Book Review: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

Are you a maker of Lists? Do you keep a List of books to read, lists of books read, movies to watch, TV shows not to be missed, lists of gifts, grocery lists, house to-do lists, a master To-Do List? Do you have a List of Lists? Or, as one friend asked me years ago, do you ever add something to your To-Do list already done so you can cross it off? (I said absolutely NO!). But I do love lists – they organize a life, give a sense of control (false though that may be), especially in these troubled times. And so I find that instead of writing a more traditional book review of The Jane Austen Society, that I’d make a List, a very important list of at-least TEN reasons you should read this book – one reason alone is enough; ten means you should buy it immediately and jump right into its world.

1. The Characters: Real and True

The author Natalie Jenner has said she had no outline for this tale, envisioned about eight characters, half male and half female, and essentially let them run amok.* We can only be glad she did! As one of her more Willoughby-like characters says of this rag-tag motley crew of folk all bent on forming a Jane Austen society: they were “a band of misfits with negligible expertise and no head for business: a country doctor, an old maid, a schoolmarm, a bachelor farmer, a fey auctioneer, a conflict-averse solicitor, a scullery maid, and one Hollywood movie star.” [276] – a “band of misfits” indeed. They are all from different backgrounds and histories, all part of the small rural community of Chawton, all with tragedy, pain and grief permeating and controlling their lives. Yet each is fully-drawn – you like, even love, these people.

2. The Plot: So Inventive

This is fiction (more on this below) – and not even historical fiction – it has nothing to do with the Real Jane Austen Society formed in the 1940s, same as our fictional group – so don’t confuse them. Let this story tell itself, as it brilliantly does: how this unlikely cast of characters discover a commonality in Jane Austen of all people, and strive to honor her in some way – they do live in Chawton after all… And in so doing, each finds Hope and Love and and Self-Knowledge. And as the tale of each unfolds and their lives become inexorably intertwined, we have mysteries and secrets, stories of war and deaths, disagreements among neighbors, gossipy goings-on, and Love and Romance. What is there not to like? Jane Austen has given them a purpose, a sense of hope and a road map into an understanding of the heart. You find fast friends over Jane Austen, as many of us have found in our own lives.

3. The Setting: Chawton, of course

Chawton House

Not everyone living in this fictional Chawton reads or even likes Jane Austen. Some resent the weird travelers looking for sites associated with her. Even the family heir confesses a preference for the Brontës (especially Villette – pay attention here). But the setting is one we all are very familiar with, if we know a bit about Austen’s life after 1809. Living in Chawton Cottage (now Jane Austen’s House ) and trekking to her brother Edward’s Great House (now Chawton House), Jane Austen walked these walks, sat in these chairs, read in this library, all so beautifully and authentically described by  Jenner. You are in this world in the 1940s, right along with the characters.

Jane Austen’s House

4. The Library [not as “In the Library with Colonel Mustard and the lead pipe”…but a Real Library]

One of my favorite parts of the book (the librarian-bookseller in me). Jenner confesses to a wee mistake about the location of the library at Chawton, but literary license allows just about anything, so she is heartily forgiven. Because she gives us Evie, the aforementioned scullery maid, who at 16 (and without giving too much away) has been secretly cataloguing the entire library in the Great House for the past two years and therefore is more knowledgeable about what’s there, what it’s all worth (and with the added bit of a FOUND letter by Austen, of which I shall say no more…), than anyone else in the family (who have ignored the library for generations) or anyone else in town. Evie is a delightful character – we would like to recruit her for our Reading with Austen / Godmersham Lost Sheep Society project!**

Reading Room at Chawton House

5. Jane Austen in Plain Sight:

One of the pure joys of this book is the light-hearted yet insightful analysis of Austen and her novels: characters actively discussing all the works in their general conversation with each other. Farmer Adam, on first reading Pride and Prejudice considers that “he was becoming quite worried about Mr. Darcy.” [10] The town doctor and the local schoolteacher have a lively chat about Emma: the teacher dislikes Emma, the doctor adores her – they wrangle over Mr. Knightley’s true feelings as Austen drops her clues. [I was delighted to find a new-to-me hint to add to my ever-growing List of Clues that Mr. Knightley is very much in Love.]

Then there are the almost direct correlations between characters – you’ll certainly find a Willoughby or Henry Crawford or a William Elliot in these pages, several of Austen’s couples, maybe even a Mr. Rushworth and a Mrs. Elton – there’s even a Dog! – the fun is finding them and going “aah…” Here’s a standout: one of the characters says “within the pages of Mansfield Park was the playbook for making a good woman fall for a cad.” [151] How true that is – and I never looked at Crawford’s behavior in such a light before…

And then the direct quotes in different contexts, which leads us to…

6. Jane Austen Is Not for “Dull Elves”:

The Austen discussion and character correlations are more straightforward than the many allusions scattered throughout, multiple readings likely needed to flesh them all out. Austen was a master of the allusion herself and again, it’s great fun to find these little crumbs:

“You have borne it as no other woman in England would have…” [295]

“I probably would’ve cut him a lock of my own hair if he’d asked for it.” [188]…

Sense & Sensibility – CE Brock – Molland’s

So many – don’t want to inhibit your “sharp-elves” detective skills, so that’s all I shall share…which leads us to another no-spoilers here item on our list…

7. The Mystery(ies) wherein lies a will and an heir just like an Austen plot

….and shall just say there are secrets and mysteries in abundance. So much under the surface, so much history Jenner gradually allows the reader to see, like the proverbial peeling away of an onion – layers of stories to reveal truths… and again, not unlike Austen, Jenner feeds us more and more of each character and their motivations, and we care largely because of ….

8. The Romance: There’s A Lot of It!

So we have eight major characters, and a house full of minors (some of whom, like in Austen, have a lot to say, and a lot to do to move the plot along). Part of the fun (and mystery) is who will end up with whom? Even one of the characters falls asleep one night musing on and making mental lists of possible couplings. Evie at 16 is perhaps the most perceptive at seeing what the heck is going on. It’s all quite endearing – but no spoilers here (though can I say there is a Wentworth-like letter??)

9. It’s Fiction!

Ok, have to repeat this – this is pure fiction, not even great literature (though it is very well written), not based on the real Jane Austen Society as I’ve said (and that real story is compelling it is own right – you can read about it here.)

But even if you are not an avid reader of fiction, but you like Jane Austen, you will get much out of your few hours of time invested. And even if you don’t know squat about Jane Austen, you’ll love this book (you can also listen to it – spending several hours with Richard Armitage is top on my Must-Do list] – because of the humor, the grace, and the romance, and because…

10. We Need This Right Now:

This is a Feel Good book – and goodness, we need that right now more than anything – pick it up and wander back into a simpler (though in so many ways harder) time, to a place ravaged by war, when loss and grief were the bywords of the day, and live for a bit with this delightful “band of misfits” as they each find their way to a better future, all with thanks to Jane Austen, a lesson for us all, especially now…

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* You can hear Natalie Jenner’s May 15, 2020 talk for the Chawton House Literary Festival on Youtube here:

Also read her interview with Rachel Dodge at the Jane Austen’s Regency World blog here.

** For a real-life cataloguing project concerning Edward Austen’s libraries at his Godmersham and Chawton estates, please visit the Reading with Austen website and the Reading with Austen blog. Under the direction of Professor Peter Sabor, the hope is to locate (and return if possible) as many of the books that were originally in the Knight library during Jane Austen’s time. We need Evie on this project!

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About the author:

Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

  • Twitter handles: @NatalieMJenner, @StMartinsPress @MacmillanAudio
  • Hashtags: #TheJaneAustenSociety #HistoricalFiction, #AudioBooks, #AmReading, #JaneAusten #RichardArmitage

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About the Book:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

Book details: Genre: Historical Fiction, Austenesque Fiction

The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin’s Press (May 26, 2020)
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1250248732
eBook ASIN: B07WQPPXFW
Audiobook ASIN: B082VL7VRR

Blog Tour Dates: May 25 – June 30, 2020 – you can read more about the blog tour and the schedule here and here at Austenprose.

You can buy the book at all the usual suspects – but start with your local bookstore!

Indiebound / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Book Depository / BookBub / Audible

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

Blog Tour Shout-Out! “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

Hello there Gentle Readers: I welcome you to join in on the virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel May 25 through June 30, 2020. Seventy-five popular blogs and websites specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, women’s fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature interviews and reviews of this post-WWII novel set in Chawton, England. All is sponsored and coordinated by Laurel Ann at Austenprose. The pandemic has limited the author from engaging in the usual real-life book talks and marketing tours, so we are going all out to be sure that this book gets a full-court press in our now largely virtual world. Please enjoy all the chat, then get thee to a bookstore and add it to your TBR pile (on top!) – you will not be disappointed…

My review will go live tomorrow but wanted to list here all the blog tour sites that over the next month will be offering reviews and interviews of this delightful tale:

 

About the Book:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

************* 

Book details:

Genre: Historical Fiction, Austenesque Fiction

The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin’s Press (May 26, 2020)
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1250248732
eBook ASIN: B07WQPPXFW
Audiobook ASIN: B082VL7VRR

Blog Tour Dates: May 25 – June 30, 2020 [see below]

****************

About the author:

Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Accolades:

  • An Amazon Best Book of May 2020
  • One of Goodreads Big Books of Spring & Hot Books of Summer
  • One of Audible’s Top 50 Most Anticipated Spring Audiobooks
  • June 2020 Indie Next Pick
  • May 2020 Library Reads Pick
  • Starred Review – Library Journal
  • Starred Review – Booklist 

Audiobook Narrated By Actor Richard Armitage (!!):

The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).

