Happy Easter One & All!

Easter Greetings from ‘Jane Austen in Vermont’

Wishing you an abundance of Chocolate!

[Raphael Tuck & Sons “Easter Post Cards”  Series, No. 700, in the author’s collection]

c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen and Astley’s Amphitheatre ~ What She Saw…

Dear Readers: Here is an update to the Astley’s Amphitheatre bit I mentioned in yesterday’s “Pemberley Post” – our esteemed co-regional coordinator for the Vermont region (Hope) was by complete coincidence doing some research in the 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers and found some relevant tidbits to add to our understanding of Astley’s and what Jane Austen might have exactly seen – Hope left a comment on the blog post, but I have put it in here as its own post in order to see some of the newspaper images to best advantage…

*****

Austen mentions Astley’s in a letter to Cassandra on 23 August 1796:

“Edward and Frank are both gone out to seek their fortunes; the latter is to return soon and help us seek ours. The former we shall never see again. We are to be at Astley’s to-night, which I am glad of.”

And in Emma: He [Robert Martin] delivered these papers to John, at his chambers, and was asked by him to join their party the same evening to Astley’s. They were going to take the two eldest boys to Astley’s… and in the next chapter: Harriet was most happy to give every particular of the evening at Astley’s, and the dinner the next day…

*****

From Hope:

What a coincidence. I was just looking in an online newspaper database from that period and had noticed some Astley’s news. So, I looked up the dates around Jane’s letter [August 23, 1796, Letter 3]. Astley’s changed their program every Monday (for Tuesday’s performance). If Jane had read the advertisements Tuesday morning for the performance that night she would have seen that the program included:

The West India Heroic Spectacle, Mechanical Fireworks, Hydraulic Devices, a new comic ballad by Mr. Johannot, called “The Nine Musical Taylors, or, A Sure way to get rich (arranged, compiled, written and composed by Mr. Astley, Sen.), Mr. Johannot also singing New Cries of London (also by Mr. Astley, Sen.), a Pantomimical Dance (composed by Mr. West) called “New Wheat; or, The Mill’s Agoing, a new dance called The Provincial Sailors, Chemical experiments with Signor Romaldo, Professor of Natural Philosophy, Equestrian activities as a Minuet by two horses, a Hornpipe by another, and a variety of military pantomimes, all concluding with a Grand Pantomime “The Magician of the Alps” with a “most beautiful  and magnificent Aerial Vertical Colonnade and Brilliant Transparent Celestial Temple, the whole of which are in motion.”

– Attendees were adjured to arrive between 5:30 and 6:30 and could, if they so desired, send their servants in at 5:00 to save their seats as long as they had spoken first with Mrs. Connell.

– Tickets cost 4s for Boxes, 2s if space available after 8:00; 2s. For Pit, 1s as available after 8:00; and 1s. for the Gallery, 6d after 8:00.
– Jane may have also compared her reaction to the show with some “reviews” touting the fine entertainment to be had at Astley’s, or even have learned that on the same day she went, the traveling version of the show, led by “Young Astley” was playing in Manchester to great acclaim, Manchester being filled with troops preparing for a review two days hence.

1) Morning Chronicle (London, England), Friday, August 19, 1796; Issue 8380. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.


****

A similar notice appeared in:

2) Morning Post and Fashionable World (London, England), Friday, August 19, 1796; Issue 7625. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

***

3) Another can be found in Times (London, England), Friday, August 19, 1796; Issue 3666. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

4) St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post (London, England), August 20, 1796 – August 23, 1796; Issue 6033. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.


Note that this one announces some changes to the program, including the intriguing notice that: “Ballad Singer, Mr. JOHANNOT, who will sing the NEW CRIES of LONDON; written and composed by Mr. Astley, Sen.”

***

5) Those changes were also duly noted in:

Whitehall Evening Post (1770) (London, England), August 20, 1796 – August 23, 1796; Issue 7168. (2949 words). 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

In slightly abbreviated form in:

Times (London, England), Monday, August 22, 1796; Issue 3668. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

6) On the morning that Austen mentions they will be going to Astley’s, they could have found the latest version with the above changes at:

– Daily Advertiser (London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 21131. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
– Oracle and Public Advertiser (London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 19 407. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
– Star (London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 2504. (2372 words). 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

Throughout the year reviewers made sure to mention the fact that Astley changed the program every week, and to praise the results. Here are some examples.

