Another First-Timer’s Take on the Louisville Jane Austen Festival!

Dear Gentle Readers: I had the pleasure of meeting Tess Quinn last year at one of the Jane Austen Weekends at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park Vermont.  Tess then told me she had published her first short story in the compilation Road to Pemberley (Ulysses Press, 2011), which lay at home, unread, and obviously waiting for this sort of impetus! – Titled “A Good Vintage Whine”,  I read it as soon as I got home and found it to be one of the more inventive of all of such stories that I have ever read… I still recall is very vividly, surely a tribute to its effect!

Tess has offered to write on her first-time visit to the Jane Austen Festival, to follow up Melody’s previous account – so here you can again visit vicariously with words and more pictures, the entire weekend – and this time we get to go to the Ball! And I do think we need to put next year’s adventure on our calendars right now! – and certainly all meet for Tea…


The Louisville group


After hearing lovely things for the last few years about the Jane Austen Festival sponsored by the Louisville region of JASNA, I finally attended this event, the 5th Annual. Everything I had heard was not hype – this was a most delightful way to pass the weekend. The ladies and gentlemen of the Louisville chapter are commended for doing it right! Everything organized well, high quality entertainments of every variety – and fashion everywhere you looked!

Flirting on the porch

The Market

The Parlour

I attended with three fellow New York friends and we began the morning on Saturday with a stroll through the various shops of the market. (I was sorry we did not arrive soon enough for the fencing demonstration, which sadly was not repeated again during the festival, though most events were.) I was sorely tempted by many of the fashionable fabrics, bonnets, period games and trinkets – but managed to limit myself only to the purchase of some teas. Shortly afterwards, I headed off to blend my own with Julia of Bingley Teas, one of the session events available. Made a wonderfully aromatic (and quite tasty as I have since discovered) blend with black tea, roses and calendula, cranberry and apricot…and a few other additions. I am now ready to hit the markets confidently to find my own ingredients and develop my own signature blend! Following this session, I rejoined my friends for our scheduled tea time.

Tea Table

What a lovely tea it was! And how impressed was I to discover that all the china being put into service was the collection of one lady!—Bonnie Wise, the Regional Coordinator for Louisville and spearhead of this event. Truly amazing, and very gracious of her to trust us with her precious china. Our table tried several tea blends (all from the Bingley Tea line) but I must confess my favorite was “Marianne’s Passion” – it was delicious served hot, with a fruity under-taste; and even better when I later sampled it in iced tea form.


Well sated with sandwiches, scones and desserts (I agree with Melody, the lavender cake was delicious) we headed off to watch Mr Darcy undress. What better entertainment for ladies on a lazy summer afternoon! And judging by the crowd under the tent-top, I wasn’t alone in that opinion. Along the way to it we admired (and photographed) scores of wonderful Regency attire; of course, stopping to chat with ladies and gents alike about the construction of them (being a novice at making my own, I was most interested.) Brian Cushing (aka Mr Darcy) had an engaging presentation style as he peeled off his layers and his anecdotes were both humorous and instructive. A long collective chuckle rippled through the audience as he began to pull his shirt-tail out from his breeches to show us a typical shirt of the period… and it kept coming and coming. In the end it reached past his knees… as he asserted that this was one of the shorter ones of the day!

Darcy in shirtails

Now employing my fan assiduously (I shall not admit whether from the summer heat or seeing Mr Darcy’s shirt-tails! Such a fluttering came all over me!) we ventured to find a bit of shade and to capture in print our own fashions in the ‘grove’ –

Ladies of Fashion in the Grove

and then back to the presentation tent for a lecture on Sickness and Health as depicted in Austen’s novels. It was a fascinating look at various characters and their ailments and a perspective you don’t often encounter – that Mr Woodhouse, despite his annoying solicitousness of everyone’s health, was actually seldom wrong. The whole of it illustrated wondrously Jane Austen’s own extensive understanding of illness and treatments and human nature, of course. Dr. Cheryl Kinney assembled a wonderful slide show of characters, treatments, film clips and anecdotes to support her lecture. It was so well done, I determined not to miss the second lecture she would offer on Sunday. After this one, I approached Dr. Kinney to ask her opinion of the ailment of Anne DeBourgh, as it had not been raised in this presentation. And, as a P&P fanfic author who often considers it when writing, I was thrilled to learn that Dr. Kinney has an entire session on Anne DeBourgh’s ailments planned for the 2013 AGM in Minneapolis. Count me in! I will come armed with interest and questions!
Shortly after this presentation, my group retired to our B&B (a most wonderful find) to rest before readying ourselves for the ball that evening.

The Ball!

I was amazed when we arrived for the dance at the attendance and the fact that nearly the entire company was in period attire. And what fashions there were to witness – each gown finer than the last! Although the acoustics in the hall were not perfect, we had a grand time, dancing almost every dance, and laughter abounded as we made sport (of ourselves and our neighbours, of course) at trying to learn the dance steps. Shame on us for not attending the afternoon practice session. The refreshments during the interval were extensive, and I was most amazed at the competence and administration once again of the Louisville organizers – replenishments were quick and smooth – truly well executed.

