Penguin’s Newest ‘Emma’ ~ the Thread Series

Penguin Classics will be publishing a new edition of Emma in the Fall, this time with cover art by Jillian Tamaki, as part of its Penguin Threads series [Black Beauty and A Secret Garden will also be released.]

and just the front with more detail:


See also Tamaki’s “Sketchblog” for details on the process and the other book covers.  Just lovely, don’t you think? [especially if you do handiwork…]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum at Jane Austen in Vermont

Join Us! ~ ‘Jane Austen’s London in Fact & Fiction’

Cavendish Square

You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s March Meeting 

~Jane Austen’s London in Fact & Fiction ~ 

  Suzanne Boden* & Deborah Barnum** 

Jane Austen and London! ~ Why did she go & How did she get there? ~ Where did she stay & What did she do? ~ Was it a ‘Scene of Dissipation & Vice’ or a place of lively ‘Amusement’ filled with Shopping, the Theatre, Art Galleries & Menageries? ~ And her fiction? ~ How does Mr. Darcy know where to find Lydia and Wickham? And Why does nearly everyone in Sense & Sensibility go to Town? To find out all this  & more absolutely essential Austen biographical & geographical trivia, please… 

Join Us for a Visual Tour of Regency London!


Sunday, 27 March 2011, 2 – 4 p.m. 

 Champlain College, Hauke Conference Center,
375 Maple St Burlington VT

Free & Open to the Public
Light refreshments served

For more information:   JASNAVermont [at] gmail [dot] com  Please visit our blog at:


Suzanne & Deb will share their mutual love of London! ~ *Suzanne Boden is the well-traveled proprietress of The Governor’s House in Hyde Park, where she regularly holds Jane Austen Weekends: ; **Deb Barnum is the owner of Bygone Books, a shop of fine used & collectible books, the Regional Coordinator for the Vermont Region of JASNA,  author of the JASNA-Vermont blog, and compiler of the annual Jane Austen Bibliography.   

Upcoming:  June 5: A Lecture & Organ Recital on ‘The Musical World of Jane Austen’ with Professor William Tortolano.  At Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier.  See blog for details.

[Image:  Blackfriars Bridge, 1802.  The City of London.  London: The Times, circa 1928, facing p. 192]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum, at Jane Austen in Vermont

Fashion in Vermont ~ The Shelburne Museum

The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont will be hosting its first major fashion and costume exhibition June 18, 2011 – October 30, 2011: 

In Fashion: High Style 1690-2011

In Fashion comprises over 75 costumes from the Museum’s permanent collection plus a select number of borrowed works from today’s top designers and design houses including Karl Lagerfeld, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Giambattista Valli, Giovanni Bedin, Balenciaga, Christian Siriano and others. The exhibit is presented in several sections: Haute Couture, Complete the Look, Fashionable 50’s, and Head to Toe.

In addition to including established names in the industry, the exhibit includes work by fashion design students from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. FIT students competed for the chance to have their designs included in the exhibit. They were asked to create pieces that complement a select number of bodices from the Museum’s historic collection.

Haute Couture: Pieces from the 19th-century by Parisian designers House of Worth and Emile Pingat exhibited alongside pieces from several of the most established and well-known contemporary designers.

Complete the Look: Eight late-19th and early- 20th century bodices from incomplete high-style garments drawn from the collection. Displayed with these pieces are pieces designed by students from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. FIT students competed to be a part of the exhibit. [See the Complete the Look website  for the 8 wining submissions – this is great fun to see what the students have done with the various bodices!]

Fashionable ‘50s: Clothing from the 1950’s represents one of the great strengths of the Museum’s collection. Poodle skirts and bespoke dresses by Hattie Carnegie for Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb are interpreted from a design, materials, and historical point of view.

Head to Toe: Accessories Hats to Heels includes handbags, hats, shoes and fans reflecting the glamor of the Gilded Age. Clothes to the Vest showcases men’s vests dating from the late 18th and early 19th century. Coat Couture features a selection of high end outerwear.

[Text and images from the Shelburne Museum website]

You can view the online gallery here – click on “View Gallery” link to scroll through 22 images.

I’ll be reporting more on this exhibit once it opens.  The Shelburne Museum is one of Vermont’s many treasures, famous for its quilts, decorative arts, carriages, and art masterpieces. It is not-to-be-missed if you are visiting us.  And if you are afraid that spring will never come after the record snowfalls we have suffered through this winter, do not fear – here is the surest sign of hope!:

[image from the Shelburne Museum blog]

Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum, at Jane Austen in Vermont

An ‘Enhanced’ Pride & Prejudice ebook

OOPS! – I got this news as a ‘google alert’, and now thanks to Raquel see that it came out in 2008!  I had checked the Penguin site and saw nothing of this “news” and now see that it did indeed come out in May 2008! – Sorry for the error – in a rush – thought it was great news! Still might be for those who don’t already know this! [like me! – I don’t use my ebook reader a whole lot as you can tell!]