7) True Briton (1793) (London, England), Saturday, August 20, 1796; Issue 1140. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

***

8) Star (London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 2504. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

***

9) True Briton (1793) (London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 1142. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

***

10) And this one, referring to the end of that week’s program:

***

11) Meanwhile, from Manchester, we learn that:
Star (London, England), Saturday, August 27, 1796; Issue 2508. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

The same “letter” also appears in:
Star (London, England), Saturday, August 27, 1796; Issue 2508. (1080 words). 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.

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

Thank you Hope for all this information – certainly proof that Astley’s was as great a source of entertainment as it was of journalistic interest!

17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers is housed at the British Library and is available through Gale Cengage on a subscription basis – your library might have access.

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.

****

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.

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

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.
*

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

Guest Post: “Praying with Jane,” by Rachel Dodge ~ And Book Giveaway!

UPDATE: the winner of the book giveaway is “artsresearchnyc” – please email me with your contact info and I will send the book to you right away. Congratulations! Thank you all for participating!

Good Morning all! – I am re-blogging this post by Rachel Dodge today as part of the Blog Tour for her book Praying with Jane – and now to include a book giveaway (there is also a book giveaway from Jane Austen’s World – Vic is hosting the blog tour – but I am also offering a giveaway, courtesy of the publisher Bethany House). Please comment or ask Rachel a question by next Monday, November 12 and you will be entered into the random drawing for a copy (domestic mailing only, sorry to say…) – I will announce the winner on November 14th. It’s a beautiful book and one that should certainly be added to your Jane Austen collection. You can follow along with the blog tour by clicking on the links at the end of this post.

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Gentle Readers: I welcome today Rachel Dodge, who has just published (October 2nd!) her book Praying with Jane: 31 Days through the Prayers of Jane Austen (Bethany House, 2018). I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel at the JASNA AGM last week in Kansas City, MO, where we connected at her Emporium table, and where I purchased her book. In it, Dodge takes us through the three prayers that Jane Austen wrote, offers ten devotions per prayer, and weaves into each chapter pieces from Austen’s life and works. It is lovely and inspirational and edifying all at once, taking us into a very private Jane Austen.

As Dodge herself suggests in her introduction, “take time to settle yourself into a quiet spot with a cup of tea or coffee and your journal. This is your invitation to know Jane better…and the God she loved…”

 

Exploring Jane Austen’s Prayers in Praying with Jane

When an author friend asked me a few years ago if I’d ever thought of writing a book about Jane Austen, it made me smile. After writing and speaking about Austen for almost two decades, the thought of writing a book intrigued me. My friend suggested I write something about Austen’s faith. As soon as she said the words, my heart started beating a little faster. I leaned forward and said, “I’ve always wanted to write a book about her prayers.”

That was the start of an incredible journey to the writing and publication of my upcoming book, Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen (Bethany House, October 2018). As I studied Austen’s prayers, read and reread every article and biography I could find on her faith and prayers, studied the original manuscripts at Mills College, and traveled back to her homes and churches in Steventon and Chawton, a picture of a faith biography formed in my mind. I wanted to honor Austen’s prayers and highlight the spiritual side of her life in a unique way.

As I read Austen’s prayers again and again, turning them over in my mind, listening to the cadence of her words, and reflecting on the meaning behind each line, I realized that simply reading Austen’s prayers in one sitting isn’t enough. Like her novels, Austen’s prayers are full of deep insights; they require a close, thoughtful reading. I began to look at the prayers in smaller chunks, reading them line-by-line. With that format in mind, I divided them into a month’s worth of entries and began work on a 31-day devotional book.

As I examined Austen’s prayers, I looked carefully at the meaning in each line and what writing them might have meant to her. Passages from her novels, her letters, and the Austen family memoirs came alive, and I wove them into each daily entry as illustrations of what the prayers can teach us.

