Guest Author Interview ~ Bryan Kozlowski on “The Jane Austen Diet”

Dear Healthy Readers: I welcome today Bryan Kozlowski, author of The Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness – he joins us here to answer a few questions about his book, why he wrote it, how long he’s been a reader of Jane Austen, and when he discovered she had all these things to say about nutrition and health.  Joceline Bury, the book reviewer for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine calls it “a delectable salmagundy or culinary history, illuminating quotes, dietary science and intriguing recipes – it made this gourmand’s heart sing. Delicious in every way.”          

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 Welcome Bryan!

When did you first start to realize that Austen’s work contained these words of wisdom about wellness?

Very unexpectedly. Looking back, Jane and I had always been in a very superficial relationship. Begging her polite pardon, I never viewed her beyond anything other than a pure romance writer, always good for a giggle over the newest rich gent in the neighborhood, but not exactly influential to everyday life. If anything, Austen was just a bosom buddy I turned to for distraction from modern life, never realizing she held one of its biggest solutions. Yet that all changed rather quickly two years ago. Nearing my 30th birthday and in the midst of a personal wellness quandary (wondering, among other things, whatever happened to the energy levels of my roaring twenties), I delved into the latest health books for answers. That’s when it happened.  Reading the “newest” research on eating, exercise, and holistic living felt very familiar, like literary déjà vu. Hadn’t I come across these exact insights before in Austen’s novels? Hadn’t she said the same thing, espoused nearly identical lifestyle advice, over two-hundred years ago? It all looked amazingly similar to the way her healthiest characters eat, stay fit, and interact with nature. The discovery led me to health maxims in Austen’s writings I never knew existed, which revealed a side to this famous English spinster rarely, if ever, discussed. Here was a woman just as interested in persuading her readers to live a healthier life as she was inspiring them to fall in love. Plainly, Austen wanted to take my relationship with her to the next level. So I took the plunge, deciding to test out her unique health strategies for myself (rather secretly, at first – one doesn’t announce to the world that one is going on the Jane Austen “diet,” does one?) It was a personal guinea-pig project that – shockingly – was not only suitable to the 21st century, the elegance of embracing “health and happiness” like a true Austenite is one that I now heartily announce to anyone in sore need of adding back some civility and sense to their own modern health routine. 

You’re not a health professional. Do you intend for people to actually follow this plan? Is it a serious contribution to the wellness space?

Quite right. It’s something I discuss upfront in the book: that neither am I nor was Austen a doctor (or apothecary, rather!). Austen was, however, one of the most brilliant observers of human nature, and devoted her literary life to finding out what makes people happier and healthier both in mind and body. For this reason, Austen is often considered one of the best “didactic” novelists, meaning she made it her mission to inspire us – no matter the century – to live a better life. And just like she didn’t need to get married herself to understand the nuances of love, she didn’t need a medical degree to accurately grasp what our bodies need to thrive – the evidence is all in her novels. In fact, the health advice scattered throughout her writing continues to be so timeless today because it was based on organic observation, not on shifting fashions or fads. She knew what naturally worked for our bodies and what didn’t, which is why her wellness philosophies find such resounding support from the latest health research. Moreover, it’s important to remember that Austen lived in an age that faced health challenges nearly identical to the ones we grapple with today. The Regency era had its own mini obesity epidemic, movement crises, and trendy starvation diets to contend with. Yet in her own clever way, Austen chose to respond (never bluntly) but with subtle, counterculture clues woven throughout her fiction: clues meant to gently motivate us to better alternatives. And I, for one, am so grateful she did.

What is the best piece of advice gleaned from Austen included in your book?

Austen would probably get a merry kick out of my attempt to answer this, as her health code purposefully defies any attempt at tidy condensing. But if possible to boil down, you could say that it’s built on one refreshing reminder – that “health” is far more holistic than most of us have been conditioned to view it today (that is, as an isolated number on a scale, BMI chart, food plan, fitness strategy, or dress size). As a matter of fact, weight hardly mattered to Jane at all, who progressively considered excessive thinness, not fatness, as a much more serious risk to health. There are corpulent characters in her novels, of course, who could certainly loose a few pounds, but Austen chose to widen the lens and focus instead on what she calls the “complete” “picture of health” throughout her fiction. In short, Austen’s healthiest characters never have just one defining attribute that makes them “lovely, blooming, [and] healthful” but a sweeping range of interconnected lifestyle habits and patterns that keep them effortlessly “in health” from tip to toe: from their relationship to food and exercise, to their interactions with nature, to how they think and feel about their bodies. Your corset size mattered far less to Jane than how you laced up the rest of your life.

 Which of Austen’s heroines lives the healthiest life, and why?

What I love about Austen’s approach to wellness is its firm footing in reality – that is, none of her heroines start their stories as perfect paradigms of health. Everybody has something to learn. Anne Elliot begins Persuasion “faded” and frumpy and Marianne Dashwood certainly has some hard health lessons ahead of her in Sense and Sensibility. But if any heroine could be said to have a head start on the rest, I believe it would be Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. If nothing more than the fact that she begins the novel completely comfortable in her own skin. So much so, she instantly laughs off Mr. Darcy’s infamous body-shaming snark (“he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form”). And that alone was incredibly important to Austen, an early promoter of body positivity. Because becoming healthy in Austenworld truly begins in your mind, where the quality of your relationship to food, fitness, and even your reflection in the mirror will greatly depend on how you think about those things. Still incredibly important today, these are the mental “exercises” that set apart the body healthy from the body harmful in Austen’s novels. As Fanny Price insists in Mansfield Park, “that would be exercise only to my body, and I must take care of my mind.”

