Some Austen Adventures befitting a Heroine ~

If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad….  

 [Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey]

The holidays and Jane Austen’s birthday! – lots going on – so I offer you a sampling of what’s happening in the New England area [to include New York and New Jersey!], starting with JASNA-Vermont’s very own Annual Birthday Tea next Sunday:

6 December 2009: 2-5 pm

Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea!

Prof. Philip Baruth * (University of Vermont)
“Badly Done Indeed: In Which Austen’s Mr. Knightley is Revealed to be a Whimsical and Emotional Teen Basket-Case”

Featuring ~

~ English Afternoon Tea ~
~ Classical Harpist Rebecca Kauffman **~
~ Gift Emporium with Local Artisan Crafts & Austen related Books ~

Place: Champlain College, Hauke Family Campus Center (375 Maple St.), Burlington 
$15./ person / $5. / student
Please register by sending in the JASNA December 2009 dec tea reserve form or leave a comment below

JASNA December 2009 flyer– please let your friends know / post this in your place of work or anywhere else to encourage attendance!

Philip Baruth

Philip Baruth is a Professor of English at the University of Vermont specializing in eighteenth-century British literature.  He is also a novelist and an award-winning commentator for Vermont Public Radio.  His most recent novel, The Brothers Boswell (Soho, 2009), is a literary thriller set in eighteenth-century London.  It follows James Boswell and Samuel Johnson as they are stalked about the city by Boswell’s jealous and mad younger brother, John.  And just recently, Philip stopped writing commentary in order to run for the State Senate from Chittenden County.  His campaign website is; his blog is Vermont Daily Briefing.

**We are honored to have Rebecca Kauffman join us for this year’s Tea! She is currently principal harpist for the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Harrisburg, PA, a position she has held for 29 years. She is also the second harpist with the Reading Symphony Orchestra, Reading, PA, and the former principal harpist with the Lancaster and York Symphony Orchestras, both in Pennsylvania. Rebecca has appeared as the featured soloist on numerous occasions with the Harrisburg and York Symphonies, the Millersville University-Community Orchestra, the Hershey Symphony, the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra in Ithaca, NY, and the Lancaster Chamber Ensemble. She has also performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Kennett Square Orchestra, Vermont Symphony Orchestra and the Binghamton NY Philharmonic. She has appeared in concert with a wide variety of concert artists.   For more information, please visit her website at


Coming in January to Hyde Park, Vermont:

Jane Austen Weekends
The Governor’s House in Hyde Park

100 Main Street
Hyde Park, Vermont 

Friday – Sunday, January 8 – 10, 2010 
Pride and Prejudice
Friday evening talk: The Naive Art of Georgiana Darcy
with Kelly McDonald

Friday – Sunday, January 29 – 31, 2010
Sense and Sensibility
Friday evening talk: Making Sense of the Regency World
with Suzanne Boden & Deb Barnum

Visit the wesbite for more information at One Hundred


Now for goings-on everywhere else:


Jane Austen Society of North America- Massachusetts Region
Sunday, Dec. 13th, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Wheelock College, Brookline Campus
43 Hawes Street, Brookline, Mass.

 Celebrating Jane Austen’s Birthday 
Join us as we celebrate the birthday of “our Jane”!
We will enjoy light refreshments, including a birthday toast, and entertainment by the JASNA Massachusetts Players.  

Cost is $20 per person ($15 for JASNA Massachusetts members*). Please R.S.V.P. by Tuesday, December 8th  

Wheelock College’s Brookline campus is easily accessible. By subway, take the Green “C” line to Hawes Street or Green “D” line to Longwood. See reverse for driving directions. Additional driving and subway info:


Gore Place, in Waltham, MA, announces its Annual Holiday Tea and Tour with a special theme The Art of Romance in the Austen Era on Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12 and 19. Seatings are at 1 and 3pm. Admission is $40/pp tour included. For details, please visit their website at:

December 4, 5, 11, 12 & 19Seatings at 1 & 3pm$40 per person, $35 Gore Place members.
Advanced tickets required, call: (781) 894-2798includes special themed tour
The Art of Romance in the Austen Era  Join us for our annual
Holiday Tea
a wonderful way to ring in the season! Enjoy a traditional English tea of scones, savory tea sandwiches and assorted sweets all served in the Great Hall and Withdrawing Room of the beautiful 1806 Governor Gore Mansion. After your tea, enjoy a special tour entitled:
The Art of Romance in the Austen EraLed by a guide in period dress, you will view sumptuous rooms and hear tales of romance in Austen’s time. The tour is included in your Holiday Tea & Tour admission.Tickets must be purchased at least one week in advance.
To purchase tickets, please call (781) 894-2798. Group rates available.
52 Gore Street
Waltham Massachusetts 02453-6866
voice: (781) 894-2798 • fax: (781) 894-5745 • E-mail:
copyright 1999-2009 Gore Place Society
Gore Place is an historic house of the Federal period.


NEW YORK:  JASNA-New York Metropolitan Region 

[Please note that this event is sold out – to be put on a waiting list, please go to their website at for information]

Birthday Regional Meeting Saturday December 5, 2009  2:00 p.m.
At the Midtown Executive Club
40 West 45th Street, NYC 

Dr. Cheryl Kinney will explore the treatment of women’s illnesses in Regency England, including childbirth, infectious disease, and venereal disease.  We will learn who provided health care in the early 1800s in England and the treatments available.  Dr. Kinney will also discuss sickness and health in Austen’s novels.


