Reblog: The Inexhaustible Jane Austen: An Interview with Jocelyn Harris and Bucknell University Press

Gentle Readers: I post here the full text of an interview with Austen scholar Jocelyn Harris that she did with her publisher Bucknell University Press on her newest book Satire, Celebrity, & Politics in Jane Austen. You can find the original post here: http://upress.blogs.bucknell.edu/2017/10/16/the-inexhaustible-jane-austen-an-interview-with-jocelyn-harris/

[Photo by Reg Graham]

Upon the release of her new book Satire, Celebrity, & Politics in Jane Austen (Bucknell University Press, 2017), Jocelyn Harris was kind enough to discuss her research and writing on the witty English novelist.  Jane Austen has been the subject for much of Harris’ work, and still is, as Harris continues to uncover new insights into Austen’s life and writing. As Harris puts it, Austen is “quite simply inexhaustible”—and as Harris’ responses demonstrate, new methods of research and deeper investigation reveal more about her with each new endeavor.

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Bucknell University Press [BUP]: You state in your introduction that you “reconstruct Jane Austen’s creative process by means of the newspapers she perused, the gossip she heard, the streets she walked upon, and the sights she saw.”  This method suggests a focus on environment, an almost anthropological study of a different time and place.  What was the research process like in regards to uncovering evidence from the past?  What challenges did you meet?  What was the most rewarding?

Jocelyn Harris [JH]: Distance is my biggest challenge, because I live in New Zealand, half a world away from the great libraries of Europe and North America. The Internet has quite simply changed my life. Exciting new resources such as databases of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century newspapers, digitized manuscripts, online books, blogs, and search engines all open up cultural and historical contexts that bring her back to life—as do new books and editions in print and e-book form, readily accessible articles on the web, and email suggestions from friends.

Reading the magnificent modern editions of Fanny Burney’s letters and journals made me aware that snippets of her correspondence, obviously too good to ignore, reappear in Austen’s novels. My guess is that her mother’s gossipy cousin, who lived over the road from the celebrated author, could have told the family many a sensational tale of Burney’s life at the court of George III.

With the help of the Internet, I realized that Austen probably based Elizabeth and Jane Bennet on two royal mistresses. Dorothy Jordan, celebrity actress, mistress to the Duke of Clarence, and mother of his ten children, seems to have inspired her creation of the lively Elizabeth, while Austen would identify a portrait of the regent’s mistress, Mrs. Georgina Quentin, as Mrs. Bingley. When the regent came courting this “professed spanker,” Georgina was living in Covent Garden, where Austen stayed with her banker brother, Henry.

Most of Jane Austen’s correspondence has been lost, and she kept no diary. Therefore, I had to fill out her life by poring over her locations, her reading, her social and literary networks, her knowledge of current events, and her viewing of cartoons and portraits.

BUP: While she is immortalized by her writing, Austen was a real person living during a unique moment in history.  In your opinion, what is the most compelling piece of information that you learned about Jane Austen during the research process for this book?

JH: Austen is often regarded as a gentle, amusing ironist. But as the title of Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen indicates, I believe that she was a courageous political satirist.  At a time when the cult of celebrity was in its infancy, she targeted celebrities, up to and including the Prince of Wales. Her in-jokes about public figures demonstrate her worldliness, her fascination with fame, and her relish of rumor.

She was also never more than one degree of separation away from royalty. To know from a local historian’s website that the young Prince of Wales lived near Steventon, Austen’s home, was to understand why she created so many satiric avatars of him. Austen was a patriot, and the prince was endangering the nation. She attacked him in the only way she could, obliquely, through her characters and plots. In Northanger Abbey, for instance, the unlovely John Thorpe lies, boasts, swears, looks, and behaves as badly as Prince George. A “stout young man of middling height,” with a “plain face and ungraceful form,” Thorpe utters “a short decisive sentence of praise or condemnation on the face of every woman they met.”