What is the most surprising/useful habit that those living in Austen’s era abided by for health?

The most surprising aspect of Austen’s wellness program is her insistence that a healthy diet includes far more than just food – that it relies on a daily dose of nature, too. Things like fresh air, sunlight, trees, good clean dirt and sea breezes are practically treated like vitamins in her fiction, routinely prescribed to any character in need of a body reboot. And though I used to (shamefully) think Austen had gone a wee bit too far with her love for nature – note Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice, at one point, prefers “rocks and mountains” to actual men – thanks to new and growing support from modern science, it is now an essential part of my own wellness walk with Jane, and one I cannot live without.

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About the author:

Bryan Kozlowski is a passionate champion of “lit wit” – bringing the wisdom of classic literature into everyday life. From Jane Austen to Charles Dickens to children’s cookbooks, his books celebrate the modern magic of living literarily. His works have appeared in Vogue, the New York Times and the Washington Post. He graduated valedictorian from The Culinary Institute of America in New York, where he fell in love with British food history, and interned at Saveur food magazine before setting off on the writing path.

About the book:

Bryan KozlowskiThe Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness

Turner Publishing, 2019
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN: 978-1684422128

If you have any questions for Bryan, please comment below.

Thank you Bryan for sharing your new book with us! I am heading out now for my daily walk knowing Jane would heartily approve!

c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont

Guest Post ~ Nancy I. Sanders on Her New Book, “Jane Austen for Kids”

Good Morning Readers! Today I welcome Nancy I Sanders, author of the recently released Jane Austen for Kids: Her Life, Writings, and World. Designed for ages 9 and up, the book provides 21 enriching activities to help them gain a better understanding of daily life in the Georgia era: playing whist, designing a coat-of-arms, planting a kitchen garden, learning the boulanger, hosting a tea, playing cricket, sewing a reticule – all activities Jane would have participated in – and now we can too! Filled with pictures and much information of Austen’s life and works, this is a lively and engaging way to learn more about Jane Austen. I highly recommend that you add this book to your Austen collection, no matter your age – you might learn how to curl your hair just like Jane did!

Join Nancy as she takes us on a tour through Jane Austen country, where she was inspired to write this book!

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Our beloved Jane once wrote in a letter to her sister Cassandra, “It appeared so likely to be a wet evening that I went up to the Great House between three and four, and dawdled away an hour very comfortably.”

Two centuries later, early in the afternoon on July 19, 2017, I rode with my husband Jeff and our JASNA tour group on the tour bus toward the Great House. My heart beat with excitement as we drove past quaint homes, many reflecting days gone by.

I had traveled all the way from Los Angeles here to Hampshire to treasure this experience today. As a children’s writer, I was researching and taking photographs for my newest book, Jane Austen for Kids. But for me as well as others in our group, today would be a highlight of our trip. I would get to visit Jane’s adult home, the church she attended with her mother and sister and other family members, and her brother Edward’s nearby mansion, known affectionately as the Great House.

Chawton House –  “The Great House”

We turned up the lane and I saw it. The Great House. Jane spent many a merry day here visiting her nieces and nephews…exploring the well-stocked library…meandering over the manicured grounds…drinking delightful teas…and, I dare say, collecting many ideas for her novels.

What a joy it was to explore the Great House. Now known as the Chawton House, its collections feature Jane Austen as well as other famous women writers. We visited its library room with collections of rare books. We saw the huge portrait painted of Edward Knight, Jane’s fortunate brother who was adopted by the childless Knights. The silhouette of this adoption was also here at the Great House. It was because of her brother’s adoption by Jane’s wealthy relatives that Edward eventually inherited this property and also the humble cottage that eventually was granted for Jane, her mother, and her sister Cassandra to live in.

In the dining room was the same dining table where Jane would sit down to eat when she visited her brother and her favorite niece, Fanny. We saw Jane’s favorite window overlooking the gravel driveway where Jane would sit and look out and imagine…

 

Finally it was time to leave. There were other memories to explore. We headed toward St. Nicholas Church, located next to the Great House.

Arriving at St. Nicholas Church, a peaceful pastoral scene greeted us. Its open gate beckoned us inside.

Later that day, I wrote in my travel journal of this experience:

As we walked down the golden gravel path, the gentle mist fell around us as the gentle mist of time melted away. We walked in the footsteps of Jane and her family on their way to church and to visit each other. Sheep bleated peacefully in the nearby pasture. Jane’s sister and mother are buried behind the church. Their tombstones stand as silent reminders that there are stories of our Jane still waiting to be told…

 

Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Chawton

 

We passed by tombstones, weathered by the rains and sunshines of time. Even though this church has been renovated and altered from its original design, it was still a remarkable site to see.

Inside was a simple magnificence.

A hushed stillness comforted our visit and filled us with awe.

I headed outside, paused for a moment to take a photo shot, then walked around in search of the graveyard.

More sheep grazed quietly near the old churchyard fence.

A giant tree, ancient silent sentinel, hosted a sign that pointed me toward the back.

And then I saw them. Standing side by side as markers of the two women who were perhaps most influential in Jane’s life. Her mother and her sister, both named Cassandra. The moss and ivy made delicate frames for this picturesque site. I lingered…savoring this moment…quiet…reflecting…the influence of these women reaching down through two centuries to influence me as a woman, as a reader, and as a writer.

But there was more to see, so I finally pulled myself away and headed back to the front of the church, out the gate, and down the gravel lane. I turned to take one last look at St. Nicholas and bid it farewell.

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Then down the gravel lane to the country road. Destination? Chawton Cottage, the home where Jane lived and wrote a large bulk of her novels. Today it houses Jane Austen’s House Museum.

