Happy Birthday Jane Austen! ~ The Ten Best Reasons to Go to a JASNA AGM ~ It’s All About You Jane!

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The Ten Best Reasons to Go to a JASNA AGM, Or, Why I would celebrate Jane Austen’s Birthday
by Spiriting Her Around Such an Event

Well, I had the best of intentions to do a full write-up of all the major events at the latest JASNA AGM in Brooklyn – a special location for me personally as I am a New Yorker born and bred – but as I have mentioned elsewhere life gets in the way of our best-laid plans and as the AGM now seems light-years away, I propose to just offer a grand summary in the context of why one should go to this annual Jane Austen conference; and why do so many plan on being there year after year? Friends and family just shake their heads with the typical “she only wrote 6 books, whatever can you talk about for 4 days??” and I nod knowingly that a lifetime of conferences would not satisfy… It takes me a long while to re-enter the 21st century – how delightful it is to enjoy the late 18th and early 19th without all the attendant inconveniences!  I shall make a best effort to give the salient points of this year’s conference, memory perhaps failing me, with a dependence upon sketchy notes, not enough pictures taken (and those that were, not very good…)

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My Book Stash from the JASNA AGM

One cannot resist the Emporium at the JASNA AGM – and this year in Fort Worth was more fun than ever – tables filled with goodies from the various Regions, and a whole room filled with local vendors from Texas.  But I first always head to the book stalls – a bad and expensive habit – and this year I was not disappointed. Happy to see again, Traveler’s Tales from Canada [sorry, no website!], and Jane Austen Books, and though I had to think of weight and limit some purchases, this year I wisely bought what I wanted to and shipped them home – they came today [love the UPS man, don’t you?!] 

So here is my book list: some are titles I have had on my list for a while, others are what I call the “browser’s banquet” – those things you either didn’t know about or wanted to see and touch before buying – and finally those things I am ashamed to say should have been in my Austen Library years ago, but never made it there for some reason or other …  so here goes, with short annotations, in no particular order… 

Austen, Jane.  Volume the Second. Ed. Brian Southam. Oxford: 1963. – I’ve had vol. 1 and 3 for a good long time, so very happy to find this… 


Quin, Vera. In Paris with Jane Austen.  Cappella Archive, 2011. Her Jane Austen Visits London is terrific, so why not Paris…! 

Hurst, Jane. Jane Austen and Chawton. The Author / JAS, 2009.  Had to add this to my JAS collection… 

Such Things as Please my Own Appetite: Food and Drink in Jane Austen’s Time. JASNA-Washington DC, n.d.  40p.  A great compilation of essays, both contemporary and historical.   

Wilson, Kim. Tea with Jane Austen. London: Frances Lincoln, 2011.  The new edition with color illustrations – I saw this in London in May and didn’t pick it up [that old weight problem…] – saw Ms. Wilson [we played Whist together!] but did not get it signed … oh well… lovely book – everyone who loves tea and Jane should have this, both editions really…    

_____. Flowers and Shrubs for Georgian and Regency Gardens, including a catalogue of Kitchen-garden Plants. The Author, 2011. 20 p.  A great list for the gardener in me… 

Noblesse Oblige: An Enquiry into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy. By Alan Ross, Nancy Mitford, Evelyn Waugh, et al. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1956. A must-have for your British collection, with requisite British “humour.” 

Kemble, Frances Anne.  Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839.  Athens: U of Georgia P, 1984, c1961. [originally published in 1863] – Kemble’s views on slavery in Georgia– compelling stuff I have long wanted to read…

Monaghan, David, ed. Emma: Contemporary Critical Essays. Macmillan, 1992. Didn’t have this one – now I do… 

Wright, Lawrence. Clean & Decent: The Fascinating History of the Bathroom and the Water-Closet. Penguin, 2000, c1960.  What every person with an interest in the most basic domestic matters should read… and the cover is really cool…

Vulliamy, C. E. English Letter Writers. London: Collins, 1945.  Part of the Britain in Pictures series, which I collect… 

Lefroy, Helen, and Gavin Turner, ed. The Letters of Mrs. Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend. Winchester, JAS, 2007.  why not?  more letters from Jane’s circle…

Adams, Jennifer. Little Miss Austen: Pride and Prejudice. Layton: Gibbs Smith, 2011. Because you have to have this if you collect everything to do with P&P

Ashford, Lindsay. The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen. Dinas Powys,Wales: Honno, 2011.  Ms. Ashford gave a most interesting talk at the AGM – brought this on the plane – almost done and will report on it soon! 

Piggott, Patrick. The Innocent Diversion: Music in the Life and Writings of Jane Austen. Moonrise, 2011, c1979.  A must-have, now reprinted… 

Barron, Stephanie. Jane and the Canterbury Tale. New York: Bantam, 2011. Because this is her latest – Ms. Barron was there, but alas! I did not get this signed either… I have heard it is great…

Southam, Brian. Jane Austen and the Navy. 2nd ed, rev. National Maritime Museum, 2005, c2000. Because I am shamed at not having read this – on my TBR pile, on top… 

Rubino, Jane, and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway. Lady Vernon and Her Daughter. New York: Crown, 2009.  Who cannot want more of Lady Susan?

Rees, Joan. Jane Austen: Woman and Writer. New York: St. Martin’s, 1976.  A biography I do not have – has an emphasis on the juvenilia and letters… 

McMullen, Lorraine. An Odd Attempt in a Woman: The Literary Life of Frances Brooke. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 1983.  I recently read The Excursion and wanted to know more about this author who Jane Austen read… 

Spacks, Patricia Meyer. Gossip. New York: Knopf, 1985.  Should have been on my shelf years ago – imagine Emma without “gossip”! 

A few finds on London, because one can never have enough:

Colby, Reginald. Mayfair: A Town within London. New York: Barnes, 1966. 

Hobhouse, Hermione. A History of Regent Street. London: MacDonald and Jane’s, 1975. 

Shepherd, Thomas, and James Elmes. London in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Mayflower, 1978. A reprint edition [originally published in 1827] but happy to finally have this… excellent pictures…

and of course this from my roomie – Jane Austen Made me Do It, by Laurel Ann Nattress – now signed and all! – not to mention a delightful read…

Oh dear, no space, no time…

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont 

An Opinion of Jane Austen from the Wild Blue Yonder

I keep the following bumper sticker on my car [a mini cooper]:

I’d Rather Be Reading Jane Austen

but in the drivers side rear window rather than on the bumper – largely because I was hoping it would keep my husband from obsconding with my car – I figured he would be too embarrassed to drive around with that on view, right on the driver’s side  – but to no avail – he said he likes the looks that he gets! – wish I had a video!