We slept very well after our busy day, and got a bit of a late start on Sunday; but arrived in time for a Bare Knuckle boxing demonstration. I, of course, averted my eyes from bare-chested as well as bare knuckled combatants.

Bare-Knuckle Boxing

Following this, I enjoyed a demonstration of side-saddle riding from Ms Deborah Glidden and her assistants. The older gentleman (Bill Glidden) turned out to have spent a long career in Hollywood; he was Doug McClure’s riding double in The Virginian among other things. A few of us in the audience were of an age to recall that TV series very well.

While my friends attended tea again, I instead toured the inside of the house that Melody has already described so nicely. And in addition to the house and furnishings themselves, I truly enjoyed the fashions on display there – all part of Gayle Simmons’s collection and complete with accessories of every sort. Every room held a few ensembles, either on models or lovingly spread out on beds awaiting some young lady to prepare for a ball. Very impressive in all. Each room was manned by a volunteer to provide visitors with a short history, and the master bedroom in particular had a pair of girls who explained that they were in their parents’ room looking for a ribbon their younger brother had impishly hid from them, a particular one the older girl wanted to wear for her coming out. They stayed ‘in character’ throughout and were a delight.

Gayle Simmons Collection

There was also a lovely lady demonstrating bobbin lace making in the house. Oh, the patience required – I don’t think I’ll tackle that, but I will certainly appreciate it more when I encounter the finished item.
More fashion was to come as I attended Betsy Bashore’s fashion show in the large tent. Her creations are magnificent and all taken from either extent garments or pattern books of the era, ranging from mid-1790’s to about 1820. I learned a great deal in addition to just admiring the look – of bonnet veils, and cartridge pleats, and apron dresses and the like. And the fabrics – many of them from saris – were exquisite. It inspired me to continue with my own novice efforts. (My own gown that day included an overdress that I’d made from a $5 thrift shop tablecloth – hey! It worked!)

Tess’s day-dress

I loved all the gowns – the details in them amazing – but my favorites were this brown and cranberry silk ensemble from 1796 (coincidentally, the period I write); and this tissue-silk in a red stripe that was cut on the bias so that the striping was diagonally oriented. They both had the most delicious flow and drape when the young ladies walked. I could just imagine that taking a turn about the room in one of these would turn Caroline Bingley green with envy (as well as capture the admiring eye of Mr Darcy.)

Dr. Kinney’s lecture on Sunday was to do with Jane Austen’s illness, but encompassed so much more besides. It looked at Charles Hayden (whom JA described as something between a man and an angel) as well as Dr Matthew Baillie, a prominent physician in London. One of these two was likely the doctor that Jane Austen consulted about her failing health. The presentation also included ailments and cures of the day, a fascinating look at arsenic (if you wore green or painted your rooms with green paint you exposed yourself to the poisonous stuff), more wonderful slides and film clips as well as a hilarious video look at why we love Austen set to the tune of Connie Stevens’s “Sixteen Reasons.” Overall, another session that was entertaining, informative and engaging. (Yep, definitely looking forward next year to that session on Anne DeBourgh!)
I witnessed a duel between two gentlemen. I learned that the purportedly injured party always shot first – in this case he wounded his opponent in the shoulder. But what a small victory it turned out to be when his opponent, shooting second, killed him in return!

The Duel!

I finished the afternoon at another of the special sessions, joining a group of ladies young and old to paint a fan. After a short historical talk on fans and seeing examples of extant designs, we were off to design our own. I must admit to admiring many of those around me as they took shape (and young ladies too of about fifteen, so accomplished for their age); but my own drawing and water color talents left something to be desired. What fun it was, though – and I have just ordered some blank fans so that I can practice and eventually make one worthy of appearing at a ball. After all, we all know that no excellence in [drawing] is to be acquired, without constant practice.

Nature Drawing

Laying out clothes

Fashion Show

Despite dreadful hot days that kept us in a continual state of inelegance, this Festival was not to be missed! Picture perfect in setting, it was well attended by only the most fashionable of society; had much to offer in entertainments; and was very nicely done indeed! The 6th Annual Jane Austen Festival in Louisville is already on my calendar for next summer. Hmmm, I’d better start sewing if I’m to show well…

The gentlemen have spied some ladies…


About the Author: Tess Quinn (a nom de plume) read Pride and Prejudice years ago at the age of thirteen, and has been hooked on Jane Austen – and Mr Darcy, unsurprisingly – ever since. She has read all the novels multiple times and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. Some time ago she was introduced to Austen-based fan fiction and, unsatisfied with some of the depictions and approaches, took up her own pen to try to carry on beloved characters in a manner consistent with Miss Austen’s originals. In 2011, her first short story was published in an anthology called A Road to Pemberley. With that encouraging milestone she is hoping shortly to publish another anthology, all her own stories, tentatively titled Pride Revisited. She has two completed P&P based novels (awaiting final edits and a willing publisher); and is nearing completion on her own darling child, a retelling of P&P from Georgiana Darcy’s perspective.