We walked down the Jane Austen Trail….

The country land led us past moss-covered fence posts and ivy-covered trees. I must have brushed against the undergrowth because suddenly, the calf of my right leg was on fire.

Alas! That ancient culprit. Stinging nettle! I had become its victim just as in Jane’s day. Except for the pain, I had to smile. It was an unexpected souvenir of my day’s adventure.

We meandered past more quaint homes and delightfully overgrown gardens.

 

We turned the corner. And there it was. Chawton Cottage. Jane’s beloved home. Tea awaited us! Along with a glimpse into the daily life and heart of Jane.

Inside we found her writing table. The infamous door that squeaked. The bedroom she shared with Cassandra her adult life. The garden where she gathered flowers…but more than just things, we found rich treasures. Pearls and diamonds enough to fill our hearts to overflowing…yet never enough. Can one ever get enough of our Jane?

 

Once outside again, a surprise awaited us. This bench was one of many benches painted in commemoration of 200 years of Jane’s legacy to the world. They were scattered throughout Hampshire and we saw quite a number of them at various historic sites where Jane visited or stayed.

This beautiful bench brought me back from the 1700-1800s to my current day. It reminded me that I had a task to do. An exciting project that I would spend the rest of that year working on. My biography of Jane that would bring her life to young readers in a way no other book has done, focusing on Jane’s childhood and juvenile writings as well as including historic activities based on Jane’s life and times.

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Jane Austen for Kids: Her Life, Writings, and World
By Nancy I. Sanders
Official book’s website:  http://nancyisanders.com/jane-austen/

About the author:

Nancy I. Sanders was introduced to Jane Austen as a teenager when she read Pride and Prejudice aloud with her future sister-in-law. Since then she chose to follow in Jane’s footsteps to become a writer—although her published books mostly are enjoyed by younger readers (such as the rollicking fun picture book A Pirate’s Mother Goose). With over 100 books to her credit including bestsellers and award-winning titles, Nancy still enjoys reading Jane Austen with Persuasion being her current favorite. Nancy and her husband Jeff live in Norco CA near their two sons and their wives, and three grandchildren.

Credits:

  • “It appeared”: Jane to Cassandra Austen, 13 June 1814, in Chapman, Jane Austen’s Letters, 388.
  • Chawton House photos by author, courtesy of Chawton House
  • St. Nicholas photos by author, courtesy of St. Nicholas, Chawton
  • Chawton Cottage photo by author, courtesy of the Jane Austen’s House Museum

c2019, Jane Austen in Vermont

Museum Musings: Victorian Fashion at UVM’s Fleming Museum ~ “The Impossible Ideal”

It is really rather churlish of me to post about an exhibit that is no longer there – give you a sample of something you can’t anywhere find the full feast – but so I shall do because the exhibit closed right after I went and then the holidays intervened. But with the permission of the Collections Manager at the Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont, I shall show you several of the fashions that were on display at their recent “The Impossible Ideal: Victorian Fashion and Femininity” which ran from September 21 – December 4, 2018.

All the fashions are part of the Fleming’s collection and not usually on display. The exhibition of clothing and accessories, along with excerpts from popular American women’s magazines (Godey’s Lady’s Book and Peterson’s Magazine), explores “how fashion embodied the many contradictions of Victorian women’s lives, and, eventually, the growing call for more diverse definitions of women’s roles and identities.”

It is not a large exhibition, but each gown or corset has its own story: the fabric and accessory details, the history of the wearer, and how it reflected the times in Victorian Vermont. We see the changes during this “Victorian era’s ‘cult of domesticity’ and the idea that women’s place was in the home and not in the public sphere,” to later in the century, “when sleeker skirts, broader shoulders, lighter fabrics, and suit styles gave women greater freedom of movement reflecting increasing autonomy.” [Quoted text from the Fleming Newsletter, Fall 2018].

It is interesting to see the Victorian shift from the Regency era’s flowing and revealing dresses and wonder how women ever let that happen!

 

I will show you here some of my favorites: I’d like to hear which is your favorite from this small sample…

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Wrapper, c1850:
printed floral cotton with silk taffeta trim and embroidered buttons; a loosely-fitted at-home dress usually worn at breakfast

Have you always wondered why the Victorians had such a penchant for plaid? See below for some further reading on the subject…

White Wedding Dress, 1857:
off-white damasked silk taffeta with gold silk-fringe. Tradition has it that the trend to wear white for weddings began with
Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840
– but in reality, white was only used by the wealthiest of brides.
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Ball Gown, 1860:
cream moiré silk taffeta with floral damask and trimmings in satin and lace

*

*Wedding Skirt (1865) and Afternoon Bodice (altered early 1870s):
yellow and green striped silk taffeta. This is a prime example of how even the wealthiest of women would have adapted their clothes to reflect fashion crazes or bodily changes.

*

Princess Cut Dress, c1870s:
purple silk taffeta with silk organza trim. The cuirass bodice, named for the chest piece on medieval armor was the latest fashion craze. And by the late 1850s, synthetic chemical dyes began to replace vegetable-based dyes, allowing for brighter, longer-lasting colors – and not entirely safe, as some of the dyes contained arsenic!

*

Opera or “Fancy Dress” Gown, 1875:
aubergine silk velvet, satin brocade bobbin lace, glass beads and tortoise-shell buttons,
and absolutely stunning in real life! (hard not to touch…)
*

Blue dress worn at UVM graduation in 1878:
silk taffeta with mother-of-pearl buttons

The University of Vermont began accepting women in 1871and in 1875 was the first American University of admit women into the honor society Phi Beta Kappa. This dress was worn by Ellen Miller Johnson (1856-1938) of Burlington Vermont – she majored in Classical Courses and graduated with the fourth co-educational class in 1878, one of three women in a class of seventeen.
*

Two-Piece Traveling Wedding Dress, 1885:
garnet silk satin with dark purple velvet and white bobbin lace, and I confess this to be my favorite – who can resist garnet and purple!