But he was very quick to point out to me yesterday that there seems to be an opinion of all this reading of Jane Austen from the wild blue – so I append this picture that made him just laugh out loud:

[a rather large bird wouldn’t you say??]

And on this happy note, I leave you for several days to retreat into the late 18th – early 19th century at the JASNA AGM in Forth Worth – Jane Austen western style – giddyup!

[did I ever mention that I was obsessed with Roy Rogers when a mere child? – thought I was Dale Evans in the 2nd grade – but that’s a story for another day… ] – in the meantime I am looking forward to this blending of my two obsessions – Austen and Cowboys… will take many notes and many pictures and post my observations upon my return…

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont

Jane Austen AGM ~ Day 3 Recap: Gothic Horror, Catherine’s Imagination, Henry as Hero [again!], Fashion, Conduct Books, & a Ball!

Day Three at the JASNA AGM in Portland:  A quick continental breakfast with Laurel Ann and a few friends at the table – discovered that Elaine Bander is quite a scholar of Dorothy L. Sayers –more on this in another post – and then off to the Plenary with JASNA North American Scholar Juliet McMaster on  – “‘A Surmise of such Horror’: Catherine Morland’s Imagination.”  I have heard Prof. McMaster speak on several occasions and she never fails to express “in the best chosen language” all there is to love about Jane Austen. Today she begins with showing us a “cheap” 1965 paperback edition of Northanger Abbey, where “gothic’ is everything, cover and blurbs teasing us with the horrors that await us in these pages – she ends her talk with surmising that perhaps they didn’t get it so wrong!  She presents this by examining the quality of Catherine’s mind – a combination of innocence and wisdom, likening her to the “holy fool” of Shakespeare or Dickens, a “good fool”.  Where Henry Tilney is so often the focus of Northanger Abbey criticism, Catherine relegated to the “heroine” that Austen herself seems to denigrate, McMaster gives us a gift: Catherine redeemed and placed in her rightful home next to Austen’s other great heroines.


Juliet McMaster

Catherine, as we know, is described in negatives in those first pages, and Henry teases her about the “intellectual poverty” of a visit with Mrs. Allen – McMaster likens her “brain as a closet,” Catherine’s cluttered and well-stocked but vacuous [Henry and Eleanor are well-stocked but ordered; John Thorpe has a “double occupancy”!] –  this “moving toyshop of her mind” is a perfect metaphor for Catherine – she learns aesthetic sensibility [that hyacinth!], not unlike the Romantic sensibility of Coleridge and Wordsworth, and her gothic readings and Henry’s very near prediction of her experiences in the Abbey all serve Catherine in her “awakening, an imaginative awakening, and we end able to love her “faults and all.” [as Mr. Knightley on his Emma!] –  and what of Henry’s reprimand? The one scene in NA that has caused the most commentary? often an expression of concern that Henry could end up as tyranical as his father? McMaster believes that Henry is revitalized and rejuvenated by Catherine, and she views his rebuke as almost a “cover-up” – that his surmising Catherine’s thoughts before she has clearly expressed them [go back and read the book!], that Henry is all too aware of the truths about his father – Catherine awakens his own fears, and indeed contributes to his strength in openly defying his father.

I later, in yet another trip to the Emporium!, talked with Professor McMaster and added four more books to my Juvenilia Press edition, now complete as to Austen’s works, with McMaster’s fanciful illustrations… and one last thought – McMaster threw out this tidbit – “pay attention to when Austen uses the word ‘almost.’”

Juliet McMaster with her "The Beautiful Cassandra"

So after feeling quite confident in Catherine’s true place in the Austen canon, on to a fashion session with Mary Hafner-Laney, a specialist in construction of historic clothing in “ ‘I was tempted by a pretty coloured muslin’: Jane Austen and the Art of being Fashionable” – a presentation covering the various fashion sources in magazines, such as La Belle Assemblee, the use of fashion dolls [see illus. below] in the marketing, purchasing and sewing process, all the while citing Austen’s many references to the fashions of the day in her letters, filled as well all know with fashion gossip! and her novels. Mary took us through the process of purchasing the materials, choosing styles, finding a dressmaker, and the costs – i.e. nothing off the racks in Austen’s time!  She spoke about Eleanor’s white gowns and other color options, types of fabrics and where they came from and the stores that sold them.  Then a few words on undergarments, laundering, remaking and dying, and how one can never have “too much trim”!  A lovely and informative talk! and now some pictures of the beautifully clad listeners:

fashion doll

Syrie James and Bonnie Wise

Kimberly Brangwin

Pat Panshin

the always lovely Baronda Bradley!


And here, one of the rare negatives at a JASNA event but have to mention because I was so stunned! – Mary did not expect such a large audience [149!] and came without enough handouts – a facsimile of La Belle Assemblee [100], a booklet of fashion samples [50], and a regency fashion illustration with samples [50] – before Mary finished her Q&A, several people started going up front to get a handout – raging mutiny from the ranks! – they returned to their seats abashed [but with their booty…] and I turned to the woman next to me and said “Oh dear! This is going to be like a bra sale at Filene’s basement!” [what are the chances that this woman used to actually work at a Filene’s basement! – yikes!] and sure enough, as soon as Mary gave the go, a mad rush to the front, pushing and grabbing and quite appalling really! – who would have thought this lovely sedate group [and some so fashionably attired] could turn into such a greedy rabble! – yikes again!

On to Elvira Casel – always expected to present a thought-provoking topic, this time on “The Abduction of Catherine Morland: Deception, Sex and Courtship in Northanger Abbeyshe began with first eliminating any expectations that this talk would be about “SEX” – sex is inferred in Austen but that courtship process is full of sexual overtones in being all about finding a sexual / life partner –  and the sex part dealt with, she talked about “how honest people can negotiate a world that is often dishonest.” Casal gives us a Henry and a John Thorpe as rivals in the first part of the book – Thorpe’s abduction of Catherine tantamount to a gothic rape, his insidious lies, though propelling the plot, are ineffective because Catherine is on to him early on – and Henry’s immediate attraction to Catherine [who asked for that introduction from Mr. King after all?!], their conversation of the dance showing their developing relationship – Catherine might be puzzled but she does understand that Henry is defining his values, his idea of commitment.  Casal posits Henry and Thorpe as would-be narrators – Thorpe’s “fictions” propel the plot, but it is Henry as the true narrator / storyteller – he is very attuned to others, but there are concerns about his controlling nature – it is he who introduces the gothic story to Catherine, he stimulates her imagination – he is culpable here – but Casal sees Henry as ceasing to be the narrator when he seeks to be the hero in Catherine’s own story in the making.  During the Q&A, she said what I thought was the most interesting point in her argument:  Henry Tilney most resembles Elizabeth Bennet as a character – they both use humor to distance themselves from pain, disguising their true feelings.