Finally, the last step was to make Austen’s prayers practical and personal. As readers, students, and worshippers, we can either be passive or active. For me, the book couldn’t just be about her writing skill, the form the prayers take, or her use of language. It couldn’t even just be about her faith. It needed to also be about what her prayers can teach us. Thus, toward the end of each day’s entry, I include an area for personal reflection, a key Scripture verse, and a sample prayer. Praying with Jane is written as an exploration of Austen’s prayers and an invitation to join her in praying our own prayers.

Jane Austen’s Prayers

Besides her novels, juvenilia, and minor works, Jane Austen wrote three prayers. Cassandra folded them together and inscribed the words “Prayers Composed by my ever dear Sister Jane” on the outside. They were passed down by her family and kept safe for future generations. The three prayers echo the cadence and language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the liturgy of the Church of England. Each prayer includes thanksgiving, confession, petition, and intercession. In them, she uses the pronoun “we,” indicating that her prayers were most likely meant to be read aloud in a group setting. They are believed to have been written for evening devotions because they include reflections on the past day.

George Austen

Austen’s father, Reverend George Austen, was a devoted Anglican clergyman, husband, and father. He taught his children to take time for private prayer in the morning and evening, to read devotional literature, and to read (and even memorize) famous sermons. In Jane Austen: The Parson’s Daughter, Irene Collins writes that Jane Austen “cherished” William Vickers’ Companion to the Altar and “made constant use of the prayers and meditations included in it” (72). The Austen family’s religious life extended far beyond the morning and evening church services they attended on Sundays. They shared in corporate family prayers in the morning and evening, they said their own private prayers when they woke up and went to bed each day, and they prayed as a family before meals and gave thanks afterward.

In the evening, the Austen family enjoyed reading out loud from novels, poetry, sermons, and the Bible. On one Sunday evening when the family was unable to attend church, Jane wrote in a letter, “In the evening we had the Psalms and Lessons, and a sermon at home” (Letters). It’s likely that Jane shared her prayers during her family’s evening devotions.

Austen is thorough in her prayers, as in her life, and covers every part of the human plight with great care. I’ve included a few lines from each of her prayers to illustrate the range of topics she covers. (All of my quotes are from the original manuscripts that I carefully transcribed as faithfully as possible.) Her prayers show deep concern for her family and friends and for others who may need comfort or protection:

Be Gracious to our Necessities, and guard us, and all we love, from Evil this night. May the sick and afflicted, by now, & ever thy care; and heartily do we pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort & protection of the Orphan & Widow, & that thy pity may be shewn, upon all Captives & Prisoners. (Prayer One)

Her prayers also reveal a spirit of thankfulness. It appears that Austen understood the importance of practicing gratitude in even the minor details of life:

We bless thee for every comfort of our past and present existence, for our health of Body & of Mind & for every other source of happiness which Thou hast bountifully bestowed on us & with which we close this day, imploring their continuance from Thy Fatherly goodness, with a more grateful sense of them, than they have hitherto excited. (Prayer Two)

Furthermore, her prayers point to her desire for a humble spirit and a kind attitude toward others. As her letters and novels attest, she had a fine sense of humor and did not take herself too seriously. She was quick-witted and opinionated, yet she was also quick to admit her own faults:

Incline us Oh God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be severe only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, & to judge of all they say & do with that Charity which we would desire from Men ourselves. (Prayer Three)

Austen’s prayers also reveal a tender reverence in regard to her faith and her family’s spiritual life. Writing Praying with Jane has been an immense privilege. Exploring Jane Austen’s prayer life has enhanced my own spiritual life and brought me great joy. I hope it will do the same for many others.

About Praying with Jane:

In Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen, readers can explore Austen’s prayers in an intimate devotional format as they learn about her personal faith, her Anglican upbringing, and the spiritual truths found in her novels. Each daily entry includes examples from Austen’s own life and novels, as well as key Scripture verses, ideas for personal application, and a sample prayer.