JASNA-NY is fortunate to have The Morgan Library & Museum right in their midst! 

The JASNA-NY Metro Region has a number of special events coming up in conjunction with the Jane Austen exhibit at the Morgan. The Region has been working with the Morgan education department to develop some of these programs (see below for details). [In case you have been living in a bubble for the past few months, visit the Morgan Library & Museum website for information on this exhibit!] 

In addition, JASNA-NY is co-sponsoring two events: A preview of the new Masterpiece Classic’s Emma and a panel discussion “From Gothic to Graphic”  [see below]

All programs will be held at The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, NYC 

For tickets to the public programs: visit  for online ticketing.

And if you are unable to trek to NYC, you can see portions of the exhibit online here!


At the Morgan:  A Woman’s Wit:  Jane Austen’s Life & Legacy
November 6, 2009 – March 14, 2010

Public Programs: you must register with The Morgan directly

Gallery Talks: 

Friday, February 26, 7 pm
A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy
Clara Drummond, Assistant Curator, Literary and Historical Manuscripts, The Morgan Library & Museum 

Lectures and Discussions:

 1.  A preview of MASTERPIECE Classic’s Emma with Rebecca Eaton

January 20, 2010 [Wednesday]  6:30 PM* 

Join MASTERPIECE executive producer Rebecca Eaton for a sneak preview of scenes from the new four-hour adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, starring Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller, and Michael Gambon. Emma will be broadcast on three Sundays beginning January 24, 2010 on PBS/Thirteen ( This event is cosponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North America, New York (JASNA-NY). 

Tickets: Tickets are free. For advance reservations call 212.685.0008, ext. 560, or email

2.  From Gothic to Graphic: Adapting Jane Austen Novels

January 26, 2010 [Tuesday] 6:30 PM* 

Jane Austen’s works continue to inspire new generations of writers working in popular literary genres. In a lively presentation, authors of recently published books discuss their unique twist on Austen with Juliette Wells, Manhattanville College. Participants include Ben Winters and Jason Rekulak (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters), Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway (Lady Vernon and Her Daughter), and Nancy Butler (Pride and Prejudice graphic novel).  This program is cosponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North America, New York ( JASNA-NY).

Tickets: $15 for Non-Members; $10 for Morgan and JASNA-NY Members

 *The exhibition A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy will be open at 5:30 pm especially for program attendees.

 3.  Reading Jane Austen, with Patrice Hannon 

Wednesday, January 27, 3-4:30 pm: Pride and Prejudice
Wednesday, February 10, 3-4:30 pm: Emma
Wednesday, February 24, 3-4:30 pm: Persuasion 

Patrice Hannon, author of Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s Guide to Life and Love and 101 Things You Didn’t Know About Jane Austen, leads a reading group on three of Austen’s most beloved novels. The group will closely examine the texts of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion, paying particular attention to matters of style.  Sessions will take place in the historic family rooms of the nineteenth-century Morgan House. The group will be reading from the Penguin Classics edition of the novels. Light refreshments will be provided. Advance tickets are recommended as space is limited.  Patrice is also a JASNA-NY member. 

Tickets (3 sessions): $45 for Non-Members; $35 for Members


1.  Jane Austen on Screen:

To coincide with the exhibition A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy, the Morgan is screening two acclaimed cinematic adaptations of Austen’s literary masterpieces. 

Sunday, January 24, 2 pm  Pride and Prejudice  
(1940, 118 minutes)
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
All the wit and wisdom of Jane Austen’s popular comedy of manners is vibrantly brought to life in this classic film adaptation starring Greer Garson as the spirited Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Olivier as the arrogant and dashing Mr. Darcy.

 Friday, February 12, 7 pm  Sense and Sensibility
(1995, 135 minutes)
Director: Ang Lee
Emma Thompson received an Academy Award for the screenplay of Ang Lee’s feature adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel about two sisters-pragmatic, ironic, Elinor (Thompson) and passionate, willful Marianne (Kate Winslet)-and their struggle to find romantic happiness in a society obsessed with financial and social stature.  Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars), Alan Rickman (Col. Christopher Brandon), and Greg Wise (John Willoughby) round out the superb cast. 

Films are free with museum admission. Tickets are available at the Admission Desk on the day of the screening. Advance reservations for Morgan Members only: 212.685.0008, ext. 560, or

 Music and Dance: 

Friday, March 12, 7-8:30 pm   Dancing with Darcy

To celebrate the final weekend of A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy travel back to Regency England for an evening of period music and dancing in the Morgan’s elegant Gilbert Court. Join Beverly Francis and Country Dance * New York for an English country dance demonstration, audience participation, and live music.  Free.

Family Programs: 

1.  Sunday, December 6, 2-5 pm   Winter Family Day Celebration
Join us for our annual family day celebrating the exhibitions A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacyand Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol. Travel back to the days of the English Regency with art workshops that will bring Jane Austen’s fashion sense to life. Then move on to Victorian London to meet Charles Dickens and his famous characters through the original play Goblins, Ghosts, and Geezers: The Making of Scrooge*, improvisational skits, and other activities.  Marianna Loosemore will be reading “My Beautiful Cassandra” while Nili and Jerry will be talking to children about life in J.A.’s time.

For a complete schedule, visit All events are included with admission to the Morgan.

*There will be two performances of Goblins, Ghosts, and Geezers: The Making of Scrooge at 2:30 pm and 4 pm. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the program.