Link to YouTube audiobook excerpt: https://youtu.be/OJ1ACJluRi8 

Spotify Playlist:

Spotify users can access a playlist for THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY at the following link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5Q1Vl17qyQQIvvPGeIPCkr?si=-iMhVz8uRk2v2mTdolrPdg. The playlist includes music from various film adaptions of Jane Austen’s books, as well as film scores by such incomparable artists as Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Rachel Portman, and Michael Nyman. 

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:
[I’ll add live links once the post is active]

  • May 25        Jane Austen’s World
  • May 25        Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog
  • May 26        Frolic Media
  • May 26        A Bookish Affair
  • May 26        Courtney Reads Romance
  • May 26        Margie’s Must Reads
  • May 26        The Reading Frenzy
  • May 27        Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina
  • May 27        Gwendalyn’s Books
  • May 27        Romantically Inclined Reviews
  • May 28        Getting Your Read On
  • May 28        Living Read Girl
  • May 28        The Lit Bitch
  • May 29        History Lizzie
  • May 29        Silver Petticoat Reviews
  • May 30        Cup of Tea with that Book, Please
  • May 30        Historical Fiction Reader
  • May 31        Jane Austen in Vermont
  • June 01        From Pemberley to Milton
  • June 01        My Jane Austen Book Club
  • June 01        AustenBlog
  • June 02        Lu’s Reviews
  • June 02        The Green Mockingbird
  • June 03        The Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
  • June 03        Relz Reviews
  • June 03        Impressions in Ink
  • June 04        The Caffeinated Bibliophile
  • June 04        Life of Literature
  • June 04        Laura’s Reviews
  • June 05        Reading Ladies Book Club
  • June 05        Bookish Rantings
  • June 06        From the TBR Pile
  • June 07        Rachel Dodge
  • June 07        An Historian About Town
  • June 08        Bringing up Books
  • June 08        Austenesque Reviews
  • June 09        Captivated Reading
  • June 09        Savvy Verse and Witt
  • June 10        Lady with a Quill
  • June 10        Drunk Austen
  • June 11        Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
  • June 11        Inkwell Inspirations
  • June 12        Nurse Bookie
  • June 12        A Bookish Way of Life
  • June 13        Calico Critic
  • June 14        Jane Austen’s World
  • June 15        Stuck in a Book
  • June 15        Storybook Reviews
  • June 15        Confessions of a Book Addict
  • June 16        Literary Quicksand
  • June 16        Becky on Books
  • June 17        The Reading Frenzy
  • June 17        Anita Loves Books
  • June 18        Chicks, Rogues, & Scandals
  • June 18        The Write Review
  • June 19        Diary of Eccentric
  • June 20        Cracking the Cover
  • June 21        Short Books & Scribes
  • June 22        Reading the Past
  • June 22        Babblings of a Bookworm
  • June 23        My Vices and Weaknesses
  • June 23        The Book Diva Reads
  • June 24        Books, Teacups & Reviews
  • June 24        Wishful Endings
  • June 25        Robin Loves Reading
  • June 25        Bookfoolery
  • June 26        Lit and Life
  • June 26        Vesper’s Place
  • June 27        Foxes and Fairy Tales
  • June 28        Probably at the Library
  • June 28        Scuffed Slippers Wormy Books
  • June 29        The Anglophile Channel
  • June 29        So Little Time…
  • June 30        BookNAround 

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont 

Interview with Hazel Jones, author of “The Other Knight Boys: Jane Austen’s Dispossessed Nephews”

Enquiring Readers: Today I welcome Austen scholar Hazel Jones in an interview about her newest book The Other Knight Boys: Jane Austen’s Dispossessed Nephews. If you have been following my blog Reading with Austen: Returning the Lost Sheep of Godmersham, you have seen the several posts on the diaries of Charles Bridges Knight, i.e all the excerpts that Hazel shared with me of Charles’ references to his reading in the library at Godmersham Park, home to his father, and Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight [see below for links to these posts]. Hazel has been researching not only the life of Charles, but also the lives of the five other sons of Edward [all six in order are: Edward, George, Henry, William, Charles, and John]. Her recently published book just flows with tales of their childhood into manhood adventures. I highly recommend it, many of the stories worthy of an Austen novel!

So, Welcome Hazel!

JAIV: Can you give a brief summary of the book?

HJ: Jane Austen’s letters provide clear-sighted glimpses of her six Knight nephews as they grew up, but hers was not the only pen to record their privileged upbringing. Cassandra and Henry Austen commented on Edward Austen Knight’s indulgence of his sons and worried about the boys’ ability to cope with future adversity in the wider world; their affectionate sister Fanny noted key moments in their lives – birthdays, holidays, marriages; Charles kept a detailed diary throughout  the 1830s and 40s. The Other Knight Boys explores the character of each nephew in turn, their professional and personal circumstances, their close fraternal bonds as well as the difficulties and disappointments they encountered in adulthood. For five of the brothers, future dispossession of their beloved family home at Godmersham as a consequence of birth order was a reality they had to live with. How it affected the choices they made forms the story that the book attempts to tell.

 JAIV: How did you end up doing this research on Austen’s nephews, the six sons of her brother Edward?

HJ: Quite by chance, in 2010, I was in a small party on a guided tour of Trafalgar (pronounced Traffle-gar) Park near Salisbury in Wiltshire. The property featured as Hartfield in the 1996 ITV film of Emma [with Kate Beckinsale], as well as Barton Park in Emma Thompson’s Sense & Sensibility.  Originally known as Standlynch Park, it was acquired in 1813 by Parliament for Nelson’s brother William, the new 1st Earl Nelson and re-named Trafalgar Park. The Nelson family lived here until 1946. In 2010, the owner was Michael Wade, whose housekeeper conducted us around the ground floor rooms. In the saloon she pointed out a stunning full length portrait of William Nelson’s beautiful wife, Hilare. Wait a minute, I thought, wasn’t she subsequently married to one of Jane Austen’s Knight nephews? Next followed some very intensive sleuthing which uncovered baptismal records in Cornwall and three marriages – to a cousin, to Nelson and eventually to George Knight of Godmersham. The Kent History and Library Centre and the British Library supplied more biographical material and in a room not usually open to visitors at Chawton House, I found a portrait of George as a young man. My research turned into an article on the couple for the 2016 Jane Austen Society Annual Report. After that came the urge to write about the other five Knight boys and uncover as much as possible about the women in their lives. Charles of course never married, but he had close relationships with his father, his brothers and their spouses.

[Portrait of Hilare Countess Nelson, by George Sanders, 1829-34. Courtesy of Martyn Downer and Michael Wade] 

JAIV: Your research took you to materials scattered throughout southern England – “Kent, Hampshire, and beyond” as you say (3). Was most of this known or did you discover any untapped sources?

HJ: The archives in Hampshire Record Office and the Kent Archives at Maidstone have been scoured pretty thoroughly by Austen scholars across many generations, although even here I discovered one or two sparkling gems which had never appeared in any other text. Previously ‘untapped sources’ for me were the Winchester College Archives, the matriculation records held at St John’s and University College in Oxford, the Nelson archive at the British Library and the War Office records at the National Archive, Kew. Articles in the Jane Austen Society Annual Reports (now accessible online) also filled in a number of gaps and put me in touch with other Austen / Knight researchers such as Margaret Wilson, who then provided material I would not otherwise have found. Sophia Hillan, Linda Slothouber, Maggie Lane and Deirdre Le Faye were also happy to have their generous flow of scholarship ‘tapped’. Karen ievers, Andrew Bradford and Hampshire Cultural Trust allowed me to see and reproduce previously unseen images.  

JAIV:  Of the six boys-to-men you researched, was there more information available from sources on any one more than others? And if so, was that frustrating? For instance I know that Charles kept extensive diaries for years – did any of the others leave such behind them?

HJ: Edward’s life is well documented, given that he was the eldest son and lived at Chawton House, but there are few examples, beyond business letters, of his own personal voice. George’s facility with language shines through his amusing poems and articles on cricket written for The Sporting Magazine. His restless character is evidenced by Fanny’s reports of his comings and goings between England and the Continent, his inability to settle to a career in the law and Charles’s revelation of his brother’s wish to try his luck in America. Letters were written to Fanny by all of the brothers, she records their arrival in her daily diary entries, but where are they now? I wish I had found a greater number of letters from Henry to Lizzy Rice. He comes across as the most contentedly independent and self-sufficient of all the brothers; the harrowing nature of his early death tugs at my heart strings. One or two of William’s letters have survived, together with contemporary descriptions of his youthful exuberance and Fanny’s revelation of his affair with the Knatchbull governess. John is the brother about whom least is known and the hardest to pin down on the page, yet his moving account of the loss of Godmersham is the most revealing of all.