To order your copy of Praying with Jane, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller. For a limited time, when you order a copy of Praying with Jane, you can visit RachelDodge.com to claim a free digital download of six printable Praying with Jane Prayer Cards. Each prayer card has a quote from Austen’s prayers and space to write your own prayers and praises.


About the author:

Rachel Dodge teaches college English and Jane Austen classes, gives talks at libraries, teas, and Jane Austen groups, and is a regular contributor to Jane Austen’s World blog. A true “Janeite” at heart, Rachel enjoys books, bonnets, and ball gowns. She makes her home in Northern California with her husband and two children.

Works Cited

-Austen, Jane. Prayers. “Prayers Composed by my ever dear sister.” Manuscripts (two quarto sheets). The Elinor Raas Heller Rare Book Room, Mills College, Oakland, California.

-_____.  Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. Deirdre Le Faye, 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.

-Collins, Irene. Jane Austen: The Parson’s Daughter. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.

You can visit Rachel:

at her website: https://www.racheldodge.com/
on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/racheldodgebooks/
on twitter: https://twitter.com/racheldodgebks

Stay tuned for an upcoming book giveaway!

Images courtesty of Rachel Dodge; image of the Rev. George Austen from Austenonly.
c2018 Jane Austen in Vermont

Blog Tour Dates:

October 31 – Praying with Jane, My changed Relationship with Jane, Jane Austen’s World, Vic Sanborn

November 1 – Praying With Jane by Rachel Dodge,  So Little Time, So Much to Read!, Candy Morton

November 2 – Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through Prayer (Review and Giveaway)Laura’s Reviews, Laura Gerold

November 3 – Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through Prayer by Rachel Dodge, Burton Book Review, Marie Burton

November 4 – Blog Tour: Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through Prayer by Rachel DodgeBLOGLOVIN‘, Sophia Rose

November 5 – Guest Post: Praying With Jane by Rachel Dodge and Book Giveaway! Jane Austen in Vermont, Deborah Barnum

November 6 – Calico Critic – Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Praying with Jane by Rachel Dodge , Laura Hartness

November 7 – A Bookish Way of Life – Praying with Jane, Nadia Anguiano

November 8 – Diary of an Eccentric – Book Spotlight – Praying with JaneAnna Horner

November 9 – Review of Praying with Jane, Becoming, Nichole Parks, Nichole Parks

November 10 – Praying with Jane: A new devotional based on the prayers of Jane Austen, My Jane Austen Book Club, Maria Grazia

November 11 – Praying with Jane Blog Tour: Interview and Giveaways, My Love for Jane Austen, Sylvia Chan

November 12 – Laughing with Lizzie, Sophie Andrews

November 13 – Book Review – Praying with JaneBrenda Cox

Previous reviews:

Praying with Jane Blog Tour: https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/praying-with-jane-blog-tour/

Praying with Jane, Michelle Ule: https://www.michelleule.com/2018/09/28/jane-austen/

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Guest Post: “Praying with Jane,” by Rachel Dodge

Gentle Readers: I welcome today Rachel Dodge, who has just published (October 2nd!) her book Praying with Jane: 31 Days through the Prayers of Jane Austen (Bethany House, 2018). I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel at the JASNA AGM last week in Kansas City, MO, where we connected at her Emporium table, and where I purchased her book. In it, Dodge takes us through the three prayers that Jane Austen wrote, offers ten devotions per prayer, and weaves into each chapter pieces from Austen’s life and works. It is lovely and inspirational and edifying all at once, taking us into a very private Jane Austen.

As Dodge herself suggests in her introduction, “take time to settle yourself into a quiet spot with a cup of tea or coffee and your journal. This is your invitation to know Jane better…and the God she loved…”

 

Exploring Jane Austen’s Prayers in Praying with Jane

When an author friend asked me a few years ago if I’d ever thought of writing a book about Jane Austen, it made me smile. After writing and speaking about Austen for almost two decades, the thought of writing a book intrigued me. My friend suggested I write something about Austen’s faith. As soon as she said the words, my heart started beating a little faster. I leaned forward and said, “I’ve always wanted to write a book about her prayers.”

