JASNA-Vermont’s Annual Birthday Tea! ~ December 5th

Please Note:   Regency Dress Encouraged!!

[see below for other Austen-related events]

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

 ~The Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea!~ featuring 

   Dr. Elaine Bander*
‘Doubting Mr. Darcy’

&

Dr. Peter Sabor**
 ‘Austen’s Letter Writers in
Sense & Sensibility

and Pride & Prejudice

 
 

*****

 

~  Traditional English Afternoon Tea ~

Sunday, 5 December 2010, 2 – 5 p.m.
 Champlain College, Hauke Conference Center
375 Maple St Burlington VT 
 

$20. / person ~ $15. / JASNA Members ~ $5. / student 

RSVPs required!  ~ Register by 28 Nov 2010

Flyer:  Dec_2010_flyer_final
Reserve form:  Dec_Tea_Reservation_form final
For more information:
   JASNAVermont [at] gmail [dot] com 
Visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.wordpress.com

Please Join Us!

************************************ 

We are honored to welcome our Canadian neighbors and noted Austen scholars:

 
 
 

Elaine Bander

 

*Dr. Elaine Bander has recently retired from teaching English at Dawson College, Montreal

 
 
 

Peter Sabor

**Dr. Peter Sabor is the Canada Research Chair in 18th-Century Studies and Director of the Frances Burney Centre at McGill University. 

 

 

Upcoming in 2011 ~
March 27: ‘Jane Austen’s London in Fact and Fiction’ with Suzanne Boden & Deb Barnum
June 5: A Lecture & Concert on the ‘Music of Jane Austen’s World’ with Prof. William Tortolano 
at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier

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

Other Events of note:

December 1, 7pm ~ Newport, VT: Vermont Humanities Council First Wednesday Lecture:

Dartmouth professor emeritus James Heffernan will discuss the use of the fairy tale in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice in a talk at Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport on December 1. His talk, “In Want of a Wife: Romance and Realism in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,” is part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays lecture series and takes place at 7:00 p.m. 

In the history of literature, Jane Austen is typically considered a realist of social relations—and yet Pride and Prejudice remains perennially popular because it incorporates a potent feature of the fairy tale: it fulfills the fondest wishes of its poor and not conspicuously beautiful heroine. Heffernan will show how Austen reconstructs the fairy tale within the framework of social realism.  Heffernan is Professor of English, Emeritus and Frederick Sessions Beebe ’35 Professor in the Art of Writing at Dartmouth College. Author of numerous books and articles and lecturer for The Teaching Company, he has lectured around the world.

For more information, contact Goodrich Memorial Library at 802.334.7902, or contact the Vermont Humanities Council at 802.262.2626 or info@vermonthumanities.org, or visit www.vermonthumanities.org.

*December 12, 2010:  JASNA-Massachusetts Region :  Jane Austen Birthday Celebration!

 Enjoy light refreshments, including a birthday toast, and entertainment by the JASNA Massachusetts Players presenting Austen on Austen

Cost is $10* per person ($5* for JASNA Massachusetts members)
Please R.S.V.P. by Tuesday, December 7 by remitting your check with this form.

Wheelock College, Brookline Campus
43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA
For more information:  Visit the JASNA-MA website

*December 11, 2010 ~ JASNA-Greater New York Region: 

 “Reading Pride & Prejudice Backwards”, with Professor Mary Poovey followed by the Annual Birthday Celebration!
 See their website for more information

A Jane Austen Triple-Play in Montreal!

No, I am not talking about Baseball or Hockey [though I am very pleased to see the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals!] –  these endless sport finals have nothing to do with Jane Austen after all [but can we assume that Catherine Morland likely played some form of hockey on a pond in her village…?]

This “Triple-Play” was a lovely “An Afternoon with Jane Austen” in a Montreal micro-brewery where members of JASNA-Montreal / Quebec celebrated Jane Austen with cheese, chocolate and BEER! – all the while listening to three lectures about Jane: 

JASNA President Marsha Huff’s lovely “Viewing Austen through Vermeer’s Camera Obscura” and assisted by Helen Mayer and Peter Sabor as readers [always nice to hear Captain Wentworth’s heart-stopping letter read aloud by a gentleman with the proper accent!]; McGill Professor Peter Sabor gave his Philadelphia AGM talk on “Brotherly and Sisterly Dedications in Jane Austen’s Juvenilia”; and  Professor Elaine Bander of Dawson College spoke on “Revisiting Northanger Abbey at Chawton”.

I confess to actually having heard EACH of these talks – but much like re-reading Austen herself, a few hours of re-listening to others talk ABOUT her is a double treat not to be missed whenever possible [and interesting to see the variations in my notes from each talk!] – and connecting with other Austen fans, coupled with a few shots of beer makes for a perfect afternoon!