Austen attacks the prince yet again in Mansfield Park’s Henry Crawford, a man marked like him by caprice and unsteadiness. Crawford indulges in the “freaks of a cold-blooded vanity,” and rids himself of his money and leisure “at the idlest haunts in the kingdom.” In Persuasion, she criticizes Sir Walter Elliot’s status and power, as unearned as the regent’s, and praises Captain Wentworth’s merit and courage. Austen’s lacerating portraits suggest first-hand knowledge of the prince’s vulgar, voyeuristic, and self-indulgent ways.

BUP: Considering again the study of place, if Austen had lived during this day and age, who do you think her subjects for inspiration might have been?  How do you think the world would have reacted to her wit, humor, and criticism?

JH: A Regency woman in a golden age of satire, Austen attacked the Prince of Wales for his much-lampooned appearance, his lewdness, his vanity, his instability, his outrageous spending, his tremendous debts, his desire for absolute power, his implicit treason, his fondness for over-the-top building ventures, and his embarrassing braggadocio. Even court insiders warned that the prince was not fit to be king, and Austen wrote that she hated him. The current resurgence of political satire in social media, newspapers, and cartoons would have delighted this savvy, progressive, and thoroughly modern woman.

BUP: Satire, Celebrity, and Politics being your third book on Jane Austen, how has your research evolved regarding your interest in her life and writing? Are there any questions that still need to be answered? What will you do next?

JH: I only want to know how Jane Austen did it (only!). In Jane Austen’s Art of Memory (Cambridge University Press, 1989), I followed the turns of her mind as she picked up elements from other writers and made them into her own. Undeterred by being a woman, she took whatever she wanted from anywhere.

In A Revolution Almost Beyond Expression: Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” (University of Delaware Press, 2007), I traced her creative process in the only manuscript to survive from her published novels. In the cancelled chapters of Persuasion, she deletes, interlineates, writes new material in the margins, and sticks on a scrap with a wax wafer. Eight days later, she threw all that away, and wrote some of the most remarkable scenes in her work––the last chapters of Persuasion.  She was indeed a true professional.

At a time of hardship, inequality, and war, Austen wrote, “How much are the Poor to be pitied, and the Rich to be blamed.” In Persuasion, she attacks the class hierarchies propping up the society of her day. In a highly subversive move, she sets Sir Walter Elliot’s Baronetage against Captain Wentworth’s Navy List, pride of birth against pride of accomplishment. The aging patriarch of the Elliots cannot compete with the glamorous young Captain Wentworth, who derives from real-life heroes such as Lord Nelson, Lord Byron, and Captain Cook. So too, in this brave new world of energy and achievement, the faded beauty of Bath gives way to the Romantic sublimity of Lyme Regis. In this eloquent novel about second chances, Anne Elliot finds a fragile happiness.

Jane Austen is quite simply inexhaustible. I’m writing about her relationship to Madame de Staël, the foremost woman genius of the age; the London locations where she could have seen contemporary cartoons; and her continual fascination with Fanny Burney. There is always more to find out about this extraordinary woman.

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For more information on Austen, take a look at Harris’ latest book Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen. To order visit http://www.rowman.com or call 1-800-462-6420. Use code “UP30AUTH17” to save 30% on the list price (not valid on eBook).

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c2017, Jane Austen Vermont, reblogged from Bucknell University Press

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

Our Next Meeting! ~ August 3 and 4, 2017 ~ “Dining with Jane Austen” w/ Julienne Gehrer

You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s August Meeting

“Dining with Jane Austen”
w/ Julienne Gehrer*

Thursday 3 August 2017, 5 – 7 pm

Fletcher Free Library – Fletcher Room
235 College St, Burlington VT 

A careful study of Jane Austen’s letters reveals a woman passionate about many topics, especially food. “You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me”(Ltr. 15 June 1808). Join us for a culinary journey revealing details of the author’s life through the foods on her plate. See favorite dishes recreated from two manuscript cookbooks held within the Austen family circle. Learn how the three-year research project led to attic-to-cellar photography at Jane Austen’s House Museum. See the first views of the author’s family recipes shown on family china in family houses.

