Online Discussion: Sense & Sensibility

from the website:

Masterpiece Classic on PBS will rebroadcast Sense and Sensibility in two parts, on February 1 and 8, 2009. Check local listings for the schedule in your area. Professor Joan Ray, JASNA Past President, will lead an online discussion about the adaptation February 2-13 on the Barnes and Noble Classics Book Club website.

Barnes and Noble Book Clubs are free and open 24 hours a day. Use this link to join the discussion. Sign up is easy: click on the “Register” link (located in the upper left corner of the page, just above the “Classics” banner) and fill in the information when prompted.

January 28, 1813 ~ Pride & Prejudice Published!

It was on this day, happy day indeed! ~  in 1813, that Pride & Prejudice “by the author of Sense & Sensibility” was published by T. Egerton, London. 

Austen received her own copy on January 27, as she states in her letter of January 29,  “I have got my own darling Child from London.”   [LeFaye, Letter 79; Chapman Letter 76].  It was advertised in The Morning Chronicle on Thursday January 28 under “Books Published This Day” in a run of an unknown number of copies, assumed to be around 1500 [see Keynes Bibliography].  The first edition sold out rapidly, a second edition was also printed in 1813 and a third edition came out four years later.  The first edition, published in three volumes, was bound in blue paper-covered boards with a white paper label on the spine.  Austen sold the copyright to Egerton for £110; the book sold for 18s.  Today this first edition is for sale starting at £65,000.  [see for a listing of a few available first editions]… but as we all know the true value of this book is not to be calculated in numbers….  thank you Jane Austen for enlarging so many lives with your brilliance!



First Edition Title Page

Edith Wharton ~ January 24, 1862

I direct you yet again to my Bygone Books Blog for a short post with links on Edith Wharton.


Austen’s Manuscripts

Later Manuscripts [The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen], edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree, Cambridge Universitry Press, January 2009, is now available.  Priced at $130.  but weighs in at a hefty 872 pages.

Contents include:

  •  Austen’s fiction:  Lady Susan, The Watson’s, and Sanditon
  •  Jane Austen on Fiction, to include her letters to friends and family on writing, her “Plan of a Novel”, and her collection of opinions of Mansfield Park and Emma
  •  Austen’s poems and charades
  • Appendices that include transcriptions of two of the manuscripts, “Sir Charles Grandison”, Prayers, attributed poems, and family poems.
  • Extensive explanatory notes


Mr. Darcy Portrait Sells

The Darcy portrait of Colin Firth that we all wanted in our very own living rooms, has sold at auction for £12,000, nearly double the estimated value; very nice really… the money all goes to charity.

“This painting sold for double its estimated value for the simple reason that the series so captured the heart of the viewing public, particularly the fairer sex,” said Julian Roup, a spokesman for Bonhams auction house.

[see this BBC article]


Happy Birthday, JASNA-Vermont…

birthday-cake2A year today – on 22 January 2008 – our Vermont Region received its official ‘welcome’ to the North American Jane Austen realm! So… Happy Birthday JASNA-Vermont!

It’s been a great year – and some thoughts on our activities can be found written down here, on this blog. We had an appreciative (large!) crowd for our first meeting, which featured Prof. Robyn Warhol-Down, whose talk centered on Pride and Prejudice; she has since joined JASNA. Then came a look at ‘Beginnings’ – JASNA’s own (with thoughts on the founding of JASNA by life members Lorraine Hanaway and Mildred Darrow) as well as Jane’s (with a look into her “first” novel, Northanger Abbey). The fall was ushered in with a thrilling and amusing look at “Austen’s England” by Montpelier resident, John Turner. Then came our big celebration: our Annual Austen Tea, featuring the Burlington Country Dancers (who led most of our audience onto the dance floor!), with music provided by the provocatively-named Impropriety.

For the first time, we share pictures and comments about our December celebration…

Barb F. wrote: “I had a great time, and brought a friend with me who had not attended a JASNA event as yet. I hardly spoke with my friend… so many opportunities to share with those we didn’t know. The gathering brings such friendly people together. I finally had a chance to try English Country Dancing and it was very enjoyable!… My spirits are lightened and energized as I reflect on a wonderful afternoon.”

austenbday1Jeanne V.: “Just wanted to say that the event on Sunday was…a lot of fun. I brought someone who swore she would only watch the dancing and she was scooped up and danced every one! Now, we need to do more dancing…”

George: “I had a great time and am making everyone go to the Montpelier [event] in June.”

