The Penny Post Weekly Review ~ All Things Jane Austen!

The Penny Post Weekly Review

  October 8, 2011


News /Gossip 

An Amanda Vickery lecture at the Lewis Walpole Library: “Family Life Makes Tories of Us All: Love and Power at Home in Georgian England”:

Indie Jane blog – a pen-pal project – alas! missed the dealine – hopefully they will do it again! fabulous idea in this world of the lost art of the letter –

Musical cabaret duo: The Jane Austen Argument:  why the name I wonder??

A Musicologist Abroad blog by Vassar Professor Kathryn L. Libin: a few posts on Chawton . Prof. Libin is writing a book about Jane Austen and music. [from JASNA News]

Masterpiece Mystery:  Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories starring Jason Isaacs as her Jackson Brodie begins on October 16th – see the upcoming schedule for all shows here:

“The research by Lindeman’s wine found that Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is the book most people lie about having read. But far from being highbrow, 47 per cent of us secretly prefer trashy novels which they would never put on show.” [do you think the remaining 53% are all Janeites? – though wait, we like “trashy” novels also!]

For you die-hard Colin Firth fans [do we talk to anyone who is not?] – one of his earliest roles in the 1986 7-part (!) BBC production Lost Empires can now be viewed on the just-released DVD! – here’s the story: 

  Click here if you want to buy!

JASNA-New York has just published the fall issue of its newsletter Austen Chronicle:

The Circulating Library

*You can view Jane Austen’s will at the National Archives, now on flickr: 

*This is an amazing gift from JSTOR: their early journals [i.e. before 1923] are now available online for free to anyone: read their announcement here:

A quick look through one of the finds by a C18 listserv member: from George Washington’s Household Account Book 1793-1797:

Pd to Chas. Kirkham for 18 pr. of gloves for Mrs. W. ……. 5.50

[18 pair of gloves!!]

Martha Washington


But enough frivolity – back to JSTOR:  go to the main search screen and type in “Jane Austen” – 329 items come up  – here is one example, a spot-on early 20th century review of Austen’s writings [though the author does do that “Bennett” misspelling thing!]

“Great-Grandmother’s Favorite Novel” by Warwick James Price. Sewanee Review 21.4 (1913): 480-89.

or this:

“The English Women-Humorists” by Alice Meynell. North American Review 181. 589 (1905):  857-72.

 [tip on using JSTOR: go to the search results citation page and choose the “view pdf” option – the whole document comes up vs. having to scroll through each page; you can also do this from the search page]

  • Authors

Dickens’s Oliver Twist audio tour at The Guardian:

I love this!  Podcasts on forgotten books:  – check out the piece on Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road.

  • Library Collections:

One can never get enough of searching the online collections of the Lewis Walpole Library

or The Wellcome Library’s  Medical History collections:

See the list of the collection of online 17th century recipe books [some are full text]:

  • Books I am Looking Forward to 

*Joanna Trollope has signed on to re-write Sense & Sensibility in modern garb! [due out fall 2013]:

See her website here:

*PD James – I wondered when she was going to get around to combining her love of Austen with a sure-to-be-great Austen-inspired mystery! – watch for Death Comes to Pemberley, due this November [you can pre-order online]:

[if you have never read James’s “Emma Considered as a Detective Story” – you must find a copy immediately  (the text is included as an appendix in her autobiography Time to Be in Earnest)]

*Facing Beauty: Painted Women & Cosmetic Art :  by Aileen Ribeiro

and for more information on this title:

*Samuel Park’s debut novel This Burns My Heart is written from the point of view of women in post-war South Korea – he explains this writing of women’s lives:

“I’ve spent my entire life deeply embroiled in the fantasies, desires and frustrations of my mother and my two older sisters. Their lives were so fascinating — they would spend hours talking about a crush. Not by coincidence, after I left them to go to college, I spent all my time in the library reading Jane Austen.

Museum Musings ~ Exhibition Trekking

*At the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge [UK], a new exhibit on Vermeer’s Women: Secrets and Silence:  the title just smacks of Sense and Sensibility, doesn’t it?!  And for those of us who have heard former JASNA president Marsha Huff give her talk on Austen and Vermeer, this book looks like a must-have – too bad the exhibition is only to be at the Fitzwilliam – it is sure to have Vermeers we have never seen.

You can order the book here:


*Chatsworth House – there is a new exhibition space featuring the 6th Duke of Devonshire – through December 23, 2011:

 You can also follow the Duke’s diaries on Facebook:

Regency Life

Check this post on “The Gentle Art of Regurgitation During Travel” – at Booktryst [look closely!]

[image from the book: LePrince, Xavier. Inconvéniens d’un Voyage en Diligence. Douze Tableaux, Lithographiés par…Paris: Chez Gihaut Freres… et Sazerac et Duval, 1826]

London Historians:  some very nice articles on Lord Nelson, etc. 

Fashion exhibit at Fairfax House, York: a video

also see this video of inside this lovely Georgian Townhouse:

In need of a gown of your own? – check out Reproduction Fabrics:  – and the accompanying textile blog:

Staples III - Reproduction Fabrics


Head over to esty for a copy of this illustration of the Pride and Prejudice cast of characters:

P&P - BlueSkyLnking

there are others – from Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Sense and Sensibility:

S&S - BlueSkyLnking

For Fun

I know this is a few years old, but one cannot watch it too often – a fine reminder of how often the men in Austen, etc. were dripping wet! 
It’s Raining Men!:  on youtube



Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum, Jane Austen in Vermont

Happy Birthday!

