In the News!

WilloughbyJane Odiwe has just announced the publication of her latest novel: Willoughby’s Return.

“I’m writing to everyone about my new book Willoughby’s Return, which is about to be published on November 1st and I’m hoping you will help me spread the word by mentioning its release to anyone you think might be interested.

Here’s a bit of blurb from the publisher Sourcebooks:

A lost love returns, rekindling forgotten passions…

In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, when Marianne Dashwood marries Colonel Brandon, she puts her heartbreak over dashing scoundrel John Willoughby in the past. Three years later, Willoughby’s return throws Marianne into a tizzy of painful memories and exquisite feelings of uncertainty. Willoughby is as charming, as roguish, and as much in love with her as ever. And the timing couldn’t be worse, with Colonel Brandon away and Willoughby determined to win her back, will Marianne find the strength to save her marriage, or will the temptation of a previous love be too powerful to resist?”

Jane is also doing a blog tour, and to celebrate publication there will be giveaways, competitions to win books and paintings, plus interviews over the next couple of weeks.

Information on her blog:

* * *

One of my favorite websites is the book ‘repository’ A Celebration of Women Writers. Mary Mark Ockerbloom, our hostess who has been busy ‘rescuing’ books from Geocities (before that site closes down), has announced many additions to Celebrating Women’s website, but one in particular will interest Austen enthusiasts:

The Castle of Wolfenbach
by Eliza Parsons (1739-1811)
London : printed for William Lane, at the Minerva Press, and sold by
E. Harlow, 1793.

Writes Mary in her email introduction about the latest additions: “My personal favorite of the new titles, however, is Eliza Parsons’ “The Castle of Wolfenbach”. One of the seven “horrid novels” recommended with delightful anticipation by Isabella Thorpe in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, The Castle of Wolfenbach is important as an early Gothic novel, predating both Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho and Monk Lewis’s The Monk.

A virtuous young woman in peril, a wicked uncle, a mysterious castle, a noble lover, what more could one ask?

Read and enjoy”

We’d love to post a ‘review’, should anyone be interested in reading then writing…

* * *

And last – Google’s book site has *finally* given us some (note the word!) volumes of Austen’s 1811 Sense and Sensibility!!

Only volumes I and II have been found – though Google books is notorious for making it difficult to find all volumes of a title (anyone listening to this complaint, Google?). I have not yet gone through the two volumes, for Google books is also notorious for skipping pages, missing pages, popping in pages twice, mis-scanning, etc etc. Though where can most of us see an Austen first edition, except through such a site! Now if only they will give us volume III as well as finish off Pride and Prejudice by supplying volume I for that trio.

[Posted by Kelly]

We HAVE come a long way…

I have been lately reading a document titled A Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women, by Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, London, John Chapman, 1854. [click here for this link to the transcribed text] – it, as the title suggests, is a brief summary of the laws in England as of 1854 relating to women, i.e single women, married women, property rights of married women, separation and divorce, widows, illegitimate children and their mothers, etc.  Much of this one knows from just reading Jane Austen and understanding her life and times, but this is worth a look to see the realities all laid out in black and white …

But there was one section I must share, as it tells it all, and is quite funny in its context, so I offer this as your daily chuckle!

 No public employments:

The church and nearly all offices under government are closed to women.  The Post-office affords some little employment to them; but there is no important office which they can hold, with the single exception of that of Sovereign.

and to that I can only add, “Long live the Queen!”

[Posted by Deb]

The JASNA AGM Photos ~ Finally!

Well, here are a few pictures finally from the Philadelphia AGM – too many shots from far away, too many with not enough light, too many with too much movement – but I hope they will at least convey some of the fun had by all!

A few shots at Winterthur [I was amazed that you were allowed to take photographs! – but I bought the guidebook anyway…]]


The dining room at Winterthur





The winding stairwell at Winterthur



My buddy and great birder Sara in the Winterthur conservatory,
with an eagle…



A lovely harp at Winterthur [no Mary Crawford in sight!]



Martha Washington’s very own mirror


And now on to the first evening…


The lovely Elizabeth Garvie [a.k.a. Elizabeth Bennet] reading from Austen’s “The Three Sisters” [and way too far way…]


A runway full of Lisa Brown’s “Dressing Mr. Darcy” very accommodating models:


William Phillips of Chicago


Ray Skelly of Valley Forge, PA



’tis a lady, methinks! Karen Noske of Rochester NY


The pack of Regency gentlemen and soldiers…


The handsome fellows, William Phillips and Jeff Nigro 


Some fashionistas and the Regency Ball Promenade ~


The always beautifully adorned Baronda Bradley in her day dress…


 our very own Lorraine and William Hanaway
[though we have to share them with Pennsylvania…]


And lovely Baronda again, this year with her Regency Beau!


Two couples who come to our Vermont gatherings ~
kudos to them for the fabulous fashions!