Fourth session [wow! My brain is totally taxed – McMaster’s “closet” of clutter, and completely disordered!]

Susan Allen Ford on “Ingenious Torments: Reading Instructive Texts in Northanger Abbey– Professor Ford, who is working on a book about what Austen’s characters are reading focused on the didactic texts inherent in Northanger Abbey – those specifically mentioned or inferred: Mrs. Morland’s Mirror, with info on John Homespun and family [i.e Henry McKenzie of The Man of Feeling fame] as “cousins” of the Morlands  – plain country folk, yet Mrs. Morland’s inadequacy as a parent in her oft-quoted platitudes and clichés of life; the Richardson footnote on woman’s behavior in courtship; and finally Jane Collier’s An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting, a satiric anti-conduct book.  Collier outlines the various human relationships, emphasizing the aspects of teasing and torment  [recall Catherine’s historians “labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls”] in all these relationships.  Prof. Ford talks of Austen’s use of the word “torment” – Henry four times, Catherine three, how Isabella personifies the “tormenting” by a friend, the extent of General Tilney “tormenting” Mrs. Tilney.  In the end, Austen mocks the prevailing didactic texts of the time by showing their inadequacies “for the emotional tortures in friendship, courtship and family relationships.”


End of breakouts! – so much learned,  so much missed – look forward to Persuasions On-line [December 2010]  and Persuasions 32 [May 2011] to fill in the gaps!

And then, the Banquet and Ball – the AGM had more fashionable Ladies and Gentlemen than I have ever seen – some elaborate Regency, some outrageous costumes for the Bal Masque – my costume still the “pattern-in-the-bag state – only a black velvet Spencer over a long dress – best I could do, but certainly not Promenade material! – which was great because I could just stand there and take pictures.  Dinner was great fun – we had a fun table and met all manner of Austen bloggers and web masters:  Sue Forgue of Regency Encyclopedia [contact me for passwords]; Diana Birchall of Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma fame and her blog “Light, Bright and Sparkling”- we bonded on our “born and bred” in New York heritage; she introduced me to Ellen Moody, long known to me from the Austen listservs – I marvel at her Calendars of the novels – so great to meet  her – we also bonded on our “born and bred” in New York heritage!… others across the table beyond the hollering needed to hear – will get in touch with them via email – then off to see the Promenade, a fiasco of elevator limitations, so no parading about the streets of Portland for this year – no matter, the foyer and ballroom were quite fine to exhibit the finery!  pictures follow with names of those I got permission from – I did go into the Monster Mash event for a bit to hear the three different talks on the gothic – but headed back to the room for a needed respite – alas! my skills at English Country Dance to be exhibited next year! – and again, more and more people up there dancing this year – this is a wonderful trend at the AGMs – back to the sewing machine and ECD instruction for me!


Laurel Ann and Laurie Viera Rigler

absolutely stunning!

Syrie James and husband Bill

Diana Birchall

Baronda and Eric

a perfect Phantom!

Debbie Aldous and Christina Boyd

lovely in purple!

and friend”]

Tim Bullamore and friend

Jo Ann and Philip Staples


Liz Cooper

Ceil and Bob Huntington

Lorraine and William Hanaway

Carol Moss - JASNA webmaster!

Laurel Ann and her roomie!

Portland at night...

Jane Austen AGM ~ Day 2 Recap: Auden, Castles, Henry the Hero, Dancers, & Gothic Art

Portland AGM – Day Two ~ I first refer to Laurel Ann’s post at Austenprose for her take on Day 2 – we did a lot together, but also tried to attend different break-out sessions –  so here is a quick summary of my day two: I should start this by saying something about my love of Northanger Abbey – it took me few readings, over a few years, but now I count it as one of my favorites, Catherine an engaging heroine and Henry quite to-die-for and Austen more on her game than she is often given credit for – you can read this former post about my thoughts on NA, rather than repeat all that – but just wanted to emphasize how much I was looking forward to this AGM and it most certainly exceeded my expectations!

I was completely bummed that I had to miss the Team Tilney offering headed by Maggie “‘Da Man” Sulllivan and thankfully Laurel Ann shared the happenings with me – I had to go off to a THREE hour [yikes!] regional coordinator training session, which was great – some new people, some old friends, some great new ideas – Claire Bellanti, VP of Regions gave an inspiring meeting – and we all left with plans for new programs and ways to connect with each other in our varying attempts to bring Jane Austen into the lives of the folks in our respective regions.  Claire had us all introduce the person next to us and we each had to share what book, other than of course any Austen, we would want with us if stranded on a desert island – interesting responses [perhaps a future post]!

After a quick lunch with Laurel Ann, we headed into the official AGM opening, hearing President Marsha Huff on her love of Northanger Abbey; the JAS Secretary Maureen Stiller who spoke of the loss this year of two great Austen scholars Elizabeth Jenkins and Brian Southam; and Steve Lawrence from Chawton House Library and Joan Ray thanking members for their generosity to the NAFCHL [North American Friends of Chawton House Library] –

and then on to the Plenary speaker Stephanie Barron, noted  author of the Jane Austen mysteries, on Suspicious Characters, Red Herrings, and Unreliable Detectives: Elements of Mystery in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey – a delightful talk on the mystery elements in Austen, a crime in every novel, the heroine as solver, the detectives and pseudo-detectives, and the final restoration of order.  Barron quotes W. H. Auden and his three requirements of a mystery novel, all present in Austen’s works: a closed society; a state of innocence with the “crime” committed by a fallen member of the society; and the societal ritual that the criminal has knowledge of in order to commit the crime, but is overcome by one of superior knowledge who restores order [thankfully!] –  Barron then applies this pattern to Northanger Abbey – the investigators, the clues, the red herrings – Henry as the consummate detective, Catherine as ignoring the clues, Isabella the dropper of clues, John Thorpe as the red herring, General Tilney as the fallen one – with Henry finally restoring order, Catherine all the while gaining understanding of the male world, “penetrating the veil” as in all good gothic novels.  Barron ended her talk with a comment on the Kathryn Sutherland kerfuffle about one’s editors [you can read more about it here], a reference to her short story to be part of Laurel Ann’s Jane Austen short story anthology Jane Made Me Do It [we all whooped! Laurel Ann swooned!], and answered some questions on her latest book Jane Austen and the Madness of Lord Byron – she spoke about following Austen’s chronological real life in the writing of her fictional mystery series, and oh! what will happen in 1817.  All in all quite a wonderful introduction to this year’s AGM!