 2.  Saturday, February 6, 2-4 pm  Paper Dolls at the Ball: Jane’s Fashion for Kids 

To coincide with A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy educator Deborah Lutz leads a workshop that begins with a short tour of the exhibition that features a series of humoristic prints illustrating the extravagances of fashionable ladies and gentlemen of Austen’s time. Children will design evening costumes for women or men using paper doll templates, a wide variety of quality decorative papers, and colorful trimmings. Appropriate for ages 6-12. 

Tickets: Adults: $6 for Non-Members; $4 for Members; children: $2


And finally, also note that the Morgan currently has the following noteworthy exhibits that will be closing in early January:  

1.  William Blake’s World: “A New Heaven Is Begun”
September 11, 2009, through January 3, 2010
Drawn from the Morgan’s extensive holdings of works by William Blake (1757–1827), this exhibition is the museum’s first more than twenty years devoted to the breadth of his literary accomplishments and artistic influence.  See online exhibition

 2.  Rococo and Revolution: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings
October 2, 2009, through January 3, 2010
Rococo and Revolution: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings features more than eighty exceptional drawings almost exclusively from the Morgan’s renowned holdings. Artists represented in the exhibition include Antoine Watteau, Jacques-Louis David, François Boucher, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard, among others.  See selected images from the exhibition  

3.  Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
November 20, 2009, through January 10, 2010
Dickens’s original manuscript of A Christmas Carol, on view in Mr. Morgan’s Library, serves as the centerpiece of the Morgan’s holiday programs. 


CONNECTICUT:   there are a few interesting exhibits at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven of interest to fans of Jane Austen: [see the Center’s website for more information] 

Mrs. Delany and her Circle
24 SEPTEMBER, 2009 — 3 JANUARY, 2010  

This exhibition will explore the life, world and work of Mary Delany, née Mary Granville (1700 – 1788). Though best known for her almost one thousand botanical “paper mosaics” now housed in the British Museum, which she began at the age of 72, Mrs. Delany used her craft activities to cement bonds of friendship and negotiate complex, interlinked social networks throughout a long life passed in artistic, aristocratic, and court circles in Georgian England and Ireland. 

Through landscape drawings, paper cuts and collages, textiles, and manuscript materials, the exhibition will show the range and variety of Mrs. Delany’s art. Among her most extraordinary efforts was a court dress embroidered with a cascade of naturalistic flowers, which united her interests in floriculture and fashion. Parts of this dress have recently been rediscovered and will form the center of a reconstruction of Mrs. Delany’s world. Her art work will be shown in the context of natural history, which informed and underpinned her productions. Shells, corals, botanical drawings, and publications related to the collections of the 2nd Duchess of Portland, with whom Mrs. Delany lived and worked alongside, will also form part of the exhibition, allowing viewers to reattach the vital threads connecting female accomplishment and the pursuit of science in the eighteenth century. 

Mrs. Delany and Her Circle has been co-organized by the Yale Center for British Art and Sir John Soane’s Museum. It will be accompanied by a major publication that will serve as an exhibition catalogue, and will contain essays addressing many aspects of Mrs. Delany’s life, craftwork, and letters in the wider context of eighteenth-century culture.  [The Center is the only U.S. venue for this exhibition.]

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill
15 OCTOBER, 2009 — 3 JANUARY, 2010  

Horace Walpole (1717 – 1797) was the youngest son of Robert Walpole, first earl of Orford and prime minister under both George I and George II. Horace’s birthright placed him at the center of society and politics, and of literary, aesthetic, and intellectual circles. His brilliant letters and other writings have made him the best-known commentator on social, political, and cultural life in eighteenth-century England. In his own day, he was most famous for his personal collections, which were displayed at Strawberry Hill, his pioneering Gothic-revival house on the banks of the Thames at Twickenham, outside London, and through which he constructed narratives of English art and history. 

This groundbreaking exhibition seeks to evoke the breadth and importance of Walpole’s collections at Strawberry Hill by reassembling an astonishing variety of his objects, including rare books and manuscripts, antiquities, paintings, prints and drawings, furniture, ceramics, arms and armor, and curiosities. These will be drawn from international public and private collections as well as those of the Center and Yale’s Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Connecticut. 

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill has been organized by the Center, The Lewis Walpole Library, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with contributions by an array of distinguished international scholars.   [The Center is the only U.S. venue. The exhibition has been generously supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. ]


NEW JERSEY:  JASNA-Central NJ Chapter 

Please join JASNA Central New Jersey for a birthday toast to Jane Austen at the Cranbury Inn, 21 South Main Street, Cranbury, New Jersey on Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Celebrate Austen’s 234th birthday, plan and discuss the year’s upcoming programs, and share our love of all things Austen. Should you be so inclined, please feel free to bring a short reading selection of your choice to get us all in the spirit.  [ See their website for more information.] 

[For events in your area, visit the website for other regional news] 

Happy adventures one and all!

[Posted by Deb]

“All I want for Christmas is … ” [anything Austen please!]

So here are a few random thoughts for holiday gift giving ~ either for yourself [forward this blog post as a subtle hint to your family and friends] or for your favorite Austen fan:

1.   Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine ~  

Every issue is a lovely gift in my mailbox!  One can get all sorts of Regency / Austen data on the internet nowadays – but there is still nothing like a journal such as this, filled with glorious pictures, well-written articles, book reviews, etc. that you can HOLD and keep and shelve along-side all your other Austen titles…


A quick summary of the latest issue [Nov/Dec 2009, Issue 42] which sports Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai on the cover ~ stars of the new BBC Emma that we in the States are anxiously awaiting to be broadcast in January [sigh!].  Inside, there are many pictures of the show to keep us satiated until then, and a fine story by editor Tim Bullamore on various behind the scenes goings-on.

