Mr. Collins ~ Alive and Well! ~ in Charleston, South Carolina!

Update! – two items of interest regarding Mr. Collins:

Here is the picture of Vince Lannie and his wife Joanne at his talk [my camera is  finally speaking to my computer!]

[Vince and Joanne Lannie – notice Vince’s shirt – a great find at the Fort Worth AGM! – and this might be the only such shirt in existence!]

– and two, I alert you to visit the Austen Authors site to read Diana Birchall’s latest, this time on Mr. Collins, as he writes to Lady Catherine after his proposal to Elizabeth, a proposal he still thinks is to be accepted…

“Mr. Collins and His Successful Love,” by Diana Birchall.

Jane Austen in Vermont has been spending some time in South Carolina! – so what a treat to visit the South Carolina JASNA Region last week and hear Vince Lannie (husband of Regional Coordinator Joanne Lannie) give a rousing talk on of all people, Mr. Collins! In his “The Two Mr. Collins: ‘Underbred’ Social Misfit or Opportunistic Regency Clergyman?” Lannie presents a Mr. Collins who in his words “never stands a chance” – he is ridiculed in print by all the characters and Austen herself, and certainly in all the films.  

David Bamber - P&P 1995

Lannie begins his talk defining Austen’s take on “the Proper English Gentleman” – Mr. Bingley the perfect personification, Mr. Darcy a close second –  handsome, wealthy enough to not have to work, and approved by all [and I guess why Mr. Darcy is second-best – it takes a while to realize that he is after all the epitome of the English Gentleman, is he not?] – but Mr. Collins? – he is presented to us as outside the realm of the Gentleman before we even meet him!  His letter to Mr. Bennet suggests his best efforts to bridge the gap, to mend the family feud – but he is rendered ridiculous by his creator and in the reaction to him by her Bennet family characters. 

Ingres – Portrait-Dupaty c1805

 “The Proper English Gentleman” – Regency Period


The Proper English Gentleman - 21st century style

Collins is initially described in lowly terms – unattractive, deficient in intelligence and social status, one who only rises in this overly socially-conscious world due to the “fortunate chance” of Lady Catherine as patroness.  The facts of this chance act are never revealed in the text – why indeed does Lady Catherine choose to bestow her gifts on Collins?? Lannie calls Lady C a “Sugar Mamma”! – she and Collins forming a “Regency coalition,” a partnership that attempts to wield power and control over all the family and the neighborhood. 

Brock's Mr. Collins - Mollands

There is much analysis of Charlotte Lucas and her role as a “marital prostitute” as some have called her, with her very clear practical views on marriage where woman acquiesces vs. the hope for independent choice based on love. Elizabeth’s rejection is such a shock for Collins; it is so against the tradition of little choice in marriage for the woman, he is quite stupified. Lannie emphasizes that the “discordant dialogue” between Elizabeth and Charlotte on marriage and romantic love is one of the major themes of the novel. 

Malcolm Rennie - P&P 1980

In the end Lannie places Collins with other opportunistic men of the age who need to align themselves with patrons and helpmates who will raise them to the gentleman status that they are in reality far below. The irony perhaps is that while Mr. Collins is not Jane Austen’s version of the perfect Regency Gentleman, Mr. Collins certainly thinks he is!

Tom Hollander - P&P 2005

I offer only a quick skim of Mr. Lannie’s talk – I cannot give it all away, as all in the audience thought it was such a great defense of Mr. Collins that it is more than worthy of a breakout session slot for the Pride and Prejudice AGM meeting in Minneapolis in 2013!  Certainly Lannie’s fear that a roomful of Janeites might be compelled to throw tomatoes (Joanne supplied plastic ones to toss in the event!] or engage in “hissing” behaviors as he staunchly defended Mr. Collins against his fellow characters and his own creator did indeed not come to pass! – on the contrary, we all behaved exceedingly well as proper Jane Austen fans should, and heartily encouraged him to send it in to JASNA…! 

Nitin Ganatra - Bride & Prejudice

But I can ask, as we did get into some discussion about Mr. Collins [Should he perhaps have ended up with Mary and solved the entail dilemma for the Bennets? – Could he and Charlotte be truly happy together? Etc…] –

  •  What are your thoughts on Mr. Collins? 
  •  If you think on all the films you will agree that Mr. Collins is made to be quite ridiculous in all of them! – who is your favorite of the lot?