Then off to the first of many break-out sessions – and what a task to choose! – each session offering such variety and depth – the choice so difficult – I decided to do at least one on the gothic literary features of NA, one on fashion and all that muslin, and of course, something on Henry Tilney.  So my first was to hear the ever interesting Janine Barchas on The Real Bluebeard of Bath: A Historical Model for Northanger Abbey a brilliant tour through the nightmarish history of the Farley-Hungerford Castle, within driving distance form Bath, and a place that Austen would likely have visited or known about in her time in Bath. Professor Barchas shared the words in a contemporary guidebook, Richard Warner’s Excursions from Bath [1801], a book known to have been in George Austen’s library and containing Jane’s marginalia – and here we have some real-life gothic tales about what went on in Farley Castle and may have served as Austen’s inspiration for her own Abbey story, truth of course being far more bizarre than fiction!

Then off to see Stephanie Eddleman on “Henry Tilney: Austen’s Feminized Hero?” – One of the things that can get my dander up in a discussion about NA is talk that Henry is too feminine to be a true hero, or too condescending to be an equal lover to Catherine, or too distant as a character to engage the reader – so I was hoping that Prof. Eddleman would give me much needed ammunition! – and she did indeed:  Henry as the one hero who stands apart – he is her only witty hero; he is feminized but not feminine, and unlike Austen’s other feminized male characters [Frank Churchill, Robert Ferrars], Austen is not critical of Henry.  I most appreciated Eddleman’s answer to Marvin Mudrick’s contention that Henry is a detached, disengaged character – she feels that Henry develops intimacy through his intelligence and wit, always encouraging Catherine toward her own independent thinking.  I hope this talk will be in Persuasions – it gives much needed support for Henry as True & Worthy Austen Hero.

With all these great thoughts swimming around in my head, off we ran to the Portland Art Museum for the General Reception with the Wild Rose Garland Dancers – we arrived slightly behind schedule and found long lines for food and drink – Laurel Ann off for food, I did drinks – the long line frustration only lessened by a gentleman who told me all about his breakout session by James Nagle on “Dismemberment in the Library with the Quill Pen” – all about Regency succession rules, primogeniture, entails, etc. – Laurel Ann also went to this, so between the two of them I felt as though I had not missed this obviously interesting and entertaining talk – so this made the line move – we ate and drank and stood for the dancers as there was not a seat in sight – the dancers quite lovely and great fun to watch – here are a few pictures [with apologies for the dark and motion]:

Wild Rose Garland Dancers

the woman who would not sit down

The Dancers and the Players


Sneakers- for my son

Player Gerhardt Quast on his Bodhron

[with thanks for letting me take a picture of his sneakers for my son!]

Next to me, however, was a woman who said she was sorely distracted by the distant statue of a rather large naked man [rear view only] – pictures duly taken, much laughter around and we were lost in the giggles for the rest of the evening [too much wine perhaps and not enough food?] – I see that Laurel Ann posted on this and the woman left a comment, so we are glad to have found her – and send you thanks Brenda for making our evening! – not that the dancers were not fabulous – we were just giddy at this point and who could resist!

 I regret not taking more photos of the museum offerings – I see that Diana Birchall has several on her blog – so I send you over there for a peak to Light Bright and Sparkling.  And you can view the Museum website as well.

And then the evening not nearly over – back to the hotel for the author book signings and to hear Jeff Nigro’s talk on Mystery Meets Muslin: Regency Gothic Dress in Art, Fashion and the Theatre.”  Jeff is the new RC for the Chicago Region and had spoken at that AGM two years ago on Art – so here again, another interesting visual treat about art and fashion and the literary and theatrical world of Austen’s time – I am not sure I will ever look at the art of the period the same ever again, or at least trust what I am looking at! – I am not even sure I can understand my notes! – so much information in this talk! – the mixing and matching of styles in the historical and contemporary works of art, with an emphasis on the “Gothick Picturesque”, the eclectic Regency gothic – Nigro shows that Austen’s Northanger Abbey is itself an eclectic mix, an overlapping of genres, as encompassed in both the Thomson and Brock illustrations. This was such a visual tour, one must see it to appreciate it, and not well described without the visual piece to accompany it – I would dearly love to get Jeff to visit Vermont and share his love of the arts with us…

So Day Two –who knew that just sitting around and absorbing all things Austen could be so invigorating and exhausting!  I will add this – hanging out with Laurel Ann had many perks! – the book she is editing involves a number of great Austenesque authors who have each contributed a story to the anthology [see Austenprose for details] – but while I have been attending AGMs for a number of years and was happy to introduce Laurel Ann to a number of JASNA people [and as soon as they understood she is the force behind Austenprose they all nearly genuflected!] – but her contacts with her authors was a treat for me to be introduced and spend some time with them as well – I have a few pictures of them and append them here with links to their sites – great writers all who embrace Austen in their own imaginative ways – I look forward to Laurel Ann’s book publication [alas! not until next October – just in time for the Fort Worth AGM!] – so thank you Laurel Ann for this – great fun all around!

Syrie James, Laurel Ann Nattress, and Cindy Jones

Syrie James and her husband Bill were a delight to meet – she costumed every day and he for the ball [will save the elaborate ball dress for tomorrow!] – Syrie has authored The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte [we bonded on a mutual love of Jane Eyre], and Dracula, My Love [on my TBR pile -I hear it is great!]  Visit her website here.

Cindy Jones has a new book coming out [March 29, 2011] My Jane Austen Summer: A Season at Mansfield Park – we had a great chat and I look forward to reading her book – please visit her blog at First Draft to learn more about her and her forthcoming  book. Cindy is also blogging at the new Austen Author’s blog.

Marsha Huff, Laurel Ann Nattress, Laurie Viera Rigler

Marsha Huff is, of course, JASNA President – this is her last AGM as head of the troops, and she has now passed on the torch to Iris Lutz from the Tucson Region – it has been a wonderful four years with Marsha and we will miss her – but I don’t think she will wander very far from the activities!  In this picture, she has just given Laurel Ann her JASNA Life Member pin! – so congrats to Laurel Ann on this!

Laurie Viera Rigler needs no introduction, but you can view her website here and her blog here – always a sheer pleasure to spend time with Laurie – but alas! no gossip on her next book – we must content ourselves for now with her “Sex and the Austen Girl” creations [such a punishment…]

And I will close with another fashionista picture of Rebecca Morrison-Peck, one of the Emporium vendors – you can visit her shop at Etsy here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/thethatchedcottage, where you will find all manner of Regency fashion pieces.  I was quite disappointed to try on two lovely spencers – one too large, the other too small – so will wait for another day to adorn myself – I purchased a Regency dress pattern three years ago , and that is as far as I have gotten – my Singer retains its dust and I think I should just give in and buy something from one of these far more talented mantuamakers!

Rebecca Morrison-Peck - The Thatched Cottage

Vic, who we sorely missed and hope one of these days to meet at an AGM, has posted links on her Jane Austen Today blog to several of the AGM posts already out there – so check out the thoughts and pictures of everyone else! … and finally,

Stay-tuned for tomorrow, Day Three and the Ball fashions! – I think this was the most costumed AGM yet!