*

Two-Piece Suit-Style Dress, 1895:
black and red textured silk with white bobbin lace. The beginnings of a more masculine-mode of dress
*

Riding Habit, c1900:
brown wool broadcloth with black silk satin

 

And we cannot forget about the all-important unmentionables:

with a Brattleboro, VT advertisement from Brasnahan & Sullivan:

Which obviously gave the publisher this idea for a Persuasion cover (having literally nothing to do with the story but it’s worth a chuckle…)

And a few hats and shoes to finish off this exhibition:

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All photos c2018 Deborah Barnum; with my thanks to Margaret Tamulonis, Manager of Collections and Exhibitions at the Fleming Museum, for permission to publish these images. If you have any interest in knowing more about a particular dress and who wore it, please ask me in a comment.

Select further reading:

c2019, Jane Austen in Vermont

Julienne Gehrer on “Dining with Jane Austen”

Dear Janeites Near and Far,

Next Thursday, August 3rd, we will be welcoming author Julienne Gehrer to Vermont! She will be speaking at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington from 5-7 pm on, you guessed it, “Dining with Jane Austen.” This is the first event in the Library’s  new series “BURLINGTON RISING: Lectures & Culinary Demonstrations centered on the historical role of bread in human civilization” – see below for more information on this series.

Julienne will be giving her full talk to us at the Library; a shorter talk will be offered on Friday evening at Shelburne Farms as we partake in a full-course Regency-era dinner provided by local chef Richard Witting and his Isolde Dinner Club – you can read the details of both events here.

Today, a little introduction to Julienne’s book – it will be available for purchase and signing at both events – if you would like to reserve a copy in advance, please contact me.

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Telling Jane Austen’s Life Though Food

     During a cool and rainy summer in Hampshire, England, an American writer received unprecedented access to two manuscript cookbooks connected to Jane Austen. Paging through the unpublished works, it became clear that many of the family recipes could be connected to foods referenced in the author’s letters and novels.

Fast forward through three years of research, 45 period food articles, 75 recipe adaptations, plus on-site photography at two Hampshire houses where Jane Austen lived and dined. In her new book, Dining with Jane Austen, Julienne Gehrer tells the story of the famous author’s life through the foods on her plate. The book’s May release date coincides with the launch of Hampshire events celebrating the 200th anniversary year of the author’s death.

Readers will enjoy the book’s food-centric stories sequenced in the order of Jane Austen’s letters and residences: her girlhood home in Steventon, economic struggles in Bath, stability in Southampton, creative freedom at Chawton, and death in Winchester. Now Haricot Mutton, Orange Wine, Bath Buns, White Soup, and many other foods familiar to Austen can be recreated using the her family’s own recipes. By understanding and recreating these foods, readers can enjoy a certain level of intimacy with the author—much like that of sharing a meal with family and close friends.

Dining with Jane Austen gives readers their first view of family recipes on the family china in the family houses. To create the book, Gehrer was allowed to photograph from attic to cellar in Chawton Cottage, where Austen wrote or revised all her major novels. The cottage is now known as Jane Austen’s House Museum, located just down the lane from Chawton Great House, the home of Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight. Here Gehrer was allowed to photograph the recreated recipes on the Knight family china bearing the familiar grey friar. Jane accompanied her brother and niece to select the pattern at Wedgwood’s London showroom in 1813—the same year Pride and Prejudice was published. One of Jane’s letters describes the pattern of  “a small Lozenge in purple, between Lines of narrow Gold;—& it is to have the Crest.”

In the midst of so many books offering the fictitious dishes of Mrs. Elton’s Rout Cakes or the dinner Mrs. Bennet might have served Mr. Darcy, Gehrer made it her goal was to serve up Austen with well-researched authenticity. By recreating the famous author’s favorite foods, readers may indeed feel like they are dining with Jane Austen.

Dining with Jane Austen
By Julienne Gehrer
May, 2017 (Ash Grove Press, Inc.) 218 soft-bound pages with 250 full color illustrations $34 at diningwithjaneausten.org and Amazon 

Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chawton House Library.

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Julienne Gehrer is a Lifetime Member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and has served as a Board Member and Regional Coordinator. She worked as an Editorial Director for Hallmark Cards, Inc., and retired after a 31-year career. Julienne is the author of two books: In Season: Cooking Fresh From the Kansas City Farmers’ Market and Love Lore: Symbols, Legends and Recipes for Romance. She is the creator of three board games including Pride and Prejudice—the Game. Julienne has spoken at several JASNA conferences and regional events on topics including, Did Jane Austen Prefer a Plain Dish to a Ragout? and Jane Austen and 18th Century Kitchen Wisdom. Although she admits a preference for modern kitchens, Julienne has cooked period foods over the open hearth at the 1858 John Wornall House Museum.

Hope to see many of you there!

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More on the Fletcher Free Library series:

BURLINGTON RISING: Lectures & Culinary Demonstrations centered on the historical role of bread in human civilization Brought to you by the Fletcher Free Library, the Vermont Humanities Council and the Friends of the Fletcher Free Library.

Burlington Rising explores bread’s connection to cultural identity, the development of cooperative economies and food systems, archaeological artifacts from Africa to New England and the breads brought from across the globe to Vermont through immigration. Burlington Rising provides opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds to learn from each other; educates our community about the historical foundations of diet and food preparation; and engages multiple generations in activities that build relationships through stories and food preparation.