Val M.: “Thanks so much for having us. [Everyone] did a wonderful job with the Tea Party. Enjoyed the readings!”


And the food was … scrumptious! Thanks to the caterers connected to our host site, Champlain College (Burlington, VT), and JASNA-Vermont members who pulled out recipes that made everyone’s mouth water:


If you can ‘smell’ the aroma of scones, truffles, cookies and tea, then maybe you will be able to hear the band strike up a long-familiar tune. Members of Impropriety…


 …and The Burlington Country Dancers:

Thanks to Mary Ellen Bertolini for sharing her photos!

Please join us for our next event – which features Prof. Bertolini and Persuasion – on March 1st. And send us your birthday wishes and wants!

Edgar Allan Poe ~ January 19, 1809

I again direct you to my Bygone Books Blog for a celebration of the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849.  Though you may wonder what this has to do with Jane Austen, and I agree that the link is tenuous as best [though indeed, is Emma not a mystery??]   But I did find this link to the Book Mine Set blog that quoted Mark Twain as saying the following about Poe (and we know what he had to say about our Dear Jane!):

Of Poe, [Mark Twain] said,”To me his prose is unreadable—like Jane Austen’s.”

This Book Mine Set blog does a weekly post “The Great Wednesday Compare” pitting two authors against each other. Austen beat out Poe 48-8! [she then went on to beat Lucy Montgomery and Kurt Vonnegut, but lost by 2 points to Dr. Seuss the following week!] Go to the blog and read the many comments…it is quite entertaining! 










And there are of course those action figures…



Anne Bronte ~ January 17, 1820

I refer you to my Bygone Books Blog which celebrates today the birthday of Anne Bronte [1820-1849], author of Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.


For Sale in Hong Kong: Anne Sharp’s “Emma”

The 1816 first edition of Emma that Jane Austen signed and gave to her friend Anne Sharp [thought to be the inspiration for the character of Mrs. Weston] will be available for sale at this weekend’s International Antiquarian Book Fair in Hong Kong [January 17-19, 2009].   It will cost you a mere HK$3.95 million.  See the full article about other titles for sale at The and the link above for the full downloadable catalogue of fair offerings.

By my calculations (this can vary depending on which currency converter you use):

  • this book sold for £180,000 at a Bonhams auction in June = US $262,692.
  • it is for sale at the book fair for HK $ 3,950,000.
  • which equals £348,744. GBP or US $508,958.
  • which is a profit of £168,744 GBP or US $246,265.
  • …if it sells..
  • and whatever would Jane (or Anne!) think!

Jane Austen's 'Emma'

Jane Austen's 'Emma'


Further reading:

Book Review ~ “A Broken Vessel”

ross-broken-vessel-coverJulian Kestrel returns in this second mystery by Kate Ross [Viking 1994], A Broken Vessel.  Several months after his amateur but superior sleuthing at Bellegarde, home of the Fontclairs, [see Ross’s first book, Cut to the Quick, and my review] Kestrel is again thrown into the mix of murder and mayhem when the sister of his manservant, Dipper, shows up in her brother’s life after a two-year absence.  Sally Stokes is a prostitute and a thief, made of the same cloth as her now-reformed [hopefully] pick-pocket brother. After an evening of turning tricks with three very different “coves,” from each of whom she steals a handkerchief,  she discovers a letter written by an unknown woman, mysteriously locked up in an unnamed place, begging forgiveness and help from her family.  But whose pocket did Sally lift the letter from? – Bristles, the middle-aged skittish man; Blue Eyes, the elegant and handsome gentleman of the “Quality”; or Blinkers, the be-speckled young man who played all too rough with Sally, leaving her sore, battered and frightened. 