That was the start of an incredible journey to the writing and publication of my upcoming book, Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen (Bethany House, October 2018). As I studied Austen’s prayers, read and reread every article and biography I could find on her faith and prayers, studied the original manuscripts at Mills College, and traveled back to her homes and churches in Steventon and Chawton, a picture of a faith biography formed in my mind. I wanted to honor Austen’s prayers and highlight the spiritual side of her life in a unique way.

As I read Austen’s prayers again and again, turning them over in my mind, listening to the cadence of her words, and reflecting on the meaning behind each line, I realized that simply reading Austen’s prayers in one sitting isn’t enough. Like her novels, Austen’s prayers are full of deep insights; they require a close, thoughtful reading. I began to look at the prayers in smaller chunks, reading them line-by-line. With that format in mind, I divided them into a month’s worth of entries and began work on a 31-day devotional book.

As I examined Austen’s prayers, I looked carefully at the meaning in each line and what writing them might have meant to her. Passages from her novels, her letters, and the Austen family memoirs came alive, and I wove them into each daily entry as illustrations of what the prayers can teach us.

Finally, the last step was to make Austen’s prayers practical and personal. As readers, students, and worshippers, we can either be passive or active. For me, the book couldn’t just be about her writing skill, the form the prayers take, or her use of language. It couldn’t even just be about her faith. It needed to also be about what her prayers can teach us. Thus, toward the end of each day’s entry, I include an area for personal reflection, a key Scripture verse, and a sample prayer. Praying with Jane is written as an exploration of Austen’s prayers and an invitation to join her in praying our own prayers.

Jane Austen’s Prayers

Besides her novels, juvenilia, and minor works, Jane Austen wrote three prayers. Cassandra folded them together and inscribed the words “Prayers Composed by my ever dear Sister Jane” on the outside. They were passed down by her family and kept safe for future generations. The three prayers echo the cadence and language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the liturgy of the Church of England. Each prayer includes thanksgiving, confession, petition, and intercession. In them, she uses the pronoun “we,” indicating that her prayers were most likely meant to be read aloud in a group setting. They are believed to have been written for evening devotions because they include reflections on the past day.

George Austen

Austen’s father, Reverend George Austen, was a devoted Anglican clergyman, husband, and father. He taught his children to take time for private prayer in the morning and evening, to read devotional literature, and to read (and even memorize) famous sermons. In Jane Austen: The Parson’s Daughter, Irene Collins writes that Jane Austen “cherished” William Vickers’ Companion to the Altar and “made constant use of the prayers and meditations included in it” (72). The Austen family’s religious life extended far beyond the morning and evening church services they attended on Sundays. They shared in corporate family prayers in the morning and evening, they said their own private prayers when they woke up and went to bed each day, and they prayed as a family before meals and gave thanks afterward.

In the evening, the Austen family enjoyed reading out loud from novels, poetry, sermons, and the Bible. On one Sunday evening when the family was unable to attend church, Jane wrote in a letter, “In the evening we had the Psalms and Lessons, and a sermon at home” (Letters). It’s likely that Jane shared her prayers during her family’s evening devotions.

Austen is thorough in her prayers, as in her life, and covers every part of the human plight with great care. I’ve included a few lines from each of her prayers to illustrate the range of topics she covers. (All of my quotes are from the original manuscripts that I carefully transcribed as faithfully as possible.) Her prayers show deep concern for her family and friends and for others who may need comfort or protection:

Be Gracious to our Necessities, and guard us, and all we love, from Evil this night. May the sick and afflicted, by now, & ever thy care; and heartily do we pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort & protection of the Orphan & Widow, & that thy pity may be shewn, upon all Captives & Prisoners. (Prayer One)

Her prayers also reveal a spirit of thankfulness. It appears that Austen understood the importance of practicing gratitude in even the minor details of life:

We bless thee for every comfort of our past and present existence, for our health of Body & of Mind & for every other source of happiness which Thou hast bountifully bestowed on us & with which we close this day, imploring their continuance from Thy Fatherly goodness, with a more grateful sense of them, than they have hitherto excited. (Prayer Two)

Furthermore, her prayers point to her desire for a humble spirit and a kind attitude toward others. As her letters and novels attest, she had a fine sense of humor and did not take herself too seriously. She was quick-witted and opinionated, yet she was also quick to admit her own faults:

Incline us Oh God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be severe only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, & to judge of all they say & do with that Charity which we would desire from Men ourselves. (Prayer Three)

Austen’s prayers also reveal a tender reverence in regard to her faith and her family’s spiritual life. Writing Praying with Jane has been an immense privilege. Exploring Jane Austen’s prayer life has enhanced my own spiritual life and brought me great joy. I hope it will do the same for many others.

