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:


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:


See this at the Folger’s Collation blog – “Uncancelling the Cancelled” – a fascinating look at deciphering former owner names in books…


10 Poems about wives at Interesting Literature:

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).


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:


Margaret Atwood’s harrowing The Handmaid’s Tale has just been released as a graphic novel, illustrated by Renee Nault:

Handmaid’s Tale – LitHub


From the Washington Post’s “In Sight” blog, a look at one person’s take on living in Jane Austen’s time:

(scroll down below the comments to see the photographs)


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!


A JSTOR essay about 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.


Spring is here, so enjoy this from Open Culture: Bunnies gone bad, medieval-style:


Bronte Sisters, by Branwell Bronte

Re: Branwell Bronte: this from Publishers Weekly:

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.



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??)


The American Antiquarian Society has digitized over 200 letters of Abigail Adams:

Abigail Adams – AAS


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:


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


Reprinted with permission from Gin Austen © 2019 Colleen Mullaney – You can buy it here:



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:

How come nobody looks Happy??


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!!):


What’s on your computer screen this week??

c2019 Jane Austen in Vermont

Web Round-up ~ All Things Austen!!

I’ve been out of the loop for the past week, so just a catch up post of items of Austen-interest, some old news, some new, but always interesting and chock full of Austen tidbits: 

Jane Austen Conference at the British Library:  a 6-minute YouTube video of a student conference at the British Library–speakers Kathryn Sutherland and Elizabeth Garvie, shots of Austen’s manuscripts, English Country Dancing, etc. – great fun!



Here is an interesting interview with Patricia Meyer Spacks, JASNA member and Professor of English, who just published an annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice. 

*And from Sarah Emsley, a review at Open Letters Monthly 

*A review at Austenprose 

*A review at Jane Austen’s World ~ and also Vic’s interview with Professor Spacks [Vic’s virtual tour of the book was put on the Harvard University Press’s blog! – see the video here ] 

I just got this book  – and it is lovely – I look forward to spending some quality time with it! 



Want to understand England and the concept of Englishness a bit more? – here is an interesting reading list for a course on “Englishness”  at Bristol University.  This should take you reading through the winter… and then some…


The Old Globe Theater in San Diego will be presenting Jane Austen’s Emma: A Romantic Comedy from January 15 – February 27: 

 “Emma, a timeless love story from one of the most widely read writers of all time, is now a musical, and will once again entice modern audiences to fall in love with one of Jane Austen’s most adored characters. Emma, a beautiful and clever young woman who prides herself on her matchmaking ability, is preoccupied with romance yet is clueless to her own feelings of love. When she takes on a young friend as her latest project, her well-intentioned efforts misfire, leading to a whirlwind of complications. Deliciously charming, this new romantic comedy from Tony Award nominated composer Paul Gordon and directed by Tony Award nominee, Jeff Calhoun, brings Jane Austen’s masterpiece to musical life.”

If you happen to be in Vermont in November, Claire Harman of Jane’s Fame fame will be one of the speakers at the Vermont Humanities Council Fall Conference on Comedy and Satire: It’s No Joke, From Jonathan Swift to Jon Stewart, Ridiculing Vice and Folly, November 12–13, 2010  Stoweflake Mountain Resort, Stowe, Vermont.  Professor Harman’s talk is scehduled for the Saturday afternoon from 1:00 – 2:15 pm:

Jane Austen, Veiled Satirist. Jane Austen is not usually considered a satirist, but she began her writing life in imitation of the great practitioners of the eighteenth century. Prize-winning author Claire Harman, who teaches at Oxford and Columbia Universities, looks at Austen’s beloved novels in the context of that earlier tradition and considers how and why she molded the tones and techniques of Swift and Pope to her own purposes.   See the VHC website for details.


The Eighth Annual Regency Assembly in New Haven, Connecticut is scheduled for October 16-17, 2010.  Visit Susan de Guardiola’s website for more information, where there are various links to Regency Games, Fashion, and Dance.