The Promenade returning for the Ball


Capt. Michael Green, Lorna Green, and Nick Wells [as General Tilney! yikes! I disinvited him to the party!] – all from the London, Ontario Chapter


The Jane Austen Books family!
Greg holding Colin, Amy, Jennifer, Beth & Adam

and finally, the cutest Darcy of all…

Colin Frederick Patterson!

Thank you one and all for making this another
such memorable Jane Austen event!

[Posted by Deb]

A First-Timer’s AGM

Upon arrival at the AGM Registration desk you are *marked* for the remainder of the conference: Pale blue ribbons on the name badges around your necks denote the First-Time AGM Attendees.

AGM 2009 bannerA bit too late to join in the prefunction Welcome Reception, my first official AGM engagement was the “conversation” between Elisabeth Lenckos and actress Elizabeth Garvie, better know to her Austen fans as Elizabeth Bennet (1980 BBC production). A rather long and narrow room meant those off to one side got a bit of a crook in our necks, but how thrilling to be all collected together to talk about what has to be my favorite production of P&P. The great pity was that no time was reserved for questions from the audience.

Dr. Lenckos’ questions were not especially thought-provoking, but they did bring out small tidbits about Ms. Garvie’s life in the nearly thirty years since this production, as well as some fascinating insights into  TV production of the period – sans steady cams and extensive on-location filming. Garvie credited being in “the right place at the right time” for her being cast as Elizabeth, though in her finely-drawn portrait her audience recognizes that “right time” might have gotten her in the door, while a rightness for the role got her before the cameras.

A couple memorable remembrances: During the first three weeks of their April to September filming schedule, all exterior shots were filmed — this included (on the third day!) the walk taken with Darcy after Elizabeth had accepted him!  Otherwise, they filmed episode by episode – Garvie likened the experience to “episodes shot like little plays.” She commented on the greater immediacy now possible with the smaller cameras. Then she related that while seated on the log to read Darcy’s letter, the log wobbled and over she fell!

The talk began late and ended early…

Friday packed in a full day, starting with a 10 am call to Tea: Mim Enck talking about tea, that is. She showcased some wonderful photographs of the women tea-pickers who work the slopes in tea-regions half a world away. From the audience comments and questions (yes, we did get to ask questions here), most of her information about the growing, picking, processing and drinking of tea was new to many. Guess they don’t order from my favorite loose-leaf tea company… One useful comment made: do a tea tasting with same tea but different water.

Spotted an interestingly-titled book in the hands of an audience member nearby: A History of Jane Austen’s Family. Wonder if there’s anything on Edward and Emma??

The next hour brought Louise West, of the Jane Austen House Museum (aka Chawton Cottage) and her discussion of the museum’s obtaining funding through the UK National Lottery Fund for its very recent house ‘make over’. Some background history was provided through pictures for those of us who don’t recognize all the names and faces that made Chawton Cottage what it was and has become – as well as the close ties between the ‘Cottage’ and the ‘House’ (Chawton House Library). Her discussion of bringing Austen and Austen’s home to young students and those who might otherwise be unable to afford a few hours there was very thought-provoking for those of us hoping to do the same sorts of outreach – without such a museum! – with our chapter organizations.

News included that the Austen quilt had been lent to an exhibition of quilts being held in Winchester! Great to see a photograph, too, of R.W.  Chapman (his are the editions I use when writing). Visit the website – all new!

Lunched at POSITANO with Janeites Deb and Carol; and got to meet the woman who is so good at sending membership information every month and on demand: Bobbie Gay. Nice to put a face to a name.

After lunch, 1:30 to be precise, the 2009 AGM was officially ‘opened’. The AGM coordinator, Elizabeth Jane Steele (how apropos her name) was our master of ceremonies at all of these mini-events. How did she manage to be everywhere? Though, obviously, no one does such coordinating singlehandedly and Eastern PA had a great pack of volunteers.

Jan Fergus, whom I had met in Montreal in the summer (giving an early version of this plenary speech), spoke on “‘Rivalry, Treacherybetween Sisters!’: Tensions between Brothers and Sisters in Austen’s Novels”. Poor Jan had injuried herself only a few weeks earlier, so she had to deliver her talk sitting down. We wish her a speedy recovery…

Break-out Sessions began at 3:15 – my session was Kathleen Anderson‘s “‘A Most Beloved Sister: The Influence of Sisterly Love on Romantic Relationships in Austen’s Novels”.

Little did I realize at the time, but the next speaker sat in the audience; they teach at the same Florida university. This was the 4:30 break-out session by Susan Jones on “‘My Brother was an Only Child”: Onlies and Lonelies in Jane Austen’s World of Brotherly Love”. As an only child, how could I not attend such a lecture??? Though the more informative proved to be Jones’ thoughts on the ‘lonelies’ in Austen (ie, Mary Bennet).

After a long afternoon on some rather uncomfortable chairs and hours of being talked at and lectured, I nipped back to the hotel room for some rest and hopes of less-intense headache.

