JASNA-Vermont’s Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea!

You Are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea!

 

December approaches and our thoughts turn to…Jane Austen’s Birthday and Tea!

This is just a reminder that the annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea is coming up on December 8 at the Essex Resort and Spa. There will be Food! Dancing! Jane Austen’s Proposals!

Here are the details:

December 8, 2019

1:00-4:30

 

The Essex Resort and Spa

70 Essex Way, Essex Junction, VT

 

$35 for Members / $40 for Non-members / $15 for Students (w/ID)

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The afternoon will include:

  • Full English Tea with finger sandwiches, assortment of sweets, scones, and, of course, tea,
  • English Country Dancing for all who would like to, no experience necessary, taught and led by the illustrious Val Medve,

  • A talk by Deb Barnum and Hope Greenberg on “Proposals in Jane Austen: ‘What did she say?… Just what she ought'” – enlivened with a visual journey through these scenes as played out in the various Austen film adaptations,
  • and, good company—no, the “best company” with “clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.”

Regency dress is encouraged but not required!

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Please click here for the reservation form: Dec Tea 2019-Reservation form-final and send it with your payment to the address noted on the form. Registration closes on November 23. 

Hope you can join us! 

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. 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 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

The Pemberley Post No. 4 (Jan 21-27, 2019) ~ Jane Austen and More!

This week’s stash…

“Becoming Americans” at Charleston Museum tells the story of Charleston’s role in the American Revolution – including several artifacts of Francis Marion,The Swamp Fox”: https://www.charlestonmuseum.org/exhibits/permanent/3/becoming-americans

– Also the temporary fashion exhibit on 150 years of Charleston’s children fashions… https://www.charlestonmuseum.org/exhibits/current/40/yesterday-in-microfashion

For all you lovers of mysteries with lady sleuths: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/secret-history-girl-detective-180958311/

The ever-interesting Ladies of Llangollen – as essay at the Wellcome Collection: https://wellcomecollection.org/articles/WqewRSUAAB8sVaKN (with thanks to Kelly!)

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I LOVED Beowulf when studying medieval literature in graduate school – time for a re-read (I still have my copy!), inspired by this: https://medievalfleming.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/ethel-sweet-ethel-weard-the-first-scribe-of-the-beowulf-manuscript/

  • This totally depressed me: the author of the essay writes: “I recently realized that ethel / ᛟ, the word and rune, have been appropriated by white supremacists and neo-nazis.”
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The Rice Portrait of “Jane Austen” is back in the news with more concrete evidence that it IS our Jane: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/23/jane-austen-family-say-note-establishes-disputed-portraits-identity?fbclid=IwAR2xPLDjX280sOpAtlKK_NOOr2MARgV8TiY0dl4bc4Um45OlSsmH8JRSPFg

The perfect winter repast – the Folger on an early recipe for hot chocolate: https://shakespeareandbeyond.folger.edu/2019/01/15/the-american-nectar-william-hughess-hot-chocolate/

Always a good idea to check your attic: any Caravaggios? https://www.barnebys.com/blog/design/rediscovered-caravaggio-to-be-auctioned-this-spring/17550

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The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature (at the University of Florida) – over 6,000 titles available online! http://ufdc.ufl.edu/juv

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Alexander Hamilton’s doctor and America’s first Botanic Garden: https://publicdomainreview.org/2019/01/24/flower-power-hamiltons-doctor-and-the-healing-power-of-nature/

Know what a “calenderer” did? No, I didn’t either – now you will: https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2019/01/24/find-out-more-about-the-job-of-a-calenderer-in-the-18th-century/

“Nell Gwynn” at the Folger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfrjRSpR0XU&t=16s

…and a review at The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/theater-dance/jessica-swales-historical-comedy-aims-to-restore-nell-gwynns-luster/2019/01/23/0a934558-1d9e-11e9-8e21-59a09ff1e2a1_story.html