JAIV: Edward, of course, was the heir, and while he appears to have maintained a close and friendly relationship with each of his brothers, there had to have been some bad feelings about how he really dispossessed all of them from their Godmersham Park home. Do you feel sympathetic toward him? Did he have any choice?

HJ: Edward’s siblings must have understood that maintaining Chawton House and Godmersham Park was impossible. The drain of his first and second families on Edward’s finances would have been excessive. The sons from his first marriage were at the stage where they required cash, so when Edward Austen Knight died, money came their way via their father. What appears inexplicable is Edward’s expensive and architecturally unsympathetic alterations to Godmersham in 1853, shortly before he decided to lease the property for 20 years. I can understand his attachment to Chawton – it had been his permanent home since 1826, although his frequent and lengthy returns to Kent each year might have misled his brothers and sisters into believing he would eventually move back and continue to make Godmersham available to all the family. When he sold it in 1875, of the brothers only John was still alive.

Chawton House

JAIV:  Some great drama in the family! What is your favorite story? [then I’ll tell you mine!]

HJ: Difficult to choose one … Louisa Lushington’s* description on her visit to Godmersham of the boys somersaulting into the river fully clothed comes near the top of the list and I rather like the story Henry and George concocted, featuring Uncle Henry Austen’s imprisonment for poisoning his second wife. Scandal is always irresistible too … Fanny’s snide references to Fanny Jones, the consequences of Edward’s elopement with Mary Dorothea, William’s affair with the governess.

*[The Journal of Louisa Lushington (1821-22), with an introduction by Linda Slothouber, Chawton House, 2017]

Ok, so you mention my favorite! Edward’s elopement with his sister’s step-daughter is quite compelling, and definitely worthy of a novel – I cannot tell anymore, readers – buy the book!

Photograph of a lost portrait of Edward Knight,
held by Kent County Cricket Club, Canterbury.

 JAIV: There was so much tragedy in their lives: not unlike their father and uncles (excepting the youngest John, and Charles who never married), all suffered the loss of first wives in childbirth or illness. It is really wrenching to read – how do you think they all handled this?

HJ: Tragedies such as these are almost unimaginable in our modern age of effective remedies, reliable diagnoses and informed medical expertise. Death in childbirth happened so frequently that many women – judging by their correspondence – did not expect to survive, so perhaps their husbands anticipated the worst before it happened. As for the Knight husbands, they certainly grieved for a time, it’s difficult to tell for how long, but from Charles’s diaries we learn that Edward was decimated by the loss of Mary Dorothea and that William and Henry were emotionally affected on the first anniversary of their wives’ deaths. Two or three years later, they are all married again, and embarking on the creation of second families. Life went on. Perhaps a combination of strong religious belief, practical rationality and fraternal support carried them through the worst. 

Elizabeth Bridges Knight – Jane Austen blog by Kleurrijk

JAIV: Any sense that the death of their mother after the birth of her 11th child (Brook John, known as John) in 1808 (Edward was 14) had a long-lasting effect on any/each of them?

HJ: John would not have remembered his mother and Charles’s recollections were probably indistinct at best. The affection the brothers felt for each other, for their sisters, and for their father – and his for them – strengthened the familial tie after Elizabeth’s death. Their easy, happy life at Godmersham appears to continue much the same as before, with Fanny standing in as a very capable and loving presence. Male and female occupations and interests were largely separate and distinct, which perhaps helped to lessen the sense of loss at the time and later. Edward, George, Henry and William were away at school for most of the year, Charles and John were initially under Fanny’s care until the time came for them to leave. Any long term effect might have manifested itself in a very understandable anxiety when their own wives became pregnant.

JAIV: Was Jane Austen a big factor in any of their lives growing up (she died when Edward was 23 in July 1817)? But when she became more popular and James Edward Austen Leigh (James’s son) wrote her memoir in 1869 – did any of Edward’s children contribute to that?

HJ: According to Anna Lefroy, Jane Austen was not loved by the Knight children, although they appreciated her story-telling skills. Anna had her own reasons for holding this view, but the probability is that Jane was merely tolerated by the nephews while at Godmersham, especially as they grew older and beyond female influence. Given their hunting, fishing and shooting pursuits, Jane called it ‘sporting mania’, they would see little of her during the day and there is evidence that at and after dinner, she found their their male acquaintance and their talk of wholesale slaughter distasteful. Maria Bertram, bored silly by Mr Rushworth’s boast of game bagged and poachers apprehended, comes to mind. A spinster aunt casting disapproving looks across the table, however, would have had little effect on these confident, indulged young men.  At Chawton, out of the hunting season, the nephews appear to have proved more congenial company, especially Henry and William, whose visits to the Cottage in their aunt’s final year are recorded with great affection in her letters. In 1822, Henry Knight wrote to his sister Lizzy that he expected Chawton to feel ‘sadly unreal’, surely on account of Aunt Jane’s absence, when he next visited.

James Edward Austen-Leigh attempted to access Fanny’s letters from Jane Austen, but did not succeed. He stayed with William Knight at the new Steventon Rectory for a day and night, in order to walk the familiar lanes and remind himself of where the old rectory used to stand. At the time the Memoir was written, Henry, George and Charles were dead.

JAIV: In reading about Edward’s family, do you feel that at any time in her writing that Jane Austen was modelling a character after a real-life family member?

HJ: No. [ha! Love this very succinct answer!]

JAIV: What surprised you the most? – Something previously unknown to you or anyone else in the Austen research world?

HJ: A small discovery involved Henry’s attendance at University College, Oxford. There is no reference to this in other texts and it was even a surprise to Deirdre Le Faye. Another concerns George’s final years, after his wife’s death. I am intrigued by his relationship, whatever it entailed, with Fanny Jones. George’s sister Lady Knatchbull certainly suspected something untoward, especially when her brother moved to Hereford to share a house with Fanny and her husband. One that almost got away is the small sheet of paper, Plate 8 in my book, comprising poems written by Edward Knight II and his second wife Adela. It was listed in the HRO catalogue, but missing from the file. It had still not surfaced when my last day at the Record Office came, but in the three hours it took to drive home, the Archivist had located, photocopied and forwarded it.

Charles Bridges Knight

JAIV: For instance, Charles went to Cambridge not Oxford like the rest of his family – do you know why that was?

HJ: One of my theories is that he was sent to Cambridge to detach him from certain school friends who had involved him in a rebellion at Winchester College in 1818. A number of the expelled ringleaders went on to Oxford, with which Winchester was closely associated. His sister Fanny reveals that Charles was ‘intended for the Law’ at this point – maybe Cambridge had a better reputation for training lawyers. One can only speculate.

JAIV:  All the brothers had very interesting and novel-worthy love interests – some thwarted by parental involvement – but there were elopements, governess shenanigans, some intermarriage with cousins, etc., some of which you have mentioned above  – Charles was the only brother not to marry – was there any love interest found in his diaries?

HJ: From time to time, Charles expresses a lukewarm interest in what he calls ‘domestic happiness’ but he recognized at the same time that it would very likely result in a diminution of his income and the luxury it afforded. While living at Godmersham he attended balls with his sisters, usually reporting afterwards that he had found them ‘stupid’ or that he ‘had not been up to the mark’. He is open to the appeal of women and notes their beauty, or lack of it, and liveliness. In the summer of 1847, when Charles was forty-four, heavily inked deletions appear in his diaries, which appear to be linked to Lizzie Pole, a young woman he encountered at Wolverton Rectory. That Charles himself was not responsible for these obliterations is a possibility, since not all of the references to ‘dear Lizzie’ are removed. His end of the year summary for 1847 expresses ‘shame and sorrow’ at his unbecoming behaviour and ‘cold unfeeling heart’. What happened remains a mystery.

JAIV:  Charles’ diaries are quite detailed and extensive. Are you hoping to do more with them? Make them available to a larger audience? [You were terrific in sharing excerpts from the diaries about Charles’ reading while at Godmersham – see links below]

HJ: Yes indeed. See the answer below!

JAIV: Your previous books, Jane Austen and Marriage (2009, paperback 2017 by Uppercross Press), Jane Austen’s Journeys (2014) are both excellent and informative reads where you discuss the times Jane Austen lived in and how the understanding of that helps us understand her plots and characters. Did you enjoy researching the real people in Austen’s life more or less than delving into a subject?

HJ: I loved creating both of my previous books, but have found biographical writing fascinating and wholly compelling (for that, read obsessive). The Other Knight Boys was my first foray as a writer into this territory and I must admit I did find this kind of study more absorbing than focusing on a set subject. It’s something of a cliché to say it, but I did develop a strong sense of each nephew as a living breathing individual, and consequently able to make informed leaps into speculative musing where there were gaps in the records. Where the boys’ experiences overlapped – attendance at Henry and Sophia’s wedding, for example, or the visit to Ireland on their sister Cassandra’s death – deciding in which chapter or chapters to locate the material and at the same time avoiding unnecessary repetition, was a very complex but rewarding process, rather like solving a six-dimensional puzzle.