Thank you Tess for sharing your weekend with us – I think of you and Melody passing each other various times throughout the weekend, and now connected in cyberspace! – we must all meet up next year for that cup of tea!  I wish you the best with your Pride and Prejudice writings, and look forward one day soon I hope to interviewing you about your first published novel here!

[Text and images courtesy of Tess Quinn]

c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Jane Austen Festival in Louisville ~ A First-Time Attendee Shares Her Tale!

Hello Dear Readers:  a guest post today from Melody, a young woman on her first adventure at the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, Kentucky last weekend – she has shared her thoughts and several pictures of the her time there, so enjoy – and perhaps plan to go next year – she highly recommends it!


The Louisville, Kentucky fifth annual Jane Austen Festival was held at Locust Grove. I wasn’t aware of the history behind this historical house. The home belonged to Maj. William and Lucy Clark Croghan. When George Rogers Clark was injured, Lucy invited her brother to stay at Locust Grove. So who is George? He was the older brother of William Clark, (who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition), he founded Louisville, and quite a few other notable things important to the nation.

This is the North facing side of Locust Grove. It has a nice size porch.
The south side, which I would think
visitors would enter wasn’t as grand imo.

One of the notable items in the house that stands out is the fact the descendants painted over a regency era portrait. Apparently they felt the red dress was gaudy and a black dress was painted on. This was found out in the restoration and they put back to the original regal red regency dress.

The portrait that was painted over

  Another fascinating fact was the entertaining parlor was on the second floor, where today, upstairs is reserved for family and entertaining is done on the main floor or possibly even the basement for those who have one.

 The entertaining parlor on the second floor 

Now for the Jane Austenites that want to hear about the festival. There were a great many visitors dressed in period reproductions that were all amazing! There was even a Regency style fashion show. The clothes were delicious and went in order according to the years they were popular. The speaker gave information on the clothes and where to find the patterns. Who knew men carried fans? The women carried cute reticules, wore pretty hats or had dainty parasols, and of course wore gloves, either long or short. The men were dashing in their finery as well.

 This lovely lady is a member of JASNA
with loads of information.
She was also in the fashion show.


Tailored/fitted clothing for a man 

(something that was mentioned during the fashion show was women
didn’t seem to be as concerned with gaping or perfect fits as we are today)

A man’s banyan

 I loved the detail in this purple dress. (same lady as above]

Now don’t think for a moment that this is an event purely for women. NO! There was a Gentleman’s duel. I do not know what caused the men to find it necessary to shoot at each other, but the first man to fire was the man to die. It was over within a minute. The gentleman remaining had been injured in the shoulder and was quite irked with the doctor for spending so much time with the dead man saying, “stop spending so much time with the dead man and tend to my wound!” (the duel the next day lasted longer than a minute).

Gentleman’s duel

There was also a bare knuckle boxing match that women obviously would not have attended. Or at least not women of any gentility. The ring leader gave the history of the gambling of the sport and the numerous exchange of money as the odds would change throughout. When he removed a pad of paper from his pants he wrote names and odds of the betting men. The winner of the boxing match had won a substantial amount of money.

There were fencing lessons and a demonstration on riding side saddle. It was very important what horse a gentleman rode. It reminded me of the status of the type of car one drives. There were special pay classes for how to paint a fan, and two discussions. On Saturday evening there was a ball, but since my companion is just 9 we forego that event.

Side saddle demonstration 

If you made reservations ahead of time there was afternoon tea. I recommend the lavender cake for dessert. It was deliciously moist and not overly powerful in taste.

Dr. Cheryl Kinney discussed Jane Austen’s illness and Jane’s opinion of illness and her characters’ woes. Who knew that green dresses were toxic?! It wasn’t just the clothing, but wall paper and paint as well. Green was very fashionable at that time too. Dr. Kinney asked how many people were wearing green at the event; there were quite a few! (of course they didn’t need to worry about the copper arsenic).

The final event on Sunday was “Dressing Mr. Darcy.” However, it was in reverse and he ended in a state that could make a grown woman blush. There was quite a bit of fanning happening in the audience.

Dressing Mr. Darcy

Finally, what made the event so special were the people. Everyone was so nice and the vendors were helpful. One young lady took the time to show my son a Spanish pistol’s workings with the full knowledge we were not going to buy. She even showed him how to salute with a rifle British style and American style.

One of the vendors made marbled papers that were amazing. After each one people would ooh and ahh. Of course everyone is unique. I was able to speak to the vendor on the last day and he showed me an antique book someone had given him with the marbling technique on the outside, inside, and on the edges of the pages. But the coloring was more indicative to the Victorian era, (darker, not as pretty as the Regency era).

The children gathered together and had their own fun in the meadow playing sword fights and just plain running around. I asked my son what his favorite parts were and after thinking about it he replied, “playing with the kids and the vendors.”  I was surprised. What kid enjoys shopping?