Burlington Rising Lectures on Bread Traditions and Culinary Demonstrations:

  • August – from Europe
  • September – from Africa
  • October – from Asia
  • Late October & Early November – from the Americas

 

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont, with thanks to Julienne Gehrer

Museum Musings: “Cut! Costume and the Cinema” ~ with a little bit of Jane Austen

Cut! Costume and the Cinema has been showing at the Columbia Museum of Art since November and closes today February 19, 2017. The exhibit takes us chronologically through the various fashions made for the movies by COSPROP, a London-based designer of authentic period costumes.

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Step into the exciting world of costume design with CUT! Costume and the Cinema. Through more than 40 period costumes we will expose the art of making costumes for film. The exhibition will reveal how film costumes set the scene and establish authenticity in films. These perfectly crafted costumes uncover clues about a character’s status, age, class and wealth as well as their role in the story.  The films represented in the exhibition depict five centuries of history, drama and comedy with period costumes worn by famous film stars Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Daniel Craig, Kate Winslet, Sandra Bullock, Uma Thurman, Angelica Huston, and many others. In all, more than 30 actors will be represented from 26 films…

World-renowned British costumer Cosprop Ltd. earned its first Academy Award for Costume Design in 1986 in A Room with a View.  Since then, the costumier has been nominated more than a dozen times. In 2007 three of the five Oscar nominees came from the Cosprop shop, only to be topped by winning the following year for The Duchess. Like their period prototypes, these opulent costumes are crafted of sumptuous fabrics and decorated with intricate embroidery and lace.

[From the distributor’s website: http://www.exhibitsdevelopment.com/Cut!.html]

Watch this youtube of the exhibit when it was at the BYU Museum of Art:

This exhibition has been traveling for the past ten years and finally made it to South Carolina. Joyful that I could take pictures (no flash), and as alas! there is no exhibition catalogue, I here offer a good sampling of what was on view. A picture cannot nearly capture the exquisite detail of these fashions – they must be seen up close and personal. And quite amazing to see how tiny some of these actresses (and actors) actually are! It also offers a terrific list of must-see movies, some that had somehow fallen through the cracks and others to be revisited with a new-found appreciation for the costumes.

The costumes are arranged chronologically. And YES, there is a Jane Austen, but alas! only one … we begin in the Renaissance period with this stunning dark green velvet: (you can click on any picture to enlarge it and see more detail)

everafter-huston

Angelica Huston in Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)

cassanova-ledger

Heath Ledger in Cassanova (2005)

pirates-depp-2

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

kingcharles-henderson

Shirley Henderson as Catharine of Braganza “The Last King: The Power and the Passion of Charles II” (2003)

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The Georgians: outlandish (and to-die-for) fashions from The Duchess (2008):

And a close-up of Keira Knightley’s Whig-inspired outfit, and this helpful description from the “Family Guide” to the exhibition:

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Finally Jane Austen!  Kate Winslet as Marianne in Sense and Sensibility (1995)

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Victorian times with Dickens:

littledorrit-foy

“Little Dorrit” (2008) with Claire Foy

and Bronte:

The wedding dress in the 1996 Jane Eyre (with William Hurt)

And the all important hoop for Victorian ladies:

hoop

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Phantom of the Opera (2004) gives us these two stunning outfits, worn by Emmy Rossum and Minnie Driver:

portraitlady

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We now head into the later 1880s and beyond with this from Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, here a dress worn by Nicole Kidman (I want this!)

prestige

and this worn by Scarlett Johansson in The Prestige (2006)
– one of my favorite movies…

Renee Zellweger as Miss Potter (2006):misspotter

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Finding Neverland (2004) with Kate Winslet yet again and Rahda Mitchell as Mrs. Barrie (look at the detail in this dress!)

We’ll give the men a short nod here with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes (2009):

sherlockholmes

[click on picture for info]
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A stunning Emma Thompson in Howards End (1992):howardsend-thompson

lovewar-pettigrew

In Love and War (1997) with Sandra Bullock (left) and
Amy Adams in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)

And finally, the costume that headlines all the publicity, this from The Land of the Blind, a movie I confess to knowing nothing about other than it starred Ralph Fiennes and had this gorgeous dress!

landblind

Movies included in the exhibition but my pictures were not worth posting (all movies worth seeing!):

  • Hamlet (1996), with Julie Christie, Kenneth Branagh, and Kate Winslet (!)
  • Gosford Park (2001), Maggie Smith pre-Dowager Lady Grantham…
  • Mrs. Dalloway (1997) with Vanessa Redgrave 
  • The New World (2006) with Colin Farrell as Captain Smith and Q’orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas
  • The Golden Bowl (2000), with Kate Beckinsale,,Uma Thurman and Jeremy Northam

Join the discussion: What are some of your favorite fashions from period movies or TV?

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont, all photos by the author

Chawton House Library ~ Becoming a Subscriber, Just Like Jane Austen

When Jane Austen sold the copyright of her Pride and Prejudice outright to her publisher Thomas Egerton, she, we now know, made the biggest mistake of her life. But hindsight is a dangerous beast, and easy for us to lament this 200 years later. We could also regale Cassandra for selling all the remaining copyrights to Richard Bentley in 1832 for a meager £210 pounds (Bentley also paid the Egerton estate £40 for the P&P copyright). She must have thought it a good bargain at the time – how was she to know that her sister’s novels would continue to be read through the generations, thus granting heirs much in royalty checks.