Saturday brought a brighter day: it closed with the most interesting lecture of the entire AGM.

Carol and I joined AGMers for a lovely continental breakfast at the Sheraton Society Hill (the conference hotel), meeting JASNA members from as far away as California as well as closer-to-home Boston. One enthusiastic Boston member hadn’t read my last Persuasions article, but was absolutely thrilled that a non-professor actually gives Austen-related lectures and she just loved the idea of my combining Jane Austen with Abigail Adams. We all need a little encouragement from time to time…

Maggie Lane’s plenary talk opened today events (9:30). I had hoped on finding her Austens through Five Generations book at the Boutique – but nope… And more on books later.

Maggie Lane‘s “Brothers of the More Famous Jane: the Literary Aspirations, Achievements and Influence of James and Henry Austen” was right up my alley. In my research, these two brothers are on the fringe: James being the father of James-Edward Austen (my Emma’s eventual husband) and Henry having his stint as a banker — though, in conversation with Maggie Lane after her talk (I got her autograph!), she had never heard of the banking firm Goslings and Sharpe (but she did give me the name of someone who’s looked into Henry’s life as banker).

When the Break-out sessions began at 11:00 I had a good seat for one of the best presentations, “The Bingley Sisters Advise their Brother Charles” – the sisters played by sisters-in-law Liz Philosophos Cooper and Molly Philosophos. Although instructive to the audience, in words and PowerPoint pictures, I must confess that their talk’s title made me envision a different lecture. However, as a performance piece, with pointed humor pulled from what must be their favorite P&P (the 1995 Ehle/Firth production), simply brimming with information on Regency life and delightful visuals, the Bingleys provided a highpoint for an entertaining lecture.

The after lunch events began promptly at 1:00 – Lisa Brown‘s entertaining, enlightening and informative “Dressing Mr Darcy”, a fashion demonstration. Saying that she usually passed around the articles of clothing to an audience more in the range of 15 people, Ms Brown solved her problem by finding volunteer models. Oh the howls that came from the audience when they were told they ‘mustn’t touch the models’! One wished the runway was less “down the middle” (in such a large crowd it was difficult to see), but a few times the models took it upon themselves to stroll down side aisles, thereby giving those on the sides a chance to see what was being discussed – whether it was frills on shirts or the heft of an all-linen coat. The most enthusiastic model – the only Miss Darcy in the group – was simply a delight, and gave me the idea to dress in male clothing should I ever wish to go in costume (how much more comfortable!). BTW, Lisa, I will sooner or later get to emailing you about your handouts, as well as that letter reference to a “pudding”…

The next plenary speaker, Ruth Perry on “Brotherly Love”, followed on the heels of this memorable demonstration. Her concept focussed on Consanguinal versus Conjugal family, and how the trend changed more and more towards the conjugal over the nineteenth century. Quite useful for my research.

The 3 o’clock hour brought the last Break-out, and my session had been originally called “‘Brother and sister! No, indeed!’ From Friendship to Courtship in the Novels of Jane Austen”. Nora Stovel, however, informed her audience that the talk had taken a bit of a turn; while the opening Emma quote still retained its place in the title, the rest of it changed to “From Siblings to Suitors” and looked at pseudo-siblings (ie, Edmund) or paternalistic men (Darcy, Knightly) who end by courting. I had hoped for some insight on why Charles Smith (Emma’s brother) might have turned to a woman he’d grown up with after the death of his first wife. Alas… when late changes are made… the audience is the last to know.

I then made a quick dash across the hotel to the actual Annual General Meeting – a far smaller crowd! And at only a half-an-hour, business was quickly gotten through: new officers were named, including incoming President Iris Lutz — who was on hand as VP for Regions when our Vermont Chapter was first forming! It will be a pleasure to welcome her as President next year. Americans were prompted booted out so the Canadians could have their meeting; I darted back to my hotel room to change for the banquet – thereby missing the Author’s book signing. BUT: I had my signatures…

At Maggie Lane’s plenary talk, she was greeted by Freydis Welland – daughter of Joan Austen-Leigh and one of the movers behind the book A Life in the Country which shows off the silhouettes Edward Austen-Leigh cut for his young children in the 1830s. I had missed talking to Mrs Welland in obtaining Ms Lane’s signature in this book – but guess who showed up as a guest in the audience for the Bingley sisters!? I made bold and introduced myself afterwards; Mrs Welland was kindness itself – and even said she may have illustrations for my next article (though it may be harder to illustrate an article based on Emma’s cousins Lord and Lady Compton…unless she had more “shades” in her collection than I dare hope!). Likewise, on Friday I had introduced myself to Susan Allen Ford (after her talk, which I had not been able to attend); she is the hard-working editor of Persuasions, and is very complimentary of my work–especially “Derbyshires Corresponding,” which appeared in the last issue and appears online at

At the banquet I sat between Carol and a woman from close-by PA. The volume of chatter in a room with 600 persons meant I only got a few words with the Southern woman sitting beside Carol and none at all really with those a mile away at the other half of the table! A bit of a squeeze (I suspect tables were more for parties of six?), but a delicious vegetarian ravioli. Tea came too late for me to want to imbibe and risk being awake all night. (My hotel room nestled between two highways and a major bridge to New Jersey meant I got about as much sleep as I manage at home being next to a highway and way too close to a ‘new and improved’ airport…) And wouldn’t you have thought a nice cup of tea just the thing at a Jane Austen convention – yet all participants were ever offered in the Break-out sessions was ice water.