So here is the very interesting but old news!:

Penguin launches ‘enhanced’ e-book classics:

Penguin Group (USA) is to launch an e-book of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with multiple added features as the first title in its Penguin enhanced e-books classics list. The e-book, coming in May, will feature:

  • Filmography
  • Nineteenth-Century Reviews
  • Chronology
  • Further Reading
  • What Austen Ate
  • How to Prepare Tea
  • Austen Sites to Visit in England
  • Map of Sites from the Novel
  • Behaving Yourself: Etiquette and Dancing in Austen’s Day
  • Illustrations of Fashion, Home Décor, Architecture, and Transportation
  • Enriched eBook Notes

The publisher says it will offer “a wonderful e-book reading experience”. Nine further classics titles, including Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein and Great Expectations, will follow in the autumn, with plans “underway” to launch the list in the UK.

John Makinson, chair and c.e.o. of the Penguin Group, said: “The e-book is gaining acceptance as an alternative to the printed text and we are keen to test the possibilities of the electronic format. Penguin Classics is a great place to start. We shall invite readers beyond the pages of these much-loved books, offering additional background, context and insight into the work.”

[Text from The and Penguin]

Guess I should fire up my Kindle…

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum, at Jane Austen in Vermont

An Austen Family Painting?

I am posting this at the request of Jane Odiwe, author of Lydia Bennet’s Story, Willoughby’s Return, and most recently Mr. Darcy’s Secret.  She has been involved in the interesting detective work of trying to locate the whereabouts of a painting that appears in a Christie’s catalogue from 1983, a “Conversation Piece” pen and watercolor drawing that might be a portrait of Jane Austen’s family.  There are similarities to the silhouette illustration we are familiar with:

I append Jane Odiwe’s post in its entirety  – you can also go to her blog for further information and read her posts on the artist Ozias Humphrey and his possible connection to the Austen family.  [I suggest you print out the family portrait below and then follow along with Jane’s detailed commentary.]


The ‘Conversation Piece’: Is this a painting of the Austen Family in 1781?  [by Jane Odiwe]

Whilst conducting research into the ‘Rice’ portrait, Mr. Robin Roberts discovered a very interesting picture, which seems to have gone unnoticed in a Christie’s catalogue. The sale of the property of Mrs. Robert Tritton took place at Godmersham Park, Kent, between Monday, June 6th and Thursday, June 9th, 1983. Elsie Tritton and her husband had bought the estate in 1936, and the catalogue notes how she and her husband had lovingly rescued the house, and how Elsie, a New Yorker by birth, wished that after her death, their wonderful collection of furniture and clocks, English Conversation Pieces, objets d’art and textiles should be available for others to buy for their own collections. This is a fascinating catalogue to see, and I think the fact that the painting came out of the sale of Godmersham Park is most exciting!

The painting is described in the catalogue as belonging to the English School, circa 1780, pen, and black ink and watercolour, measuring 15½ by 19½ inches. It depicts a family sitting round a table, the adults at opposite ends, with four children beyond.

I think what’s so interesting about the picture is that the more you study it; the more the details become fascinating. It appears to be a wonderful allegorical puzzle, full of the humour and charade that the Austen family loved, reflecting so much of what we know about their family history, finances, with all the literary symbolism they would have enjoyed so much. There are some significant allusions connected with the Austen family, and I am thrilled to share Mr. Roberts’ discoveries with you.

He wonders if it could possibly be by Ozias Humphry painted to commemorate the adoption of Edward Austen by the Knight family who were childless relatives, and there are striking similarities between this painting and the commemorative silhouette drawn up at a similar date. There are what could be the monogram symbols of Ozias Humphry scattered in several places about the painting, on the figures, in a curlicue above the mantelpiece, and a possible signature in the right hand corner, though it is difficult to be certain without seeing the original, and unfortunately, it is impossible to show all the small details on a blog.

If we assume that this is a painting of the Austen family, the central figure shows a young boy who is most likely to be Edward Austen. The family all have their attention turned towards him, and more importantly, their eyes are concentrated on the bunch of grapes, which he holds high up in the air, almost as if being presenting to the viewer. You can almost hear him say, “Look at me, am I not the most fortunate boy in the world? Look what I have!”