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~ Free & open to the public ~
~ Light refreshments served
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For more information:   JASNAVTregion [at] gmail.com
Please visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.blog

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*Julienne Gehrer is a Lifetime Member of JASNA, serving as a Board Member and Regional Coordinator. Recently retired after a 31-year career as an Editorial Director for Hallmark Cards, she 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, and has just published Dining with Jane Austen [this will be available for purchase]. She also created “Pride and Prejudice—the Game,” and is a popular speaker on food and Jane Austen on such topics as: “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 in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Friday August 4, 2017, 5:30 – 9 pm: Shelburne Farms Coach Barn.

The JASNA-Vermont Region will partner with chef Richard Witting and his Isole Dinner Club’s series on the History of English Food and Literature – the theme this time, following successful events on Chaucer and Shakespeare, will be Jane Austen! A delicious and entertaining evening in on offer: a multi-course authentic Regency dinner (think candlelight!); a talk on the drink of the period by Adam Krakowski, author of Vermont Beer: History of A Brewing Revolution; Deb Barnum will talk on “Ten Things You Never Knew about Jane Austen,” and our own Val Medve and her Burlington Country Dancers will perform to live music between courses. Special guest Julienne Gehrer, flown in for the occasion from Kansas City (where she and her Region will host us for the 2018 AGM), will speak on all things Jane Austen and food, sharing her knowledge learned in the writing of her new book Dining with Jane Austen (which will be available for purchase) – please note that this will be a shorter talk than the powerpoint presentation given on Thursday evening at the Fletcher Free Library.

Cost: $125 / person – tickets must be reserved at Shelburne Farms: http://www.shelburnefarms.org/calendar/event/isole-dinner-clubs-history-of-english-food-and-literature-series-jane-austen

[Image: Shelburne Farms Coach Barn]

Hope you can join us at one or both events!!

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont

Susannah Fullerton on Jane Austen: “Jane & I: A Tale of Austen Addiction”

Susannah Fullerton, president of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, has just published her memoir about her life-long love affair with Jane Austen, something many of us can understand and appreciate, but mostly marvel at what Susannah has done with this obsession! Here is Susannah’s blurb on her new book – see below on how you can order it. I for one cannot wait for mine to show up in my mailbox…

 

JANE & I

A TALE OF AUSTEN ADDICTION

By Susannah Fullerton 

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love … Jane Austen.

When I was a young girl, l was read Pride and Prejudice by my mother. I listened entranced, but little dreamed how that reading would change my life and would be the start of a life-long addiction. For I fell in love with Elizabeth and Darcy, went on to read the other novels of Jane Austen, studied them, re-read them often, lectured about them and wrote about them. As President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia for more than twenty years, I have shared my passion for Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion with thousands of people around the world. As a leader of literary tours, I have taken people to ‘Jane Austen country’. It is thanks to Jane Austen that I developed a career as a popular literary lecturer. Jane Austen, quite simply, altered the course of my life!

My memoir shows how a love of Jane Austen’s novels developed into a passionate addiction, something that I hope all readers of this blog will understand. Jane Austen expert Maggie Lane has called my new book “a vivid and original memoir”, while author Jennifer Kloester has said “More than just a memoir, this delightful account of Susannah Fullerton’s lifelong love of books will enchant, inspire and amuse her readers. A joyful reminder of why books matter.”

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About the author:

Susannah Fullerton has been president of the Jane Austen Society of Australia for 21 years. She is a popular literary tour leader, guiding literary pilgrims in England, Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada, France and Italy. Previous books include A Dance with Jane Austen, Happily Ever After: Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen and Crime (one of my favorite books!), Georgette Heyer: Complete to a Shade, and others. You can find out more about her, her books, and her literary tours at the links below. She also writes a newsletter titled “Notes from a Book Addict,” a monthly treat for your inbox – you can sign up for it here: https://susannahfullerton.com.au/newsletter/

You can order the book here: https://susannahfullerton.com.au/store/jane-i-a-tale-of-austen-addiction/ : [$20 AUD = @ $16. USD + shipping – you can pay via PayPal]

Links:

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont

Recovering Katharine Metcalfe, Jane Austen Editor ~ With Thanks to Janine Barchas

When I have given talks on the publishing history of Pride and Prejudice, one of my favorite editions to share is the little-known Pride and Prejudice edited by K. M. Metcalfe and published by Oxford University Press in 1912.