Can’t let the day – September 10th – pass without wishing Colin Firth (to many, the Mr. Darcy) a happy birthday!


Another Austen-actor, Hugh Grant (AKA S&S’s Edward Farrers), celebrated his 49th yesterday.


(Hugh was born in London; Colin in Grayshott, Hampshire).

Mr. Darcy Portrait Sells

The Darcy portrait of Colin Firth that we all wanted in our very own living rooms, has sold at auction for £12,000, nearly double the estimated value; very nice really… the money all goes to charity.

“This painting sold for double its estimated value for the simple reason that the series so captured the heart of the viewing public, particularly the fairer sex,” said Julian Roup, a spokesman for Bonhams auction house.

[see this BBC article]


On the Block ~ Mr. Darcy…

The portrait of Mr. Darcy (a.k.a. Colin Firth) that was used in the pivotal scene (Elizabeth gazing at Darcy’s portrait hanging in the portrait hall at Pemberley) in the 1995 A&E production of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice will be sold at auction on January 21, 2009 at Bonham’s Gentlemans Library Sale;  the sale also includes a letter from Firth.  The painting is expected to fetch £7,000 and the proceeds will go to charity ~ Oxfam and the Southampton and Winchester Vistors Group [see the and BBC News online for more information, including a downloadable copy of Firth’s letter at the BBC site ( and note the misspelling of “Pemberly” in the BBC article!)]


Now, wouldn’t we all like this hanging in our very own Great Hall, or anywhere in the house for that matter!

[If , however, this is a little out of your league, you can always buy the Mr. Darcy keyring at the Jane Austen Centre for £2.99 … ]


A Colin Firth sighting!

Ok, so I am confused.  I heard that there was a great first book written by Elinor Lipman called Then She Found Me (1990).  It tells the story of a 36 year-old high school Latin teacher named April Epner, who was adopted as a baby by a couple who had survived the Holocaust.  She has never married, has a fairly distant but caring relationship with her younger brother (Freddie, also adopted)…..we are told he is a gorgoeus hunk who indescriminately beds any women within reaching distance…she has a few friends from work, but is otherwise fairly lonely and missing her parents who have recently passed on.  Out of the blue, her birth mother comes into her life….a fairly obnoxious and quite famous tv talk-show host….telling her that she is actually the illegitimate daughter of John F. Kennedy, the result of a few mad months of passion, after which he abandoned her upon learning of the impending child.  She takes all this information as cause to research her roots and finds the school librarian (Dwight) a great (and very interested!) ally.  He is portrayed as very tall, very geeky, quite unattracive and a source for ongoing humor among faculty and students.  And then, of course, her REAL birth father shows up, obviously not JFK, bringing a whole new dimension to April’s family dynamics.  So much for the story…I leave it to the reader to decide if they want to read any more.  I will say that I enjoyed the book…but after just having finished a close reading of both Emma and Northanger Abbey, this seemed a sorry substitute.  But forever willing to give the writer her/his just due, I plodded on because in the end I did really care enough about April to want to see what happens to her and her mother, and of course, the librarian!  And I should add that the real reason I picked up this book was because I knew that it was being made into a movie with Helen Hunt (both starring in but also directing her first feature film)….Bette Midler,  and Colin Firth…and therein lies the draw!  Who can resist a Colin Firth movie….??!

So fast foward….the movie is due out April 25th.  I was a bit mystified after finishing the book, as to who actually Colin would be playing…the gorgeous brother or the geeky librarian??  Not a good fit for either…we want our Colin as the romantic lead, do we not??  But being a librarian, I was all for him playing the geeky fellow who turns out to be a prince behind those glasses and shuushhing sounds!…

But alas! as Hollywood does so well, there is nothing of the book to be found in the movie….!  I have just watched the trailer and this is the basic plot synopsis:  April, whose adoptive mother is still alive, inexplicably decides to get married to a do-nothing, self-absorbed fellow (Matthew Broderick); her real mother (Bette Midler) shows up wanting to have a relationship and tells her that her father was Steve McQueen; April’s husband decides to leave her because he is bored; she meets the father (Frank, played by Colin) of one of her students, who expresses interest in getting to know her; she asks him out on a date, they click; her husband wants her back, she sleeps with him, she gets pregnant, and we do not know who the father is, but therein lies the story’s hook…..will she end up with Colin or Matthew? and all through this her new found mother brings great trouble as well as comfort into her life….I get all this from the trailer…it is called a dramady.  Colin is supposed to throw wild fits and therefore appear to be an unstable lover and thus perhaps not the best father of her child, etc, etc… So I ask you, if you read my first paragraph, is there anything in this movie that sounds like the book??? yikes!  Steve McQueen???  (but please note that there is this interesting bit of literary trivia in the movie:  Salman Rushdie plays the gynecologist!)

So I leave further discussion for after actually seeing the movie, for who in their right mind would miss Colin Firth in any sort of movie??, though I really was looking forward to seeing him as the geeky librarian….!  We Janeites can certainly see how easy it is for movies to NOT BE ANYTHING LIKE THE BOOK, and still get made! (not to bring Austen adaptations into the discussion, but there you have it!)  Comments welcome from anyone who has seen the movie and / or read the book, though I would love to know what Ms. Lipman thinks of all this!