookworm that reviews book just read as well as lists of those endless TBR piles!  Like I need another list….

*The Jane Austen Centre Online Newsletter is always a welcome addition to my inbox, and this month’s issue is filled with goodies (including fruit-cake recipes!) [ you can sign up for the newsletter here ]  …in the meantime a few items of interest:

A new book by Maggie Lane The Immortal Jane Austen is available at the Jane Austen Centre shop

-A blog post by Anne Stott on Mr. Bennet in P&P

-Auden’s poem A Letter to Lord Byron on Austen

-The aforementioned Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe (with our best wishes for something edible…)


*Jane Odiwe at her Jane Austen Sequels blog posts about Traveling in Regency England, inspired by a Hugh Thomson illustration, and sites a poem by Jonathan Swift who shares the joys of such travel!

*Regency Reader blogs about Jackson’s, a boxing club in Regency England.

*See the Literature Page for searchable full-text of Lady Susan, P&P, S&S, MP, Emma, NA, and Persuasion.

*For those of you in the vicinity of Riverdale Park, Maryland, there is a Ladies’ Regency Day planned for  Saturday, November 15 at the Riversdale House Museum.  Ladies will participate in cooking workshops, make a period fashion book, Regency readings courtesy of docent and published author, Janet Mullany,and more! The afternoon will end on a high note as participants enjoy tea accompanied by Regency music and harp demonstrations. This is a perfect (and unique!) gift or treat for any Regency or Jane Austen enthusiast you might know of! Registration is $50 for Prince George’s & Montgomery Counties and $60 for everyone else.
[For any questions or to register,  call 301.864.0420.]

*If, on the other hand, you are headed to Brighton (!) for a weekend,  click here for MindFood for some travel tips.

*Bollywood returns with news of an Emma production…

*A review of an Emma production in St Louis’s Repertory Theatre in West End Word; the musical is ongoing through November 2.

*See this article at the Pennsylvania TimesLeader.com on the stage production of “Jane Austen & Friends” which ponders Austen’s love life.  The play will be at  the New American Vic, 411 Studio, Lackawanna Avenue, Olyphant [PA],  8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays,  through Oct. 26.

*And finally if you are having any thoughts of moving to Lyme Regis, here are some sobering real estate facts.

Tomorrow I promise Letter #3 (finally…) and a book review….

Best,  Janeite Deb