JAIV: Which leads us to: What’s up next?

HJ: I am currently working with Peter Sabor on the transcription and annotation of Charles Knight’s diaries – 1832 – 1851.

[The Sophia Hillan book May, Lou & Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland  (Blackstaff Press, 2011) covers the lives of Marianne (May), Louisa, and Cassandra Jane – much has already been written about Fanny, so what about Elizabeth (Lizzy) – is there a story to tell there?

M.C. Hammond’s Relating to Jane has already covered Lizzy Rice’s life.

[JAIV: Goodness, I have this book on my shelf and have never read it – more than half the book is on Lizzy Knight!:  Relating to Jane: Studies on the Life and Novels of Jane Austen with a Life of Her Niece Elizabeth Austen/Knight,  by M. C. Hammond (Minerva Press, 1998)].

JAIV: What is your favorite Austen and why? Your favorite character?

HJ: This reminds me of that question from a famous BBC Radio 4 programme: ‘Which book would you choose to take with you to your desert island?’ My answer would have to be ‘The Complete Works of Jane Austen’.  I find it impossible to single out for special notice one novel or one character. Heroines, heroes and minor characters, they are all perfectly realized and crafted.

JAIV: An absolutely perfect answer! So, what else do you like to read?

HJ: I love reading biographies, by Claire Tomalin and Hermione Lee in particular, also intelligent detective and thriller fiction – P.D. James, Ian Rankin, Stella Rimington, Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, Kate Atkinson; authors from other genres include Dorothy Whipple, Hilary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, Tracey Chevalier … I could go on.

JAIV: well. Thank you for that – a perfect reading list to add to my already toppling TBR pile! [and I see that many of Dorothy Whipple’s books have been republished by the incomparable Persephone Books.]

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A hearty Thank You! Hazel, for sharing so much about your book and research into the world of Austen’s nephews. You give a very loving picture of their varied lives, emphasizing their continued connection and affection for each other, and giving us a compelling view into this next generation of the Austen family. The amount of your research alone astounds me! And again, I highly recommend it to all. If you have any questions for Hazel, please comment below and I will forward them to her for answering.

Hazel Jones, Denman College, Oxfordshire

About the author:

Hazel Jones taught English at Exeter University’s Department of Lifelong Learning. She has lectured to Austen Societies in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands and contributed articles to a number of their journals. Since 1995 she has tutored residential courses on Jane Austen’s life, letters and novels in a range of locations. Her published books include Jane Austen and Marriage (2009) and Jane Austen’s Journeys (2014).

The Other Knight Boys: Jane Austen’s Dispossessed Nephews, by Hazel Jones
Crediton, Devon, UK: Uppercross Press, 2020.

165 pages, color illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.

You can find Hazel’s book at:

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The blog posts on Charles Bridges Knight’s reading at Godmersham Park can be found here:

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

“The Lost Books of Jane Austen” ~ Interview with Author Janine Barchas

Enquiring Minds: I welcome today, Professor Janine Barchas, author of the recently published The Lost Books of Jane Austen, a work of mind-boggling scholarship, wherein “hardcore bibliography meets Antiques Roadshow!” And whether your tastes run to book history, the science of bibliography, literary history, or just a love of Jane Austen, you will be delighted with this addition to your Austen collection – an absolute must-have in my mind, to be shelved in a place of honor right alongside your copy of David Gilson. And don’t think it is some pedagogical tome – I laughed, I cried, I learned, I was wowed! – and I think you will be too.

Today, Janine is going to share with us what got her started on this incredible journey, some of her finds, and where it all goes from here.

Deb:  First off, I must say that his book has been universally praised by Austen scholars and readers, book historians, and bibliographers! Did you have any idea the book would be so universally embraced?

JB:  I dared not hope.  Instead, I worried about whether crisscrossing the standard demarcations between audience groups (academics v. fans, readers v. collectors) might prove fatal.  At the start, anonymous readers of the manuscript for Johns Hopkins University Press warned against the intellectual Schizophrenia of my approach (my phrasing).  In view of their worry, much of the final book was rewritten and reframed so that essential bibliographical details would not detract from the larger human narrative—what my editor called “not getting lost in the weeds.” In other words, I had a lot of help and advice while shaping a book to appeal widely—and to different people for different reasons.  Who would have thought that any press could produce such a handsome gift-worthy volume filled with headshots of tatty, cheap, and rejected books?  From the start, there was something not entirely rational about expecting any audience for a book about unwanted books.  I’m immensely gratified that so many people share my affection for these neglected reprints.

Deb: How did your education / scholarship lead you to working on Jane Austen – how, and when? In other words, when did your fascination with Austen begin?

JB: I came to Austen late and reluctantly.  I was not introduced to her until college and graduate school, where I read her as a duty (as a stop along the history of the novel genre) rather than as a pleasure.  I did not return to her novels in earnest until I was asked to teach a single-author course on Austen.  At first, I tried to argue my way out of the task—after all, Samuel Richardson, who has no action figure, needed me more.  Eventually, I gave in to the market demand on campus.  Once I slowed down, reread all her books, and started teaching Austen, I had to bend at the knee along with all her other devotees.

Deb: You have always had an interest in book history – tell us about your first book: Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel, published by Cambridge University Press in 2003.

JB: All my projects seem to take a material turn.  Graphic Design argued that it was silly for serious academics to study and write about eighteenth-century novels while staring at and quoting from modern paperbacks (e.g. the Penguin reprints used in college classrooms).  I showed how these modern reprints had silently altered the text as well as the innovative typographical innovations for which the genre was termed “novel” in the first place (ie. layout, paratexts, illustrations, the advertising language of title pages, font choices).  In Graphic Design I urged serious scholars to return to the original editions of eighteenth-century books when studying literary meaning.  In Lost Books, I finally found a scholarly purpose for all those inauthentic reprintings that I dismissed as unauthoritative in that early project!

Deb:  You go through 200 years of Austen’s publishing history in such an interesting order. When did it become apparent that these divisions were a way of approaching the Lost Books: Paperback Jane, Scholarly Jane, Virtuous Jane, Temperance Jane, Marketing with Jane, Armed Services Jane, Chick-lit Jane, etc…

JB: For years, I periodically rearranged the shelves of the cheap Austen reprints that I acquired, grouping books on the dining room table and elsewhere to see what patterns emerged—patterns of aesthetics, formats, prices, audiences, etc.  I wanted to explore patterns that would allow me to go beyond the usual mere temporal lists of publications (“and then this edition, and then this one”).  While the story of the “pinking” of Jane Austen during the 1950s and 60s showed itself fairly quickly, the most meaningful patterns were impossible to see until after I gained access to the books of other collectors whose plentiful shelves contained many more examples to sort (physically or mentally). All in all, it probably took nine years of looking before the one year of writing to feel that I had a book’s worth of findings to share.

Deb: The seven Vignettes you include in the book tell the stories of book owners of the many Austen novels you have found. These are enlightening, sometimes wrenching – but such a personal tribute to Austen’s many readers through the past 200 years. A name, a date, maybe an address would send you on a deep-dive adventure into census, birth, marriage and death records – thank goodness for the internet and ancestry.com, making such research even possible! What was your favorite connection that you found?

JB: Locating the backstories and former owners behind particular copies was indeed the most rewarding part of researching and writing this book.  However, asking me to pick between these people and their books is like asking a mother which child is her “favorite.” As you say, some of the backstories proved tearjerkers while other copies offered up endearing or surprising anecdotes about the lives of real Austen readers.  The vignette that makes me smile most broadly is probably the one about the young Harvard law student named Heman Burr who, on his very first trip to Paris in 1879, binge read all of Jane Austen’s novels.

Deb: What was the most elusive, that you just couldn’t let go? – and finally found something…

JB: Unlocking the ownership history of one cheap mid-nineteenth-century copy of Mansfield Park depended upon locating the official naval record of the officer whose name matched the ownership signature. Even after I found his record, I needed help from a colleague familiar with naval terminology and a knowledge of specific ships and battles to see that his navel career mapped neatly onto the Austen novel that he had so treasured.

Deb: And the one(s) where you hit a brick-wall and ended at a dead end?

JB: There were dozens and dozens of books whose ownership signatures I could not trace with certainty in the historical record – sometimes because the name was too common or the inscription lacked mention of a location to help triangulate it. The anonymity that an all-too-common name conveys has its own cosmic sadness.  For a provenance researcher there is nothing more deflating than the proud ownership signature of a “Miss Smith.”

Deb: How many more stories do you have, not included in Lost Books, but possibly to be published elsewhere? Can we hope for a Vignettes sequel??