       Pride and Prejudice, ed. K M Metcalfe, Oxford, 1912

I first “discovered” this edition several years ago when reading an essay by Margaret Lane in her book Purely for Pleasure (London, 1966), a collection of biographical pieces that never quite made it into book form. In a chapter on R. W. Chapman, she writes of an edition of P&P published by Oxford in 1912, edited by K. M. Metcalfe – that is, Katharine Metcalfe, a young tutor at Oxford’s Somerville College [there is, for the trivia minded, a Lady Metcalfe in P&P!]. It was “a new, textually accurate edition of P&P” [Lane] – and included an introduction, an overview of Austen’s life and works; essays on social history, domestic life, and language in the Regency period; as well as criticism and textual notes. There are no illustrations…

R W Chapman in 1928 – OED

At some point in 1912, Metcalfe met Chapman, he an editor at the Oxford University Press – by all accounts it was a whirlwind courtship – they shared a love of book collecting! – and they married in 1913. Metcalfe clearly introduced Chapman to Austen and they planned to jointly produce an edited complete works.  All was cut short by the First World War in which Chapman served, and Metcalfe, now married with children (and thus required to give up her fellowship) “had little time or strength for editorial labours.” [Lane, 197].  Chapman’s Oxford set of the novels was published in 1923. But Metcalfe had also published her own Northanger Abbey four months earlier [see Gilson, E151, what Kathryn Sutherland calls “an unexplained oddity” in her Jane Austen’s Textual Lives (Oxford, 2005)[Sutherland, 43].  The interesting bit is that the text of her own P&P edition (as well as her Northanger Abbey) was used for Chapman’s edition – same pagination, etc. – yet he does not mention her anywhere. In his 1948 Jane Austen: Facts and Problems he pens grateful acknowledgments to those critics…, etc., etc. and “my wife” in his preface.

[photo courtesy of J Barchas]

In Chapman’s Jane Austen: A Critical Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953), again there is no mention of Metcalfe, but he annotates her 1912 edition of P&P thusly:

“This unassuming edition is equipped with a perceptive introduction and notes, and anticipates the textual rigours of the next item.” [Chapman, 6

That next item is his 1923 edition of the novels! – which takes up a full page of annotation!

And he makes no mention at all of her 1923 Northanger Abbey!

Sutherland believes that Metcalfe essentially provided the model for Chapman’s editions – and she wonders at his public silence – I wonder what went on at their dinner table!! In studying Chapman’s papers, Sutherland does find that Metcalfe continued to work on editing the novels – there is a note in the margin of the Mansfield Park work in progress: “I want, oh so badly, to do it at least once with you.” [Sutherland, 44].

Don’t’ ever say that bibliography isn’t interesting!! – there is a novel in there somewhere!

So I have long had lingering questions – there has to be more to this story than just these few references in scholarly texts – who was she? what did she look like? how did Chapman seem to take over her earlier editing work? what really was Metcalfe’s influence on Chapman in the making of his great Oxford edition of Austen’s works, and what were her feelings about being surpassed as Austen’s editor, and barely referenced by her own husband for the work she did do.

Well, thanks to the diligent scholarly detective work of Janine Barchas, Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, and three years in the making, my questions, and yours, have finally been answered! Her essay has just been published online in The Review of English Studies: you will need access to their database – it will be in print in the next issue. [ link: https://academic.oup.com/res/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/res/hgw149/2999313/Why-K-M-Metcalfe-Mrs-Chapman-is-Really-the?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Finding many letters and notes in both the Chapman and Metcalfe papers at Chawton and the Bodleian, Barchas traces the complete history of Metcalfe’s editing and her hand in the subsequent work by Chapman.

Barchas found her own copy of this edition in an Australian bookstore – it is a presentation copy with Metcalfe’s inscription to her Uncle Hugh, sure proof of pride in her creation:

Presentation copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, edited by K. M. Metcalfe and inscribed by her to ‘Uncle Hugh’ (Oxford, 1912).  Photo courtesy of J Barchas

[You might like to note that Janine has just loaned this copy to the Chawton House Library, where it will be on display in their upcoming Austen/De Stael exhibition beginning in July 2017].