 Another Vermont event!  On Saturday December 18th, a Regency clothing talk at The Inn Victoria 321 Main St Chester VT, 2-3 pm, followed by a grand tea.  Visit the website of Kandie Carle, a.k.a. The Victorian Lady to learn more about her talk, which is part of an entire Jane Austen Birthday Weekend:

Dates: December 17-19, 2010

Description: Celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday in style at a Victorian B&B that is known for its romance and antiques of the period. On December 17 – 19, we will celebrate Jane’s birthday weekend with: 

  • Pride & Prejudice on the Big Screen in the Parlor
  • Two formal afternoon teas (wear your formal period dress)
  • Two book reviews
  • Two breakfasts, each with five courses…..yes, FIVE!
  • English Christmas dinner served Saturday evening with wine.
  • Actress / performer Kandie Carle, will give a performance of “The Victorian Lady”

Two night / double occupancy starts at $130 / night….. 25% of the income will be donated to the Chester Rotary for a local Christmas fund for children.


And finally – a discovery that has pleased my DOG very much – a book by Kara Louise titled Master Under Good Regulation – you can read more about it at the First Impressions blog by Alexa Adams, and more at Kara Louise’s website.  It is about Reggie, an English Springer Spaniel, best friend and confident of Mr. Darcy – and the whole story of Pride and Prejudice is told from Reggie’s point of view.  Now, MY dog is an English springer spaniel, and he is wondering if perhaps this dog of Darcy’s might not be one of his great, great ancestors – everything always comes full circle, and always back to Jane in some way, doesn’t it?! 


Book Review ~ “Jane’s Fame” by Claire Harman

book cover jane's fameMany of us who grew up in the late 40s – early 50s had our Jane Austen force-fed to us in high school (unless we were fortunate enough to be blessed with an Austen-loving mother or father!).  Pride & Prejudice was the standard text with little reference to the other works; followed by George Eliot’s Silas Marner, Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities and / or Great Expectations, Shakespeare (hopefully!), and Hemingway, Steinbeck, Salinger for contemporary authors.  But I’ve often thought that Austen got a bum-rap with this “required-reading” status, the educational system’s way of compensating for what an early critic said in calling Austen “a critic’s novelist – highly spoken of and little read.” [p. 120]  And while I am the first to admit that Austen is not for everyone [their terrible loss!], I have long believed that this approach to Austen added to her suffering from the great reader-turnoff. 

For me, a voracious reader as a youngster and teenager, I went on to read some of her novels, but alas! not all, feeling more at home with Alcott, the Brontes, Dickens, and later Wilkie Collins, all those more accessible Victorian novelists.  So it was in later life that I returned to Austen – and I perhaps needed that distance of time (and some wisdom!) to re-appreciate her brilliance – the humor and irony, the language, that characterization, and of course, the age-old love stories.  So from my current vantage point I marvel at Austen’s ability to stay fresh, to speak to different generations, and to speak to each individual in different ways through one’s own life. And in these fifteen plus years of “re-Austenising” myself, I’ve gone much beyond the novels, to the biographies, criticism, her Regency / Georgian world, and the current surfeit of films, and sequels and continuations, and even the latest parodies, creating quite a book collection in the process – and I have really barely begun!  

So I was most excited to hear about the release of Claire Harman’s new book, Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World [Canongate, 2009], stirring up controversy even before it hit the bookstores [see my previous post, “Discord in Austen Land”].  [Harman has authored Fanny Burney: A Biography (Knopf, 2001) and works on Sylvia Townsend Warner and Robert Louis Stevenson].   It is an engaging read – historical, biographical, critical and anecdotal, all rolled into a capsule of Austen’s claim to fame – and just why was she so popular?  “the public whipped into a frenzy” [p. 243]  in the late nineteenth century and again in the late twentieth? – by “[James Edward] Austen-Leigh’s Memoir in the first instance, and in the second, a man in a wet shirt” [p. 243] [with thanks to Colin Firth!] – simplified reasoning perhaps, but a good chuckle and that glimmer of truth. 