Surely the grapes represent the good fortune and wealth that Edward is about to inherit, and the whole family who look as pleased as punch are celebrating with him.

George Herbert makes the connections between grapes, fruit, and inheritance in his poem, The Temple. [see Jane’s blog for the complete poem]

As we observe the painting, the small girl with round cheeks to the left of Edward must be Jane Austen herself! This is also one of the most significant parts to the puzzle, I think. She appears to be clutching what could be a horseshoe nail in her hand, which she points towards Edward, her arm held high in the same way as he holds his grapes aloft. This is where it gets most exciting, and where another connection to Edward Austen is made. On the painting of Edward Austen at Chawton House, there is most distinctly, a horseshoe nail on the ground pointing towards Edward’s feet. This little nail is a symbol, an allusion to the fact that the Knights adopted him. Most interestingly, Jane makes a reference to the horseshoe nail in a letter dated Tuesday, 9th February, 1813. She is talking about Miss Clewes, a new governess that Edward has engaged to look after his children.

shoe detail

Miss Clewes seems the very Governess they have been looking for these ten years; – longer coming than J. Bond’s last Shock of Corn. – If she will but only keep Good and Amiable and Perfect! Clewes & (sic) is better than Clowes. And is it not a name for Edward to pun on? – is not a Clew a nail?

Jane was punning on the word clew (or clue) and the Old French word, clou (de girofle), which in its turn was derived from the Latin, clavus, meaning nail (of the clove tree). The dried flower bud of the clove tree resembles a small nail or tack. Of course, it was a name for Edward to pun on because of his own associations with a small horseshoe nail. This seems to be one of the most significant pieces of the puzzle in the painting!

Now we turn to the gentleman on the left of the painting who is dressed exactly as Mr. Austen in the silhouette attributed to Wellings of Edward’s presentation to the Knight family. He is seated, hands clasped together as though offering up a grateful prayer for their good fortune. Within his grasp it appears he is holding a prayer book, or missal, the silk ribbon of which is draped over his fingers, an indication perhaps of his status as rector, and a man of the cloth. Interestingly, he is the only figure whose eyes are not concentrated on the bunch of grapes, but perhaps this is to indicate he is more concerned with offering grateful thanks in his role of clergyman.

In between Mr. Austen and Jane is Cassandra who rests her hand protectively on her sister’s shoulder, whilst also providing an excellent compositional device leading the eye along through to Jane’s arm to the tip of the Golden Triangle where the bunch of grapes are suspended. The painting follows the traditional composition based on a triangle for optimum placing of the main interest of the work. I also think it interesting to note that the girls’ dresses are of the simple muslin type usually worn by children at this time. Mostly white, they were worn with a ribbon sash, at waist height or higher as in Jane’s case.

On the other side of Edward, it is thought this child most likely to be Francis. James would have been at school at this time, and Henry could also have been away. Charles was too young to be depicted, and would still have been lodged with the family who looked after the infant Austens, as was the custom.

To the far right, as we look at the painting is the formidable figure of Mrs. Austen dressed for the occasion with a string of pearls and a ribbon choker around her neck, complete with more than one ‘feather in her cap’, which must represent her pride and pleasure at the whole event, and by extension, the symbols of nobility and glory. She is further emphasizing Edward’s importance by pointing in his direction, and I think it would be hard to imagine a more pleased mama, in her elegant air, and her smile.

On the table is a further connection with Mrs. Austen. The pineapple, a prized fruit, representing health and prosperity, was first introduced to England in 1772, and the Duke of Chandos, Mrs. Austen’s great uncle, was the first to grow them. The symbolism of the pineapple represents many things, not least the rank of the hostess, but was also associated with hospitality, good cheer, and family affection.

Other dishes of food illustrate further abundance, wealth, and the spiritual associations of Christian values. There is bread and wine on the table; Christian symbols, which represent not only life, and the Communion, but also show there is cause for thankfulness and celebration. The glasses are not yet filled, but there are glasses placed before the adults for a toast. Nearest to us in the foreground, there is another fruitful dish, perhaps plum pudding, representing not only the wealth to come, but also a plentiful future. Placed before Edward, another dish, which also appears to suggest the image of a spaniel dog, may be an allusion to Edward’s love of hunting.