After watching the promenade of Costumed participants (though I’m sure a few had on street clothes, just like me), I got a good seat for what turned out to be the most enlightening – and original – talk of the entire AGM: Janine Barchas on “The Sisterly Art of Painting and Jane Austen”. She opened with a litany of names – Wentworths, Elliots, etc. who had connections one with another in REAL life; she’s obviously been performing the feats of a true genealogist in tracing these connections. Needless to say, she had my full attention. But when she brought up names of artists – for we all know the well-conceived idea that in Mrs Reynolds (Pemberley’s housekeeper) Austen nodded at Sir Joshua Reynolds – who perhaps also appear in the naming of minor and not so minor characters, I was astonished: such an avenue of original, thought-provoking research! Janine is another one I promised to email, for Reynolds too portrayed portraits within portraits, as in his picture of Lady Cunliffe who wears her husband’s portrait on her wrist.

Needless to say, after this stimulation, even without cups of tea, I was wide awake half the night… As well I was looking foward to tomorrow’s Boutique and the books I had scoped out earlier.

Sunday opened with a quick breakfast and then off to the Regional Coordinators’ meeting. This was a stimulating session – meeting some who were old hands at being their region’s RC, while others were quite new to the position. Again, a wish for more time… An AGM goes so quickly (though some of the talks were a bit over long, especially when you sit on the same stackable chairs for days on end).

Breakfast brought a hello, come join us from Peter Sabor and his wife. I had first met Peter over email – he was in Surrey not far from where the Goslings lived – then met him in person at last December’s Jane Austen Birthday celebration in Montreal (he was their guest speaker).

The last speaker of the 2009 AGM, John Mullen, closed with his thoughts on “Sisterly Chat” – which brought up the remarkable ‘find’ that a Basingstoke furniture company had sold the Austens two beds, ie, for Cassandra and Jane; what things turn up in historical records, huh?!

The ‘promotions’, as announced in the program, proved to be promoting the next couple AGM regions with ‘invitations’ for the audience to come and join them. Poor Portland, Ore. had a hard act to follow (although they host the next, 2010, AGM on Northanger Abbey) when Fort Worth brought out two well-spoken gents and two musical cowboys and offered up Sense and Sensibility‘s 200th anniversary AGM. By the way, it was announced at the General Meeting that Pride and Prejudice‘s 200th anniversary (the 2013 AGM) was awarded to Minneapolis!

And I leave the AGM (and all this typing…) with their song, which still has my toes tapping. The tune is “Home on the Range” but the piece is entitled “Homeless on the Page“:


Oh give us a home,
Where Marianne roams,
And Colonel Brandon can visit all day
Where the rent is quite low,
And Fanny won’t go,
And London is not far away

Norland was entailed away,
Then Willoughby left for Miss Gray,
Lucy Steele gets a spouse,
But she’s still quite a louse,
Elinor is pragmatic all day

Come to Fort Worth and see,
A toast to Sense and Sensibility
There’s museums galore,
Teas, gardens, and tours,
And you can win the Texas Hold ’em Trophy

So in two thousand eleven,
Come to Texas, it’s heaven,
We will talk of Jane Austen all day

Learn the Two Step and Glide,
There’s a bull you can ride,
Or just chit-chat with Deirdre LeFaye

Oh give us a home on the range!!!!!!!

Singing cowboys: Leo Sherlock (Woody – Hank Dashwood) and Brian Keeler ( Willy – Johnny Willoughby); hear Leo’s band Mile 77 at
Lyrics by: Uncle Lenny, Craig, Cheryl, and Kathy 

[Posted by Kelly]

Jane Austen in Philadelphia ~ the JASNA 2009 AGM ~ Part 2

AGM 2009 banner

Ok, here I go again…. [please note that due to a computer / camera glitch, all my pictures of the AGM which I was to include in this post, i.e the “Darcy” models, the Regency Ball fashionistas, etc. will not be on here at present – still working on this, but lack the time and patience to be honest! – will post them separately when I can…] 

Day 3:  Up for a continental breakfast, another Regency Emporium visit… then on to the next Plenary speaker, the always delightful Maggie Lane ~ “Brothers of the more Famous Jane:  the Literary Aspirations, Achievements and Influences of James and Henry Austen”.   As the emphasis is often on Austen’s brothers Francis and Charles and their naval world, Lane spoke only here on the professional and literary brothers, Henry, often considered Jane’s favorite brother, and James, who she thinks is in need of a reassessment. It is James, she says, who wrote the majority of the essays in his and Henry’s publication “The Loiterer” [Lane also posits here that the “Sofia Sentiment” letter is NOT by Jane – more on this in another post…] – and James who wrote plays and poetry throughout his life, and it was James with whom Jane shared a similar taste in literature.  Austen’s one negative comment about him [and the only negative comment about a family member] has perhaps been over-credited as her general view.  Lane goes on to compare James to Austen’s characters:  in youth, like Edmund Bertram; in later life, Dr. Grant!, and the use of the name “James” in two of her characters, James Morland and James Benwick, both young men who fell in love easily, a trait attributed to James Austen in his youth. 