And lots of other goodies: 

  • A guest essay by Sue Wilkes on “why we must not forget the real Regency” with our focus on the “glittering lifestyles of the elites of Bath and London” we too often lose sight of the majority lower classes and the very real issues of hunger and poverty  [Ms. Wilkes is the author of Regency Cheshire, another item for your gift-giving -.]
  • Sheryl Craig, on “An Austen Christmas” – a picture-packed [all from The Lewis Walpole Library of Yale University] article on the festivities in Austen’s pre-Victorian England, complete with allusions to the holiday as mentioned in the novels and her letters
  • Maggie Lane, also a regular contributor, never disappoints and here is another thought-provoking article on widows in Austen, “Not the Only Widow in Bath.”  Lane points out that the new book Jane Austen and Marriage by Hazel Jones [excellent book, and yet another gift idea!] has chapters on all aspects of female existence in the Regency period – all that is except widowhood – think Mrs. Norris, Lady Catherine, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Clay, Lady Russell, Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Jennings, and others – all widows with a unique status in their world.  Fabulous article…
  • A special in this holiday issue ~ author Carrie Bebris with “A Midwinter Night’s Dream, a Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery” – “On the stillest eve of January, Pemberley was alive with merriment.  So, too, was its master…” – and so it begins – I can tell no more…(!)
  • This month, the column “My Jane Austen” is by Eileen O’Higgins, the actress who plays Miss Martin [Robert Martin’s sister] in the new Emma – this is always fun to read – how someone started on the road to reading and loving Austen – we each of us has a great tale to tell!
  • The JASNA contribution by Elaine Bander [President of JASNA Canada] is about the tour “Houses of Jane Austen” she was fortunate to take when in England this year for the Chawton Conference.   And Marilyn Joice of the JAS highlights the events of their annual conference in “Dancing in Kent”
  • Photographs and round-up of September’s annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath
  • The always insightful “Book Reviews” by Joceline Bury
  • And the usual pack of news on “all things Austen”, letters to the editor, “what made the news in 1801,” – even the ads are lovely!

Upcoming issue:  Sex in the City; Bursting the Bubble; Figures of good in a difficult world; Meet Jane’s publisher, etc. – intrigued?

See the Jane Austen’s Regency World website, where you can subscribe [UK 33.  / everywhere else 38.70, though there are discounts for JASNA members]

2.  Oxford University Press has again put its 6-volume Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen on sale for $61.25. [regularly $175.] This is the 3rd edition based on collation of early editions by R.W. Chapman – all six hardcover volumes have dust jackets and feature early 19th-century illustrations and Chapman’s detailed explanatory notes.  This set is still the definitive edition used for citation – [though likely to change at some point to the new Cambridge texts] – but this is a must-have for everyone’s Austen shelf.

Oxford University Press website and the site for the Holiday Sale / Austen – if you “add to cart”  it will register at $61.25.


 3.  Lady Susan


There has of late been more interest in this early “novel” of Austen’s [helped perhaps by Laurel Ann at Austenprose and her efforts to get the entire Austen world reading / re-reading Lady Susan this past year! – if you haven’t followed this on her blog, you can do so at your leisure …]  – why it has not made it into BBC’s bonnet brigade I don’t know – just playing Lady Susan would I think be every actress’s dream role!  But as for a gift – a lovely and interesting “copy” of Austen’s seventh “novel” has appeared on the scene – a tad pricey at $139.99 [see the website for discount code], but you can certainly put it out there and beg for everyone you know to chip in together! ~ and a “novel” idea to create a box of actual letters for those works written in the epistolary format.  See the website of  London Publishing House for details.

4.  The illusive BBC Sense & Sensibility from 1971 starring Sheila Ballantine, Joanna David, Robin Ellis, Clive Francis, Michael Aldridge and Patricia Routledge is now available at Collectables Direct [there are other Austen items here – mostly videos, but also a bookend, necklace and music]

5.  Jane Austen, the Complete Novels from Naxos Audiobooks [also includes The Watsons and Sanditon ]– 69 cds and more than 80 hours of listening enjoyment – certainly enough for a long cold winter:  [$270. / set; or $170. for the download – yikes!]

  • Sense and Sensibility (11 CDs), read by Juliet Stevenson
  • Pride and Prejudice (11 CDs), read by Emilia Fox
  • Mansfield Park (14 CDs), read by Juliet Stevenson
  • Emma (13 CDs), read by Juliet Stevenson
  • Northanger Abbey (7 CDs), read by Juliet Stevenson
  • Persuasion (7 CDs), read by Juliet Stevenson
  • Lady Susan (2 CDs), read by Harriet Walter, Kim Hicks, Carole Boyd and cast [how perfect does this sound?!]
  • The Watsons and Sanditon (4 CDs), read by Anna Bentinck

It comes in a handsome, durable 69-CD box-set (accompanied by a full set of notes)

-Go to the NAXOS Audiobooks website; and scroll down for a link to an 8 minute podcast of actress/reader Juliet Stevenson on Jane Austen

[as an aside:  Naxos has announced the April release of Richard Armitage reading Georgette Heyer’s Venetia.  You can pre-order this now.  It is, sadly, like his reading of Sylvester, abridged, which usually makes me just cringe; but as one blogger so eloquently put, who, with Mr.Armitage reading, is really listening to the words anyway? – I loved hearing him read Sylvester – I just had to go out and buy the book to fill in the blanks…]

[available for pre-order on Amazon – or show a little patience, give a gift certificate and download it from NAXOS when it becomes available in April]

6.  Merchandise from JASNA Regional Chapters:  see the JASNA website for a listing of available Austen-themed gifts, from 2010 calendars with Brock prints, to puzzles, chocolate, and prints! And support a JASNA region at the same time!