If you ever get the chance to attend a Jane Austen festival, I highly recommend it.


About the Author ~ Melody writes:

Jane Austen came into my life, because I love history; the manners, fashion, and lifestyle. I also happen to be a book enthusiast and I like that Jane Austen tells things to the reader that makes the reader think. You must read between the lines, she doesn’t just come out and molly coddle the reader. Truth be told, I’d never been to a Jane Austen festival. I didn’t even know they took place. My son and I decided to give it a go, only because they offered so many fun “guy” events. I would not have gone otherwise. We are both happy for the adventure. We may make a tradition of it. Perhaps in period reproductions next time.


Thank you Melody for sharing with us your observations of the Festival – maybe I will see you there next year myself!

Further Reading: from the Locust Grove website

  • You can see a performance of the bare-knuckled boxing here.
  • Bite from the Past blog on the Festival here.
 c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

An Interview with Ron Dunning on his Jane Austen Genealogy ~ The New and Improved Jane Austen Family Tree!

Some of you may be familiar already with the Jane Austen Family Tree created by Ronald Dunning.  It is quite the amazing compilation of ancestors and descendants of “Dear Aunt Jane” – a resource for Austen fans and scholars alike the world over.

So we are happy to announce that Mr. Dunning has continued with his Austen genealogical work and his new and improved website is to be “unveiled” at the Jane Austen Society meeting tomorrow (21 July 2012) at the Chawton House Library [an article about the history of the website will appear in the next JAS Report] – details of the meeting are here:

The link to the new website is here:  where you will find new content, the complete transcribed text of the manuscript of Akin to Jane, and links to the original RootsWeb site noted above [see below for information on how best to access the data.]

Ron has been very kind to answer a few of my questions about how and why he took on this monumental research project, so hope you enjoy learning more about it – then you must take some time to search the database – it is great fun to poke around in when you might have an extra minute or two on any given day – you might even find that somewhere deep in the listings some of your very own relatives share a connection to Jane!


A hearty welcome to you Ron – with thanks for sharing with us the history of your website!

JAIV:  What prompted you to get involved with this Austen family research project to begin with? 

RD:  I grew up in Toronto, a city, and a wonderful city it is, whose civilised history only goes back for two centuries. All of my grandparents were English, but the thought of having interesting ancestors would have seemed too ridiculous to entertain. My paternal grandmother was the sort who wrote regularly to every English member of her and my grandfather’s families, and was always nattering about their current situations. In 1972, aged 25, I left Toronto to find work as a classical musician, and the idea of going to England, where there would be a ready-made family, was deeply appealing. Just before my departure, my grandmother told me that we had some sort of connection with the Austens, though she didn’t know what.

We must have been almost the only branch of descendants who’d lost sight of it!  I was pleased to be able to tell her, before she died, that Frank Austen [Jane’s brother] was her great-great-grandfather.  It was difficult to get much further back than that in the 1970s, so I gave up the search to get on with work, and to raise my own brace of descendants. In 1998 my wife bought a computer for our kids and, Luddite that I am, I grumbled and scowled in the background – till I thought that I might just see what it’s like.

I was soon drawn back to family history. The kids were old enough that they preferred neglect to parental attention, though we did meet occasionally to fight over whose turn it was to use the computer. At the time I thought that it would stand to reason that the Austen genealogy had been exhausted, so for the next five years I worked through the seven non-Austen great-grandparents’ lines, and just copied the charts in the backs of Jane Austen biographies.

When that was thoroughly exhausted I was addicted, and needed a fix! Simultaneously it became evident that the authors of the biographies had all copied the family charts from one another, and there was a lot further to go.  In particular they mainly recorded the male lines, dishonouring the women. I’ve found that not just Cassandra Leigh but George Austen too had eminent ancestors, which means that their records go back, potentially, to the beginning of recorded history.

Now I have a lifetime’s supply of fixes, and in retirement, a full time job.  Do not call it a hobby.  And don’t say that I’m obsessed. Oh well, all right, perhaps I am. This study means a lot more to me than just a growing collection of names – it makes me feel organically connected, not just to the Austen family (and I don’t feel at all proprietorial about Jane) but to the whole of English history.

JAIV: Tell us something about Joan Corder and her manuscript, Akin to Jane – how and when and where did you first come upon it – what a find! – and why did she not publish her research? 

RD:  Joan Corder was born and lived through her life in the English county of Suffolk. She served as a young woman, during World War 2, in intelligence as a plotter, then moved back home to look after her widowed mother. She didn’t marry. Over the course of her life she became a distinguished herald and genealogist; Akin to Jane was her first big project.

It was to her enduring disappointment that she couldn’t interest a publisher – so only two copies of the manuscript were made. One was presented to the Jane Austen Society and can be seen at the Jane Austen’s House Museum at Chawton, where it has been, presumably, consulted by most if not all of Jane Austen’s later biographers.

With use, the manuscript has become increasingly fragile; people still visit the Museum to inspect it. My Austen cousin Patrick Stokes scanned the work to help preserve it for posterity, and it’s his scans that are displayed on the website. The museum curator is pleased that she can now refer interested parties to the web, and retire the original.