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At Chawton, Barchas discovers a letter addressed to the founder of the Chawton Cottage Museum (now the Jane Austen House Museum) where Metcalfe states “I was really the originator in the editing of Jane Austen (when I married my publisher in the process!)” (Letter to T. Edward Carpenter, 22 May 1954) [Barchas, 12].

Ferreting out the documented facts of the Metcalfe / Chapman collaboration, Barchas conveys the truth of the times:

“The mundane facts of the case may be sexist but it would be naïve and anachronistic to think these professional restraints surprising in historical context. Here is not a grand conspiracy but a commonplace wrong. Plenty of parallel examples exist in the history of editing where a woman’s scholarship became merely contributory to that of her male partner…” [Barchas, 7]

Find this essay however you can – it is brilliant in its recovery work of the woman who, long before Chapman, saw the importance of returning to Austen’s original editions to truly give the modern reader a pure printing of her work.

Katharine Marion Metcalfe, 1912. Photo was provided by the Chapman family for use in the RES article by J Barchas. This detail is used with her permission here.

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I treasure my copy of Metcalfe’s Pride and Prejudice, despite a fair amount of writing and it smells a tad off (!), but I am very happy to own it, flaws and all!  The introduction is a lovely meditation on Jane Austen and should be more readily available. Find this as well if and where you can. Hopefully the work now done by Professor Barchas might induce a publisher to issue an edition with Metcalfe’s insightful introduction. It should certainly stand proudly aside and before any of Chapman’s works.

About the author: Janine Barchas is Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is the author of  Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity (Johns Hopkins University Press, August 2012).  Her  first book, Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Cambridge UP, 2003), won the SHARP book prize for best work in the field of book history.  You can visit (and spend hours browsing!) her online digital project What Jane Saw (www.whatjanesaw.org) which includes the gallery of the British Institution that Jane Austen visited on May 24, 1813 and the “Shakespeare Gallery of 1796.” Barchas, along with colleague Kristina Straub, recently curated an exhibition at the Folger on Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity. (You can read more about that exhibition here.)

c2017, Jane Austen in Vermont

Wishing Jane Austen a Very Happy Birthday!

austen-silhouetteThe first order of business today, on this 241st birthday of Jane Austen, is the annual publication of JASNA’s Persuasions On-Line Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2016). Click here for the Table of Contents to yet another inspiring collection of essays, some from the 2016 AGM in Washington DC on EMMA AT 200, “NO ONE BUT HERSELF” and other “Miscellany” – all about Jane Austen…and perfect winter reading material…

Here is the link: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol37no1/toc.html

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Here are the essays: (you might especially notice Gillian Dow’s essay on the Emma exhibition at Chawton House Library this year (website under redevelopment til Christmas) – for those of you who could not attend, this is the next best thing to being there!)

“The Encouragement I Received”: Emma and the Language of Sexual Assault
Celia Easton

“Could He Even Have Seen into Her Heart”: Mr. Knightley’s Development of Sympathy
Michele Larrow

Emma’s “Serious Spirit”: How Miss Woodhouse Faces the Issues Raised in Mansfield Park and Becomes Jane Austen’s Most Complex Heroine
Anna Morton

“Small, Trifling Presents”: Giving and Receiving in Emma
Linda Zionkowski

Oysters and Alderneys: Emma and the Animal Economy
Susan Jones

Epistolary Culture in Emma: Secrets and Social Transgressions
L. Bao Bui

Divas in the Drawing Room, or Italian Opera Comes to Highbury
Jeffrey Nigro and Andrea Cawelti

Mrs. Elton’s Pearls: Simulating Superiority in Jane Austen’s Emma
Carrie Wright

Multimedia Emma: Three Adaptations
Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield

Jane Austen’s Emma at 200: From English Village to Global Appeal
Gillian Dow

MISCELLANY

Discerning Voice through Austen Said: Free Indirect Discourse, Coding, and Interpretive (Un)Certainty
Laura Moneyham White and Carmen Smith