JB: There were handfuls of worthy backstories and many clusters of odd reprints that did not make it into the final book.  While a sequel is not in the cards (sweet of you to ask!), I have published a few of those findings as separate essays for the Los Angeles Review of Books and also for Literary Hub.

Another such essay (about the ignored marginalia of those who disliked Austen) is scheduled to appear in the May/June issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine.

‘Sense and Sensibility’ in the Marguerite Series from Miles & Miles (London), no date – Barchas collection (page 112)


Deb: Throughout this past decade of research, you located and purchased as many of these cheaply published works as possible; or you found collectors willing to share their shelves with you; or you found the odd one in a scholarly institution:

– What surprised you the most?

JB: The sheer number of cheap reprints not listed in Jane Austen’s bibliographies. I had assumed that bibliographies were, barring oversight and human error, objective records of publications.  I was taken aback by how subjective the discipline of bibliography is and how biased towards “important” highbrow editions.

Deb: Your most amazing discovery?

JB: A well-thumbed copy of Mansfield Park from the 1890s that served as an attendance prize in a temperance society for coal miners.  Coal miners!

Deb: Most elusive find?

JB: A paperback copy of Elizabeth Bennet published in Philadelphia in 1845 and which originally sold for 25 cents.

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Deb: What is now the most prized book in your collection, and why?

JB: The cheap colorful copy of Northanger Abbey published by Blackie & Sons which was awarded as a school prize in Forfar Scotland in 1911 to one “Annie Munro.”  During my research, I discovered that only six months later Annie tragically died from diphtheria, age 13, and that this volume could be the sole artifact she left behind. It was an honor to be able to tell Annie’s story in the book’s last vignette, and it remains an honor to safeguard her prized book.


Deb:  Tell us about the cover, specially done for you – it is such a combination of the old, the new, the charming – just a perfect introduction to the feast that awaits the reader on the inside!

JB: The incredible artist who created the book sculpture for the cover is Mike Stilkey, who works with discarded library books and lives in Los Angeles.  He is famous for his large wall-sized installations on which he paints unique figures and animals.  In a fan letter, I told him about my own Lost Books project.  He then created his “Jane Austen” sculpture from discarded books for possible use on the cover.  Everyone at the press instantly loved it.  I agree that Stilkey’s work strikes the perfect note and I remain grateful to him for responding with such generosity to this project.

Deb: You end your book with a “call to action”: that this “gobsmackingly incomplete historical record” of the publishing of Jane Austen has much more to be added to – you wish / hope that other collectors, scholars, laypeople, and institutions will share with you any such “low-brow editions” they might have – you envision some sort of digital bibliography – how do you hope to move forward with this idea? How can people help?

JB: Ambitiously, I now hope that collectors of such reprints as I discuss in Lost Books will agree to donate these relatively inexpensive but scarce volumes to institutions with proper special collections, where these books can allow further research into publishing history and Austen’s reception.  The major Austen collector that I worked with has generously agreed to donate her Jane Austen reprints to a special collections library that has, in turn, agreed to house such a gift (cataloguing and storage costs are non-trivial).  I have agreed to add my own books to hers, trusting that, jointly, our donations will help to save information for the future and prompt others to do the same. Books such as this need to be together to maximize the information they contain as historic artifacts.  Interested parties can contact me about inquiring about similar donations.  In addition, a collector in Australia wrote me that he has reacted to my project by starting a blog that shows other collectors how to trace prices and provenance of “cheaper” reprints: https://bookcollectingheaven.com/2020/03/30/price-and-provenance/ .

Deb: And finally, what’s up next?

JB: This year, with the help of a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and a stay at the Lewis Walpole Library, I have begun a new project, called Renting in the Age of Austen.  When Jane Austen is born in 1775, the burgeoning consumer culture of late-Georgian England increasingly allowed temporary ownership over some luxury goods for a fee. Books and artworks could now be borrowed, furniture and musical instruments rented, carriages or horses hired, and whole country mansions let. Some Georgian rentals were bizarre (e.g. pineapples), but all complicated identity politics. Rented objects blur traditional social signals of rank.  Whereas old sumptuary laws aimed to fix luxury goods as markers of class, in Austen’s era privilege could be flaunted with kit and carriages not one’s own. My project explores the messy logistics of what was rented (where, to whom, and at what prices?) to reveal the social implications for this early economy of temporary possession.

Deb: Anything else you would like to share?

JB: I would like folks to know of my unexpected lockdown project: “Pride & Plague” on Twitter (@PridePlague). On this channel celebrity couple William Shakespeare and Jane Austen have been posting updates to their fans while in social isolation during the COVID-19 crisis. Even those not on Twitter can see it here for a chuckle: https://twitter.com/PridePlague.  I think of this project as my contribution to morale [and a welcome contribution it is! See below for some examples…]

**********

Thank you Janine for sharing your insights – I do most heartily recommend this book to everyone – and please, look at your shelves and see if perchance you might have your very own “unsung reprints” lying about – you too could add to the knowledge of Jane Austen’s publishing history and be a part of this fascinating story.

 

About the author:

Janine Barchas is the Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor in English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity and the prize-winning Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel.  She is the creator behind the digital project What Jane Saw wherein we can view two Georgian blockbusters as witnessed by Jane Austen (Joshua Reynolds in 1813 and the Shakespeare Gallery of 1796). She has also written essays for the Washington Post, New York Times, Lit Hub, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her newest work, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, about the many unsung editions of Jane Austen, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press this past October.

Janine is also the President of NAFCH, the North American Friends of Chawton House, a group that works to raise funds and garner support for the Chawton estate of Jane Austen’s brother Edward and its Library devoted to early women writers.

Further reading:

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The Lost Books of Jane Austen, by Janine Barchas
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019
284 pages. Color illustrations throughout.

You can purchase it at your local bookseller or here at Amazon.

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As noted above, Janine is currently working through the present sheltering-in-place crisis by finding daily humor in the antics of Jane and Will and posting all about them on her twitter page “Pride & Plague.” You can follow the fun here: https://twitter.com/PridePlague

©2020 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Pemberley Post, No. 13 (April 15- 21, 2019) ~ Jane Austen and More!

April 23 – Today is the day Shakespeare died in 1616, (he may have also been born on this day – he was baptized on April 26, 1564) so let’s begin with the recent research into Shakespeare’s exact location in London: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/apr/13/shakespeare-plays-possibly-inspired-by-london-neighbours

*****

April 23 is also World Book & Copyright Day

“23 April is a symbolic date in world literature. It is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. This date was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books – most beautiful invention for sharing ideas beyond the boundaries of humanity space and time as well as the most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.”

https://www.worldbookday.com/2019/04/world-book-copyright-day-23-april-2019

Celebrate by visiting your local bookstore!

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Charlotte Bronte’s hair has been found in a ring on Antiques Road Show: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/17/charlotte-bronte-hair-ring-antiques-roadshow-bronte-society-braid-1855

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This is a look back at how the Cathedral of Notre-Dame has been portrayed in art through the ages:  https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-notre-dame-cathedral-in-art-1460-1921/

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British Book Illustration – Folger

Quite the collection of British Book Illustration at the Folger – see here for all the searchable images: https://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/FOLGER~2~2

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A few things to add to your already overburdened reading list: Twelve of the most important books for women in philosophy – a reading list of books that explore recent feminist philosophy and women philosophers: https://blog.oup.com/2019/04/12-most-important-books-women-philosophy/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=oupblog

Sophie de Grouchy. Letters on Sympathy: A Critical Engagement with Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
Published in 1798 in French, now here translated.

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In case you are in need of some new reading material, the whole of the 2 volumes of the Mueller Report are available for free online (you DON’T need to buy it from Amazon): Notice all the redacted data….  https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf

or here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5955379-Redacted-Mueller-Report.html#document/

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Apparently Pride & Prejudice made this art mural bookcase in Utrecht – can you find it?? http://www.openculture.com/2019/04/street-art-for-book-lovers.html

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Are you a Hoarding Bibliophile who doesn’t want to declutter your bookshelves via the Marie Kondo directive?? Here are a few people who just cannot let go: (and I am happy to find some soulmates!) https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/marie-kondo-bibliophiles-books-decluttering-tidying-a8864926.html

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UCLA will be hosting a Marathon Reading of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale on May 9-10 – for a full 24 hours – read about it here on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exDvztcgJpo&app=desktop

And here on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/233607600848307/

Octavia Butler’s “Earthseed Series” will also be part of the reading.

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Into Absolut Vodka? You can bid on the various artist-rendered lithographs here: live bidding starts today!