[Ron says on the website: “I would like to acknowledge and thank my Austen cousin, Patrick Stokes, who first brought the manuscript of Akin to Jane to my attention, and gave me a copy.”]

Joan Corder


JAIV:  What, of all the discoveries in your research, surprised you the most?

RD:  So many discoveries! They constantly amaze, but no longer surprise.  I’ve been making a list, and intend to write articles about them. Here is a sample and though many of them seem improbable, they are all true.

Direct Ancestors

1.  William IX, Duke of Aquitaine.  William was a leader of the 1101 Crusade.  He is best known today as the earliest troubadour – a vernacular lyric poet in the Occitan language – whose work has survived.  Grandfather of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Jane Austen’s 19th-great-grandfather.
2.  Owain Glyndwr, Prince of Wales. Shakespeare’s Owen Glendower. Jane’s 13th-great-grandfather.

Owain Glyndwr – the BBC

3. John King, Bishop of London, from 1611 (the year of the King James Bible) to 1621. John King ordained John Donne. Jane’s  4th-great-grandfather.

John King, Bishop of London (1611-1621)

4.  Faith Coghill, the wife of Sir Christopher Wren. The  1st cousin once removed of George Austen.

5. Lizzie Throckmorton, the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. A distant cousin of Cassandra Leigh.

Elizabeth Throckmorton

[image from]

6.  Katherine Leigh, the wife of Robert Catesby, the Gunpowder plotter, another distant cousin.

7.  Both of Jane’s parents were descended from royalty. Cassandra was descended from John of Gaunt, the son of Edward III, so every previous English king, back to William the Conqueror, and some beyond, was her ancestor.  For George we have to go back two generations further, to Edward I.

8.  Some Scottish royalty – the real-life Duncan I of Scotland who was either murdered by his cousin, the real-life Macbeth, or killed in battle against him.  Macbeth, as we know, succeeded him as King.  Duncan was Jane’s 21st-great-grandfather.

9.  By the way, we all know from Jane’s juvenilia that she “preferred” Mary Queen of Scots to Queen Elizabeth. Well – not only was she related to both, but in Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers she is quoted favourably comparing her brother Frank with Queen Elizabeth.

Cassandra Austen’s Mary Queen of Scots – The History of England

JAIV:  This is all wonderful! 
But I must ask, any real gossip – things hidden for generations?

RD:  Ooh – I’d be banished from the family if I revealed any of those!

JAIV: Oh, but the story of Elizabeth and Herbert is quite an interesting one! All hidden from the family and worthy of a Victorian novel! –  or at least akin to the writers of Victorian novels, as the lives of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins can attest! [see below for the link!]

JAIV:  Where do you go from here? 

RD:  I began the web project thinking that I would be producing a revision of Akin to Jane , but it eventually became obvious that the plan was unworkable. I want the reader to be drawn to my research, and not to think that Joan Corder’s work was the end of it. She managed to record a little over 300 of George and Cassandra Austen’s descendants, and gave ancestors no attention. My genealogical database contains more than 1200 descendants – that is, another 900 – and another ten thousand people, who include ancestors, collateral families, and families of social connections. The address of that, by the way, is

There is a link beneath each individual in Akin to Jane to that database, but in the long run I plan to organise things better. I’ll spend next winter learning the html to create a proper design (you won’t know it, but the current one is improper), and intend to do wondrous things with a sidebar. That will take care of technicalities. I have only just begun thinking beyond the current content, and have decided that I will add more original family history source material. I believe that one can jinx plans by talking about them too soon, so I’ll do that when I know that the material can be used.

JAIV:  Is there a book in the works?

RD: I’m sorry. No book. Articles, yes. Though I’ve really enjoyed building the Jane Austen’s Family website, it has absorbed an immense amount of time – time taken away from research, my first love.


Thank you Ron for joining us here today! [well, really you are at the JAS meeting at the Chawton House Library, and I am here in Vermont, but we can pretend, can’t we?] – it has been delightful getting to know you via emails! and I very much appreciate you sharing all this with us. What a gift of research you have given the Jane Austen world…

Now Dear Readers, it is time for you to journey through these ancestry files, both those of Joan Corder’s Akin to Jane manuscript, now transcribed for all to see on the website, as well as the expanded genealogical research at the site that Ron has lovingly put together over these past how many years?!   Ron makes it clear that this is still a work in progress [isn’t everything?] and he will continue to make changes to the set-up and continuously add content.  But it is best to just dive in and see all that is there – [as an aside, so please forgive the intrusion, I must say that I put in several of my family names (both my parents were born in England, so I knew there was a chance of some connection somewhere), and find that the mother of Sir Christopher Wren has my maiden name, and his wife, mentioned above [Faith Coghill] was a direct cousin to George Austen! – now I have some serious sleuthing to do to find the exact connection – but I have been quite annoying to friends and family these past few days since my discovery – and not sure in any given minute whether to sit down and write a Novel, or get out my drafting table and design a Cathedral – this genealogy stuff can be quite daunting!]