We don’t really know why Jane Austen chose to sell the Pride & Prejudice copyright rather than publish on commission, the way she published her other works; in all likelihood she didn’t want to take the financial risk. But she really had four options to publish at the beginning of the 19-th century, as did other authors of this time:

Rowlandson-syntaxbookseller-bloomsbury-11-7-13

Thomas Rowlandson’s “Dr. Syntax & Bookseller” from William Combe’s
The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque (1812)

  1. Profit-sharing: the publisher paid for printing and advertising costs; these expenses were repaid as books sold and any profit above those production costs was shared with the author; any loss was absorbed by the publisher. This was a popular way of publishing for unknown authors. Jan Fergus notes that if Austen had used this method for the four novels published in her lifetime, she would have made more money than she did. (Fergus, p. 16)
  2. Commission: the author was responsible for all publication expenses – paper, printing, advertising – the publisher distributed the books and took a 10% commission on all copies sold. The author took all the risk here, as if not enough copies sold to cover the costs, the author would be responsible. Austen published all her books this way, excepting her Pride and Prejudice… and from her letters we know that her brother Henry Austen was her financial backer. This seems to have been the most popular way to publish in the early 19-th century, especially for women writers. And it is interesting to note that this form of publishing is in vogue again! – just see all the number of self-published works that appear on Amazon!, this “vanity” publishing no longer less respected than publishing in the traditional way.
  3. Sale of Copyright: the author sells the copyright outright to the publisher and is no longer involved. Here the publisher takes all the risk, especially for an unknown author, but also has control over any future editions and can benefit if the book sells well. In the case of P&P, sold to Egerton for £110, Austen would have done better to have published by commission – it went into three editions, though she had no further input in making changes to the text.
  4.  Subscription: the author would solicit subscribers, who would pay in advance for the promised work and have the privilege of seeing their name in print in the list of subscribers in the work itself. This option usually only worked for well-known and successful authors, or for a work that people might want to see their name identified with. We can look at the concept of modern-day “crowd-funding” as an example of how this works.

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It is this last option of publishing that holds our interest today. Jane Austen published anonymously, “By a Lady” (on Sense and Sensibility), or “By the Author of ‘Sense and Sensibility’” (on P&P) (see note below) – she was an unknown authoress and would have had difficulty finding enough willing and wealthy donors to publish by subscription. But Frances Burney, a very successful author at the time, did publish her Camilla (1796) by subscription, the only work she did this way – and this first edition is notable because among the list of 1,058 subscribers (Dow, p. 38) is the name of “Miss J. Austen, Steventon,” only one of two times that Austen’s name appeared in print during her lifetime. She likely paid a guinea for the privilege (Dow, p. 40), and just look at the list on this one page of the illustrious fellow-subscribers!

Camilla-tp-Ransom

[title page of Frances Burney’s Camilla, from Harry Ransom Center]

Camilla-subscribers

I have thought for a number of years that this was the only place to find Austen’s name, but Gillian Dow in her article on “Jane, the Subscriber” notes that there is another such title: the non-fiction work Two Sermons by the Rev. T. Jefferson, published in 1808, and where her name is listed as “Miss Jane Austen” and her brother and sister-in-law as “Mr and Mrs Edward Austen of Godmersham.” A look at her letters finds Austen’s references to this Thomas Jefferson (1760-1829) of Tonbridge:

I have read Mr. Jefferson’s case to Edward, and he desires to have his name set down for a guinea and his wife’s for another, but does not wish for more than one copy of the work. [Letter 52. Le Faye, Letters, 4th ed. (2011), p. 132-3.]  

And later:

I have now some money to spare, & I wish to have my name put down as a subscriber to Mr. Jefferson’s works. My last Letter was closed before it occurred to me how possible, how right, & how gratifying such a measure would be.” [Letter 54, p. 138]

Thus, we see Jane Austen’s name in print again – one wonders if others might yet surface!

Becoming a Subscriber at Chawton House Library 

Chawton House Library

Chawton House Library

The point of all this is to tell you about a program at Chawton House Library, where you too can become a subscriber! An age-old way of publishing, where you can see your name in print, acquire a copy of a reprint edition of an interesting old title, and support the Chawton House Library in the bargain. Slightly more than a guinea is required of you, but not too much more (a minimum of $50)… You can read about the program and how to donate at the Chawton House Library website here: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?page_id=58839

KnightFamilyCkBk-CHL“Further to the success of our most recent subscriber publication, The Knight Family Cookbook, which thrilled Subscribers and has proven to be one of the most purchased books in our shop, we are now seeking to progress our latest publication- The Duties of a Lady’s Maid; with directions for conduct, and numerous receipts for the toilette (1825).  This facsimile edition, with a new introduction by Mary Ann O’Farrell, will be a fascinating book certain to entertain those who would welcome guidance on how to behave as maid to Lady Catherine De Bourgh – or indeed those who wish to emulate Downton Abbey’s Miss O’Brien. Originally published in 1825, it is a rather rare conduct book offering a unique insight into the lives and duties of servants, as well as the trends and tastes of the Georgian age.  Readers can learn how religion should direct a maid in her work, which character traits are essential, and how to keep family secrets.  Amusing practical instructions, such as how to dress your lady using padding and bandages to improve her figure and tips on the most advantageous way to display the forehead, are also to be enjoyed.” 