Guy Henry - Lost in Austen

So, all in all a delightful day meeting a whole new group of Janeite friends, in the lovely setting of the Charleston Library Society.  Up next from this visit: The Charleston Library Society’s copy of Emma.

[p.s. my pictures of the event will have to wait until my camera and my computer can agree to talk to each other… in the meantime enjoy the various above shots of the Proper English Gentleman and the various players of Mr. Collins!]

Melville Cooper - 1940 P&P

And there are others – is your favorite Lockwood West from the 1952 adaptation, or Julian Curry from 1967, or any of the other versions?

Lockwood West - 1952 P&P

Julian Curry - 1967 P&P

Let’s hear your thoughts on Mr. Collins!

Brock - P&P - RofP

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont.

The Penny Post Weekly Review ~ All Things Jane Austen!

The Penny Post Weekly Review

 November 20, 2011

 News & Gossip 

*Lindsay Ashford on her new book The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen – and how Austen perhaps died from arsenic poisoning, whether intentional or not – has created quite the kerfuffle on the airwaves. Miss Ashford has written a fictional account of what might have happened [and it certainly reveals a good number of Austen family secrets! – all fiction of course…or is it?]

The Daily Mail:

and The Guardian:

 [I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Ashford at the Fort Worth AGM – I’ve also read the book! – more on this in a future post I hope… has anyone else read it? – it deserves some conversation!]

*Those who have been following Downton Abbey [and who in their right costume-drama mind is not] will be pleased to know that the series has been granted a third season! – meanwhile we on this side of the pond “patiently” wait until January for Series 2, now finished in the UK – watch your PBS station for details on the re-running of Season 1 prior to the new shows – [do I dare admit that at our WWW (Wild Women Weekend) we watched the entire first season straight through [well, parts 5 and 6 on the Sunday morning – is there anything better than sharing this show with your very own group of fabulous wild women?!] 

Anyway, here is an interview with Dan Stevens – the hero of the piece, soon to be a soldier in WWI who returns home injured – however will Mary fit into this lifestyle change??

JASNA and JASNA-Vermont News

The JASNA website has added its annual link to Austen-related gifts from various JASNA Regions here: – a great place to start your holiday shopping, even for those not so Austen-crazed – what a better time than this to convert a few friends…

The JASNA-Vermont Annual Birthday Tea is next Sunday December 4, 2011 – please send in your reservation form if you are planning on attending! –

This at the JASNA South Carolina Region:  I went – wonderful time – will report the full details this week…

The Circulating Library 

*Has anyone read any of these books? Are they any good? – the Jaine Austen mysteries by Laura Levine:

Humor is the key ingredient in this slick debut by television comedy writer Levine. Freelancer Jaine Austen (her mother loved the classics but couldn’t spell) makes a living writing love letters, personal ads and industrial brochures, but she never expected her work to involve her in murder.

Titles in the series: 

  • Pampered to Death 
  • Death of a Trophy Wife
  • Killer Cruise 
  • Killing Bridezilla 
  • Death by Pantyhose 
  • The PMS Murder 
  • Shoes to Die For 
  • Killer Blonde 
  • Last Writes 
  • This Pen for Hire

*For the Sense and Sensibility bicentenary – an article in Fine Books & Collections:

FB&C asks: Have any FB&C readers attempted to collect all known editions and translations of Austen’s debut title?  Does anyone know of any individual or institution that may have made such an attempt…?

* a great resource: “Fiction in the Hampshire Chronicle 1772-1820” on the Chawton House Library website:

* A new book with a great title:  Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Bronte’s Grave by Simon Goldhill.  There are chapters on traveling to the homes and haunts of Shakespeare, Bronte, Wordsworth, Scott, and Freud, but alas! no Austen – what was Mr. Goldhill thinking?!:

And the press release: 
[with thanks to Joe T.!] 

*Do you like Sherlock Holmes? – there is some good stuff at Victoria Magazine and 

And while we are on Mr. Holmes, visit the website for the Sherlock Holmes Society of London: – where you can order your Christmas cards for 2011 complete with Holmes and Watson in the “Blue Carbuncle”…

And you can get on your Kindle with the touch of your keyboard, a new Holmes-inspired book: Barefoot on Baker Street by Charlotte Anne Walter:

 This all in preparation for the second installment in the Holmes / Watson – Downey / Law due out it is said on of all days, December 16th! Would Jane Austen like Sherlock Holmes?? what do you think??