The JASNA AGM Photos ~ Finally!

Well, here are a few pictures finally from the Philadelphia AGM – too many shots from far away, too many with not enough light, too many with too much movement – but I hope they will at least convey some of the fun had by all!

A few shots at Winterthur [I was amazed that you were allowed to take photographs! – but I bought the guidebook anyway…]]


The dining room at Winterthur





The winding stairwell at Winterthur



My buddy and great birder Sara in the Winterthur conservatory,
with an eagle…



A lovely harp at Winterthur [no Mary Crawford in sight!]



Martha Washington’s very own mirror


And now on to the first evening…


The lovely Elizabeth Garvie [a.k.a. Elizabeth Bennet] reading from Austen’s “The Three Sisters” [and way too far way…]


A runway full of Lisa Brown’s “Dressing Mr. Darcy” very accommodating models:


William Phillips of Chicago


Ray Skelly of Valley Forge, PA



’tis a lady, methinks! Karen Noske of Rochester NY


The pack of Regency gentlemen and soldiers…


The handsome fellows, William Phillips and Jeff Nigro 


Some fashionistas and the Regency Ball Promenade ~


The always beautifully adorned Baronda Bradley in her day dress…


 our very own Lorraine and William Hanaway
[though we have to share them with Pennsylvania…]


And lovely Baronda again, this year with her Regency Beau!


Two couples who come to our Vermont gatherings ~
kudos to them for the fabulous fashions!



The Promenade returning for the Ball


Capt. Michael Green, Lorna Green, and Nick Wells [as General Tilney! yikes! I disinvited him to the party!] – all from the London, Ontario Chapter


The Jane Austen Books family!
Greg holding Colin, Amy, Jennifer, Beth & Adam

and finally, the cutest Darcy of all…

Colin Frederick Patterson!

Thank you one and all for making this another
such memorable Jane Austen event!

[Posted by Deb]

A First-Timer’s AGM

Upon arrival at the AGM Registration desk you are *marked* for the remainder of the conference: Pale blue ribbons on the name badges around your necks denote the First-Time AGM Attendees.

AGM 2009 bannerA bit too late to join in the prefunction Welcome Reception, my first official AGM engagement was the “conversation” between Elisabeth Lenckos and actress Elizabeth Garvie, better know to her Austen fans as Elizabeth Bennet (1980 BBC production). A rather long and narrow room meant those off to one side got a bit of a crook in our necks, but how thrilling to be all collected together to talk about what has to be my favorite production of P&P. The great pity was that no time was reserved for questions from the audience.

Dr. Lenckos’ questions were not especially thought-provoking, but they did bring out small tidbits about Ms. Garvie’s life in the nearly thirty years since this production, as well as some fascinating insights into  TV production of the period – sans steady cams and extensive on-location filming. Garvie credited being in “the right place at the right time” for her being cast as Elizabeth, though in her finely-drawn portrait her audience recognizes that “right time” might have gotten her in the door, while a rightness for the role got her before the cameras.

A couple memorable remembrances: During the first three weeks of their April to September filming schedule, all exterior shots were filmed — this included (on the third day!) the walk taken with Darcy after Elizabeth had accepted him!  Otherwise, they filmed episode by episode – Garvie likened the experience to “episodes shot like little plays.” She commented on the greater immediacy now possible with the smaller cameras. Then she related that while seated on the log to read Darcy’s letter, the log wobbled and over she fell!

The talk began late and ended early…

Friday packed in a full day, starting with a 10 am call to Tea: Mim Enck talking about tea, that is. She showcased some wonderful photographs of the women tea-pickers who work the slopes in tea-regions half a world away. From the audience comments and questions (yes, we did get to ask questions here), most of her information about the growing, picking, processing and drinking of tea was new to many. Guess they don’t order from my favorite loose-leaf tea company… One useful comment made: do a tea tasting with same tea but different water.

Spotted an interestingly-titled book in the hands of an audience member nearby: A History of Jane Austen’s Family. Wonder if there’s anything on Edward and Emma??

The next hour brought Louise West, of the Jane Austen House Museum (aka Chawton Cottage) and her discussion of the museum’s obtaining funding through the UK National Lottery Fund for its very recent house ‘make over’. Some background history was provided through pictures for those of us who don’t recognize all the names and faces that made Chawton Cottage what it was and has become – as well as the close ties between the ‘Cottage’ and the ‘House’ (Chawton House Library). Her discussion of bringing Austen and Austen’s home to young students and those who might otherwise be unable to afford a few hours there was very thought-provoking for those of us hoping to do the same sorts of outreach – without such a museum! – with our chapter organizations.

News included that the Austen quilt had been lent to an exhibition of quilts being held in Winchester! Great to see a photograph, too, of R.W.  Chapman (his are the editions I use when writing). Visit the website – all new!

Lunched at POSITANO with Janeites Deb and Carol; and got to meet the woman who is so good at sending membership information every month and on demand: Bobbie Gay. Nice to put a face to a name.

After lunch, 1:30 to be precise, the 2009 AGM was officially ‘opened’. The AGM coordinator, Elizabeth Jane Steele (how apropos her name) was our master of ceremonies at all of these mini-events. How did she manage to be everywhere? Though, obviously, no one does such coordinating singlehandedly and Eastern PA had a great pack of volunteers.

Jan Fergus, whom I had met in Montreal in the summer (giving an early version of this plenary speech), spoke on “‘Rivalry, Treacherybetween Sisters!’: Tensions between Brothers and Sisters in Austen’s Novels”. Poor Jan had injuried herself only a few weeks earlier, so she had to deliver her talk sitting down. We wish her a speedy recovery…

Break-out Sessions began at 3:15 – my session was Kathleen Anderson‘s “‘A Most Beloved Sister: The Influence of Sisterly Love on Romantic Relationships in Austen’s Novels”.

Little did I realize at the time, but the next speaker sat in the audience; they teach at the same Florida university. This was the 4:30 break-out session by Susan Jones on “‘My Brother was an Only Child”: Onlies and Lonelies in Jane Austen’s World of Brotherly Love”. As an only child, how could I not attend such a lecture??? Though the more informative proved to be Jones’ thoughts on the ‘lonelies’ in Austen (ie, Mary Bennet).

After a long afternoon on some rather uncomfortable chairs and hours of being talked at and lectured, I nipped back to the hotel room for some rest and hopes of less-intense headache.

Saturday brought a brighter day: it closed with the most interesting lecture of the entire AGM.