The background to the painting holds its own clues. It’s been suggested that the painting above the mantelpiece could be Zeus abducting Ganymede to the Gods, another reference to the luck of young Edward who has been adopted by the Knight family, and on the opposite wall, could this be a reference to the miniature portrait of George Austen, the handsome proctor, even if this appears to be a larger portrait? In the carpet, the patterns suggest the date may again be replicated, and also an M to symbolize the fact that the couple in the painting are married. Above the looking glass is a crest with what appears to be the date. It would be lovely to have a look at the original to see everything in more detail!

Unfortunately, there appears to be no record of the sale of the painting, and I know that Mr. Roberts, and his sister, Mrs. Henry Rice, would be interested to learn more about the painting. I’d like to make an appeal on their behalf for any information, and if anyone knows of the painting’s whereabouts or can tell us anything about it, please do get in touch with me or with Jane Austen’s House Museum.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog as much as I’ve enjoyed hearing all about this little painting. Don’t you think the Austen family would have enjoyed this allegorical puzzle? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


All very interesting! – and as with any detective work, one has more questions than can be currently answered.  If the original drawing could be located it would certainly help!  There is also more information soon to be released about the controversial Rice ‘Jane Austen’ Portrait.  Stay tuned!  And in the meantime if you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of the “conversation piece” that Jane Odiwe writes about, please contact her via her Jane Austen Sequels Blog.

Copyright @2100, by Deb Barnum, at Jane Austen in Vermont

The Regency Woman ~ take an online class with Nancy Mayer

Want to understand more about the life of a Regency-era woman? Nancy Mayer of Regency Researcher  fame will be offering an online workshop on “The Regency Woman.” The class is offered through the Colorado Romance Writers  and will run from April 4 – 29, 2011. Cost is $25. for non-members, $20. for members. 

The Regency Woman: Online Workshop at Colorado RomanceWriters

April 4 – 29, 2011

DESCRIPTION: The Regency woman. She was a woman of stern morals and little laughter. A governess who didn’t feel oppressed and a governess who did. She owned her own business. She was an author, a poet, a scientist, a runaway. She lived a discreet and quiet life and she was notorious. She was the faithful wife and the mother of many children, or a divorced woman who had to give up her children to escape her husband.

No one pattern, not even a pattern card of propriety, fits all the women but despite their differences there were some things they had in common. The class will look at the world of the Regency woman from the domestic, political, social, and economic angles, using the lives of real women as examples. While I will try to include a great deal of new material, some of the information I have presented before has to be repeated.

BIO: Nancy Mayer has been trying to write Regency romances for more years than she wants to remember. She is always getting distracted and sidetracked by research.


[text and image from CWR]

Visit the website for more information and to sign-up. Scroll down to find Nancy’s class and read about the other interesting workshops as well! [The class is run as a Yahoo Group.]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont

The Regency Encyclopedia ~ An Interview with Sue Forgue

Please join us today as we interview Sue Forgue, creator of the fabulous Regency Encyclopedia  website.  I did a Follow Friday  for Sue’s website a few months back, and Laurel Ann at Austenprose  did the same a few weeks ago to announce the recent changes to the fashion module.  Sue has also recently written two articles:    “The Mighty Muslin in the JASNA News (Vol. 26, No. 3, Winter 2010); and What’s in a Name?” JASNA News (Vol. 25, No. 3, Winter 2009) –  where you can get a taste of what is in the “encyclopedia.”

So we welcome Sue, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her Regency-related undertaking!

JAIV:  Hello Sue!  Lovely photograph of you in your Regency attire!  It is nice to connect in cyberspace if not right here in Vermont – and great to meet you in Portland  –  I can finally put a face to your name! – So please start if you will, by telling us a little about yourself.

SF:  I enjoyed meeting you in Portland too but I’ve greatly enjoyed our emails pondering the details of Regency London since then as well. Briefly, my background is that I’m an accountant working for a family with a very wide array of interests. My degree is in classical voice and I thought I was going to be an opera star in my twenties but yeah, life happened.

JAIV:  An opera star! – how exciting!

How and when did you begin the website? Is this completely an avocation or part of your work-life? And why the Regency period – why this time and place?

SB:  After the 1995 version of P & P, an explosion of Austen fan fiction websites exploded all over the web. At first, the community was pretty small and I got a reputation as one of the history buffs. Writers would ask me questions about the period and many times when I went to research, I’d get caught up reading something else in the book I was paging through. Six or eight hours later, maybe I’d remember I was supposed to be looking for an answer for someone. So, to be a lot more disciplined, I started typing my notes into an Excel spreadsheet. When one of those writers turned out to be a programmer, Victoria of JAFF Index fame, and heard about the spreadsheet, she was the one who encouraged me to make it into a website. Since then, the site has grown organically through users’ suggestions and contributions of their own research. Yes, this is completely maintained by me in my free time – it’s my labor of love and contribution to the cosmos.