Websites and Blogs worth a look 

*Harvard University has set up a page Jane Austen: Online Resources

Harvard recently published the annotated editions of Pride and Prejudice and PersuasionEmma, NA, MP, and S&S are forthcoming.  Note that our esteemed Austenblog and Jane Austen’s World blog are both included in the resource list! Congratulations to Mags and Vic!

*One can never have enough of London, as Samuel Johnson so wisely opined – so here is yet another site to visit to satisfy your London wanderlust: the online exhibition Glimpses of London’s Past at the University of Otago:

Norden map of London 1593

[via Vic at Jane Austen’s World]

*Another Jane Austen blog to spend your spare minutes visiting: Vicariously Jane Austen at 

*An oldie but worth a listen:  Claire Tomalin on Jane Austen at
[TTBOOOK = To the Best of Our Knowledge – check out the various interview podcasts…]

*Old Print Giclees – reproducing prints of all sorts – here is a Gibson print – you can own your own [and very affordable], either on paper or canvas in any size – check out the website for other print selections on various subjects:

"She Finds Some Consolation in her Mirror"

Museum Musings – Exhibition Trekking 

*The V&A:  Number 11 Henrietta Street – follow this audio and transcript for a tour through the house next door to Henry Austen’s No. 10: a tad larger than this image!

*The First Ladies Exhibit at the Museum of American History, opened November 19, 2011

 The First Ladies explores the unofficial but important position of first lady and the ways that different women have shaped the role to make their own contributions to the presidential administrations and the nation. The exhibition features more than two dozen gowns from the Smithsonian’s almost 100-year old First Ladies Collection, including those worn by Frances Cleveland, Lou Hoover, Jacqueline Kennedy, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama. A section titled “Changing Times, Changing First Ladies” highlights the roles played by Dolley Madison, Mary Lincoln, Edith Roosevelt, and Lady Bird Johnson and their contributions to their husband’s administrations. The First Ladies encourages visitors to consider the changing role played by the first lady and American women over the past 200 years.

*Robert Burns at the Morgan:

Burns - Auld Lang Syne

Regency Life 

*Fashion: video of Regency fashions as worn by Jane Austen, courtesy of the Yorkshire Post from an exhibit at Fairfax House that runs through December 31st:

*Music: a reminder about the Jane Austen Music Transcripts by Gillian Dooley:

 – and see this Regency Musical Timeline blog: – no longer updated it seems, but a few good posts there worth looking at…


*Begin your holiday gift giving by sending all your friends this Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar – London again! [click this link not the picture for the demo]

And for Fun! 

*Buy your own London Taxi! from London Taxi Exports – see the story at Mary Ellen Foley’s Anglo-American blog:

*And finally, How Shakespearean are you?  – visit the Oxford Words blog to find out:  

So, I couldn’t resist typing in: 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.


Your English is 96 percent Shakespearean.

You ARE William Shakespeare!

No surprise there!

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont 

Guest Post ~ Jane Austen Knits

Gentle Readers! ~ I welcome today Janeite Lynne, a JASNA-Vermont member and occasional contributor to this site, as she writes on Jane Austen and knitting!


Jane Knits


They were entering the hall. Mr. Knightley’s eyes had preceded Miss Bates’s in a glance at Jane. From Frank Churchill’s face, where he thought he saw confusion suppressed or laughed away, he had involuntarily turned to hers; but she was indeed behind, and too busy with her shawl. [Emma]


              Have you ever wanted to create the kind of shawl that Jane Fairfax might have hid behind or slippers that would have kept Elizabeth Bennet’s feet warm?  If your answer to this question is yes!, then, like me, you may be both a Janeite and a knitter.  I imagined that people with these two interests would be a very small subset of the larger groups, but this month Interweave Knits made me think I was wrong.  They have released a special edition of their magazine: Jane Austen Knits.


The patterns in the edition are organized around places: country, manor, garden, and town. There are over thirty patterns including:  shawls, shrugs, scarves, handwarmers, slippers, reticules,  Mr. Knightley’s Vest, and, of course, a tea cozy.  If you are a lace knitter, you will be in heaven.  Lace abounds!