So back to the matter at hand – let’s head into the Austen genealogy: to begin, go first to the main page: where you will see these links:

1. Akin to Jane – Joan Corder’s original and transcribed manuscript – click on this and you will find these links:

Akin to Jane title page

  • Jane Austen’s Family– Index of Names, and Lists: Corder’s notes on the Austen family, indexed by Austen family members, all surnames of the extended family – you will find links to:

1.  Jane’s family and their descendants: George and Cassandra Austen; James Austen; George Austen; Edward Austen, later Knight; Henry Thomas Austen; Cassandra Elizabeth Austen; Francis William Austen; Jane Austen; and Charles John Austen

2.  Index of people by surname: Austen Family; Austen-Leigh; Bradford, Hill and Hubback; Knatchbull; Knight; Lefroy and Purvis; and Rice

  • Highlights page – oh! much here and much more to be added:

“There is good reason for the general reader to delve into this manuscript. One of Joan Corder’s informants, Miss Marcia Rice, who was 84 in 1954 when the work was written, was the granddaughter of Edward Knight’s daughter Elizabeth, and her husband Edward Royd Rice. Miss Rice wrote extensive memoirs of her family, which Joan Corder copied. Her recollections of her distant childhood were refracted through the most rosy of tinted spectacles; few could read those for her grandmother without needing the discreet use of a tissue. Here is a direct link to Elizabeth.

Please don’t stop with Elizabeth – Miss Rice didn’t. She left a wonderful record immortalising her entire Rice family, from aunts who could be quirky or intellectual, to uncles who could be courageous or reckless. For many of them there are links in the text to portraits. Be sure not to neglect reading Miss Rice’s personal memories, on page 115; and those following, on her great-aunt Marianne Knight.” –

  • Heraldry – Eleven Coats of Arms: these are worthy of a website all their own!

Austen Coat-of-Arms

  • Joan Corder – author of Akin to Jane: information on the author of the original family tree.
  • Author’s and Editor’s Notes: notes from both Corder and Dunning with explanations on how to use the Akin to Jane database and links to Dunning’s Roots Web database.
  • Contact Me – Ronald Dunning: he would love to hear from you!

Ron Dunning

2.  Recent Research – Ron’s explanation of his research that continues that of what is in Akin to Jane at the Jane Austen Family Tree website at RootsWeb:

3.   Articles – there are three articles now, more to be added:

  • “An Unconventional Love Match”
  • “The Last Welsh Prince of Wales – Jane Austen’s Welsh Ancestry”
  • “Latitude and Longitude”

Be sure to read all the extra links – these often explain the contents and how the database works; and do not miss all the illustrations that appear throughout the website:

Vice Admiral Francis William Austen

Now the fun part: you really do need to explore – but I shall give you this start – the wonderful story noted on the “Highlights Page” above of Elizabeth Austen [later Knight], daughter of Jane Austen’s brother Edward, from her grand-daughter Marcia Alice Rice, as written for Joan Corder in 1953:

 Image of Elizabeth Austen-Knight Rice and her husband Edward Royd Rice

and then this quite romantic tale that I mentioned above of another Elizabeth and her husband Herbert: Herbert was the last child of Fanny Catherine Austen Knight Knatchbull (Jane Austen’s favorite niece – quite the mouthful! – and later on they added Hugessen to the name!) –  here we have a tale of a secret marriage, he and his wife Elizabeth living under an assumed name, Herbert never telling his mother, never telling his colleagues in Parliament, having many children – all right out of a Victorian novel! : you can find it here on the website:

and you can read Ron’s take on the story and his research here:

So just dig around – click on any link of interest – there are treasures to be discovered lurking behind those links! – whatever would Jane Austen make of all this do you think? – would she be absolutely appalled to discover she was related to Queen Elizabeth?? I now wonder after all if even I am related to Queen Elizabeth … and maybe you are too!

If you have any questions for Ron, please leave a comment here – he is happy to respond to any queries or suggestions…

c2012, Jane Austen in Vermont

This Weekend – The 5th Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, Kentucky!

Well, another year and yet again I am not attending The Annual Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, Kentucky that begins tomorrow; so I thought I would share the schedule so you all can be as depressed as I over what we shall be missing… you can watch this video to get into the spirit of things:



JULY 21 & 22, 2012-10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. each day

Historic Locust Grove-561 Blankenbaker Lane, Louisville, KY 40207

Sponsored by: Jane Austen Society of North America, Greater Louisville

$10 admission each day

For more detailed information, please visit


Locust Grove, a circa 1790 Georgian home and farm is just
six miles from downtown Louisville, KY.