Vic at Jane Austen’s World on the benefits of chamomile tea: https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/chamomile-tea-a-tisane/

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Design for GPO telephone kiosk number 2: plan, elevations and section

Sir John Soane and the iconic British telephone box:
https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-tomb-and-the-telephone-box-soanes-mausoleum-1816/

Jane Austen’s contemporary Marie Edgeworth – all but forgotten, and that’s too bad…: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/maria-edgeworth-was-a-great-literary-celeb-why-has-been-forgotten-1.3760188

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My new favorite how-to-waste-hours-of-your-life website: http://www.romanticlondon.org/

What has been your favorite find this past week?

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

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*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.

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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!

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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…)
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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.
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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!


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

Ride Like an Austen Heroine: Sidesaddle

Dear Gentle Readers: I welcome today a member of our South Carolina Jane Austen Book Club, Carol Lobdell, who, besides being a lover of Jane Austen, is also an accomplished horsewoman. She recently tried riding sidesaddle for the first time and writes here about how it gave her a better understanding of each of Jane Austen’s horse-riding heroines – think Jane Bennet (in the rain), Fanny Price, Mary Crawford, Elinor Dashwood (alas! only in the movie)…and anyone else??

Ride Like an Austen Heroine: Sidesaddle

Elizabeth Bennett and most of Jane Austen’s heroines show no hesitation to stride miles about the countryside in order to visit friends and family. They also travel on horseback, in many ways the most practical and efficient means to get around the neighborhood at the time.

And if they rode, they did it in a sidesaddle.

Movies and programs like “Downton Abbey” make riding in a sidesaddle look effortless. The image of a woman trotting and cantering on a horse through the English countryside – garbed in elaborately embellished jackets, flowing skirts, and flattering feathered hats – is graceful, romantic, and powerful.

But, folks, it ain’t easy! Ginger Rogers, as the old saying goes, did everything Fred Astaire did, except in high heels and backwards. So too, lady riders for centuries did everything the men did, except with one stirrup!

Image: pinterest

Brief History of the Sidesaddle

Women in antiquity usually weren’t riding horses unless they were passengers, perhaps on a pillion (pillow or platform) behind a male rider (who rode astride) or in a horse-drawn cart. Part of the reason was culture – the males did most of the hunting and fighting, and they did quite a bit of that on horseback – and part was practicality – women wore long skirts that were not conducive to riding astride and risked immodesty. Riding astride was also seen as a risk to virginity and childbearing.

However, as the centuries went on and the titled elite and leisure classes grew, many women wanted to ride for sporting and social reasons.

Tradition has it that that Princess Anne of Bohemia rode side-saddle across Europe in 1382 on her way to marry King Richard II. Riding sidesaddle was seen as a way to protect virginity.

Sources say that the earliest functional sidesaddle was a chair-like construction, where the woman sat sideways on the horse with her feet on a footrest. Catherine de Medici is said to have developed a more practical design, placing the rider’s right leg around a pommel (a raised, curved projection or “horn”) at the front of the saddle. Riding this way allowed better control of the horse and enhanced stability, enabling the rider to move beyond the walk, to trot and canter safely. Some early sidesaddles had a U-shaped pommel for the right leg.

A second pommel for the left leg, added in the early 1800s, made “riding aside” even more safe, enabling the rider to gallop and jump, while maintaining modesty and decorum (and virginity). Upper-class ladies rode for pleasure and many “rode to hounds” with their local fox hunts, galloping through the English countryside over ditches, hedges, and fences. (As a rider myself, having fox-hunted in England, I can tell you it’s a challenge even in modern saddles!)

Riding attire evolved along with innovations in the tack. After struggling with daywear for riding, less voluminous “safety skirts” were developed in the late 1800s, evolving into an “apron skirt” which buttoned around the waist, covering the legs. Women donned riding britches under these aprons and that’s still the basic structure of formal sidesaddle attire today.