2010 Calendar - Wisconsin Region


7.  a Jane Austen Jigsaw Puzzle at Bas Bleu for $14.95 and quite the challenge with 500 pieces!


Ok, done shopping for one evening – my budget is sorely depleted and this is just a start on all the possibilities to fill your gift-lists ~ more to come!

[Posted by Deb]

Janeites at the Morgan

A triple series of Janeite interest in the Pierport Morgan Library & Museum’s Austen Exhibit —

From Janeite Hope:

From now until March 14th the Morgan Library and Museum is exhibiting “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy.” According to the website, the exhibition “explores the life, work, and legacy of Jane Austen (1775–1817), regarded as one of the greatest English novelists. Offering a close-up portrait of the iconic British author, whose popularity has surged over the last two decades with numerous motion picture and television adaptations of her work, the show provides tangible intimacy with Austen through the presentation of more than 100 works, including her manuscripts, personal letters, and related materials, many of which the Morgan has not exhibited in over a quarter century.”

There is an online exhibition that includes images of pages from the manuscript of “Lady Susan” along with a short documentary film commissioned for the exhibit. The film contains brief interviews with several writers, scholars, and actors (you’ll recognize Harriet Walker – Fanny Dashwood in the Thompson Sense and Sensibility). Though the interviews are interesting, what I like best about the documentary is watching the participants handle Austen’s letters and manuscripts. Bit of a vicarious thrill, there.

More at:


From Janeite Suzanne:

I’d never been to the Morgan, so I’m glad to have discovered it. There was a little film showing downstairs in the theater to introduce the JA exhibit. It had a variety of people giving their thoughts about the letters. It was ok, but seemed like rather a stretch to pad the exhibit and not particularly valuable. And it bothered me a bit to see someone actually handling the letters. They were also playing the movie, none too quietly, in the actual exhibit room which I found annoying because at that point I wanted to enjoy looking at the letters undisturbed.

They were hard to read, of course, but one could read much of it, even with cross writing and that was nice. Seeing the actual “JA” was a thrill. I was surprised that one letter had the JA squished right down to the edge of the paper and the “a” was a large lowercase a, not the one we think of as her signature and which was on everything else.

 There were period copies of the books she would have read and some delightful period satirical illustrations, but what I liked best was a letter she’d written to a youthful Cassy. It would have been better if the presenters hadn’t “translated” it for us because that was the fun. I felt that I gained some insight into J’s character from seeing how she wrote this to a child and also that she was able to form the words as smoothly as if they had been familiar letters sequences. I shall have to make up my own text, but it will give you the idea of her “code”.

Read Yssac,

Ew Era ta emoh yadot dna ti si gniniar. Spahrep ew lliw eb elba ot og rof  a egairrac edir siht noonretfa. I ylniatrec epoh os esuaceb ereht era ynam sgniht ew dluohs tisiv erofeb ew evael Thab.

Rouy gnivol tnua, Enaj

Now, wasn’t that fun! It’s much harder than simply writing backwards, especially the capitalization. Now I have to wonder if she thought it up herself.


from Janeite Bonnie:


Last night, I went to the Morgan Library and Museum’s exhibition “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy”, and, oh, what I saw!! I didn’t know that the Morgan holds the world’s largest collection of Austen’s letters, 51 of the 160 known ones. The curators trotted out many of the more well-known letters, and it was thrilling to see them in the original hand. Among the Austenalia I got to examine:

–cross-hatched letters and letters with lines excised by Cassandra
–the backwards letter to her niece Cassy
–the letter in which she writes of the gentleman on which she “once doated”
–the letter in which she writes of having a shaking hand from having drunk so much wine, and mentions the woman with the diamond bandeau, pink husband, and fat neck, and James Digweed having made a gallant remark about the two elms falling down in grief over the absence of Cassandra (a particularly enjoyable letter, and dated November 20–serendipitously read by me 209 years to the day later)
–the letter in which she drew the pattern of the lace for her new cloak
–the letter in which she asks Cassandra to tell Fanny that she has found a portrait that looks “excessively like” how she pictures Mrs. Bingley
–the page on which she sums up her expenditures for a year
–her satirical “Plan of a Novel” (very difficult to read)
–Cassandra’s letter to Fanny describing Austen’s last days and her death
–some pages of the manuscript of “The Watsons” with much editing
–some pages of the manuscript of “Lady Susan” (of which the Morgan holds the entire manuscript)
–James Stanier Clarke’s letter to Austen, in which he tells her that it is not *incumbent* on her to dedicate her next novel to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, but…
–first editions of all six novels, including the spines of a three-volume set of “Emma” with the price on the original labels
–one of the books that Austen owned, “The Spectator”, with her signature and “Steventon” inscribed inside

There was other material on display related to Jane Austen, such as books by Richardson and Cowper, a copy of “Camilla” open to the page of subscribers where “Miss J. Austen, Steventon” is listed (believed to be the only time her name was in print before her death), Walter Scott’s original journal open to the page of his comment about Austen’s “exquisite touch” versus his “Big Bow-wow strain”, material by Yeats, Nabokov, and Kipling, an edition of Pride and Prejudice with a preface by George Saintsbury (he who coined the term “Janite”, now “Janeite”), and, to top it off, original prints by James Gillray interspersed among Austen’s letters to punctuate some of the trenchant comments she made in them.