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/139611_absolut-vodka-lithographs/

George Rodrigue’s “Absolut Statehood Louisiana” – bidding is already at $1800…

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The Modern Library is launching a new trade paperback book series, Modern Library Torchbearers, that will “honor a more inclusive vision of classic books” by “recognizing women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.” The books, all previously published, will be repackaged, and each will be introduced by a contemporary woman writer. The inaugural list for the series features:

  • American Indian Stories by Zitkála-Sá, with an introduction by Layli Long Soldier (May 21)
  • The Heads of Cerberus by Francis Stevens, with an introduction by Naomi Alderman (May 21)
  • Passing by Nella Larsen, with an introduction by Kaitlyn Greenidge (May 21)
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin, with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado (June 18)
  • Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, with an introduction by Flynn Berry (June 18)
  • Villette by Charlotte Brontë, with an introduction by Weike Wang (June 18)

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/79804-modern-library-launches-series-of-classics-penned-by-women.html

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I can honestly say that the only thing I really have a fancy for that one might call over-the-top decorative arts are the stunning Faberge eggs – I’ve seen them in museums over the years and two years ago at the best place of all at The Hermitage – so here in celebration of Easter is a nicely done history from Barnaby’s: https://www.barnebys.com/blog/in-celebration-of-easter-we-look-back-on-the-history/

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Historic Ashburn School

And finally, more for your book pile: here is a great story about a judge and her “punishments” for young offenders and the reading list she gave them all to choose from – everybody should read all these books – the world would improve immensely…https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/this-is-what-happened-when-a-us-judge-sentenced-teenage-vandals-to-read-books

Happy internet surfing all!
what have been your favorites this past week?

c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont

 

The Pemberley Post, No. 12 (Mar 25 – Apr 14, 2019) ~ Jane Austen and More!

Just a few things of interest from the past few weeks, internet-surfing taking a back seat to Life… a few exhibitions, a bit about Bunnies, Shakespeare’s wife and her “second best bed.,” a few new books of note, the Bluestockings, a ton of reading from Women’s History month, and Jane Austen and drinking…

 

“Fans Unfolded” – an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum through January 2020: https://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/calendar/whatson/fans-unfolded-conserving-lennox-boyd-collection

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You can download several projects from the Colonial Williamsburg website – here you can make your own paper carnation, based on the artificial flower making of Elizabeth Gardner Armston: https://colonialwilliamsburg.com/learn/trend-and-tradition-magazine/trend-and-tradition-downloads

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See this at the Folger’s Collation blog – “Uncancelling the Cancelled” – a fascinating look at deciphering former owner names in books…https://collation.folger.edu/2019/04/uncancelling-the-cancelled/

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10 Poems about wives at Interesting Literature: https://interestingliterature.com/2019/04/03/10-of-the-best-poems-about-wives/

Here’s my favorite, about Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway:

Anne Hathaway – maybe – wikipedia

“Anne Hathaway” – by Carol Ann Duffy

‘Item I gyve unto my wief my second best bed…’ (from Shakespeare’s will)

The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlight, cliff-tops, seas
where he would dive for pearls. My lover’s words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses
on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme
to his, now echo, assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights I dreamed he’d written me, the bed
a page beneath his writer’s hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love –
I hold him in the casket of my widow’s head
as he held me upon that next best bed.

by Carol Ann Duffy – From New Selected Poems 1984-2004 (Picador, 2004). Originally published in The World’s Wife (Macmillan, 1999). http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/anne-hathaway/

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Some interesting news in the world of Calvin Coolidge: an eyewitness account to his swearing in as President in the early morning of August 3, 1923 in Plymouth, VT, this account from Coolidge’s chauffeur Joseph M. McInerney. His memoir “As I Remember” was recently acquired by the Vermont Historical Society’s Leahy Library: you can read the full document of 11 pages online here:

http://vermonthistory.org/documents/digital/McInerneyJosephMRemembers.pdf

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Margaret Atwood’s harrowing The Handmaid’s Tale has just been released as a graphic novel, illustrated by Renee Nault: https://lithub.com/read-from-the-graphic-novelization-of-the-handmaids-tale/

Handmaid’s Tale – LitHub

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From the Washington Post’s “In Sight” blog, a look at one person’s take on living in Jane Austen’s time: https://www.washingtonpost.com/photography/2019/04/05/this-photographer-hung-out-with-some-jane-austen-mega-fans-heres-what-she-saw/?utm_term=.9ba3787cfaf3

(scroll down below the comments to see the photographs)

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Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press

For Women’s History Month, the 31 daily posts on women involved in bibliography – historical printers, librarians, cataloguers, and archivists – that were posted on the twitter and facebook pages of the Women in Book History Bibliography website, are all now available on the website: “Why It Matters: Teaching Women Bibliographers” by Kate Ozment. Scroll down to read all 31 profiles – fascinating!

http://www.womensbookhistory.org/sammelband/2019/3/28/teaching-women-bibliographers

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A JSTOR essay about the Bluestockings: https://daily.jstor.org/the-bluestockings/

And more here on Richard Samuel’s painting of the “Muses in the Temple of Apollo” (1778) which depicted some of the famous Bluestockings of the time in ancient garb. https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/2008/brilliant-women/celebrating-modern-muses

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Spring is here, so enjoy this from Open Culture: Bunnies gone bad, medieval-style: http://www.openculture.com/2019/03/killer-rabbits-in-medieval-manuscripts-why-so-many-drawings-in-the-margins-depict-bunnies-going-bad.html

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Bronte Sisters, by Branwell Bronte

Re: Branwell Bronte: this from Publishers Weekly: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/book-deals/article/79768-book-deals-week-of-april-15-2019.html

PW is first to report that, five days after receiving the manuscript, Atria’s Daniella Wexler preempted a debut historical novel,

Brontë’s Mistress by Finola Austin, based on the true, heretofore untold story of Lydia Robinson and her affair with Branwell Brontë. According to the publisher, “the novel gives voice to the courageous, flawed, complex woman slandered in Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë as the ‘wicked’ elder seductress who corrupted the young Brontë brother, driving him to an early grave and bringing on the downfall of the entire Brontë family.” Danielle Egan-Miller at Browne & Miller negotiated the deal for world English and audio rights.

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Austen biographer Claire Harman has a new book out: Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens’s London “the fascinating, little-known story of a Victorian-era murder that rocked literary London, leading Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and Queen Victoria herself to wonder: Can a novel kill?” (how about Ulysses??)

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The American Antiquarian Society has digitized over 200 letters of Abigail Adams: http://americanantiquarian.org/abigailadams/

Abigail Adams – AAS

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And finally some items about Jane Austen:

Professor Janine Barchas has an article on the LARB Blog – her new book, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, will be out in Ocotober: http://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/essays/marie-kondos-contributions-reception-history-jane-austen/

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A new book out which every Jane Austen book club should have!

Gin Austen: 50 Cocktails to Celebrate the Novels of Jane Austen, Colleen Mullaney shares drink recipes inspired by the novels and characters of Jane Austen. Mullaney also digs into the history of drinks that were popular during Austen’s time, like flips, juleps, toddies, shrubs and sours, and gives tips on methods to prepare them and what vessels to serve them in.

“In Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park, Fanny Price outgrows her childlike timidness and becomes a modest, morally just, beautiful young woman. After enduring the rudeness of her aunt Norris, the demands of her aunt Bertram and the disdain of her cousins, she finally finds love with the dashing [?!!!] son of Sir Thomas of Mansfield Park. After all of that, who would not have need of something light and refreshing?

Host your next book club gathering with a fun drinking game and a pitcher of Fanny’s Folly, a cocktail inspired by Fanny Price.

Here’s how to play: After reading the same novel, all players should watch a movie version of the story and drink as follows:

  • A character comes galloping up or goes rushing off on horseback: 1 sip
  • A mention of marriage: 1 sip
  • A display of haughty independence: 2 sips
  • A declaration of love: 2 sips
  • A display of marriageable skills (foreign languages, playing the piano or harp, singing, dancing or embroidery): 2 sips
  • A proposal of marriage: finish your drink
  • Any player exclaims, “That’s not how it happened in the book!”: finish your drink and refill everyone else’s

From: https://parade.com/864774/solanahawkenson/host-the-best-book-club-night-with-a-jane-austen-inspired-cocktail-drinking-game/

Reprinted with permission from Gin Austen © 2019 Colleen Mullaney – You can buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Gin-Austen-Cocktails-Celebrate-Novels/dp/1454933127

 

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A friend of mine tells me that her son-in-law is playing the Jane Austen role-playing game “Good Society” – you can too – here is the information: https://storybrewersroleplaying.com/good-society/

How come nobody looks Happy??

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And finally, break open your piggy bank for this first edition of Sense & Sensibility:

Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility anonymously issued as “By a Lady” in 1811, was her first published novel. Presented as a triple-decker in an edition of about a thousand copies, the three volumes offered are in olive drab half calf. From the Estate of Frances “Peggy” Brooks, it is a sound set, and quite scarce in a period binding (est. $30,000-40,000). At Doyle’s April 17, 2019 (tomorrow!!): https://doyle.com/auctions/19bp01-rare-books-autographs-maps/rare-books-autographs-maps

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What’s on your computer screen this week??

c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Pemberley Post, No. 10 (Mar 4 – Mar 10, 2019) ~ Jane Austen on the Block! and More!

Not too much this week, as I have had company, and as it should, internet cruising takes a back seat. But this latest finds blog post starts with an Austen on the Block! – then moves on to Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, nursery rhymes, John Steinbeck, and various things about books ….

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First and foremost: Austen on the Block!