Lydia Military Spencer

Jane Austen Knits goes beyond the patterns, though.  There are articles about knitting during Austen’s time; both Mrs. Austen and Cassandra knit.  People speculate that Austen herself probably knit, but there is no concrete evidence for this.  We know that she did needlework.  But knitting may have been one of the household chores that the family sheltered her from so that she could write.  There are other articles in the special edition on regency fashion, muslin, a timeline of her life and the historical events that happened during her lifetime, and even suggestions for Austen-inspired movies and auidobooks to watch or listen to while you are knitting.

Knitting during the Regency Period was a utilitarian activity, and therefore was a job for those without money.  Mrs. Bates in Emma, Mrs. Smith in Persuasion, and Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibility all mention projects or engage in knitting.  Of course, Mrs. Jennings would be undaunted by fashionable society’s prejudices and continue to knit even when she was wealthy.  Still, I like to imagine that knitting not only served a necessary household function for the other characters but also gave them solace and satisfaction.  As Mrs. Smith says about Nurse Rooke: “As soon as I could use my hands, she taught me to knit, which has been a great amusement.”  I couldn’t agree with her more.

Pemberley slippers

[Images: from the Interweave website]


More information at the Interweave website where you can order this special issue for $14.99.

Thank you Lynne for sharing this! – makes me want to dig out my old knitting needles and get to work! 

Miss Bennet's beaded bag

Copyright @2011 by Lynne H, of Jane Austen in Vermont

JASNA-Vermont Event ~ Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea!

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

~ The Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea! ~
In celebration of the Bicentenary of Sense & Sensibility (1811) 

  Rebecca McLaughlin* 

A Second Chance for ‘Sense & Sensibility’: Marianne as Heroine 

Is S & S not your favorite Austen novel? ~
 Using the composition history of Sense & Sensibility, Austen’s biography, S&S film adaptations, and the novel text, McLaughlin argues that Marianne is the true Heroine of Austen’s first novel!


~ Traditional English Afternoon Tea ~ 

Sunday, 4 December 2011, 2 – 5 p.m. 

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

$20. / person ~ $5. / student
RSVPs required!  ~ Register by 25 Nov 2011

* the December event flyer: Dec 2011 flyer
* the reservation form: Dec Tea Reservation form 2011

or email: jasnavermont [at] gmail [dot] com

~ Regency Period or Afternoon Tea finery encouraged! ~ 


*We are honored to welcome Rebecca McLaughlin, a life member of JASNA [she wrote her MA thesis on Jane Austen in 2000], and now a Lecturer in the Department of English at UVM, where she frequently teaches an online ‘Austen: Page & Film’ course. 

~ Upcoming in 2012 ~
March 25:
UVM Professor Eric Lindstrom on “How to Love Sanditon
June 3: Brooklyn College Professor Rachel Brownstein on her new book Why Jane Austen?

Hope to see some of you there!

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont

The Great Pride & Prejudice Trivia Quiz Throwdown

Enquiring readers: Today I welcome our own JASNA-Vermont member Michelle Singer with her guest post on our very interesting adventure in the world of Pride and Prejudice trivia…!

Pride & Prejudice Trivia Quiz Throwdown

Guest blog by Michelle A.L. Singer

November 3, 2011

Somewhere in Vermont, we knew, a men’s Jane Austen book group was meeting. You can imagine our regard. Were they based in Montpelier, we wondered, where we were? Or in Burlington, where JASNA Vermont held its quarterly meetings? With delicacy, we inquired after the gentlemen and found that they had been in our own village the whole time! We approached a known member of the group at the next JASNA meeting at Champlain College in Burlington, and what fortune! Two of the group’s members were there and had such pleasing manners! Dropping all pretense of modesty, we immediately challenged them to a Pride & Prejudice trivia quiz throwdown, battle of the sexes style. (I had been exercising great strength of will by not opening the Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Trivia Game by Marina Games that I had bought months before.) They accepted.