As a little bonus, on the way out I stopped by Mr. Morgan’s library and took a peep at the original 1843 manuscript of “A Christmas Carol” and one of the three Gutenberg Bibles (1455) in the Morgan collection.

All I can say is, I’m so thankful for the Morgans’ use of their money in this manner.

in a second email, the following wonderful & exciting tidbit was added:

I have one more thing to tell. It happened during the question-taking portion of the gallery talk. One of the enthusiasts in the crowd questioned Declan Kiely, the curator of the exhibition, about the attribution of one of the documents — a scrap attributed to Jane Austen, with the titles of all her novels. The woman questioned whether it was actually Jane Austen who had written it, as the title “Persuasion” was listed, and she thought that that was the title Henry had given it after Jane’s death, and that she had always called it “The Elliots”. I had read that too, but I wasn’t sure that it had not been settled on before her death, as there are other theories out there.

Afterwards, a few of us compared it with the note that she wrote summing up some profits from her books, which was in the same frame, and we saw that the capital P’s didn’t match. However, now that I see the “Profits” scrap close up on the Morgan website, I do see two different ways that Austen wrote capital P on the same scrap

(See the P in “Mansfield Park”, then compare it to the P in “Profits from Emma” quite near the blot of ink.)

If it is the case that Jane Austen habitually wrote her capital P two ways, then the scrap with all the titles of her novels that is attributed to her would confirm that she intended the title of her last novel to be “Persuasion”, and all the speculation should be laid to rest.

I think it will require another trip to take a closer look and see if there are similarities of script in Cassandra’s letter to Fanny, and look for capital P’s in all of Jane Austen’s other letters…

I don’t know if people are aware of this, but the Morgan has no entrance fee from 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM on Fridays.

“Literary Property Changing Hands” ~ after the auction…

Ever wonder what happens to all those books and manuscripts that show up at auction and then disappear somewhere into the ether, briefly looked at wistfully in the catalogue and then only something you file away in your bibliographic memory chip??  I know I do this with all the Jane Austen materials  [see the post my Bygone Books blog for the latest Austen titles on the block ]

The recent Bloomsbury Auction, The Paula Peyraud Collections:  Samuel Johnson and Women Writers in Georgian Society [New York City, 6 May 2009] [click here for the catalogue and auction results] was of great interest to collectors and readers of 18th and early 19th century women writers.  A recent article by Dr. Maureen E. Mulvihill (Princeton Research Forum, Princeton, NJ), titled “Literary Property Changing Hands: The Peyraud Auction (New York City, 6 May 2009)”  [Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol 43, no. 1 (2009) pp. 151-63…..] sheds light on this world of auctions and book collecting, and tells us who bought many of the lots and where they are now to be found.   As Dr. Mulvihill writes, “the sale was a dramatic validation of continuing interest and commercial investment in cultural property of the Georgian period, especially its women writers.”  [p.152] 

The sale consisted of 483 lots, mostly books, manuscripts and letters, but also many visual works of art somehow relating to the authors Ms. Peyraud collected.  [The dominant figures in the collection were the women writers of the era:  Frances Burney, Hester Thrale Piozzi, the Bluestockings, Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen and the Brontes; but also several male writers:  Samuel Johnson, Alexander Pope, Edmund Burke, David Garrick, Horace Walpole, and Lord Byron.]

The article also gives some history of Paula Peyraud [1947-2008] and the depth of her collection [the auction barely scratched the surface it seems…], and this alone is a compelling  story of the habits of a woman collector.

My interest here is largely with the Jane Austen lots in the auction [see my post on this auction here], and unfortunately, although the results of the auction are available online [see below as well as my previous post], the five lots of Austen works seem to have been purchased by private collectors and are undisclosed.  And the one Austen-related piece of art, a miniature of Elizabeth Bridges, Austen’s sister-in-law, remained unsold.   

[title, estimate, price realized]

  • Emma-1816- 3 volumes: [$8,000-12,000] – $9500.
  • Mansfield Park-1814- 3 volumes: [$7,000-10,000] – $7500.
  • Northanger Abbey-1818- 4 volumes: [$5,0008,000 ]-   $5500.
  • Pride and Prejudice-1813- 3 volumes Carysfort copy: [$20,000-30,000] – $26,000.
  • Sense and Sensibility-1811- 3 volumes: [$25,000-35,000] – $38,000. [or $46,360. with premium]

Austen aside, it is fascinating to see how many of the other lots are now in Library collections, and thus available for research purposes:  The British Library, Dr. Johnson’s House, the University of Manchester, McGill University [10 lots of Frances Burney materials], the Houghton Library at Harvard [Johnson and Hester Thrale], the Morgan Library, New York Public Library, the University of Pennsylvania Rare Book Library, Princeton University [Maria Edgeworth], Vassar Library [Burney], and Yale University Beinecke Library [Yale acquired the “star of the show” for $140,300. – 8 volumes of Hester Thrale Piozzi’s heavily annotated copy of The Spectator.]  Harvard purchased the most lots, and a Zoffany full-length portrait of Hester Thrale [lot 379] was the second highest sale at $58,560.