An interesting set of Jane Austen’s novels (a 1854 reprint of the Bentley set of 1833) that was owned by Austen’s niece Fanny Catherine Knatchbull is up for auction on March 28, 2019 at Forum Auctions in the UK:

Lot 225:

Austen (Jane) Novels, 6 vol. in 5, reprint of first collected edition, engraved frontispiece to each vol. but lacking half-titles and additional engraved vignette titles, vol.1 with presentation inscription from F.C. Knatchbull to her daughter Louisa dated 1856 (in Louisa’s hand) and remaining vol. with ownership signature of Louisa to front free endpaper, contemporary half calf, spines gilt with double morocco labels (3 lacking, a few chipped), rubbed, 8vo, Richard Bentley, 1833 [but c.1854]

A lovely association copy, once owned by Jane Austen’s favourite niece. Estimate is £4,000 – £6,000

Read more about it here at Forum Auctions.

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A new website “Shakespeare Census” has been launched: it is a database that attempts to locate and describe all extant copies of all editions of Shakespeare’s works through 1700 (excluding the four folio editions). Visit https://shakespearecensus.org/homepage

 

Each play or poem has a logo – this is the one for Romeo & Juliet

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The Ides of March is upon us (March 15th), and so this is interesting news:

Assassination of Julius Caesar, by William Sullivan (ArtUK)

The ruins in the Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome, and where Julius Caesar met his untimely end, is home to dozens of stray cats and is currently crumbling and fenced off. It will soon undergo extensive renovations and open to the public in 2021. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/site-where-julius-caesar-was-stabbed-will-finally-open-public-180971613/

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See-Saw Margery Daw

Read about and view many of the illustrations from William Darton’s Nursey Songs at Spitalfield’s Life: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2019/03/09/dartons-nursery-songs/

This edition from 1822 sold at auction in 2014 for $12,500!:

Songs for the Nursery, Collected From the Works of the Most Renowned Poets, and Adapted To Favourite National Melodies. London: Printed [By R. & A. Taylor] For William Darton, 1822. Estimate $ 6,000 — 8,000

Visit http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/etexts/darton/ for a bibliography of the William Darton and Sons works exhibited in 1992 at the Lilly Library.

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The Library of Congress “Today in History” for March 9, 1841: Survivors of Amistad Mutiny Released

“The Supreme Court issued a ruling on March 9, 1841, freeing the remaining thirty-five survivors of the Amistad mutiny. Although seven of the nine justices on the court hailed from Southern states, only one dissented from Justice Joseph Story’s majority opinion. Private donations ensured the Africans’ safe return to Sierra Leone in January 1842.”

Image: Joseph Cinquez, the Brave Congolese Chief…
[Drawn by James or Isaac Sheffield]; Moses Yale Beach, lith.;
Boston: Joseph A. Arnold, c1839

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A Miniature Books collection on exhibit at The Grolier Club in NYC: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/books/tiny-books-grolier-club.html

“A Matter of Size: Miniature Texts & Bindings” from the Collection of Patricia J. Pistner. March 5 – May 18, 2019

Image: Two Speeches by Abraham Lincoln: “The Gettysburg Address” and his “Second Inaugural Address;” written and bound by London bookbinders Sangorski & Sutcliffe in 1930.

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Good to know that the Nobel Prize for Literature (not awarded in 2018) is back, and 2018 and 2019 winners will be announced at the same time this year (in October)… https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/awards-and-prizes/article/79431-after-changes-the-nobel-prize-for-literature-returns.html

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A more than creative way to make use of Old Books: https://www.boredpanda.com/old-book-recycling-paper-art-cecilia-levy/

See more teacups and other made-from-books objects by Cecilia Levy here: https://www.cecilialevy.com/

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Most of you likely know that I collect books by and about John SteinbeckOpen Culture shares this great tale of Steinbeck as autograph seeker – and from Marilyn Monroe of all people! The letter sold at auction in 2016 for $3,520: http://www.openculture.com/2019/03/heres-john-steinbeck-asking-marilyn-monroe-for-her-autograph-1955.html

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A “Rules of the Circulating Library in Ashborne” broadside sold at Forum Auctions in November: this article appears in the Antiques Trade Gazette by Ian McKay: https://www.antiquestradegazette.com/print-edition/2019/january/2374/auction-reports/library-laws-laid-down-at-auction/

“Dated April 5, 1768, the simple printed broadside shown below lays down the ‘Rules…’ that apply to those wishing to use the Circulating Library in Ashbo[u]rne in Derbyshire.

As well as a joining fee of 7/6d, library users were charged six shillings a year for membership, payable in two instalments. They were also entitled to attend quarterly meetings at The Green Man or other designated venue to propose, discuss and vote on what new books might be purchased for the library.

Anyone keeping a book out on loan for longer than what had been agreed on as a reasonable period was liable to a fine of tuppence a day.

All users are reminded “…not to lend any Library Book out of his Dwelling-House on any Pretence whatever.”


It sold for £1200 at Forum Auctions on November 29, 2018.

 

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What were your favorite finds this past week?

c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Pemberley Post, No. 9 (Feb 25 – Mar 3, 2019) ~ Jane Austen and More!

A week of goodies: Edward Gorey’s covers, Freddie Mercury, costumes for The Crown, Women’s History Month, Erotica, Cookery, Potatoes, Green Books, Doll Houses, and Highwaywomen…

Edward Gorey’s covers for literary classics: https://lithub.com/edward-goreys-illustrated-covers-for-literary-classics/
-What’s scary is how many of the books with these covers I have actually owned…(that dates me!)

 

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Mary Wroth, a contemporary of Shakespeare, is the author of the Guardian’s poem of the week https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2019/jan/28/poem-of-the-week-from-a-crown-of-sonnets-dedicated-to-love-by-lady-mary-wroth

From A Crown of Sonnets Dedicated to Love:

In this strange labyrinth how shall I turn?

Ways are on all sides, while the way I miss:

If to the right hand, there, in love I burn;

Let me go forward, therein danger is.

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Now to the 21st-century – here is the Freddie Mercury clone Marc Martel who sings some of the songs in the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic: http://www.openculture.com/2019/02/marc-martel-sings-just-like-freddie-mercury.html

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Opening at Winterthur at the end of March (through January 5, 2020): “Costuming The Crown http://www.winterthur.org/exhibitions-events/exhibitions/future-exhibitions/thecrown/

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Girl with Potato Earring – Atlas Obscura

Waxing poetic on the Potato – more than you ever thought you needed to know: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/potato-idioms

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A Folger Shakespeare Library exhibition: “First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas” (Jan 19 – Mar 31, 2019): https://www.folger.edu/exhibitions/first-chefs-fame-foodways-britain-americas

-and some of the recipes, such as Hannah Wooley’s Orange and Lemon Marmalade, or William Hughes’s Hot Chocolate: https://www.folger.edu/exhibitions/first-chefs/recipes

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March is Women’s History Month!

Two databases that focus on Women Writers are FREE during the whole month of March:

  1. Orlando: the subscription service Orlando:Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present will be available free for all through the month of March for Women’s History Month: http://orlando.cambridge.org/svHomePage

Here is the login information: (no caps, no spaces)

Id: womenshistory19
pw: orlando19

  1. The Women Writers Online collection includes more than 400 texts written and translated by women, first published between 1526 and 1850 (no login info required: you can search and read the texts in the collection at: http://wwo.wwp.northeastern.edu/WWO

Peter Harrington has put out a catalogue: In Her Own Words: Works by Exceptional Women – you can read it here: https://www.peterharrington.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/151-final-low-res.pdf

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Erotica at the British Library: see this blog post at Untold Lives “Smutty stuff’ for ‘debauched readers’: The Merryland books in the Private Case” https://blogs.bl.uk/untoldlives/2019/02/smutty-stuff-for-debauched-readers-the-merryland-books-in-the-private-case.html

The Private Case is an historic collection of erotica segregated from the main British (Museum) Library collection on grounds of obscenity from the 1850s onwards in a moral climate of suppression and censorship. Now much of the work has been digitized for all the world to see (subscription through Gale or in the Reading Room of the British Library).

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The Doll’s House at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood – with great pictures:
http://spitalfieldslife.com/2019/02/28/denton-welchs-dolls-house/

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Those of us watching Victoria might want more information on the Great Exhibition of 1851: here’s a very small sampling of what’s on the internet:

The Great Exhibition – America

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Then there’s the scene in North and South with Margaret and John Thornton meeting at the Great Exhibition and where she first sees the respect with which he is held by others (and always nice to have a reason to post a pic with Richard Armitage…)

“North and South” – the visit to the Great Exhibition

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For those of you wanting to know more about the Green Books that are the heart of the Green Book movie, The New York Public Library has a research guide and a digitized collection online here: https://www.nypl.org/blog/2019/02/25/explore-green-books-schomburg-center

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OK, are you a Miss, Mrs. or a Ms.? (all Misters – this is not about you…): Alexander Atkins at the Bookshelf gives us the history – it goes back a long time in case you didn’t know: https://atkinsbookshelf.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/what-is-mrs-short-for/

(you should follow this blog – always enlightening word and book history…)

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Lady Ferrers – Geste of Robin Hood

This week’s favorite “Found on the Internet and how will I ever read it all…”: https://gesteofrobinhood.com/

Here Begynneth A Lytell Geste of Robin Hood… Being A General and True History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Rogues, Cheats, Murderers and Rebel Leaders from the Medieval Period to the 19th Century

This post on “Female Highwaymen” is most arresting (pun intended)… https://gesteofrobinhood.com/2015/10/18/female-highwaymen/

Lady Katherine Ferrers (1634-1660) – do you think Jane Austen had her in mind when creating her Fanny Ferrars Dashwood (the sneaky thief of inheritances)?? Or perhaps that’s where Mrs. Ferrars money came from?