Each day of the festival you can:

  •  Enjoy a Four-Course Afternoon Tea (several sittings each day),
  • Shop in the Regency Emporium inside and in the Shoppes of Meryton outside
    (fabric, patterns, bonnets, pre-made dresses, chemisettes, men’s waistcoats, trousers &
    tail coats, tea sets, tea, jewelry, antiquarian books, shawls, silhouette cuttings,
    miniatures painted & lots more!)
  • See a Regency Style Show,
  • Watch a bobbin lace making demonstration inside the historic home and
  • See Regency fashions on mannequins in each room of the second floor of the house.
  • The last tea of the day on Sunday is reserved as a special Children’s Tea with a menu to appeal to children.
    Perks include goodies such as a cup and saucer to take home.

Outside, under the tent hear interesting talks such as

* A Dangerous Indulgence:
Austen’s Illness and Her Doctors – this reviews possible causes of Jane Austen’s death,
her letters, the doctors that cared for her, and how updates in genetic mapping may
help us determine what caused her death. Also

Sickness and Health in the Novels of Jane Austen –
reviews characters in the novels that suffer from illness (real and imagined).

*A one-woman theatrical performance about Fanny Kemble called,
Shame the Devil : An Audience with Fanny Kemble
will be performed under the Big Top Tent. Fanny Kemble
was a member of the famous English Kemble-Siddons acting dynasty
who married an American and moved to the American South.
She became active in the early anti-slavery movement.

*New this year, will be the Earl of Sandwich Tea Shop located near the Shoppes of
Meryton and the Big Top Tent with simple libations such as –
sandwiches, scones, cookies and drinks.

Meanwhile out on the Village Green you can expect to see:

*Side-Saddle Demonstration

*A Duel Between Gentlemen

*Tutorial on Fencing

*A Bare Knuckle Boxing Demonstration

Roving musician Jack Salt will entertain as will
Commonstock Entertainment with
shadow stories and their Potato Wagon of Wonders!

Workshops will involve learning about Tea
(Tea, Anyway you Steep it! and Play with your Leaves),
offered by Bingley’s Teas,

and How to Paint a Fan taught by Jenni Miller.

The Grand Ball will take place on Saturday evening at Spalding University in downtown
Louisville. The ball room is reminiscent of a Georgian Assembly Room. A practice
session will be held in the afternoon.

Admission is $10 each day which admits you to the Emporium, Shoppes, most
everything under the Big Top Tent and tours of the 1790 Georgian home (usually $8).

The Afternoon Tea is $20 per person, the workshops are $25 each, the theatrical
performance is $10 and the Grand Ball is $20 per person.

Advance reservations are highly recommended and begin on-line June 1st at

For those traveling from out-of-town, please contact Regional Coordinator Bonny Wise
 for a list of recommended B&Bs and hotels.

Answers to frequently asked questions: You do not have to be a member of the Jane
Austen Society of North America to attend the festival. Regency attire is not required,

but is admired!

2012 Festival T-shirts are available – shirt_order_form.pdf

Thank you for your interest and we look forward to seeing you!

[image from Princeton Tiger Magazine,
wherein you will find an essay on “Modern Applications of Dueling”]]

[Text from Bonnie Wise, JASNA-Louisville Regional Coordinator]


In Memory of Jane Austen ~ July 18, 1817

[I append here the post I wrote in 2010 on this day]

July 18, 1817.  Just a short commemoration on this sad day…

No one said it better than her sister Cassandra who wrote

have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed,- She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, & it is as if I had lost a part of myself…”

(Letters, ed. by Deidre Le Faye [3rd ed, 1997], From Cassandra to Fanny Knight, 20 July 1817, p. 343; full text of this letter is at the Republic of Pemberley)

There has been much written on Austen’s lingering illness and death; see the article by Sir Zachary Cope published in the British Medical Journal of July 18, 1964, in which he first proposes that Austen suffered from Addison’s disease.  And see also Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A life, “Appendix I, “A Note on Jane Austen’s Last Illness” where she suggests that Austen’s symptoms align more with a lymphoma such as Hodgkin’s disease.

The Gravesite:

Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral

….where no mention is made of her writing life on her grave:

It was not until after 1870 that a brass memorial tablet was placed by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh on the north wall of the nave, near her grave:

It tells the visitor that:

Jane Austen

[in part] Known to many by her writings,
endeared to her family
by the varied charms of her characters
and ennobled by her Christian faith and piety
was born at Steventon in the County of Hants.
December 16 1775
and buried in the Cathedral
July 18 1817.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

The Obituaries:

David Gilson writes in his article “Obituaries” that there are eleven known published newspaper and periodical obituary notices of Jane Austen: here are a few of them:

  1. Hampshire Chronicle and Courier (vol. 44, no. 2254, July 21, 1817, p.4):  “Winchester, Saturday, July 19th: Died yesterday, in College-street, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen formerly Rector of Steventon, in this county.”
  2. Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (vol. 18, no. 928, p. 4)…”On Friday last died, Miss Austen, late of Chawton, in this County.”
  3. Courier (July 22, 1817, no. 7744, p. 4), makes the first published admission of Jane Austen’s authorship of the four novels then published: “On the 18th inst. at Winchester, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen, Rector of Steventon, in Hampshire, and the Authoress of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.  Her manners were most gentle; her affections ardent; her candor was not to be surpassed, and she lived and died as became a humble Christian.” [A manuscript copy of this notice in Cassandra Austen’s hand exists, as described by B.C. Southam]
  4. The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle published a second notice in its next issue (July 28, 1817, p. 4) to include Austen’s writings.