[from the Bloomsbury Auction Catalogue]


 See the full article at this link at Bloomsbury Auctions: [prices in the article reflect hammer prices and premium]


Just added:  Dr. Mulvihill’s February 2010 article “Captured by Jane” on the Morgan Library’s Jane Austen exhibition is in the online magazine of the Jane Austen Centre.  If you did not get to see this wonderful exhibition last year, this is the next best thing to being there… you can view the article here.

[Posted by Deb]

‘Dancing with Mr. Darcy’ ~ and the winner is…..



book cover dancing mr darcy

[Addendum:  since announcing the winner yesterday, I discover that “ivory spring” has a wonderful website and blog about quilting, so I append those links here for all to peruse [she is currently hosting a giveaway as well]- and she tells me that her next project will be an Austen-inspired  sampler called “the daughters of Longbourn”! ]


 The drawing for the copy of the Chawton House Library anthology Dancing with Mr. Darcy is complete and the copy goes to ……  ” ivoryspring “ ! ~  if you could please send me an email with your address, Ms. Ashfeldt will post the book to you right away.  Thank you all for your comments and great questions – and a special thank you to Lane Ashfeldt for her terrific and thoughtful comments [please check out her latest comment on my interview post where she discusses writing short historical fiction], AND for the offer of the book!  

As for the title of the book being researched by Miss Campbell in the story “Snowmelt”, I append here Lane’s response:  [and kudos to Alexa Adams for the correct answer!]    



Hello Janeite Deb and readers, thanks for the replies and entries to the Dancing with Mr Darcy giveaway competition.  Deb had asked you to name the book referred to in my story, “Snowmelt”.  The book mentioned in ‘Snowmelt’ is Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, first published c. 1826 when it was credited as “by The Author of Frankenstein.”.(Like Austen who had preceded her by just a few years, Mary Shelley faced stigma if she were to let her name appear in print.) Her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, had recently died when she wrote it, and her grief over his sudden loss is a likely source of her inspiration: ‘The Last Man’ begins in 2073 and its theme is the wiping out of the human race by the year 2100.  ‘Snowmelt’ and Miss Campbell, with her worries over the end of the world and the end of the book, were already in progress when I came across ‘The Last Man’, so the book was a perfect match. I borrowed a line or two from it (credited, of course), so it feels like payback time to send a copy of Dancing with Mr Darcy to the winner, with my congratulations.

 Lane Ashfeldt  

[Posted by Deb]   

Book Giveaway! ~ ‘Dancing with Mr. Darcy’

JASNA-Vermont will be giving away a copy of Dancing with Mr. Darcy, the short story anthology from Chawton House Library, published by Honno Press ~ please post a comment by Saturday November 14, 2009 to qualify.  Author Lane Ashfeldt will send the book to the winner directly ~  see the following posts to comment:

book cover dancing mr darcy

[Posted by Deb]

‘Dancing with Mr. Darcy’ ~ a Book Review & Book Giveaway!

book cover dancing mr darcyDancing with Mr Darcy: Stories inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House Library
Selected and introduced by Sarah Waters
Honno Modern Fiction, 2009
ISBN:  978-1-906784-08-9
UK  £7.99 [paperback]

[I made mention of this book in another post in which Lane Ashfeldt, author of one of the short stories in this anthology [titled Snowmelt ] did an interview for this blog.  Ms. Ashfeldt has graciously offered to send a copy of the book to anyone who comments on this or the previous post –  please comment by Saturday, November 14, 2009 – I will announce the winner on November 15th – see below for full details.]

My reading over the years has not tended to short stories.  But I do remember when my children were little, I spent my scattered reading allowance doing just that – it was the need to finish something, the escape perhaps for a few moments at least to another place that widened my world – a time to re-read the short novels of John Steinbeck, to discover Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, short detective works, etc… anything to keep the mind at work!  But short stories never held much interest for me – I wanted a bigger canvas, a longer immersion – but it was perhaps really an understanding of my own inability to appreciate the short story in its best incarnation. 

I picked up Dancing with Mr. Darcy at the Chawton House Library table at the JASNA AGM more as the need to add it to my Jane Austen collection with thoughts of at least reading Ms. Ashfeldt’s story… so it is with great delight that I found I could not put this book down!  Sarah Waters, in her introduction, outlines the criteria for the competition: it must be well-written, be a self-contained short story that stands on its own, and must have a connection to Jane Austen, her life, her work, her Chawton home, or the Chawton House Library.  The author of each of the twenty stories in this anthology appends a paragraph explaining how Jane Austen inspired their writing – these alone are worth the reading!

I read Snowmelt first – and this tribute to reading and libraries and books seems to have come from my very own thoughts, my concerns with the future of same.  Miss Campbell, who fears the end of the world is at hand, is a librarian at a library that is closing its old building and reopening in a new space with far more computers than books – she visits Chawton House Library to research an early nineteenth century author*, and realizes that life it too short to not be doing what she truly loves and makes drastic changes to her life as a result.

She rang the bell, signed in, climbed the uneven wooden steps and knocked at the library door.  A simple room.  Books, wooden desks, lamps.  A concentrated silence that she longed to bottle and unleash in her own library.   

This is a lovely story – and as I said, it conveyed so many thoughts of my own – the future of libraries, the technological changes that are on the one hand absolutely amazing and on the other frightening – what will the future be for the book in this world of kindles and Google books and the like. I was right there along with Miss Campbell, with the aching longing to be working in a library that houses all the works of human accomplishment that one can touch!