Harman explains that

…this book charts the growth of Austen’s fame, the changing status of her work and what it has stood for, or been made to stand for, in English culture over the past two-hundred years.  In the foreground is the story of Austen’s authorship, one of persistence, accident, advocacy, and sometimes surprising neglect.  Not only did Austen publish her books anonymously and enjoy very little success during her lifetime, but publication itself only came very late, after twenty years of unrewarded labor.  I have sought to reconstruct these pre-fame years in the spirit of uncertainty through which Austen lived them.  Her prized irony and famous manipulation of tone I believe owes much to it; part of the reason why she pleases us so much now is that she was, for years, pleasing only herself.  [p. 7-8]

Thus, Harman starts by placing Austen squarely in the context of her times – her family and friends as writers – her mother, brothers James and Henry, her friend Anne Lefroy’s brother Samuel Egerton Brydges, and her pride in her own quite delightful juvenile writings.  Incorporating a general account of Austen’s life [Harman assumes the reader brings much knowledge of Austen’s life and gives only a cursory telling], she presents us with a great summary of Austen’s writings, the publication history and early responses to each work, drawing heavily on Brian Southam’s Jane Austen, The Critical Heritage [London 1968], and emphasizing Austen’s literary ambitions. [for more on this, see Jan Fergus’s The Professional Woman Writer” in The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, one of the earlier scholarly arguments to clearly see Austen in this light, far removed from the portrait painted by her brother Henry and later her nephew.]

Following Austen’s death in 1817, her copyrights still owned by Cassandra were sold to Richard Bentley and his issue of all six novels in 1833 did much to keep Austen in print; but her popularity waned, the rise of the Victorian novel sending Austen to the shadows, not to mention Charlotte Bronte’s dislike of Austen, quoted by Elizabeth Gaskell in her Bronte biography in 1857 [but ironically, how close is Gaskell’s North & South to Pride & Prejudice!]  So Austen remained largely unread until the Austen-Leigh Memoir of 1870, followed by various new editions of the novels and the selected letters in 1890. 

Harman explores in her chapter on the “Divine Jane” [quoting W.D. Howells] the publishing of these new editions and the illustrated versions that sought to “fix the characters in one’s mind” [p.159], the biographies, and critical analyses in this first burgeoning fame-fest, and her new status as darling of the intellectual snobbish-elite, championed by the likes of Leslie Stephen, Henry James, George Saintsbury, and Howells [and of course, not to leave out Mark Twain’s adamant dislike!] – all this culminating in R.W. Chapman’s Oxford edition of her works in 1923, “the first complete scholarly edition of any English novelist.” [p. 192]. 

In “Canon and Canonisation,” Harman chronicles the scholarly critical analysis that continues unabated to the present – the vast extent of academic and non-academic writing – on the one hand, Austen as a pleasure-read, the writer “who wrote so clearly and simply, and who was so small scale” [p. 200] – and on the other, the critical study of Austen’s “unconsciousness and brilliance” and here we see her “easy passage into English literature courses” [p. 201].  Austen makes critical literary history as manuscripts and contemporary memoirs became available for study – resulting in library collections, various illustrated editions, Jane Austen Societies, interest in her “homes and haunts,” more biographies from various standpoints, new paths of criticism taking into account the political, sociological and historical elements, and the many works on the manners and mores, fashion and handiwork, cookery and letter-writing – all things Austen indeed! [A friend visiting my home recently asked me what could all these Austen-related books on my shelves possibly be about when she only wrote six books!] 

And finally to film and what she terms “Jane Austen TM”, Harman again summarizing all that came before the “wet shirt” and after – the movies, the sequels, the internet and YouTube concoctions, the blogsphere , the Societies, the fan-fiction sites, the costume-driven fanatics, etc.  And Harman ends with the question, “What would Austen have made of all this? [p. 278] – in answer, she cites the differing views of D.W. Harding, Lionel Trilling, Henry James, and E.M. Forster to prove to us that “the significance of Jane Austen is so personal and so universal, so intimately connected with our sense of ourselves and of our whole society, that it is impossible to imagine a time when she or her works could have delighted us long enough.” [p. 281]

