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)

Fashion Quiz

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath has just sent out its latest online newsletter ~ one of the articles is a fashion quiz, 10 questions to test your knowledge of the clothing of Austen’s day.

The whole newsletter is available here, this month with a few visual-musical treats, sales at the gift shop, Persuasion in French, and much more.  And while there, be sure to look at the Online Magazine which contains many articles of interest.

Cards from the Gift Shop

Cards at the Gift Shop

Andrew Davies, the doodler…

Thanks to an alert Janeite and Laurie Viera Rigler’s facebook site, we have the following delightful doodles from the king of costume drama, Andrew Davies:




Well, now we know what Mr. Darcy was really thinking (or at least in the mind of Andrew Davies!)…yikes!

You can go to the National Doodle Day site for more information and other celebrity doodles.

Georgiana Darcy in Hyde Park (VT)

Janeite mrs-hurst-1Kelly will give a talk entitled Georgiana Darcy and the ‘Naïve Art’ of Young Ladies at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park on Friday, 30 January 2009. Our hostess, Suzanne Boden (a new JASNA -Vermont member!) invites you to join us for an entire Weekend dedicated to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

Friday, 30 January – 8:00 pm informal talk (see below), with coffee and dessert ($14)

Saturday, 31 January – 3:00 pm Afternoon Tea ($20)

Saturday, 31 January – 7:00 pm Book Discussion & Dinner ($35)

Sunday, 1 February – 11:30 am Brunch & Austen Quiz ($15)

All four activities ($75) and a weekend package that includes B&B accommodation at the Governor’s House (starting at $295 single) also available. Contact Suzanne at info [at] onehundredmain [dot] com or (802) 888-6888 (toll free 866-800-6888).

The starting point for Kelly’s illustrated talk is Elizabeth Bennet’s journey through Derbyshire with the Gardiners (also the subject of her article “Derbyshires Corresponding: Elizabeth Bennet and the Austen Tour of 1833,” which appears in Persuasions this spring). As Elizabeth tours Pemberley, P&P’s narrator tells readers:

 “The picture gallery, and two or three of the principal bed-rooms, were all that remained to be shown. In the former were many good paintings: but Elizabeth knew nothing of the art; and from such as had been already visible below, she had willingly turned to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy’s, in crayons, whose subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligble.”

Looking at the work of several young ladies, including Cassandra Austen, during a period covering the first half of the 19th century – we examine fashion, home, family and life in England during the “lifetime” of Darcy’s young sister Georgiana.

As the little drawing above done by Diana Sperling illustrates: Elizabeth Bennet had good taste!

Cardinal Newman says…

According to one of my literary calendars, today [ January 10, 1837 ] is the day that Cardinal Newman made his oft-quoted remark:

Miss Austen has no romance!… What vile creatures her parsons are.’

… though he supposedly admired her works [and goodness! how we love those parsons!]


John Newman (1801-1890) was an English Catholic who at the age of 15 moved to Alton with his parents and lived at 59 High Street for three years (1816-1819) after his father took over the Baverstock Brewery. The house dating to 1769 bears a blue plaque by the door highlighting the fact.  The previous owners were involved in a lawsuit with Austen’s brother Edward Knight over his failed Hampshire property.  Alton is the nearest town to the village of Chawton where Austen lived until 1817.  One wonders, did they ever meet in that overlapping year??



Cardinal Newman

Cardinal Newman

Further reading on Alton and Cardinal Newman:   


and on another note of important dates, I missed Cassandra’s birthday yesterday:  January 9, 1773.