Henry Austen, [Oh! what a Henry!] the brother who had a lot of enthusiasm [but often of the short-term variety!], is credited with being the chief negotiator with Austen’s first publisher Thomas Egerton, and likely helped to fund her publications.  He was the “interesting” brother, the one who married his “outlandish” cousin Eliza de Feuillide, the one who is likely the model for Henry Tilney, as well as Henry Crawford!  But Lane also gave us the side of Henry that resulted in the Biographical notice of Austen that began the “Dear Jane” view that persists today – Henry puffed up their social standing, and in the second edition added more religious references and removed the literary mentions of Burney and Edgeworth.  Lane also believes it was Henry’s ambition that resulted in Austen being buried in Winchester Cathedral rather than her beloved Steventon. In the end however, the immortality of both brothers “is only due to Austen’s genius.”

 On to the next two breakouts, and again a struggle to choose, but I decided on Peter Sabor’s “Brothers and Sisters for Brothers and Sisters:  Jane Austen’s Juvenilia, a wonderful discussion of the various dedications written by Austen to her siblings in her juvenile works.  This was very informative and enjoyable, Dr. Sabor being an energetic and engaging speaker, with all sorts of tidbits about Austen’s early works [he is the editor of the Cambridge edition of the Juvenilia].  As I have been reading through these works over the past few months [with much laughing out loud in the process!], this offered a different approach to the works based on her dedications, what Sabor feels were very thoughtful choices on Austen’s part.  As most readers of Austen know, none of her novels bear dedications, excepting of course Emma, where her over-wrought dedication to the Prince Regent was not of her own choosing!

After lunch, a quick pop-in to Lisa Brown’s fun fashion demonstration “Dressing Mr. Darcy” ~ with most excellent and accommodating models, walking the “runway” in all manner of Regency fashions for the men of consequence and their military counterparts.  [pictures forthcoming…]

The third Plenary session with Dr. Ruth Perry who eloquently spoke on the topic of the weekend, “Brotherly Love.”  The author of Novel Relations:  the History of the Novel and the Family in English Society 1750-1810, [and speaker at the Boston 2000 AGM on “Sleeping with Mr. Collins” for those who recall that!], Dr. Perry summarized how the changes in English society changed the view and treatment of women within the family:  as Susan Allen Ford in her session [as mentioned above] suggested, class mobility and geographical movement, changes in marriage choices, the inheritance laws, the increase in population, all led to changes in what was considered the immediate family – emphasis shifted to the conjugal family rather than the biological.  This is apparent in Austen’s own life with her dependence on her brothers’ voluntary support and provision of means of travel, when their priority was their own families.   Perry also emphasizes the literary / historical as well as the biological influences on Austen in her writings, and how good brothers = good husbands:  in Northanger Abbey, Henry Tilney as affectionate brother and lover of muslin; John Thorpe shows his character by the way he talks to his sister and mother; Captain Tilney chafes at family responsibility; James Morland a good brother and friend to Catherine;   the various brother and sister ties in Mansfield Park – Edmund combines the conjugal and fraternal but is inattentive to his sisters [perhaps because there are two of them? – this is a good question…]; the selfish Henry Crawford, fond of Mary, but does not write to her or provide her with a home; Mr. Knightley who speaks of Mr. Martin as an excellent son and brother; Charles Musgrove, who tellingly supports his sisters over his wife; the housekeeper’s praise of Mr. Darcy as a good brother… etc. … lots to mine here as you can see – the need to re-read each book to just look at the brothers and what they do and say and what they don’t!

book cover my dear charlotte

Last breakout session – Jan Fergus on “My Dear Charlotte” the new book by mystery writer Hazel Holt.  I wanted to hear Dr. Fergus’s talk because I had just read the book and was intrigued by it – it is a novel set in the early 19th century written in letters, like Austen’s Lady Susan, but Holt uses selected words or sentences or ideas from the text of Austen’s actual letters and weaves in Austen’s words with her own story.  It is a fun read [I will review it in another post] – and what Fergus calls the “only successful imitation of Austen” on the market today.  The plot does not come from Austen, only those words taken out of context that fit into Holt’s story – at once a mystery and a romance.  Fergus is a friend of Holt, and after her talk she graciously made herself available in the Regency Emporium to offer the book with signed bookplates for sale.  I highly recommend it – the most fun is the ferreting out Austen’s words from Holt’s – it helps to be very familiar with Austen’s letters!