Happy reading! What has been your favorite internet find this week?

C2019 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Women’s Writing Database “Orlando” ~ Free for the Month of March!

UPDATE: The Women Writers Online database also has free access during the month of March – you can find it here: http://wwo.wwp.northeastern.edu/WWO

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theorlandoproject

Orlando, the subscription database from Cambridge University Press on “Women’s Writings in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present” – is available for free for Women’s History Month starting tomorrow and throughout March.

The Orlando Project “provides entries on authors’ lives and writing careers, contextual material, timelines, sets of internal links, and bibliographies.”

http://orlando.cambridge.org/svHomePage

Here is the login information: (no caps, no spaces)

Id: womenshistory19
pw: orlando19

As always, much new material has been added this past year: just as an example, Professor Isobel Grundy has shared with me that these four near-contemporaries of Jane Austen are now part of the database (or will be added shortly):

Mary Harcourt (later Countess Harcourt) (1750-1833), who was embedded with her husband while he commanded troops in the Low Countries during the War of the First Coalition against revolutionary France, and wrote an account of her experience and her gradual development of strongly anti-war views; and

Eglantine, Lady Wallace (died 1803), a dramatist and conduct-writer, a Scots aristocrat of rather dubious respectability who got caught up in part of the same war and was very friendly with a revolutionary leader. [entry is under Eglinton Wallace].

Jane Loudon (1807-1858), who published a science fiction novel called The Mummy, unfortunately a few years too late for Austen to read it. [to be added soon]

Anna Gordon (Mrs. Brown) (1747-1810), a Scottish ballad-collector and singer. [to be added soon]

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If you are wondering about the symbol of the Oak Tree, here is the explanation from the website:

“. . . a little square book bound in red cloth fell from the breast of her leather jacket—her poem The Oak Tree.” —Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, a Biography, 1928, inspires this work in literary history. Woolf’s biographical and historical fantasy explores the changing conditions of possibility for women writing in England from the time of Elizabeth I to her own day, and gives us a poet protagonist who is at work throughout the whole of this history on the composition of her poem “The Oak Tree”. The Orlando Project team sees in the oak tree a suggestion of the history of women’s writing in the British Isles, the growth of history from biography, and (in a kind of visual pun) the tree-like structure of our text encoding.

Fabulous resource – spend the month indulging in this feast of information!

c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Pemberley Post, No. 6 (Feb 4-10, 2019) ~ Jane Austen and More…!

This week finds me jumping from Jane Austen’s sister-in-law Fanny Austen, to crazy bibliophiles, Rossetti’s wombats, the Coloring craze, Princess Margaret, and on to London, muons (whatever they are…), and more of course – it’s a mad world of information out there…

A new website and blog by Sheila Johnson Kindred, where she will explore Jane Austen’s naval world. Kindred is the author of Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen: https://www.sheilajohnsonkindred.com/

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This made me laugh: always great stuff on The Londonist

https://londonist.com/london/outside-london/london-paris-comparison

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The Yale Law School Library has a new exhibit on its rare bindings: https://library.law.yale.edu/news/new-exhibit-legally-binding-fine-and-historic-bindings-yale-law-library

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So, who doesn’t love a wombat?! https://publicdomainreview.org/2019/01/10/how-the-pre-raphaelites-became-obsessed-with-the-wombat/

Image: Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s frontispiece, complete with wombat, for his sister Christina’s long poem Goblin Market

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A new blog on Early Modern Female Book Ownership (how nice we were allowed to have books…): https://earlymodernfemalebookownership.wordpress.com/

Frances Wolfreston

-which led me to this: https://franceswolfrestonhorbouks.com/, a blog by Sarah Lindenbaum, who is seeking to reconstruct the book collection of Frances Wolfreston (1607-1677), a gentrywoman from the English midlands with an expansive library; over 200 books have been identified thus far.

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Have you gotten caught up in the coloring book craze? Here’s some history: it’s nothing new – https://publicdomainreview.org/2019/02/06/filling-in-the-blanks-a-prehistory-of-the-adult-coloring-craze/

Image: The page from the University of Oklahoma’s colored version of Leonhart Fuchs’ De historia stirpium commentarii insignes

This is an example of how finding one interesting link leads to more and you might never get up from your desk again…

-The Folger also is into the coloring craze: Color Our Collections (was available to download Feb 4-8, 2019): https://folgerpedia.folger.edu/Color_Our_Collections?utm_source=wordfly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ShakespearePlus6Feb2019&utm_content=version_A&promo=

–…which leads you to the Folgers whole collection of British Book Illustrations from the 17th century:
https://britishbookillustrations.folger.edu/?_ga=2.137070000.1247254353.1549814122-1754199278.1548275325#explore

—…which leads you to this illustration from the color week in 2017: Louis Rhead, Romeo & Juliet, for Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb—-and then back to #colorourcollections on twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23colorourcollections&src=tyah

—–and on to facebook too: https://www.facebook.com/search/str/%23colorourcollections/keywords_search?epa=SEARCH_BOX

I’m exhausted and I haven’t even begun to color yet…

Back to Jane, for a minute: A nice review of the latest Pride and Prejudice redo, Unmarriageable, set this time in Pakistan: https://writergurlny.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/unmarriageable-a-novel-book-review/

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The Museum of London has acquired an 1815 panorama of London painted by Pierre Prévost; Kelly McDonald on her Two Teens in the Time of Austen blog writes all about it: https://smithandgosling.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/jane-austens-london-1815/

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A new exhibit at the V&A on Christian Dior: https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/dior-designer-of-dreams – and https://secretldn.com/inside-va-dior-exhibition/

The exhibit includes Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday dress – read more at this Smithsonian article:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/princess-margarets-iconic-21st-birthday-dress-goes-displaystains-and-all-180971404/

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A new chamber in the Great Pyramid? If you know what a “muon” is, you might know that the use of muon technology has revealed an as yet undiscovered chamber in the Great Pyramid, where remaining treasures may lie: https://blog.oup.com/2019/02/power-mysterious-muon/

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Here’s a bit of a head-scratcher: with thanks to Tony Grant:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/transcribe-old-documents-unreadable-handwriting

The article shows a letter from Jane Austen to Cassandra that Ms. Watson has transcribed; but she states: “You can actually see how they have changed their manuscript – how Jane Austen changed Pride and Prejudice as she’s writing it… That blows my mind a bit. You see it, and you think – that’s so much better after she’s edited it than before.”

Well, I’m sorry but as far as I know there are no manuscripts of Pride and Prejudice, or any of the other 5 novels other than the cancelled chapters of Persuasionso this is very interesting if she has been transcribing a P&P manuscript??

      An 1800 letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra

You can see and read all of Austen’s actual fiction manuscripts here: https://janeausten.ac.uk/index.html

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And finally, for your reading pleasure – I love finding something rather obscure: https://www.victoriansecrets.co.uk/book/dorotheas-daughter-and-other-nineteenth-century-postscripts/

“Dorothea’s Daughter is a stunning new collection of short stories based on novels by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy. They are postscripts, rather than sequels, entering into dialogues with the original narratives by developing suggestions in the text. The authors’ conclusions are respected, with no changes made to the plot; instead, Barbara Hardy draws out loose threads in the original fabric to weave new material, imagining moments in the characters’ future lives.”

The stories are:

  • Twilight in Mansfield Parsonage (Mansfield Park by Jane Austen)
  • Mrs Knightley’s Invitation (Emma by Jane Austen)
  • Adèle Varens (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë)
  • Lucy Snowe and Paulina Bretton: the Conversation of Women (Villette by Charlotte Brontë)
  • Edith Dombey and Son (Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens)
  • Harriet Beadle’s Message (Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens)
  • Lucy Deane (The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot)
  • Dorothea’s Daughter (Middlemarch by George Eliot)
  • ’Liza-Lu Durbeyfield (Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy)

Has anyone read this? It was first published in 2011. I’ve just ordered it and will let you know my thoughts…

Thanks for visiting… and Happy Reading…

ps: just a note as to why I leave in the full url of each link: if an imbedded link goes bad or far off into cyberspace, it is easier to find it if you have the details in the url – it doesn’t look as pretty, sorry to say, but more helpful in the end..

C2019 Jane Austen in Vermont