Carol and I joined AGMers for a lovely continental breakfast at the Sheraton Society Hill (the conference hotel), meeting JASNA members from as far away as California as well as closer-to-home Boston. One enthusiastic Boston member hadn’t read my last Persuasions article, but was absolutely thrilled that a non-professor actually gives Austen-related lectures and she just loved the idea of my combining Jane Austen with Abigail Adams. We all need a little encouragement from time to time…

Maggie Lane’s plenary talk opened today events (9:30). I had hoped on finding her Austens through Five Generations book at the Boutique – but nope… And more on books later.

Maggie Lane‘s “Brothers of the More Famous Jane: the Literary Aspirations, Achievements and Influence of James and Henry Austen” was right up my alley. In my research, these two brothers are on the fringe: James being the father of James-Edward Austen (my Emma’s eventual husband) and Henry having his stint as a banker — though, in conversation with Maggie Lane after her talk (I got her autograph!), she had never heard of the banking firm Goslings and Sharpe (but she did give me the name of someone who’s looked into Henry’s life as banker).

When the Break-out sessions began at 11:00 I had a good seat for one of the best presentations, “The Bingley Sisters Advise their Brother Charles” – the sisters played by sisters-in-law Liz Philosophos Cooper and Molly Philosophos. Although instructive to the audience, in words and PowerPoint pictures, I must confess that their talk’s title made me envision a different lecture. However, as a performance piece, with pointed humor pulled from what must be their favorite P&P (the 1995 Ehle/Firth production), simply brimming with information on Regency life and delightful visuals, the Bingleys provided a highpoint for an entertaining lecture.

The after lunch events began promptly at 1:00 – Lisa Brown‘s entertaining, enlightening and informative “Dressing Mr Darcy”, a fashion demonstration. Saying that she usually passed around the articles of clothing to an audience more in the range of 15 people, Ms Brown solved her problem by finding volunteer models. Oh the howls that came from the audience when they were told they ‘mustn’t touch the models’! One wished the runway was less “down the middle” (in such a large crowd it was difficult to see), but a few times the models took it upon themselves to stroll down side aisles, thereby giving those on the sides a chance to see what was being discussed – whether it was frills on shirts or the heft of an all-linen coat. The most enthusiastic model – the only Miss Darcy in the group – was simply a delight, and gave me the idea to dress in male clothing should I ever wish to go in costume (how much more comfortable!). BTW, Lisa, I will sooner or later get to emailing you about your handouts, as well as that letter reference to a “pudding”…

The next plenary speaker, Ruth Perry on “Brotherly Love”, followed on the heels of this memorable demonstration. Her concept focussed on Consanguinal versus Conjugal family, and how the trend changed more and more towards the conjugal over the nineteenth century. Quite useful for my research.

The 3 o’clock hour brought the last Break-out, and my session had been originally called “‘Brother and sister! No, indeed!’ From Friendship to Courtship in the Novels of Jane Austen”. Nora Stovel, however, informed her audience that the talk had taken a bit of a turn; while the opening Emma quote still retained its place in the title, the rest of it changed to “From Siblings to Suitors” and looked at pseudo-siblings (ie, Edmund) or paternalistic men (Darcy, Knightly) who end by courting. I had hoped for some insight on why Charles Smith (Emma’s brother) might have turned to a woman he’d grown up with after the death of his first wife. Alas… when late changes are made… the audience is the last to know.

I then made a quick dash across the hotel to the actual Annual General Meeting – a far smaller crowd! And at only a half-an-hour, business was quickly gotten through: new officers were named, including incoming President Iris Lutz — who was on hand as VP for Regions when our Vermont Chapter was first forming! It will be a pleasure to welcome her as President next year. Americans were prompted booted out so the Canadians could have their meeting; I darted back to my hotel room to change for the banquet – thereby missing the Author’s book signing. BUT: I had my signatures…

At Maggie Lane’s plenary talk, she was greeted by Freydis Welland – daughter of Joan Austen-Leigh and one of the movers behind the book A Life in the Country which shows off the silhouettes Edward Austen-Leigh cut for his young children in the 1830s. I had missed talking to Mrs Welland in obtaining Ms Lane’s signature in this book – but guess who showed up as a guest in the audience for the Bingley sisters!? I made bold and introduced myself afterwards; Mrs Welland was kindness itself – and even said she may have illustrations for my next article (though it may be harder to illustrate an article based on Emma’s cousins Lord and Lady Compton…unless she had more “shades” in her collection than I dare hope!). Likewise, on Friday I had introduced myself to Susan Allen Ford (after her talk, which I had not been able to attend); she is the hard-working editor of Persuasions, and is very complimentary of my work–especially “Derbyshires Corresponding,” which appeared in the last issue and appears online at JASNA.org.

At the banquet I sat between Carol and a woman from close-by PA. The volume of chatter in a room with 600 persons meant I only got a few words with the Southern woman sitting beside Carol and none at all really with those a mile away at the other half of the table! A bit of a squeeze (I suspect tables were more for parties of six?), but a delicious vegetarian ravioli. Tea came too late for me to want to imbibe and risk being awake all night. (My hotel room nestled between two highways and a major bridge to New Jersey meant I got about as much sleep as I manage at home being next to a highway and way too close to a ‘new and improved’ airport…) And wouldn’t you have thought a nice cup of tea just the thing at a Jane Austen convention – yet all participants were ever offered in the Break-out sessions was ice water.

After watching the promenade of Costumed participants (though I’m sure a few had on street clothes, just like me), I got a good seat for what turned out to be the most enlightening – and original – talk of the entire AGM: Janine Barchas on “The Sisterly Art of Painting and Jane Austen”. She opened with a litany of names – Wentworths, Elliots, etc. who had connections one with another in REAL life; she’s obviously been performing the feats of a true genealogist in tracing these connections. Needless to say, she had my full attention. But when she brought up names of artists – for we all know the well-conceived idea that in Mrs Reynolds (Pemberley’s housekeeper) Austen nodded at Sir Joshua Reynolds – who perhaps also appear in the naming of minor and not so minor characters, I was astonished: such an avenue of original, thought-provoking research! Janine is another one I promised to email, for Reynolds too portrayed portraits within portraits, as in his picture of Lady Cunliffe who wears her husband’s portrait on her wrist.

Needless to say, after this stimulation, even without cups of tea, I was wide awake half the night… As well I was looking foward to tomorrow’s Boutique and the books I had scoped out earlier.

Sunday opened with a quick breakfast and then off to the Regional Coordinators’ meeting. This was a stimulating session – meeting some who were old hands at being their region’s RC, while others were quite new to the position. Again, a wish for more time… An AGM goes so quickly (though some of the talks were a bit over long, especially when you sit on the same stackable chairs for days on end).

Breakfast brought a hello, come join us from Peter Sabor and his wife. I had first met Peter over email – he was in Surrey not far from where the Goslings lived – then met him in person at last December’s Jane Austen Birthday celebration in Montreal (he was their guest speaker).