dancing longways rowlandson

 The Banquet and Regency Ball: after a few moments at the author’s book signing table, on to a delicious dinner to meet old and new friends at our table, watched the promenade of those regally dressed, and took some pictures for your viewing enjoyment [all photographs shown with permission of the subjects! – and will be forthcoming…]


And after watching the dancers for a bit, I wandered into the evening talk I unfortunately only heard the last two-thirds:  Dr. Janine Barchas on “The Sister Arts and Jane Austen”, a fascinating visual exploration of the surnames and places that Austen uses in her novels and the possible connection to contemporary artists:  Reynolds, William Hodges, William Larkin, and Charles Hayter’s miniatures.  It was a packed, standing room only crowd for those non-English Country Dancers among us [though I do so love to dance!] – and all were entranced with this take on names in Austen.  [Dr. Barchas will be presenting an address titled “A Big Name: Jane Austen and the Wentworths” at the August 2010 conference Jacobites and Tories, Whigs and True Whigs: Political Gardening in Britain c.1700 – c.1760, to be held at Wentworth Castle, given by the Wentworth Castle Trust and The Garden History Society.]

Charles hayter minitature

[Charles Hayter miniature – from Wikipedia]

Day 4:  After some housekeeping duties for the Regional Coordinators [a great meeting for sharing ideas, as always…but alas! missed the Episcopal Church Service at the historic Christ Church], we all gathered for the final Plenary session with John Mullan as he addressed us all on “Sisterly Chat” – a wonderfully engaging and humorous talk that will yet again send one back to all the novels for a re-read with a view to all the goings-on between sisters!  The sister relationship was paramount in Austen’s own life and thus in the novels; there is indeed more “chat” between sisters than between lovers.  Mullan is talking about the intimate talk between sisters when they are alone in a special place – the films show this visually, but in the books you have to look for it closely.  He reviewed the controversy from a few years back – “Was Jane Austen Gay?” complete with the newspaper articles and letters, the question hinging on the sleeping arrangements between she and Cassandra – Mullan quoted the final letter in the months-long submissions of raging letters which referenced the furniture company records that proved that Jane and Cassandra did indeed have separate beds!  But all this led to the many examples of the various sisters in the novels and how and where they do or do NOT share confidences.  And after quoting Keats’s “unheard talk”, Mullan runs through the examples of the talk that takes place off-stage, where the reader is “invited to infer what has been said”, with nods to Fanny [his favorite parts of Mansfield Park are when Fanny is not there!], the sisters Steele in what he calls their “mutual espionage” and of course can you imagine the chat between the Bingley sisters who are “always together, almost ganging up” on all around them!  This was fabulous – I hope it will be published in Persuasions, so all may enjoy this fresh approach!

bingley sisters

The Bingleys in P&P

So another AGM is done – I have skimmed over a lot – there were the essays by high school and college students, and the winning short story in that contest [see the JASNA site to read these – very inspiring to see another generation making room for Austen’s books in their lives!]; Steve Lawrence, the Director of Chawton House Library quickly summarized all the goings-on and handed out hearty thanks to all of JASNA for the generosity of so many members. 

The JASNA banner was then dutifully passed on to the coordinators in the  Oregon / Southwest Washington Chapter who will be hosting next year’s AGM:  Jane Austen and the Abbey:  Mystery, Mayhem and Muslin in Portland on the Halloween weekend of October 29-31.  We were also given a delightful treat by the North Texas Region, who will be hosting us in October 14-16, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas for  200 Sense & Sensibility, celebrating the 200th anniversary of its publication –  two very cute cowboys [and they could sing too!], who to the tune of “Home on the Range” gave us a good sampling of how terrific this 2011 AGM will be [“chatting with Deirdre Le Faye” brought the house down!]  

Final thanks to Elizabeth Jane Steele and her team at the Eastern Pennsylvania JASNA Chapter, who put on a lovely weekend – no words really to thank all the volunteers who have spent countless hours in preparation, just so a very appreciative crowd of Austen-obsessed souls could spend four days in the early nineteenth century! – I know this Janeite is still having troubling re-entering the 21st!

[Posted by Deb]

In such good company as this ~ the 2009 AGM!