About Praying with Jane:

In Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen, readers can explore Austen’s prayers in an intimate devotional format as they learn about her personal faith, her Anglican upbringing, and the spiritual truths found in her novels. Each daily entry includes examples from Austen’s own life and novels, as well as key Scripture verses, ideas for personal application, and a sample prayer.

To order your copy of Praying with Jane, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller. For a limited time, when you order a copy of Praying with Jane, you can visit RachelDodge.com to claim a free digital download of six printable Praying with Jane Prayer Cards. Each prayer card has a quote from Austen’s prayers and space to write your own prayers and praises.


About the author:

Rachel Dodge teaches college English and Jane Austen classes, gives talks at libraries, teas, and Jane Austen groups, and is a regular contributor to Jane Austen’s World blog. A true “Janeite” at heart, Rachel enjoys books, bonnets, and ball gowns. She makes her home in Northern California with her husband and two children.

Works Cited

-Austen, Jane. Prayers. “Prayers Composed by my ever dear sister.” Manuscripts (two quarto sheets). The Elinor Raas Heller Rare Book Room, Mills College, Oakland, California.

-_____.  Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. Deirdre Le Faye, 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.

-Collins, Irene. Jane Austen: The Parson’s Daughter. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.

You can visit Rachel:

at her website: https://www.racheldodge.com/
on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/racheldodgebooks/
on twitter: https://twitter.com/racheldodgebks

Stay tuned for an upcoming book giveaway!

Images courtesty of Rachel Dodge; image of the Rev. George Austen from Austenonly.
c2018 Jane Austen in Vermont

JASNA-Vermont ~ Next Meeting! September 16, 2018 with Dr. Cheryl Kinney on “Persuasion”

cover-P-OxfordYou are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s September Meeting 

Celebrating 200 Years of Persuasion with 

Dr. Cheryl Kinney*

Persuasion: Engineered Injury” 

Sunday, 16 September 2018, 1 -3 pm

Morgan Room, Aiken Hall,
83 Summit Street, Champlain College, Burlington VT

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C. E. Brock, ‘Persuasion’ (Dent, 1898)
[Mollands.net]

By examining the various injuries and illnesses in the novel (think Anne’s “loss of bloom and spirits;” Mary’s “always worse than anybody’s” sore throats; Louisa “taken up lifeless” on the Cobb pavement; and more), Dr, Kinney will show how Jane Austen uses these bodily changes to expose the moral worth and inner nature of her characters. The talk also reviews the changes that were occurring in Regency medicine and how Jane Austen’s interaction with doctors influenced her writing.

~ Free & open to the public ~
~ Light refreshments served
 ~ 

For more information:   JASNAVTregion@gmail.com /
Please visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.blog 

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*Dr. Kinney is a gynecologist in Dallas, Texas, listed in “Best Doctors in America” since 2001, named by the Consumer’s Research Council as one of “America’s Top Obstetricians and Gynecologists” yearly since 2002, and chosen as a “Texas Super Doctor” by her peers for the last eleven years. She is on several medical-related boards and has lectured around the world on issues relating to gynecology. But also, and lucky for us, she has been very involved in the Jane Austen Society of North America, both at the national and regional level, and has spoken in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom on health and sickness in the novels of Jane Austen and other 18th and 19th century British authors.

Hope you can join us!
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Upcoming meeting: Dec. 2, 2018: Annual Birthday Brunch / Tea, with Prof. Anna Battigelli (SUNY-Plattsburgh) on “Landscapes and Soundscapes in Jane Austen’s Narratives”

c2018 Jane Austen in Vermont