As to why the Regency period, there are certain times in history that just appeal to me and Regency England is one of them. While there were many bad things the Victorians have to be thanked for getting rid of, the Georgians seem to be more accessible to us because of their upper class elegance and their more realist attitudes to subjects such as the seven deadly sins.

Although I have to say, while I love this period, just about any outside source will get me started researching a historical era. For example, when I Claudius aired, not only did I read the Robert Graves books it was based on, but I actually went back to the original Suetonius and read that too. I guess I’m just historically curious.


JAIV:  The Fashion Gallery is very extensive and impressive! – when did you begin your love affair with Regency fashion?

SF:  Oh that’s easy to answer – I grew up with it. My mother graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in fashion design and had a career before she married my father, so there were lots of art books in the house and on every vacation, we were sure to visit an art museum in every place we visited. Don’t know why, but I was always more interested in the history of fashion books that were stored in our basement.

JAIV:  The new fashion modules of color palettes and ‘Dressing the Doll’ is great fun! – I have been mixing and matching teals and lavenders and coming up with all sorts of lovely (and hideous!) fashion statements! Was this suggested to you to do or was it always in your plans if the technology bugs could be worked out?

SF:  The Dress the Doll feature was something I’ve wanted to do from the beginning and did have to wait for the right time both because of the programming to achieve it and I felt there were more pressing projects that needed to be launched first such as the Map Module. However, as I said, this has been a priority from the beginning but as there are already a few very fine websites where you can play around and have a lot of fun doing it, I didn’t know how historically accurate the colors chosen were or if the garments were just copied from the movie adaptations. Since I had a huge database of prints given to me in 2009, the time was then right to explore that ready-made gold mine of information. The more I catalogued, the more curious I became about what exactly morone or hessian green looked like and the grand search commenced to find something that showed me what those colors were. Still haven’t found that ultimate source but I did the best I could with the html codes for the color swatches.


JAIV:  The Map Gallery is an amazing creation! – all that information of where places were, when addresses changed, buildings disappearing, and so many maps! I have been doing some of this locating on maps and find there are at times discrepancies in written texts about addresses, etc. What is your most reliable source for verifying locations? And explain if you can about how you have acquired permission to use the Horwood maps [see below for an example].

SF:  Thank you, I have to say the Tour of London is my favorite part of the website. I used many sources to identify the shops. There are historians’ books that mention addresses in passing plus I have three digitized London directories from 1799, 1819 and 1822 that gave me some addresses. Also, some of the shops still in existence like Fortnum & Mason have a history section on their websites and that could be helpful as well as merchants moved around a lot.

I stumbled into using the Horwood map panels and I’m very grateful that I did. The users told me that they wanted a more detailed map of London than what I had for the Time and Distance calculations and I identified a couple of possibilities. The first person I contacted ignored me and the second refused permission to use their map panels, even with me paying for permission. A Google search brought me to the A to Z Guide of Regency London that you’ve quoted many times in your blog posts. A few phone calls to the UK and my credit card to purchase the rights from the publisher and the Guildhall Library got the ball rolling.

JAIV:   You say the site is “a collection of interesting sound bites about the era” – are there any areas you would like to develop further?

SF:  Oh gosh yes. Have to finish the other five Dress the Dolls first but then I want to expand the Chronology module with a late Georgian era almanac – you know, if this is your birthday, you share a birthday with…. and these are the famous things that happened in … and maybe add a few other bells and whistles.

After that, I’ve been kicking around an apothecary’s module with a database of plants used in what remedies curing what ailments. If I do it, I have a source I can use, but as I’m not a scientist, I don’t know if I’d get royally bored with all the Latin and medical terms.

And who knows, I’ve been surprised with special gifts from friends. The original source material for both the Georgina Names and the Fashion Gallery was given me from a friend in the UK and that happily detoured the update of the Chronology module twice.

JAIV:  Oh, I love this idea of an apothecary module!  And Mr. Perry could be our gossipy guide!

You do keep the website as requiring a log-in and password, but see that you have recently added links to other sites that have made the logins public [with your permission of course!] – Why do you prefer to maintain it as a private site? And have there been any problems with making it more accessible?

SF:  It started out as a hindrance to nasty hackers, as my programmer was very much concerned about unauthorized people messing with the site but I’ve found it very helpful to know where people are coming from, as knowing who’s using the site does play a part in determining what’s the next module or how we’re going to enhance the current ones. For example, we get more visitors from the fan fiction community than from academia, so I’m more inclined to provide programming that’s of a more “practical” usage to authors actively writing.