“The Bells Rang and Every Body Smiled”: Jane Austen’s “Courtship Novels”
Gillian Dooley

Courtship and Financial Interest in Northanger Abbey
Kelly Coyne

Curious Distinctions in Sense and Sensibility
Ethan Smilie

“If Art Could Tell”: A Miltonic Reading of Pride and Prejudice
James M. Scott

Looking for Mr. Darcy: The Role of the Viewer in Creating a Cultural Icon
Henriette-Juliane Seeliger

Replacing Jane: Fandom and Fidelity in Dan Zeff’s Lost in Austen (2008)
Paige Pinto

Fanny Price Goes to the Opera: Jonathan Dove’s and Alasdair Middleton’s Mansfield Park
Douglas Murray

Austen at the Ends of the Earth: The Near and the Far in Persuasion
Katherine Voyles

Jane Austen Bibliography, 2015
Deborah Barnum

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Let’s look at what Austen’s father wrote about her arrival on December 16, 1775:

You have doubtless been for some time in expectation of hearing from Hampshire, and perhaps wondered a little we were in our old age grown such bad reckoners but so it was, for Cassy certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago:  however last night the time came, and without a great deal of warning, everything was soon happily over.  We have now another girl, a present plaything for her sister Cassy and a future companion.  She is to be Jenny, and seems to me as if she would be as like Henry, as Cassy is to Neddy.  Your sister thank God is pure well after it, and send her love to you and my brother, not forgetting James and Philly…

[Letter from Mr. Austen to his sister Philadelphia Walter, December 17, 1775, as quoted from Deirdre Le Faye, Jane Austen, A Family Record, Cambridge, 2004, p.27.]

Happy Birthday Miss Austen! – you continue to inspire, intrigue, and offer insights like no other!

c2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

Guest Post: Into the Shadowy World of “Regency Spies” ~ Sue Wilkes on The Cato Street Controversy

Join us today for a guest post by Sue Wilkes, as she shares one of her spy tales from her new book Regency Spies: Secret Histories of Britain’s Rebels & Revolutionaries (more information on the book below).

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The Cato Street Conspiracy, 1820

The year 1820 began with grave news – the death of George III on 29 January, after years of illness. The King was buried a week later with great pomp and ceremony on 16 February. But his son George IV’s reign did not get off to a good start. A week later, news broke to an astounded British public of the arrest of ‘a gang of diabolical ruffians’ at Cato Street, in London. The conspirators, led by the ‘notorious’ Arthur Thistlewood, planned to kill members of the Cabinet (government ministers) while they dined at Earl Harrowby’s house in Mansfield Street (Gentleman’s Magazine, February 1820).

Arthur Thistlewood

This was no chance discovery, however. Thistlewood and his gang were well known to the authorities – the government’s spies had kept them under surveillance for years. Arthur Thistlewood, a brooding, dangerous man known to be deadly with a sword, led a group of revolutionaries called the ‘Spencean Philanthropists’.

The Spenceans were followers of the late Thomas Spence, who advocated the common ownership of all land – a truly anarchic idea in an unequal society rooted in land, wealth and property. Thistlewood first came to prominence in the Spa Fields riot of December 1816 in London. The riot was thought to be a ‘trial run’ by the Spenceans to see if they could get enough popular support to attack the Tower of London, Bank of England, and seize the city. Thistlewood and his friends were arrested and tried for treason the following year, but acquitted as most of the evidence against them was based on unreliable spy evidence.

After his release from prison, Thistlewood and his followers were constantly watched. In 1817 a spy called Shegoe reported, ‘They entertain the plan of assassination, and Lords Castlereagh, Sidmouth, Liverpool and Ellenborough have been marked as objects of their pursuit’. Some conspirators guessed that Shegoe was a spy, however, and his usefulness declined.