Here is how we first see Sally: 

She pulled the pins out of her hair and put them on the washstand for safe-keeping; she was always losing hairpins.  Her nut-brown hair tumbled over her shoulders: long at the back, but curling at the front and sides, in imitation of the fashion plates in shop windows.  Not that she would ever look like one of them, with their fair skins, straight noses, and daintily pursed lips.  She had a brown complexion, a snub nose and a wide mouth, with a missing tooth just visible when she smiled.  Still, she was satisfied with her face.  There was not much an enterprising girl could not do with a little cunning and a pair of liquid brown eyes.

So Dipper brings Sally to his apartment to get her off the street and give her a chance to heal.  He shares this apartment with his employer, Julian Kestrel, the Regency dandy, known far and wide for his fashion and manners, the man everyone emulates in all things dress and gentlemanly behavior.  We have already learned in Ross’s first book that there is so much more to Kestrel than this dandified appearance – his growing friendship with Dr. MacGregor serves as a foil for the reader to see Kestrel in more human terms, and MacGregor’s unasked questions become ours: all we know is that Kestrel’s father was a gentleman, disinherited upon marrying an actress, and that Kestrel has been an orphan for a good many years.  Although he appears to have money and is viewed as such by his cohorts, we, the reader, and Dipper know this not to be the case – but where DOES he get the funds to lead this gentleman’s life, buy these fine clothes, live in France and Italy for years before settling in London?  We learn a bit more in this book…but not much!

 Here is Dr. MacGregor, not of London and critical of all the goings-on there, learning about the gentlemanly art of duelling:

 ‘If you thought he was lying or hiding something. Why didn’t you tax him with it?’ asks MacGregor.

[Kestrel]  ‘If I called him a liar point-blank, I should have had to stand up with him, which would have been deuced inconvenient, and not at all part of my plans.’

‘Do you mean to say you’d have exchanged pistol shots with him over a mere matter of words?’

‘Not if there were any honourable way to avoid it.  But accusing a gentleman of lying is the deadliest of insults. If he’d insisted on receiving satisfaction, I should have had no choice but to give it to him.”

‘But that’s preposterous! It’s criminal!  I don’t understand you at all.  One minute you’re investigating a possible murder with all the seriousness it deserves – and the next minute you say you’d stand up and shoot at a man because he took offence at something you said!’

‘Duelling isn’t murder, whatever the press and pulpit say about it.  If one gentleman insults another, he knows what the consequences will be: they’ll fight according to the laws of honour, as nations fight according to the laws of war.  Killing an unarmed man, or -God forbid!- a woman, is completely different.’

‘Well, I suppose you can’t help those wrong-eaded notions.  You probably learned them at your father’s knee before you were old enough to know better.’

‘Oddly enough, my father had much the same view of duelling as you do.  But then, my father was too good to live.’ He added quietly,  ‘And he didn’t.’


 The discovery of the letter wrapped up in one of Sally’s stolen handkerchiefs sets the plot in motion – they must find which of the three men carried the letter, who the woman is, and where she is being held.  Many plot twists, many characters appearing, each with a tale to tell – are they all connected in some way, or are they all separate unrelated but oh so interesting mysteries of their own?  When Sally finally discovers that the woman who wrote the letter was an “inmate” of the Reclamation Society’s prison-like home for recovering prostitutes and has been found dead from an apparent suicide, Kestrel’s shackles are raised, his detective skills in high gear, and he, Sally and Dipper pursue the three men to find out the truth.  And along the way, we see Dr. MacGregor’s astute eye upon Sally and her effect on Kestrel – can this street-wise, sharp little spitfire possibly soften the edges of the leader of the ton?  Or is Kestrel immune to such feminine wiles? (and those “liquid brown eyes!) 

Ross writes a compelling tale, her research into Regency England, its language (she is adept at presenting the dialect of the streets and the Regency-speak of the “Quality”), the manners and mores, evident on every page; her knowledge of the underside of London life makes the telling very graphic and realistic – you will learn much about prostitution on the streets of London, the religious zealots who acted against it (indeed, the title is from a Psalm), the Bow Street Runners and the all too-ineffective police forces of the time, and best of all, the mystery is excellent!  and while I often “figure” these things out, I was most pleased to have the various side stories pull together with a few surprises along the way.  All in all, a fine mystery, with wonderfully drawn characters, and enough tidbits about Kestrel’s background to more than gently coax this reader into the third book in the series, Whom the Gods Love.

 4 1/2 full inkwells (out of 5)