The last speaker of the 2009 AGM, John Mullen, closed with his thoughts on “Sisterly Chat” – which brought up the remarkable ‘find’ that a Basingstoke furniture company had sold the Austens two beds, ie, for Cassandra and Jane; what things turn up in historical records, huh?!

The ‘promotions’, as announced in the program, proved to be promoting the next couple AGM regions with ‘invitations’ for the audience to come and join them. Poor Portland, Ore. had a hard act to follow (although they host the next, 2010, AGM on Northanger Abbey) when Fort Worth brought out two well-spoken gents and two musical cowboys and offered up Sense and Sensibility‘s 200th anniversary AGM. By the way, it was announced at the General Meeting that Pride and Prejudice‘s 200th anniversary (the 2013 AGM) was awarded to Minneapolis!

And I leave the AGM (and all this typing…) with their song, which still has my toes tapping. The tune is “Home on the Range” but the piece is entitled “Homeless on the Page“:


Oh give us a home,
Where Marianne roams,
And Colonel Brandon can visit all day
Where the rent is quite low,
And Fanny won’t go,
And London is not far away

Norland was entailed away,
Then Willoughby left for Miss Gray,
Lucy Steele gets a spouse,
But she’s still quite a louse,
Elinor is pragmatic all day

Come to Fort Worth and see,
A toast to Sense and Sensibility
There’s museums galore,
Teas, gardens, and tours,
And you can win the Texas Hold ’em Trophy

So in two thousand eleven,
Come to Texas, it’s heaven,
We will talk of Jane Austen all day

Learn the Two Step and Glide,
There’s a bull you can ride,
Or just chit-chat with Deirdre LeFaye

Oh give us a home on the range!!!!!!!

Singing cowboys: Leo Sherlock (Woody – Hank Dashwood) and Brian Keeler ( Willy – Johnny Willoughby); hear Leo’s band Mile 77 at  www.myspace.com/mileseventy7)
Lyrics by: Uncle Lenny, Craig, Cheryl, and Kathy 

[Posted by Kelly]

Adventures Befalling a Janeite in Chicago ~ Day 2

Diary ~ Day Two

A morning of Regional Chapter training, an excellent gathering with many ideas thrown about.  Kudos to the JASNA team for all their efforts in coordinating this…. I missed the dance classes but “duty called” and it was well worth it!

…and then on to the first Plenary with five North American scholars discussing “How Far Across Countries, Cultures and Disciplines does Jane Austen’s Legacy Reach?”

Elizabeth Lenckos, of the University of Chicago,  introduced the panel and then queried the audience -“are we the protectors of Jane Austen’s legacy?”, discussed her iconic stature, and lamented that in many adaptations, both books and movies, the “power of her voice” goes missing.

Inger Sigrun Brodey, of the University of North Carolina, emphasizing that Austen’s books are alive (versus the term “legacy” which denotes “dead”), spoke about the various translations of Austen, especially the popularity of Chinese and Japanese editions.

Gillian Dow of the Chawton House Library, spoke on Austen’s contemporaries:  Maria Edgeworth, Hannah More, Felicia Hemans, Ann Radcliffe, etc, as well as telling us about Isabelle de Montolieu’s translation of Austen’s Sense & Sensibility into French in 1815…though it was far from a direct translation with quite hysterical results, something akin perhaps to today’s many loose adaptations?

Paula Morantz Cohen of Drexel University and author of several scholarly works, but known mostly for her Jane Austen in Scarsdale / and Boca, spoke on the social realism and romantic idealism in Austen’s domestic novels – Austen’s greatest legacy being her ability to analyze homogeneous societies, and how that translates in today’s world to the social dynamics of a gated community in Florida (Boca), “Clueless” in a high school, or the British singles scene in “Bridget Jones’ Diary.”

…and finally Peter Graham, of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and author of the newly released Jane Austen and Charles Darwin: Naturalists and Novelists” – that Austen and Darwin were the two greatest empiricists of the 19th century; true knowledge = right reason, that Austen “got the scale of a study just right;” she wrote what she knew, her three or four families in a country village, observing all with a fine eye.

A lively discussion followed…

The Breakout Sessions were many and varied, and as always at the AGM, I was in a quandary as to which to attend- you can see all the options at JASNA.org and I do hope that many of the talks will be published in this December’s Persuasions, and so with that in mind I went for the visual treat of Deirdre Gilbert’s talk on “Covering Jane Austen.”  As a bookseller and collector I have long been interested in Austen’s illustrators, publishers and book bindings, so I was intrigued by this session.

Ms. Gilbert, an independent scholar, traced the history of covers and book jackets, focusing mostly on the British editions.  Starting with the cheap “yellowbacks” published by Routledge and sold in train stations, to such bindings by Macmillan in the early 20th-century as the “Peacock” edition with illustrations by Hugh Thomson, and on to the Burt’s Home Library Series, the Everyman Series, Dent’s publications, Penguin’s first Classics Series (with a dancing penguin!) sold in “Penguincubators” in train stations (this quite an amazing marketing tool!…see below,) the varied original art for dust jackets from the 1940s on, and to the present day with all the varied covers on all the novels with either period art reproductions or original contemporary designs.  A visual feast! 



  Next I was off to hear the always fabulous Edith Lank on “Louisa Sets Lord Brabourne Straight” – she delighted the huge crowd with pictures and stories about her Austen collection.  She started collecting any edition of Mansfield Park that she could find, and not setting out to be a book collector, she happily went along like this accruing all sorts of Austen-related works until she happened upon one of the Austen signatures that family members had cut from her letters to give to admirers…this letter accompanied by a letter from Francis Austen – Ms. Lank most generously handed this over to the audience who lovingly passed it from one to the next , each of us quietly “oohing and aahhing” and taking it all in…  She shared her lovely edition of Emma, and her tales of acquiring the many foreign translations she has, finding the world a smaller and friendlier place with the sharing of Austen’s words.  All this capped with her copy of the 1884 Brabourne edition of the Letters in which she discovered the notes of Louisa Langlois Lefroy (Anna Austen’s daughter and  wife of Septimus Bellas; Louisa is the author of the Bellas MS)… a quick finish to the talk (running out of time) left us with the tidbit that Eliza de Feuillide was indeed the daughter of Warren Hastings (Eliza had a son named Hastings with De Feuillide and later married Henry Austen) as the notes imply.  We all left wanting to hear more….!