A new spy, George Edwards (code-name ‘W—r’ in the surveillance reports) infiltrated the gang and actively encouraged their plans. Edwards also recruited more conspirators: one of the people he ‘groomed’ was John Thomas Brunt, a shoe-maker. Another was Richard Tidd, who came from Thistlewood’s native Lincolnshire, and met Edwards through Brunt. Edwards’ actions and words were so ludicrously violent that several men he approached sent him packing, convinced that he was trying to entrap them.

Early in 1820, Edwards brought Thistlewood the news he had been waiting for: a Cabinet dinner was planned at Lord Harrowby’s house. Thistlewood and his gang rented a loft in Cato Street. They arranged to meet on Tuesday 22 February, bringing as many weapons as they could lay their hands on. But thanks to Edwards, the time and place for the planned assassination were already known to the police and Home Office. Everything was now set to nip the conspiracy in the bud.

Cato St execution - Newgate

On Monday 1 May 1820, Arthur Thistlewood, James Ings, John Thomas Brunt, Richard Tidd and William Davidson were executed guilty for high treason at Newgate. But was it really Thistlewood’s idea to kill the Cabinet – or was it the spy George Edwards’s plan, as Arthur claimed at his trial?

cato st gentmag may1820 exec1

An account of the death sentence passed by the judge, and the conspirators’ execution,
from the Gentleman’s Magazine, May 1820. (Author’s collection).

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About the book: [from the jacket]

reg spies highrescover1In her new book, Sue Wilkes reveals the shadowy world of Britain’s spies, rebels and secret societies from the late 1780s until 1820. Drawing on contemporary literature and official records, Wilkes unmasks the real conspirators and tells the tragic stories of the unwitting victims sent to the gallows.

In this ‘age of Revolutions’, when the French fought for liberty, Britain’s upper classes feared revolution was imminent. Thomas Paine’s incendiary Rights of Man called men to overthrow governments which did not safeguard their rights. Were Jacobins and Radical reformers in England and Scotland secretly plotting rebellion? Ireland, too, was a seething cauldron of unrest, its impoverished people oppressed by their Protestant masters.

Britain’s governing elite could not rely on the armed services – even Royal Navy crews mutinied over brutal conditions. To keep the nation safe, a ‘war chest’ of secret service money funded a network of spies to uncover potential rebels amongst the underprivileged masses. It had some famous successes: dashing Colonel Despard, friend of Lord Nelson, was executed for treason. Sometimes in the deadly game of cat-and-mouse between spies and their prey suspicion fell on the wrong men, like poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Even peaceful reformers risked arrest for sedition. Political meetings like Manchester’s ‘Peterloo’ were ruthlessly suppressed, and innocent blood spilt. Repression bred resentment – and a diabolical plot was born. The stakes were incredibly high: rebels suffered the horrors of a traitor’s death when found guilty. Some conspirators’ secrets died with them on the scaffold…

Sue Wilkes4About the author:

Sue Wilkes is the author of several works of social and family history: Regency Spies (Pen & Sword, 2016) and A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England (Pen & Sword, 2014), Regency Cheshire (Robert Hale, 2011), The Children History Forgot (Robert Hale, 2010), Narrow Windows, Narrow Lives (Tempus, 2007), as well as guides for family historians on tracing ancestors in various UK counties and towns.

Read her blogs at:

Book info:

Publisher: Pen and Sword (February 19, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1783400617 / ISBN-13: 978-1783400614
Price: $39.95 / £19.99
Pen & Sword: http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Regency-Spies-Hardback/p/11177
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Regency-Spies-Histories-Britains-Revolutionaries/dp/1783400617

Read another post by Sue here: Regency Explorer

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Thank you Sue for telling us about one your tales! This book is filled with such – I will be interviewing Sue in the coming weeks, so please return to learn more about this world of spies in Jane Austen’s time … my first question? Whatever would our dear Henry Tilney have to say about it all?!

NA-Brock-staircase-mollandsDear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”
[NA, Vol. II, Ch ix. Image: Mollands.net]

Image sources:

All four images from George Theodore Wilkinson, The Newgate Calendar Improved Vol. 5, (Thomas Kelly, 1836). Courtesy the Internet Archive, archive.org.

c2016, Jane Austen in Vermont