[* the previous post asked the question of who the author might be that Miss Campbell is researching and the book she requests at the library…. If you can guess this, please post it in your comment…I will announce the name of the book and author at the end of the giveaway; see below for a few hints…]

The winner of the competition is the first story in the anthology:  Jane Austen Over the Styx by Victoria Owens, where we find Austen in Hades, before the “court of the dead” expecting to address her “faults” in life [think her wicked tongue, her accepting-rejecting Bigg-Wither, etc], and instead facing the likes of Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mrs. Ferrars, Mrs. Churchill, Lady Russell and Mrs. Norris! – her creations all – the crime? “her willful portrayal of female characters of advanced years, as a snob, a scold, or a harpy who selfishly or manipulatively interferes with the happiness of an innocent third party” [p. 11] – and invoking the words of the great Austen critic DW Harding himself with his theories of “regulated hatred”, Jane is brought to task – an inspired story and great fun! [and you must read it to find if Jane is deemed guilty or not, and how she indeed defends herself! – and of course, it is such a delight to see and hear Mrs. Norris again!]]

JASNA’s own Elsa Solender shared runner- up status with her Second Thoughts – which in Austen’s own voice, following her accepting the marriage proposal of Harris Bigg-Wither, tells of the agonizing decision to tell him the next morning “we should not suit” – it is beautifully conveyed and one feels that Ms. Solender captures exactly what happened that night.

Jayne, by Kirsty Mitchell, also a runner-up, tells of a young woman of a literary bent, struggling to survive at all costs, working as a soft-porn nude model, all the while quoting Shakespeare and knowing full well she must “if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, [should] conceal it as well as she can”  [p. 39, quoting Northanger Abbey] – conveying the 21st-century version of the economic struggles of single females of a certain class…

The twenty stories offer the gamut – some use Austen’s characters in new situations, as Elinor Dashwood Ferrars as a detective [she does after all in Sense & Sensibility hear everyone else’s secrets!] [The Delaford Ladies’ Detective Agency by Elizabeth Hopkinson]; or in Somewhere by Kelly Brendel, where Mrs. Grant of Mansfield Park is given a voice of her own.  There are re-tellings of a particular story in a contemporary setting, as in Second Fruits by Stephanie Tillotson, where, as in Persuasion, her characters “experience separation, maturation and second chance.” [p. 201]  And likewise in Eight Years Later by Elaine Grotefeld, where a young man visiting Chawton House with his mother plans to reunite with his teenage crush from eight years before – he is, like Captain Wentworth, “half agony, half hope.” [p. 75]

There are several stories with teenage protagonists where Austen either inspires, as in The Watershed by Stephanie Shields, where a found used copy of Pride & Prejudice alleviates family and school stresses, and the young bookworm in Hilary Spiers’s Cleverclogs, who finds that her grandmother’s favorite book Sense & Sensibility is also hers.  Or the story that mirrors Austen as in The Oxfam Dress, by Penelope Randall, where a 21st-century Lydia Bennet goes on a shopping spree.  Bina, by Andrea Watsmore, tells of a teenage girl who finds that her true love was right there all along [an Emma of sorts]; and in The School Trip [Jacqui Hazell], a young woman finds on visiting Chawton that all ones needs to write is “a little space, a tiny desk and a creaky door.” [p. 212]

And there are a few stories that resonate but don’t fit a category:  An older, lonely spinster in We Need to Talk About Mr. Collins by Mary Howell finds that perhaps she didn’t let romance into her life…; an amateur play group putting on a Pride & Prejudice theatrical during a bombing raid in Miss Austen Victorious [Esther Bellamy]; a bridesmaids’ weekend gone completely awry in The Jane Austen Hen Weekend by Claire Humphries; and one of my favorites, One Character in Search of her Love Story Role by Felicity Cowie, where a fictional character in the making pays a call on Jane Bennet and Jane Eyre for some insightful conversation about love and choices!

We seem of late to be surrounded in Austen sequels and prequels and spin-offs and re-tellings with zombies and vampires and sea monsters and all manner of creatures, and while I have often sounded off on these largely because I just want to read Austen “as she was wrote” I do also admit to liking some of them! – but these stories in Dancing with Mr. Darcy are so much more – they take the Jane Austen that we all love and admire and cannot get enough of, and create something new and lovely in her wake – be it a character, an idea, a storyline, or just a feeling – here is Austen as she inspires 21st century writers and it is a gift to all of us.  I very much hope that Chawton House Library will offer such a competition every year – this is the true legacy of Jane Austen and such writing should be heartily encouraged.

[I should also add that along with Miss Campbell, I react strongly to the physical tactile nature of a book – and Dancing with Mr. Darcy does not disappoint – it is just physically lovely, very nicely put together, and just one more reason to add this to your Jane Austen collection!]

5 of 5 full inkwells – Highly recommended!


Book Giveaway:  Please post a comment or a question to me or author Lane Ashfeldt by November 14, 2009 and you will be entered in a book giveaway contest.  Please also try to guess the title of the book and its author that Ms. Ashfeldt’s character Miss Campbell has requested at the library [HINT:  written in the early 19th century, the novel takes as its theme the wiping out of the entire human race by the year 2073.]

I will announce the winner on November 15, 2009.  All are welcome to enter.  Ms. Ashfeldt will send a copy of the book directly to the winner.

Thank you for all your comments…and many thanks to Ms. Ashfeldt for her offer of the book…!

Further information:

Honno Press
Chawton House Library
Lane Ashfeldt website
Lane Ashfeldt blog

[Posted by Deb]