I’ve had a couple of people complain about trying to find the entrance information but if you know the site is called the Regency Encyclopedia and Google it, the first couple of entries will bring you to sites with a user id and password. But, I do want to be welcoming, so that’s why we have the links to other sites upfront while still putting up a hurdle for hackers.

JAIV:  I know you have been begun to do a series of talks on Jane Austen’s London in your area [alas! too far for me!] – Tell us a little about your talks. And what questions are you most often asked?

SF:  And I wish I could be at your lecture! Jane Austen mentioned all these London street names in the novels and we sort of let that all slide past us as we’re reading. When I started plotting them out for the Tour of Regency London and looked around the neighborhood, all kinds of Duh moments hit me in the head. When you locate these streets on a period map, you’ll start to see all sorts of possibilities in terms of Austen’s characters. My lecture concentrates on the social geography of where Austen’s characters live and we travel from the City of London in the east to Mayfair in the west, talking about the social implications of living where she put those characters.

As to questions, hmmm, they’ve been all over the map. Sorry, bad pun. People are really interested in how people lived so they question me on those details. LOL, I was more scared of not being able to answer people’s questions than giving the lecture that first time.


JAIV:  We could talk at length about London, but will ask “What is your favorite place in London?” or at least the place you would want to spend more time in?

SF:  Oh, unlike Elizabeth Bennet, put me any fine house richly furnished and I’ll be happy, lol. Of course, most of those houses also have a lot of history and portraits of people in them too. Seriously, the National Portrait Gallery is one of my favorite haunts as I’m fascinated by how people wanted to present themselves to the world over the centuries. I’ll probably be found there for an afternoon when I’m back in the UK in July.

JAIV:  Do you think Jane Austen liked London, or was it as she humorously says “A Scene of Dissipation and Vice” where her morals were sure to be corrupted!?

SF:  As I say in the conclusion of my lecture, I feel that just by the amount of misfortune Austen sets in London that she disapproves of the metropolis, as most people of the time did, but you also see her fascination with it as a source of dramatic momentum. Things “happen” in London.

JAIV:  You have a very nice bibliography of sources listed on the site. What would you consider the most indispensable of your reference sources? And after that? – if someone was starting a Regency collection, what top five books should they have?

SF:  Everything by Deirdre Le Faye to start with. I also like the David M. Shapard annotations and the Claire Tomalin biography of Austen. These are the first ones that come off the top of my head for starting a collection. I have other favorites for certain subjects but that’s more specialized and maybe not of interest for someone just getting their feet wet.

JAIV:  Yes, the Tomalin biography is lovely, as are all her other biographies.  And what would we do without Deirdre Le Faye!

What title would you say in on the top of your wish-list?

SF:  Ha! You mean after more time and money? I was quite disappointed that Santa spent all his time at the second-hand bookstores and missed the easy purchase of the new Selwyn book on Children. [David Selwyn, Jane Austen and Children] Hope the message gets through loud and clear to the Birthday Bunny.

JAIV:  Well, hopefully that ‘Birthday Bunny’ is reading this! – it is a great read, so I do hope you get it soon!

I find I learn something new every day – there is so much “out there” and unless one stays on top of it every minute, a whole new website or blog or image or map will have passed you by? How do you stay current?

SF:  It’s not easy, that’s for sure. I have two methods of staying current: the first is to make a daily constitutional of all my Austen bookmarked sites. Most times, I’ll get my first notice of new blogs or book recommendations from all of you. The second is to use my website statistics where I can track the URLs of people stopping by to visit.

JAIV:  What has been a recent discovery for you? And what has been your latest “I’m completely stumped” moment?

SF:  Last year, I read a book on pregnancy and childbirth that came highly recommended to me (Judith Schneid Lewis, In the Family Way, Childbearing in the British Aristocracy, 1760-1860) where I was stunned to learn that unlike the Victorians, women did not hide away if they were showing and that a confinement started when the baby was born. The other eye-opener was to read about all the double entendres in Austen’s fiction according to Jill Heydt-Stevenson’s Austen’s Unbecoming Conjunctions. That book alone has provided hours of stimulating conversation among friends and family.

The stumper, and I hope this doesn’t gross people out, is that I’m still wondering about those female hygiene matters. I assume they used rags for their monthlies but how did they stay put without safety pins? Wearing those flimsy dresses, did ladies shave their underarms or did they sew shields in their sleeves like the men had in their shirts? I know I’ll be visiting the Museum of Fashion in Bath in July, so hopefully a curator there can answer that for me.