And that’s how we found ourselves at the home of Thierry Guerlain on an October Sunday afternoon, laden with hors d’oeurves, mini apple pies, and a recycled team bowling trophy fitted out for the occasion with “Jane Austen Champions” lettering and little gold P & P books for the bowlers, I mean Janeites, to hold in their front hands. [editor’s note: a brilliant concoction! – see below]

After the necessary introductions, we sat across a table covered with food in Mr. Guerlain’s side parlor, four women and four men. Deb Barnum, JASNA Vermont Regional Coordinator, Erica who had read the entire text in preparation, Sarah Madru who made the sweet potato and goat cheese bruschetta, and I, Michelle Singer who brought the game and the trophy.

Sarah, Michelle, Erica, sans Deb

Across from us, four members of the famous [editors’ note: ‘infamous’] men’s Jane Austen book group, our host Thierry Guerlain, George Shumar, John Bollard and Ed Good, gentlemen all.

John, George, Thierry, and Ed

The game instructed us to roll the die and, if we answered the Pride and Prejudice trivia question correctly, to collect the amount of points on the die. Answering correctly allowed the team to roll again and answer another question, until they missed. The turn then passed to the other team. The first team to earn 25 points could then claim victory. Rejecting the handicap of “Ladies first” we rolled to see who would start, and the women won the right to begin the game.

We immediately found ourselves in a good position to answer the very text-specific question, “How far was Lucas Lodge from Meryton?” It was possible to guess since it was obviously not above five miles, but we didn’t need to guess. It was the kind of answer (“About a mile”) that you could only know if you had JUST read it, which some of us (ahem) had.

We were half way to 25 points before the men even had a chance to answer a question (and get it wrong) before we regained control of the game and answered question after question, overcoming the 25 points in just two turns. And so it was that the women won the first game of the night and the men suggested we change the structure of the game. [editor’s emphasis]

In an effort to be lovely and amiable, we agreed. We decided to take turns asking questions. The first team to 11 (ping pong) correct answers would win. The men answered first, creating confusion from there on out about who was “winning” since they were always one point ahead…until we answered and evened the score (every time). We soon both reached 11 without a misstep and then continued without missing a question until we just stopped counting. It was now sudden death; the first team to answer incorrectly would lose.

Warm up counts for a lot. Questions that seemed confusing at first like, “Who warned Elizabeth of Mr. Wickham’s mistreatment of Mr. Darcy?” (Miss. Caroline Bingley) became obvious once our heads were fully focused on P & P for an hour. Soon it felt like they were all as easy as, “Who sometimes arranges such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions?” (Mr. Collins, of course.)

Finally, after at least 30 questions back and forth, the fateful moment came, or rather, the fateful question: “What did Mrs. Bennet think was Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s reason for visiting Longbourn?” Uhhhhhhh. We tried to recreate the scene. I said something about the middle of the night. We were immediately docked one point for giving an answer from a movie version rather than the text (Lady Catherine de Bourgh bangs on the Bennet door in the middle of the night only in the Kiera Knightly version of P & P. As we all know, when Lady Catherine visits and they take the walk in the “prettyish kind of a little wilderness” on one side of the lawn in full daylight). Even after getting our scene straight, we could not account for what Mrs. Bennet thought of the visit. And so, we were sunk. (The answer is very obscure. She expects news from Mr. & Mrs. Collins.)

And so it was that the second game of the evening came to an end with the men’s team as victors. I will say that it seemed like the vast majority of easy multiple choice questions seemed to go to them. Questions like, “What town did Georgiana Darcy go to when Mr. Wickham tried to elope with her?” were good trivia questions until you got to the multiple choices of “Hunsford, Bath, or Ramsgate.” The question, “Which Bennet girl did Mr. Collins pursue for a wife? Lydia, Mary, or Elizabeth” inspired a collective groan. We ended the evening with no team able to claim the trophy, so it was relegated to the office…to await next time.

Jane Austen Champion

The best part of the evening, aside from the good food, good company, and good conversation was that a new co-ed quiz and reading group was formed out of our absolute delight in finding each other and enjoying the same diversions. And so, the quest of the female JASNA members in Montpelier to track down and pit ourselves against our male counterparts, who we had only heard rumor of, was happily answered with the perfect union of a new book group—not unlike an Austen novel itself.

Quick, what was the name of Mr. Darcy’s mother? [scroll down below for answer]

Copyright @2011, Michelle Singer at Jane Austen in Vermont

Our next read? ~ E. M. Forster, A Room with a View 

[ quiz answer:  Lady Anne Darcy ]