 One of the criticisms of Harman’s book has been her light non-academic approach to Austen [and perhaps her re-working of others’ ideas into this “popular” framework] – but it all works so well for what and for whom it is intended.  Harman’s gift is taking an inordinate amount of primary and secondary material and presenting it into a very readable, information-packed and anecdotal whole – everything you would ever want to know about Jane Austen all put together in a neat little package of 342 pages.  This of course may be its greatest shortcoming – too neat a package with strong authorial opinions thrown in [and a feeling to this reader of all being rather rushed at the end – “let’s wrap this up, throw in a few final tales and get it published” sort of feeling…] –  it must needs be leaving something out! [Indeed, the 2005 Pride & Prejudice barely gets a mention, either an oversight or the expression of the author’s opinion of that film – but no matter what your views of that adaptation might be, it has to be praised for bringing Jane Austen and P&P  to yet another generation who do not find Colin Firth’s wet shirt scene all that WE make it out to be – and thus it is a clear topic for Jane’s current and ongoing “fame.”] 

But as a resource, with a terrific reading list to be gleaned from the text and bibliography [though I do quibble with the number of un-sourced quotations and overly shortened citations that are unclear (especially in regard to the letters – a number and date would have been most helpful!)], Jane’s Fame should be required reading [not force-fed please…] for anyone interested in the facts of Austen’s writing life and how she has risen to such heights and commands such a presence in so many people’s lives.  And you will likely take away new and interesting tidbits such as finding what Katherine Mansfield had to say about Emma:  “Mr. Knightley in the shrubbery would be something!” [p. 247] [aah! indeed!]

4 1/2 full inkwells [out of 5]

 Further Reading: [all page citations above are to Janes’ Fame]

  • See my post on the various Reviews of Jane’s Fame
  • Copeland, Edward, Juliet McMaster, eds.  The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen.  Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Fergus, Jan.  “The Professional Woman Writer” in The Cambridge Companion, pp. 12-31, where Fergus summarizes and expands these arguments first presented in her Jane Austen: A Literary Life. London: Macmillan 1991.  These are must-reads…
  • Sutherland, Kathryn.  Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: from Aeschylus to Bollywood. Oxford, 2005, pb 2007.  Note that it is Professor Sutherland who started the controversy that Harman essentially lifted her ideas – I have this book and have skimmed it only, so cannot comment fully – but just looking at the table of contents, one finds the similarities a little alarming, and the Sutherland book has far more depth to the notes and bibliography – but again, I emphasize the “popular” nature of Harman’s book. 
  • Todd, Janet, ed.  Jane Austen in Context.  Cambridge University Press, 2005, 2007 with corrections. 
  • Claire Harman’s website with cites to reviews of Jane’s Fame
  • Austenblog:  Mag’s review of Jane’s Fame

Posted by Deb

“Jane’s Fame” ~ the Reviews


The reviews are in on Claire Harman’s Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World [Canongate, 2009]


I list several of them for your perusal.  [I am fortunate indeed to have just been in the UK – I went into every Waterstone’s I came across until finally the date of release arrived and a very helpful shop-keeper found it sitting on a to-be-shelved cart!  – so I am almost finished and will post my thoughts shortly…]



The Telegraph, by Frances Wilson

The Independent, by Elspeth Barker

Times Online, by John Carey

The Guardian, by Kathryn Hughes

The Spectator Book Club, by Philip Hensher

The Literary Review, by Mark Bostridge

A preview of the book at Austenprose

My previous post at JAIV about the Jane’s Fame controversy

Discord in Austen Land

Here is an interesting article at the about a new book on Austen by Claire Harman (author of the 2001 biography Fanny Burney) ~ Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, to be published next month, and a conflict with the academic writings of Professor Kathryn Sutherland, author of the ground-breaking 2005 Jane Austen’s Textual Lives, from Aeschylus to Bollywood.  It’s quite the kerfuffle….



Further reading:

[Adding here 3/17/09:  I had noted in my comments below that Ellen Moody has addressed this issue in more depth on Austen-L and Janeites as well as her blog, so I add here the link to her post:

 NB: scroll down further on her blog as there is quite a bit more after the reference to Emily Hahn’s book on Fanny Burney]