JAIV:  Any plans to write a book of your own?

SF:  Oh heck no. But then again, I never expected to be writing articles or a lecture either.

JAIV:  What do you do in your spare time?? [ is there any?!]

SF:  Not as much as I’d like for all my other interests. I love traveling and seeing things when I can afford the time and expense. So many things, like needlework and singing, I used to enjoy but don’t have time for any more.

JAIV:  What else do you read other than Regency period books? – Fiction? Non-fiction? Biography? Regency Romance?

SF:  Politics, Current Events and yes, I have a stash of Regency Romance too. They’re my therapy when the accounting gets too overwhelming and I start dreaming in numbers.

JAIV:  So who is on your Regency Romance shelf?

Two most favorite Regency writers are Julia Quinn & Regina Jeffers. Reading too many historians to venture into the actual literature of the age – though I did force myself to read Pierce Egan’s Life in London.  Sigh, I thought I was going to enjoy it a lot more than I did. I swear, I just cannot understand these writers’ love affair with the semi-colon.

JAIV:  And of course the oft-asked- really-cannot-answer-question: What is your favorite Jane Austen? And Why?

SF:  You can’t knock a classic like Pride and Prejudice off the literary pedestal since I know I wish I were more like Elizabeth Bennet in temperament and I just love the decorous but biting social humor in it. While the other novels do have elements of social satire, I don’t think you’re chuckling from almost end to end in any other of the major novels. However, I do have soft spots in my heart for Marianne Dashwood as I was just as bad a hopeless romantic at age 17 as she is and I also cheer for Anne Elliot, who triumphs over every hurdle thrown her way with such grace.

JAIV:  Your thoughts on Google Books and ebooks, etc…

SF:  I love both books you can hold in your hands and the ebooks. For me, I want to have a physical book for the Austen related subjects so I can flip through it again and again easily. But there are very few books on politics or current events that once I’ve read them, I want to keep on my bookshelf collecting dust, so I actually prefer those on ebooks.

JAIV:   Anything else you want to share about your website or your plans for future additions to it?

SF:  Well, I sort of let the cat out the bag earlier on the future direction of the website but I do thank you for these very thoughtful questions. I’ve very much enjoyed answering them. You’re a treasure Deb and I value your friendship. Thank you for all you do!


Thank YOU Sue, for all that You do! and for stopping by here to give the very interesting details about yourself and your on-going Regency project.  If anyone has any questions for Sue, please ask away – I will see that she answers them! – alas! no prize giveaways here today, except the prize of learning more about Sue’s website and the Regency period! – Take some time and go for a walk through the pages of the Regency Encyclopedia, ending it all with “dressing the doll” in the costume of your choice!

Note:  to access the site you will need the following: [case-sensitive]

Login:  JAScholar
Password: Academia

Thanks again Sue – It has been great fun learning more about you!
Everyone else ? – please comment with any questions for Sue!

[Images from The Regency Encyclopedia, @ Sue Forgue, 2011]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum at Jane Austen in Vermont

On the Block! ~ Sarah Burney’s Copy of ‘Pride & Prejudice’

Heritage Auction Galleries: 2011 April New York Signature Rare Books Auction #6053 ; Lot # 36518

Novelist Sarah Burney’s Copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

[Jane Austen]. Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. By the Author of “Sense and Sensibility.” London: Printed for T. Egerton, 1813.

First edition. Three twelvemo volumes (7 3/8 x 4 1/2 inches). [4], 307, [1, blank]; [4], 239, [1, blank]; [4], 323, [1, blank] pp. Half-titles present but that for the first volume is in facsimile. Most sheets watermarked 1808.

Contemporary half green roan over marbled boards, smooth spines with gilt rules and lettering, edges sprinkled red. Some rubbing to joints and extremities. Scattered foxing. A very good copy with a fine association.