The 2009 JASNA AGM ~  
Jane Austen’s Brothers and Sisters in the City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia October 9-11, 2009

 AGM 2009 banner

The best-laid plans of course often go astray – so my hopes to do a close analysis of everything going on the 2009 AGM have been sadly reduced to a mild wish to present a quick summary… so here goes… 

The Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of JASNA has indeed put on a lovely event – the City of Brotherly Love opened its wide arms for all 550 of us obsessed Janeites, offering great tours, excellent hospitality, lively and elegant evenings, and fabulous sessions filled with all things Jane.  I always upon returning home have the worst time re-entering the 21st century – and this time more than ever.  And time spent with my best-AGM and travel buddy Sara, just adds to the treat … and this year the special treat of JASNA-Vermont friends Kelly and Carol…

 Day 1:  A tour of Winterthur on the Thursday, one of my favorite places through books only, was a living reality of the beauties of home and garden, what one man with a lot of money was been able to preserve for future generations.  I discovered that Electra Havemeyer Webb, the founder of the Shelburne Museum here in Vermont and one of the first collectors of American art and decorative arts, was the inspiration behind Henry du Pont’s veering away from the popular collecting of European antiques toward acquiring Americana.  It was a lovely day and a wonderful way to start that entry into the late 18th-century the rest of the weekend promised!  [only downside: I missed the talks on writing and Wedgwood.]



Thursday evening ~ “Elizabeth Garvie in Conversation with Dr. Elisabeth Lenckos” was a special offering this year and began with a short clip of the first proposal scene in the 1980 Pride & Prejudice.  Ms. Garvie, who most everyone knows as Elizabeth Bennet in that adaptation, and now an active patron of the Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, charmed the audience with her engaging and honest responses to Dr. Lenckos’s questions: the realities of filming a television production in the late seventies; how she portrayed a sister with four sister siblings without any of her own [she had a mother with FIVE sisters!]; a few comments on deleted scenes [falling off the log during that outdoor reading of Darcy’s letter…]; how each new P&P adaptation has something to offer each new generation with a reinterpretation of Austen [though she didn’t like the pig in the 2005 movie either!]  She ended the talk with a very humorous reading from one of Austen’s juvenilia pieces, “The Three Sisters.”



Day 2:  Had breakfast with several Austen-L / Janeites participants [though I have been only a lurker for years!] – and ended up having a rousing discussion on Georgette Heyer!

An early visit to the Regency Emporium always ends with too many books and items that add to the weight of my suitcase [and those flying rules now are intimidating – even Austen cannot impel me to go over that 50lb limit!] – thankfully Jane Austen Books where I spent most of my time [and money] sends everything media mail after the conference, so I just set up a running account of sorts – almost guilt-free ~ and shopped happily away… The Emporium is great fun to catch up with many of the other regions, Chawton House Library [director Steve Lawrence was there], Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine [with editor Tim Bullamore], Austentation [two tables filled with regency accessories!] and a few other vendors with Austen-related goodies ~ I went back many times over the course of the conference…

 Off to a talk on tea by Mim Enck from the East Indies Company – and learned how to make the perfect “cuppa”…  and then a talk with visuals by Louise West, from the Jane Austen’s House Museum, on the exciting new addition to Chawton Cottage, the dreams, the funding, and the lovely reality.  The grand opening was in July – if you have been to Chawton, but not since this work was done, put it on your next Austen trip itinerary!

chawton cottage


Marsha Huff, current JASNA President, welcomed all to the first official gathering, giving over the podium to our very own Vermont member Lorraine Hanaway [who was there for the founding of JASNA in 1978] who introduced the first Plenary speaker, Jan Fergus.  I love Dr. Fergus’s talks  – she inspired a whole new way of looking at Austen in her “The Whinnying of Harpies”? Humor in Jane Austen’s Letters” [Persuasions 27 (2005)] and has continued to regale her audiences with the humor of Austen’s whines ever since!  Today she spoke on “’Rivalry, Treachery between sisters!’ Tensions between Brothers and Sisters in Austen’s Novels” –  and the various ways in which Austen’s fictional siblings either love and support or compete with one another. Some of this thinking is based on the conduct books of the 18th-century, but also the reader must have awareness of the problems that arose between siblings due to the inheritance laws of the time.  Fergus showed by example Austen’s use of humor as a form of criticism between characters and how a sense of humor or lack thereof is an important gauge in understanding Austen’s characters:  i.e Marianne lacks humor and openness, thus her lack of understanding Elinor’s humor causes friction between them; Mr. Woodhouse has no sense of humor, just doesn’t get it!; and finally an emphasis on Elizabeth and Jane and how their different personalities and use of humor causes an undercurrent of almost comic aggression on Elizabeth’s part.  I liked this differing view of Elizabeth, not so perfect but with a tendency toward jealousy…


One of the problems in the AGM is choosing between the breakout sessions – so much to hear, so many speakers – whichever one you choose leaves you knowing that you are, regardless of how great your chosen session might be, missing so much else.  One can only hope that many of the talks you miss will be in the next issue of Persuasions.  I am a voluminous note-taker – but alas! none of my friends are, so after a full day of events and all things Austen being bandied about, one is lucky to get a few intelligible sentences about a missed session – I know if I didn’t take notes, I would have trouble piecing this all together – and indeed even my notes leave me stupefied occasionally! – so I can only present a few thoughts of the four sessions I did go to, knowing full well I am only scratching the surface of the possibilities…