[From the CHL website]

Let’s take a peek into this book that you can own in a facsimile edition – no author is noted as you can see:
The Duties of a Lady’s Maid; with directions for conduct, and numerous receipts for the toilette (1825). 

ladysmaid-tp-hathi

title page

ladysmaid-frontispiece-hathi

Frontispiece

Now, I must tell you that you can find this book on Google Books, or at the Hathi Trust  – but where is the fun in that? You need this book on your shelf, not only because it is a rare book (it only seems to have been published in this one edition of 1825), but also because you will find the most indispensable information in order to continue on with your life as you know it – after all, we most of us have become our own Ladys’ Maids, haven’t we? – if for any reason you don’t find this all completely relevant (the chapters on cleaning your wardrobe definitely remain so!), then at least it will be a daily reminder of exactly how far we have come. Take a look at the Contents:

CONTENTS
_______________

1. DUTIES OF BEHAVIOUR.

-Religion 6
-Honesty and Probity 19
-Diligence and Economy 26
-Attention 39
-Familiarity with Superiors 43
-Good Temper and Civility 50
-Confidence in Keeping Family Secrets 57
-Vanity and Dress 70
-Amusements 84
-Vulgar and Correct Speaking 98
-Change of Place 123
-Courtship 128

2.  DUTIES OF KNOWLEDGE AND ART. 

-Taste in the Colours of Dress 135
-Carnation 145
-Florid 146
-Fair 147
-Pale 148
-Sallow 149
-Brunette 150
-Artificial Flowers 159
-Taste in the Forms of Dress 162
-Stays and Corsets 175
-Padding, Bandaging, &c, to Improve the Figure 184
-Display of the Forehead 192
-Taste in Head Dresses 199
-Taste in Dressing the Hair 220
-Practical Directions for Hair Dressing, with Receipts. 233
-Cosmetics, &c. with. Receipts 256
-Paints, with Receipts for Rouge, Pearl White, &c 289
-Use and Abuse of Soap 306
-Dress-making and Fancy Needle-work 315
-Care of the Wardrobe, and the Method of Taking out Stains 321
-Method of Cleaning Silks and Chintz, and of Clear Starching, and Getting-up Lace and Fine Linen 324

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Some excerpts to entice you:

1. In case you perhaps don’t speak the King’s English – here are some pointers on correcting your shortcomings:

VULGARITIES PECULIAR TO ENGLAND.

The first vulgarity which I shall point out to you as prevalent among the lower orders in England, from Cumberland to Cornwall, is the practice of ending every thing they say with a question. For instance, instead of saying “the bonnet looks very smart,” an English girl will add the question, “an’t it?” or “don’t it?” If this practice of ending what is said by a question, were only employed occasionally, and when it appears necessary, it might be proper enough; but when it is repeated every time a person speaks, as you may observe is the case among the ill-educated all over England, it becomes extremely vulgar. You may thus hear a person say, “I went very quick, did’nt I?” for “I always do, don’t I?” or “Susan worked that very well, didn’t she? she is a good girl, an’t she? and I am very kind to her, an’t  I?” You must carefully avoid this vulgar practice of ending what you say with a question, if you are desirous of speaking correctly….

Still more vulgar than either of these is a certain use of the words there and here, along with that and this, as when it is said “that there house,” instead of “that house,” or “this here book,” instead of “this book.” You may, however, without impropriety say “this book here,” or “that house there’s” but never, “this here” nor “that there.” …

One of the very common vulgarities prevalent in England is a peculiarly awkward way of bringing in the name of a person at the end of a sentence, with the words “is” or “was” before it. I cannot describe this more intelligibly, except by an example; for instance, you may hear an ill educated girl say “she was very kind to me, was Mrs. Howard,” instead of correctly saying “Mrs. Howard was very kind to me.” Again, “he is a very worthy man, is Mr. Howard” instead of “Mr. Howard is a very worthy man.” I say that such expressions are not only vulgar but uncouth and awkward, and more like the blunders of a foreigner than a person speaking in her mother tongue; yet nothing is more common than this awkward vulgarity, which I expect you, will never commit after it has been now pointed out to you….

The manner in which certain words are pronounced is also a very evident mark of vulgarity. One of the most remarkable instances of this kind in England is the sounding of an r at the close of words ending in a or o, as when you say “idear” for “idea,” or “fellor” for “fellow,” or “windor” for “window,” or “yellor” for “yellow.” This is extremely difficult to be corrected when once it has become a habit; and so regularly does it follow in every word of similar ending, that you may hear persons say “Genevar” for “Geneva,” as commonly as children say “mammar” and “papar.”

[etc, etc… the Author then goes on to cover the various “Vulgarities in Scotland”…]

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2. Mrs. Clay might find a solution to her unsightly freckles with these solutions, Sir Walter would be pleased to know:

Brock-Persuasion-Mollands

CE Brock – Sir Walter Elliot (Mollands)

Freckles.—The sun produces red spots, which are known by the name of freckles. These have no apparent elevation but to the touch it may be perceived that they give a slight degree of roughness to the epidermis. These spots come upon the skin in those parts which are habitually exposed to the air. To prevent freckles, or sunburn, it is necessary to avoid walking abroad uncovered; a veil alone, or a straw hat, is sufficient for most women. There are however others whose more delicate skins require a more powerful preservative. The following is recommended by an intelligent physician:—

Take one pound of bullock’s gall, one drachma of rock alum, half an ounce of sugar candy, two drachms of borax, and one drachm of camphor. Mix them together, stir the whole for a quarter of an hour, and then let it stand. Repeat this three or four times a day, for a fortnight, that is to say, till the gall appears as clear as water. Then strain it through blotting paper, and put it away for use. Apply it when obliged to go abroad in the sunshine or into the country, taking care to wash your face at night with common water, those who have not taken the precautions mentioned above must resort to the means which art has discovered for removing these spots. The following process is recommended as one of the most efficacious for clearing a sunburnt complexion, and imparting the most beautiful tint to the skin ;—at night on going to bed, crush some strawberries upon the face, leaving them there all night and they will become, dry. Next morning wash with chervil water, and the skin will appear fresh, fair, and brilliant.