Sarah Harriet Burney’s copy, with her signature on the title of all three volumes. English novelist Sarah Harriet Burney (1772-1884), half-sister of Fanny Burney, published five novels during her lifetime. Among her more famous works are Tales of Fancy and Geraldine Fauconberg. Her work was admired by Jane Austen who, in one of her letters, remarks that she is reading one of Sarah Burney’s novels for the third time. In turn, Sarah Harriet Burney received Jane Austen’s novels from her publisher, and was one of the earliest readers to publicly recognize her genius. Sarah Burney’s life has strong echoes of Jane Austen’s fiction, but with scandalous overtones. In 1798, she eloped with her half-brother Captain James Burney, 22 years her senior, settling eventually in lodgings in Tottenham Court Road, “living in the most groveling mean style.” In 1803 James went back to live with his wife. Sarah then took a job as a governess, wrote novels as a means of earning money to support herself, and eventually left England for Florence, where she mixed with a circle or artists and authors including Henry Crabb Robinson. She received great sympathy from her three remaining half-sisters, Esther, Fanny, and Charlotte, on the death of James Burney in 1821. In 1822 she gained the post of governess to the grandchildren of Lord Crewe, with her own house and a salary of 300 pounds a year. She spent the last years of her life in ill health at a boarding house in Bath. In 1840, on the death of Fanny D’Arblay, Henry Crabb Robinson wrote that she bequeathed Sarah “1,200 per annum for her life.” She continued to socialize with Robinson and his friends until her death at Cheltenham on February 8, 1844. Some of her property was left to her half-nephew, Martin Charles Burney, James Burney’s son.

Gilson A3. Grolier, 100 English, 69. Keynes, Austen, 3. Sadleir 62b. Tinker 204.

Estimate: $90,000 – up.  Starting bid is $45,000.

*Absentee bidding has opened and ends on April 6, 2011.
*Live auction on April 7, 2011.

[Image and text from the Heritage Galleries website]

Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont

The Latest Austen-Inspired Chick-Lit Confection

It seems there has been a publisher’s bidding war for yet another Austen-inspired novel to be released in 2012.  Hodder acquired  the rights to what reads like a Jane Austen marriage guide – indeed the title is The Jane Austen Marriage Manual, by Kim Izzo:


15.03.11 | Katie Allen

Hodder has acquired a chick lit novel about a heroine who uses the novels of Jane Austen to help her find a rich husband.

Women’s fiction editor Isobel Akenhead acquired British Commonwealth excluding Canada rights in a “heated” auction from Diana Beaumont at Rupert Heath Literary Agency to The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo. Jennifer Lambert at HarperCollins acquired Canadian rights in a pre-empt, while Brenda Copeland of St Martin’s Press acquired US rights. Gráinne Fox at Fletcher & Company handled the US and Canada rights for Beaumont, the main agent.

The novel follows Kate, the beauty editor at a fashion magazine, who finds herself unemployed, single, homeless and about to turn 40. When she is asked to write a freelance article about whether it is possible to marry for money, she decides to use the novels of Jane Austen to find herself an eligible match.

Akenhead said “It is brilliantly written, laugh-out-loud funny and has the most unforgettable heroine, and I feel confident it will appeal to fans of chick-lit favourites such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Alexandra Potter’s Me and Mr Darcy, not to mention all the ‘Janeites’ out there.”

Hodder will publish in 2012.

You can follow the author Kim Izzo on Twitter here.

Alas! no cover yet…

[Image: from ‘The Chick-Lit Pandemic’, NY Times, by A. Richard Allen, 2006]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum at Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen and Starbucks on a Sunday Morning

Ok, a silly story – but Jane Austen is the reason, so must pass on.

Setting:  Starbucks in Simsbury, Connecticut
Time:  late Sunday morning
Reason:  meeting a friend as I pass through town for a quick cup of tea with a pastry

Order: 2 medium cups of tea, 2 blueberry muffins

Posted Question of the Day:  “In What Country was the Battle of Waterloo fought?”

Prize:  20 cents off each cup of tea

So, I know this answer, say that I do to the young man behind the counter, who eyes me with a quizzical “yea, like pigs fly” look;
 “Yea, where then?” he says;
“Belgium” I say –  he is dumbstruck – says “Not one person has gotten it right all day. ”
I proudly comment to my friend “I know this of course because of Jane Austen” –
She gives me the usual, “Oh here comes the Jane Austen stuff roll-of-the-eyes-look” – the young man looks at me as though I am from another planet – but I can tell he is impressed – “everyone says France” he says…

So I get my 20 cents off, then proceed to bore my friend with the whole tale, that if you read Jane Austen, you then must learn about the Napoleonic Wars even though she frustrates all her readers of a historical bent for not even giving a mention to the fact that England and France were largely at war during her entire lifetime [not to mention those pesky colonies] …

[‘The Line Will Advance’ – Image:]

And one of course must confess that if you have come to discover Georgette Heyer just in order to stay connected to Austen’s Regency times, then you will have read An Infamous Army, which teaches more about the ‘Battle of Waterloo’ than most textbooks on the subject…

So you see how Jane Austen widens your world?! and can save you 20 cents in the bargain?

Copyright @ 2011, by Deb Barnum at Jane Austen in Vermont