Diagram showing the position of the legs when riding sidesaddle
[image source – Wikipedia]

Modern Sidesaddles

The saddle and posture of a woman riding sidesaddle back in the day was very much as it is today. The rider first sits astride, with the right hip back to allow the shoulders to fall into line. The right leg is then placed on the front of the saddle (around the upper pommel), with the left leg bent and resting on the saddle (with the thigh under the lower pommel) and the foot in the stirrup.

Below: The right side of a modern sidesaddle. The girth is a standard type that could be used on most saddles. The extra stability strap affixed to the rear of the saddle is unique to a sidesaddle.

Below: The left side of a modern sidesaddle. You can clearly see the two “pommels” for the rider and the single stirrup (looped over the lower pommel).

Women began to ride astride – wearing split skirts or riding britches – in the early 20th Century. Sidesaddle fell out of favor for many years; however, traditionalists and riders looking for variety kept the sidesaddle alive. Today, groups across the country and around the world continue to “ride aside” for fun as well as for sport and competition.

What’s it like to ride like an Austen heroine? I’ve always ridden astride in English saddles, so the basic feel of the saddle was not very different, although it’s a flat saddle seat, not curved like many English saddles. English riding also calls for a straight posture, which is even more important in a sidesaddle to maintain balance. I found the basic posture to be comfortable, much like sitting in a chair with one knee crossed over the other.

Above: The author in a modern sidesaddle, about to take her first trot “aside.”

The biggest difference is that one doesn’t “post” in a sidesaddle (the up-and-down motion riders generally use at the trot) or rise into a half-seat for a jump. No matter what gait the horse is doing – walk, trot, canter or jumping – the sidesaddle rider stays glued to the seat of the saddle. For jumping, the rider bends forward at the hip to follow the motion of the horse, instead of rising into a half-seat as the horse jumps.

The first few minutes in the sidesaddle felt very unbalanced, though, as I’m used both legs hugging the horse and a firm seat on the horse’s back. With only one stirrup, I was very wary about stability and steering. However, I was able to walk in both directions in the sidesaddle pretty quickly, once I got the hang of the balance and kept my weight over on the right hipbone. Trotting took a bit more practice, with the key, again, keeping the balance to the right hipbone, an upright posture and firm seat on the saddle. It did feel odd not to have the right foot in a stirrup. The left foot (in the stirrup) was useful for steering, as always. Without the right stirrup, it was a little more difficult to steer, but happily, I was on an experienced sidesaddle horse for the lesson (Lulu, a lovely mare), so she was able to interpret my body language and instructions pretty well. A sidesaddle rider also uses a crop or whip in the right hand to help make up for the missing right stirrup. The riding was really quite comfortable, I thought. (Next time I give it a try, maybe a short canter!)

There are a number of sidesaddle groups around the USA and the UK. In the US, women don safety aprons and fox hunt as well as compete. Sidesaddle jumping is a standalone sport; only the brave need apply! The current world record for sidesaddle jumping has stood since 1915, when Esther Stace, of Australia, cleared a record 6’6” at the Sydney Royal Show.

In Mexican-style rodeos, the women in California’s Escaramuza Charra drill teams perform complicated patterns at high speed in sidesaddles. They ride aside, or “to mujeriegas,” in a saddle known as an albarda, in quick, complex maneuvers often performed on horses with reining training. Traditional costumes with layers of petticoats under decorated skirts or breeches and jackets are the usual garb. [image from damacharra.com]

I enjoyed my sidesaddle lesson and plan to take a few more. Whether I invest in a saddle and attire remains to be seen, but it’s always fun to try something new in a sport that I love, with the extra fun of riding like an Austen heroine!

For Further Reading:

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Thank you Carol! Anyone out there want to share their own sidesaddle experiences? (and one question: is it side saddle, side-saddle or sidesaddle??)

c2017, Jane Austen in Vermont. Text and photographs (unless otherwise noted) by Carol Lobdell