The evening was filled with “Mysteries and Characters” with another lively panel that included Stephanie Barron, Carrie Bebris, Jennifer Hunter, and Steve Martin (no, not THAT Steve Martin, but THIS Steve Martin was most entertaining…)

Following a brief but inclusive history of the detective story, Mr. Martin took us through his formula for determining the nature of personalities in Austen’s novels…sort of a Briggs-Myers test for fictional characters:  the Good, True nature, Perceptive vs. the Bad, Facade, and Clueless.  The ideal union would be based on an “intelligent love,” a partnership of the mind, with Darcy and Elizabeth being the perfect match (likened to Holmes and Watson!)…this was all quite a fascinating study and I am not giving its just due…but it gave food for thought, especially on how to characterize Henry Crawford (BPS: bad, perceptive and selfish) or Frank Churchill (GCS:  good, clueless, and selfish)…get the idea?? [there was MUCH talk about Frank being “Good” !!]

Stephanie Barron, author of the Jane Austen mysteries, was asked why she chose Jane as the detective in her tales, rather than one of Austen’s characters… she explained that Jane is a “high analytic” with her reason predominant, she understands the human heart and motivation, and thus would make a perfect detective.  Carrie Bebris on the other hand has the Darcys as her detectives because she felt that in Pride & Prejudice both Elizabeth and Darcy were the solvers of the underlying mysteries and she wanted to take that further – she sees them as the 19th-century Nick and Nora Charles.  Both authors talked about their writing and revising techniques, use of language, and the incorporation of actual facts in Austen’s life and letters as starting points.

More on Day 3 tomorrow….  

The "Penguincubator"

Adventures Befalling a Janeite in Chicago…

Back from the AGM! and it was, as expected, fabulous!  I had decided to carry nothing electronic with me (except, I confess, the necessary cell phone) and take a break from this computer-driven world and really retreat into the early nineteenth-century.  So now I will retrace my four days in Austen’s world and fill you in on “all things Jane”; and only lament that it shall be days before I can return to Letter No. 3, and a terrible confession that the first day found me scouting the Emporium…

Day One Diary:

Arrived surprisingly on time midday Thursday and immediately perused the Emporium.  Expected a quick run-through to see the display of books and merchandise, but, of course was captivated by all the shopping opportunities, and for one who can browse among just books for hours, this was a happy intro to the whole weekend.

Jane Austen Books, with the torch recently passed from Pat Latkin to Jennifer Weinbrecht and her two daughters Amy and Beth [click here for their website, soon to be updated], had the usual feast of old and new, and after semi-guiltily adding to my luggage weight moved on to the Ontario-based Traveler’s Tales, a bookstore often at the AGMs that never fails with its offering of used and rare literary, history, and domestic arts titles [am now in trouble with my luggage weight concerns and will need to ship any further purchases…]

A quick stop at Figaro, and antiques shop of “Parisian Interiors”  whose lovely display of decorative arts (think tea cups and Burleigh China in shades of pink and blue,) scarves for self-adornment, french soaps, and fashion  illustrations –  all a tempting treat and a perfect addition to the Emporium atmosphere.

Back to more books with a visit with Jones Books  [publisher of Kim Wilson’s Jane Austen and Tea and her new book on In the Garden with Jane Austen  as well as other Austen-related titles], and then onto the locally owned Barbara’s Bookstore, also with a nice selection of titles, including the new Vintage Classics series of all of Austen’s novels with EXCELLENT covers depicting regency fashion illustrations (see the blog Adventures in Reading for a look at all the covers and here at Amazon.com to purchase, and also at RandomHouse.ca for another set of new covers for Austen with contemporary and simple designs)



     Then on to several booths of fashion…bonnets, dresses, laces, reticules; there is so much talent out there, that I am tempted to dust off my last-used-twenty-years-ago sewing machine (but alas! can one sew AND blog?? doubtful…), and finally a jewelry designer who turns antique buttons, cuff-links, tie-clasps into any number of gorgeous wearable creations (and who I am sorry to say has no website)..

For this Lizzie-like bonnet, visit Bee in Your Bonnet, for custom-made regency style millinery

The Regional Chapter tables never fail to please and delight with numerous cards, calendars, t-shirts, bookmarks, paper-dolls, etc…all perfect gifts for the Janeite on your list (go to the JASNA site’s merchandise page for a sampling)…  and don’t forget to order your 2009 calendar(s) from the Wisconsin Chapter (there is no picture here, so just trust me that they are the best yet and will be a pleasure to look at throughout the whole year!)

So for someone who really hates to shop (excepting for books…heck, we all need at least ONE vice!), my bag is now indeed overweight and I must ready myself for the evening festivities…

Jeff Nigro of the Art Institute of Chicago (currently the Director of Adult Programs), who says that his relationship with Austen was “love at first read”  (I love this!), spoke on “Visualizing Jane Austen & Jane Austen Visualizing.”  With references to the 1995 P&P (Ehle / Firth) showing the scene with Lydia tossing her recently-purchased bonnet, he stressed that in the novel there is no description of the bonnet, leaving the reader to imagine its ugliness, while in the movie it has to be visualized and so indeed the movie creator struggles to get this just right (and why it may not be the bonnet YOU have been imagining all these years!)

Mr. Nigro then shifted to visualizing Austen herself, i.e. the two drawings of Austen by her sister Cassandra, the 1804 watercolor and the 1810-11 sketch, and how the illusive nature of both has resulted in varying and disparate interpretations, as well as outright editing to fit contemporary views.









And finally Nigro reviewed the various illustrators of Austen’s novels, from Thomson and the Brocks to 20th-century artists, and ending and coming full-circle with the visualizing aspect of movie adaptations.  He asked aloud how Jane Austen might feel about these various adaptations and concluded that she would likely approve, as he referenced her letters voicing her various opinions on how her characters looked by comparing them to portraits she viewed (though never finding one satisfactory for her own vision of Mrs. Darcy.)

A fabulous talk!…and a terrific preface to the next three days!  [stay-tuned tomorrow for Day 2…there is a Darcy treat in the offing….ah! but what a tease…he does not show up until Day 4!]

Chicago Beckons … and a Mini Round-up

        …if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad…

                                        –Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

  Off to the AGM in Chicago…will post on the many adventures upon my return…!

But before I depart, here are a few items worth sharing:

*JASNA has posted online the book reviews in its Summer News issue; there are reviews for the following books (this is great resource for book reviews:  scroll down for other issues)

*Want to go back in time?  here is an article with some sobering insights on real life in the past we so hanker for:   “Back in the Good Old Days”at WalesOnline.

*JASNA is looking for someone to draw a map of Bath in Austen’s time for their online collection of maps… for more information see the Central New Jersey JASNA Chapter blog.

*On the Janeites discussion group, there was a post with the following quizzes, all Austen-related:






*See this travel blog that treks in search of Darcy, with many pictures of Chatsworth and other sites relating to P&P.

*The Independent reports of the “re-invention” of High Tea and Afternoon Tea in London and environs as a way to fill up at less the cost….and in grand style!