[Etc, etc – there are several other rather drastic directions…]

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3.  I must say that the seven pages on “Display of the Forehead” is worth the price of admission alone! But this on making a French dressing for your hair is a must-learn:

Parisian Pomatum.—Put into a proper vessel two pounds and a half of prepared hog’s lard with two pounds of picked lavender flowers, orange flowers, jasmine, buds of sweet briar, or any other sweet scented flower, or a mixture according to your choice, and knead the whole with the hands into a paste as uniform as possible. Put this mixture into a pewter, tin, or stone pot, and cork it tight. Place the vessel in a vapour bath, and let it stand in it six hours, at the expiration of which time strain the mixture through a coarse linen cloth by means of a press. Now throw away the flowers which you have used as being useless, pour the melted lard back into the same pot, and add four pounds of fresh lavender flowers. Stir the lard and flowers together while the lard is in a liquid state, in order to mix them thoroughly, and repeat the first process. Continue to repeat this till you have used about ten pounds of flowers. [my emphasis] 

After having separated the pomatum from the refuse of the flowers, set it in a cool place to congeal, pour off the reddish brown liquor, or juice extracted from the flowers, wash the pomatum in several waters, stirring it about with a wooden spatula to separate any remaining watery particles, till the last water remains perfectly colourless. Then melt the pomatum in a vapour bath, and let it stand in it about one hour, in a vessel well corked, then leave it in the vessel to congeal. Repeat this last operation till the watery particles are entirely extracted, when the wax must be added, and the pomatum melted for the last time in a vapour bath in a vessel closely corked, and suffered to congeal as before. When properly prepared it may be filled into pots, and tie the mouths of them over with wet bladder to prevent the air from penetrating. This pomatum will be very fragrant, and form an excellent preparation for improving the gloss and luxuriance of the hair.

[I’m exhausted just thinking about it…] – You might end up looking like this, flowers and all:

FlowerGarden-bibliodyssey

[Source: ‘The Flower Garden’ – hand-coloured etched engraving published by M Darly in 1777.
See Bibliodyssey for additional such outrageous hair-dos]

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So that gives you a very small inkling of what lies in store in this fascinating little book. You will find insights into the daily life and work of the many rarely seen but obviously-there-lurking-about servants in all of Austen’s novels – what was it like to be the lady’s maid to Lady Catherine or her daughter Anne – dreadful thought! Was it easier being maid to Mrs. Jennings with her overwhelming busyness, or Mrs. Bennet, despite her poor fluttering nerves? We watch Downton Abbey as much for the sometimes more interesting “below-stairs” life than anything that transpires upstairs – and indeed not much changed in servant’s lives from 1825 to the early 1900s.  Certainly Anna would have been familiar with this book or something like it.

Think about adding this to your book cover - fordyce sermonscollection of conduct books [everyone should have a collection of conduct books, starting of course with Fordyce’s Sermons, Mr. Collins’ pride and joy in Pride and Prejudice, now published with an introduction by Susan Allen Ford and also available from the Chawton House Library: you can order it here through Jane Austen Books].

Hope I have convinced you of the need to become a subscriber to Duties of a Lady’s Maid – go to http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?page_id=58839 – click on the appropriate link for UK or US contributions. Or think what a great gift this would be for your favorite friend in need of a conduct book of her (or his) own!

The Library will be preparing for publication soon, as the list of subscribers is growing – don’t miss out in seeing your name, or a best friend’s, in print, just like Jane Austen….

Further reading:

-“Seen But Not Heard: Servants in Jane Austen’s England” by Judith Terry in JASNA’s Persuasions (vol. 10, 1988): http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number10/terry.htm

-See these posts at Austenonly, where Julie talks about this book:

-this post at ‘History of the 18th and 19th Centuries’ blog on “Lady’s Maid and Her Duties”: http://18thcand19thc.blogspot.com/2014/09/ladys-maid-and-her-duties-in-georgian.html

Notes:

1. Dow, Gillian. “Jane, the Subscriber.” Jane Austen’s Regency World 68 (Mar-Apr 2014), 38-43.

2. Fergus, Jan. The Professional Woman Writer.” Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Ed. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. Cambridge UP, 1997. See this chapter in both editions of the Cambridge Companion, as well as her Jane Austen: A Literary Life. Macmillan, 1991.

3. The title pages of each of Austen’s works read as follows: 

  • Sense and Sensibility: “By a Lady”
  • Pride and Prejudice: “By the Author of ‘Sense and Sensibility’
  • Mansfield Park: “By the Author of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’
  • Emma: “By the Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ &c, &c.”
  • Northanger Abbey and Persuasion: “By the Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Mansfield Park,’ &c.”
c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

Grand Gardens of the Berkshire Hills: Fletcher Steele’s Naumkeag, & Edith Wharton’s The Mount

nanquick

October 2013. As I approach the 12-month-mark of publishing my Diaries for Armchair Travelers, I marvel that the things which obsess me have been at least of passing interest to readers in 83 countries. Blogging (and I must declare that I continue to abhor the word “blog,” which is clunky and inelegant) is as optimistic and impractical an activity as shoving scrawled messages into bottles, and then lobbing the fragile containers into the sea. But web-trawlers keep finding my little missives, and so I keep dispatching more, toward parts unknown. Now that my traveling and picture-taking and writing occupy most of my time, people ask: “Why and how did you begin?” ….funny how unintentional, sideways sliding can ease us into some of our happiest endeavors.

In the fall of 2008 David Patrick Columbia, the editor of NEW YORK SOCIAL DIARY, invited me to begin writing about the international wanderings that…

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