I went to hear Jocelyn Harris, author of ….Jane Austen’s Art of Memory and A Revolution Almost Beyond Expression:  Jane Austen’s ‘Persusaion’, who spoke on “Jane Austen:  Frances Burney’s Younger Sister”.  Harris’s emphasis is to move away from the biological interpretation of Austen toward an historical one, Austen being very connected to her historical and literary references.  In Persuasion, Austen shows her knowledge of the Navy, Nelson and the Napoleonic Wars, but Harris also shows how the two cancelled chapters of Persuasion are steeped in Frances Burney’s The Wanderer.  I confess to having read several books by and about Burney, but The Wanderer has sat upon my TBR pile for many a year, never opened, largely due to the negative contemporary reviews and all those succeeding.  But Dr. Harris has inspired me to finally pick it up, though she says herself it will be a bit of a “slog” – a perfect winter read perhaps…?


Then on to Susan Allen Ford’s “’Exactly what a brother should be’? The Failures of Brotherly Love”:  Again, with an emphasis on the contemporary conduct literature [and with a very helpful handout with bibliography and selected paragraphs], Ford reviews the examples of fraternal love in the various novels in the context of the time – issues of inheritance, personality differences, the role of women and the emphasis on them as daughters and mothers rather than sisters, the economic realities of the sister’s lives.  And while she says that “the fraternal role is difficult to define in Austen because the characters as brothers are not often in the foreground”, it was an interesting discussion on their varying degrees of success and failure:  John Dashwood as a brother [yikes!]; the parallels between Edward and Robert Ferrars; Tom Bertram, the prodigal son; the jealousy between Darcy and Wickham, but Darcy’s anxiety and his overriding concern to be a good brother; James Morland as a good brother who wrongly throws his sister into the hands of the Thorpes [yikes again!]; and Edmund, brother / lover who neglects Fanny once Mary appears on the scene [this is when one audience member graciously invited everyone to join the SLEUTH club = “SLap Edmund Upside The Head” – there were many joiners on the spot!] ~ Dr. Ford’s choices? – Edmund the biggest failure [he indeed has NO relationship with his sisters], and most successful? [drum-roll please!] HENRY TILNEY [Mags are you listening??] – and I couldn’t agree more! [love the Henry!] – but an interesting question – who would yours be??

 Then off to dinner with Sara and friends of hers who live in Philadelphia for a few short hours back in the 21st century – we went to an Israeli restaurant right across from the hotel [ Zahav ] and one of the best meals I have had in a good while – even the wine from the Golem Heights was superb!

Up tomorrow – Day 3 and 4…. meanwhile post a comment on your choice for the best and worst brother in Austen…

News from Chawton House Library and “The Female Spectator” ~

My mailbox gives such pleasure most days! – I have been away for the past week, but before leaving I received the latest issue of The Female Spectator [Vol. 13, No. 3, Summer 2009], published by the Chawton House Library and thus have a few things of interest to share with you….

1.  “Reprinting the Domestic:  New Publications from the Chawton Collection” –

book cover compleat housewife

The Chawton House Library has published the first in its projected series of reprints of books in their collection on women’s lives in the long eighteenth century – cookery books, guides on how to manage domestic servants, how to dress and educate one’s children, instructions on behavior and self-improvement:  Elizabeth Smith’s The Compleat Housewife, originally published in 1753, is now available for purchase for £18 [+ shipping], by visiting the Library’s new online shop at

The next title in the series is James Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, the reading of which made the Bennet sisters cringe, though it may have been the reader [Mr. Collins] rather than the content?…  can’t wait for this one…

2.  Gillian Dow’s introduction to the July 2009 conference at the Chawton House Library on “New Directions in Austen Studies” is included in the newsletter with the news that selected papers from the conference will be published in a special issue of Persuasions On-Line in Spring 2010.  This is great news for those of us who could not attend the conference!

3.  An article on Frances Brooke, an English writer living in Canada from 1763-1768, by Richard J. Lane.  Brooke wrote her novel The History of Emily Montague [1769] during her Canadian stay and it has been considered the first Canadian novel due to its commentary on social life in Quebec at that time.  Lane contends that her writings deserve a reassessment.

4.  another article “Jane Austen’s Bad Girl: ‘The Beautiful Cassandra’ vs the Conduct Books” by Olivia Murphy.  Murphy writes that Austen’s juvenile work The Beautiful Cassandra [from Volume the First] was an explicit reaction to the conduct books of the late eighteenth century – i.e Cassandra in her “day well spent” engaged in all manner of “bad” behaviors for young ladies.  But such a day! [if you haven’t read this, do so now – it is Austen at her very best!]


The Female Spectator is the quarterly newsletter of Chawton House Library.  You can subscribe by sending a donation to the Library [£55 annual membership] or to the North American Friends of Chawton House Library [starting donation is $50.] – see the website for more information.  It is a worthy cause – and one of the perks is this newsletter showing up in your mailbox!

[Posted by Deb]