A Sad Loss in the World of Jane Austen

I was saddened today to read about the death of Vera Quin. A message was sent to various JASNA contacts from Louise West, curator of the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton.

 Claire Bellanti, Margaret Chittick & Vera Quin at JASNA’s 2011 AGM in Fort Worth,Texas
[photograph from Kerri S. with thanks] 

I had the pleasure these past few years of hearing Ms. Quin and her friend Margaret Chittick speak on all things Jane Austen at the JASNA AGMs: 

  • in 2008 in Chicago, we saw “Looking at Landscape with Austen in Her Time and Ours”
  • in 2009 inPhiladelphia, we discovered how “Marginal Siblings Stir the Plot”
  • In 2011 in Fort Worth, we heard that indeed “Sense and Sensibility is Full of Surprises”!

…all three offering a great interchange between Vera and Margaret as they shared their knowledge and love of Jane Austen with an abundance of information, insight and laughter!

And two of my favorite books in my Jane Austen collection are by Vera Quin:

Jane Austen Visits London. Cappella Archive, 2008. 50pp.
PB: 978-1-902918-46-4: £6.00

Most of the thirty surviving letters that Jane Austen wrote during her visits to London between 1796 and 1815 were written to her sister Cassandra. They provide a detailed account of the people she met and the many events she attended.

Vera Quin gives particulars of the houses where she stayed and Jane’s relationship with her London relatives, especially her brother Henry, who started in business as a banker and then became a parish priest. Despite their length and wealth of information, the letters reveal very little of Jane’s feelings, although there is more than a hint of a flirtation with the young Tom Lefroy. [from the publisher’s website]


In Paris with Jane Austen. Cappella Archive, 2005. 250pp.
HB:1-902918-22-3: £17.00; PB: 1-902918-32-0: £12.00

One fascinating byway of English Literature is how quickly pirated versions of Jane Austen’s novels were translated into French and made available in Paris so soon after their publication in England. Despite the Napoleonic Wars a variety of English books and scientific papers was smuggled to France for translation, sometimes on cartel ships exchanging French and English prisoners of war.

Vera Quin has writen an engaging guide book to those streets in Geneva and Paris where Jane’s Austen’s novels were translated; where the printers and booksellers lived, and the libraries from which copies were borrowed.

She considers the differences between the English and French versions whereby, much like modern television adaptations, subtlety of language was lost but romantic appeal was amplified. She includes much background material, providing a very clear account of the French Revolution and details of the work of contemporary female novelists who were Jane Austen’s continental literary competitors. [from the publisher’s website]

[You can find copies at Cappella Archive; the London book is also available at Jane Austen Books [call to see if they might have the Paris book as well…] ]

Vera did much for her Jane Austen Society in the UK and we have been fortunate to have her attend and participate in our own JASNA gatherings where she brought much grace and humor.  I am most grateful to have seen her and to have these two book gems to remember her by – she shall be greatly missed…

 Copyright @2010 Jane Austen in Vermont