There are seven other notices extant, stating the same as the above in varying degrees.  The last notice to appear, in the New Monthly Magazine (vol. 8, no. 44, September 1, 1817, p. 173) wrongly gives her father’s name as “Jas” (for James), but describes her as “the ingenious authoress” of the four novels…

[from Gilson’s article “Obituaries”, THE JANE AUSTEN COMPANION [Macmillan 1986], p. 320-1]

Links to other articles and sources:

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

Update: Worthing’s “Library Passage”

Dear Readers:  You might recall a post from several months ago [March 2012] alerting all to the impending closure of the twitten [called the “Library Passage”] in Worthing – a place associated with Jane Austen as she visited there in 1805 for several months – and it is very likely one of the main sources for the setting of her seaside spa in Sanditon.  See these two posts for more information:

and in this post by Christopher Sandrawich on the JAS Midlands Branch tour of Worthing and environs:


I have just heard from Janet Clarke who had spearheaded the effort to thwart the closure in hopes that the site with its literary connection would have some sway with the powers that be.  Well, sad to report, safety issues have won out over historical significance, and even the many voices of Austen fans did little to move the decision-makers.

One good bit of news from Janet however:  Stagecoach (the bus company who owns the building and wants to close the passage for safety reasons) has “agreed to make special provision for Austen fans to walk the route, provided they receive  reasonable notice.”

So, take note and if you perchance have Worthing on your itinerary [and you must!], then please take Stagecoach up on their offer – I am hoping that they will provide TEA as well – the least they could do, don’t you think?

Library Passage – Worthing

c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen ~ A Poem

Found in my research travels for the 2008 Persuasions “Jane Austen Bibliography”: a poem by X. J. Kennedy on Jane Austen. Mr. Kennedy is a “poet, translator, anthologist, editor, and author of children’s literature and textbooks on English literature and poetry.”

Jane Austen’s Donkey Cart – Chawton

 Jane Austen Drives to Alton in Her Donkey Trap

Disappointing waters at Cheltenham Spa
Hadn’t erased dark patches from her skin,
Nor could she still walk miles untiringly.
Well, then. Out back she harnessed Polly Sue
And set off into kindled warmth that May
Squandered on the dregs of day.

“Composition seems to me impossible,” she said,
“With a head full of doses of rhubarb
And joints of mutton”—
Nevertheless, on the rough road back to Chawton,
She closed a stubborn sentence in her mind
As one might fasten a button.

Looming, the near-horizon wore a hue
Softer than garnet’s, fullness she might carry,
The first shy sycamore leaves
Uncertainly poking through
Like the affections of a girl
Whose mother hadn’t decreed a man to marry.

With faithful clop her donkey drew the load
Of oolong, sugar, pink embroidery thread,
Her quiet drive portending one last story.
Today, our rented compact squeezes left,
Scrapes weeds and fenceposts while around the road’s
Blind bend there thunderstorms a ten-ton lorry.



Kennedy, X. J. “Jane Austen Drives to Alton in Her Donkey Trap, and: Temps Perdu, and: The Odors of New Jersey.” Hopkins Review 1.3 (2008): 413-15.

[Donkey Cart image from Pinterest]

Further reading:

The X. J. and Dorothy M. Kennedy website

X. J. Kennedy at Wikipedia [contains a full list of all this works]

Mr. Kennedy is scheduled tonight, Tuesday, July 17, 6:30 p.m, for a reading at the Center for the Arts, Cafe at the Somerville Armory, 119 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA.  Two other poets to be announced; open mike.  Admission $4.

c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen’s Rogues & Romance Official Trailer


It’s here! The release of the new Facebook game for Janeite’s…Rogues and Romance. WOW!!!!


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Pride and Prejudice Confetti anyone??

The latest from the Jane Austen Centre:


Pride and Prejudice Heart Confetti

  This heart confetti is made from your favourite romantic book – Pride & Prejudice.

This is perfect for your wedding and makes a unique table decoration. *
Presented in a pretty ivory envelope ready for giving (or keeping!)
Bring Darcy and Lizzie, and all your other favourite characters, to your wedding today!
Only £3 per pack

You can order here from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath

[* or you can sit around on a rainy day and try to piece the book back together? – wedding or not, I think this is a must-have for any true Austen fan…]

Text and image from the Jane Austen Centre (except for the last bit…)

c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Jane Austen Centenary Booklet, 1917.

This is a wonderful find: you can download The Jane Austen Centenary Booklet, 1917  at Austenonly – thank you Julie W. and Mr. Brodnax Moore for sharing this hard-to-find pamphlet produced to mark the unveiling of the Centenary Tablet on Chawton Cottage, now the Jane Austen House Museum, in 1917.

[image and info from Austenonly]