Huff’s Austen / Vermeer talk is a wonderful exploration into several of Vermeer’s paintings, building on what Sir Walter Scott wrote in his review of Emma where he likened Austen’s talents to the Flemish School of Painting.  Huff offer’s a visual comparison with Vermeer’s “The Concert” to the party at the Cole’s in Emma; “The Music Lesson” with Elizabeth performing at Rosings for Col. Fitzwilliam and Darcy; “Lady Reading a Letter” to the various scenes in Austen of heroines reading letters: Elinor, Fanny, Emma, Ann Elliot, and Elizabeth – these are just a few examples, and one must see and hear this talk to really see the connections.  Marsha has been touring all of North America in her term as JASNA President, and if you get a chance to see this, get thee hence to it immediately [and do so even if you have already heard it – it gets better each time!]  [Note that she will be doing this talk for our JASNA-Vermont group on September 26, 2010]

[We all clamor for publication of this talk, but Ms. Huff believes there would be copyright issues with the paintings.  You can visit the very complete and indeed “essential” website Essential Vermeer to see all his works [and source of above image of  “Girl with a Pearl Earring”]

Peter Sabor teaches at the Department of English at McGill University, where he is Canada Research Chair in Eighteenth-Century Studies and Director of the Burney Centre.  He has recently edited the Cambridge University edition of Austen’s Juvenilia, and the Juvenilia Press editions of Evelyn (1999) and Frederic and Elfrida (2002).  He is currently working on a new biography of Austen.

As many of us know, Austen dedicated only one of her novels to anyone – Emma to the Prince Regent, and likely much against her will!  But her juvenilia have dedications all over the place! – and eleven of these are to her brothers and Cassandra.  Are they ironic or reflective of the fictional characters?  Professor Sabor offers an amusing and scholarly take on the mind of the young Austen and her relationships with each of her siblings. [Note that Prof. Sabor will be giving this talk to our JASNA-Vermont group at our annual Birthday Tea on December 5, 2010 – though he might be changing this as we get closer as this talk is in the just-arrived-in-your-mailbox Persuasions 31 [pp. 33-45]– so you can read all about it, though lacking Sabor’s not-to-be-missed lively delivery…]

Juvenilia Press edition

Elaine Bander is one of my favorite AGM speakers – whatever the topic of the Break-out Session, I go if she is the headliner.  [Professor Bander is Regional Coordinator of JASNA / Montreal-Quebec, and President of JASNA-Canada; she is currently on the editorial board for Persuasions] – she gave this talk this past summer at Chawton, and also in Boston in the fall – her blurb for this talk:

In “Catharine,” the last of the Juvenilia, Austen shifts from the mocking fictional conventions through burlesque to dramatizing misreadings through the character of Camilla Stanley, who is contrasted to the sensible heroine Catharine Percival.  In Northanger Abbey, the only pre-Chawton novel still essentially in its pre-Chawton form, the narrator, not the heroine, has quixotic expectations, while Catherine Morland, resolutely empirical, is [briefly] led astray not by literature but by love.

Indeed Dr. Bander gives Catherine all due credit for being a worthy heroine, eschewing those critics who find her too innocent or silly:  Catherine observes, reflects, then chooses her course throughout the book, and it is only when Henry comes into the picture that her sound judgments are disturbed – you can read this article also in the new Persuasions [pp.209-219]

After these three thought-provoking talks [and always nice to end with images of Henry Tilney!] – the McAuslan Brewing Company  in Montreal offered a tasting feast of five McAuslan beers, two beer cheeses, and dark chocolate – much Austen chat ensued as we opined on the various beers to be tasted, and this fabulous afternoon ended with a very happy crowd wandering out into the windy, rain-soaked streets!

Available through JASNA-Montreal/Quebec Region is Dr. Bander’s pamphlet written for this special event:  Jane Austen and … Beer?  [Montreal:  Hartfield Editions, 2010].   [There are also two other pamphlets by Dr. Bander:  In Defence of Fanny Price [2006] [a must-read for everyone!] and On Drinking Tea in Jane Austen’s Novels [2002]; contact me if you are interested in any of these and I will forward your request to the Montreal Region]

[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
(chorus)

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
(chorus)

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]

Better Late than Never

Long over due are many comments on VARIOUS Austen (or Austen-related) topics. I have been so lazy in completing my online thoughts on the Austen Symposium in Lennoxville, Quebec (March!), and when at lunch with Janeite MKay, and she asked about the play, I had the thought: Well, better late than NEVER! So thoughts on that, and the last talk will come — I promise!

A little closer in time are two JASNA meetings. Our own JASNA-Vermont chapter hosted HOPE GREENBERG in Montpelier on June 7th; and Montreal/Quebec City’s chapter hosted a ‘Donwell Abbey’ strawberry picking at Elaine Bander’s Montreal home.

Before I forget – since Donwell Abbey reminds me – David from Montpelier, who attended our meeting on the 7th (he is a JASNA member! Yeah, David!!), spoke about reading P.D. James. This brought up James’ JAS (Jane Austen Society; in Britain) lecture a decade-plus ago. I just happened to have a copy of that the year’s “Report” (as JAS’s journal is called). So in digging it out for David, I re-read it myself. She brings up some points (since she treats Emma as a detective novel) about ‘clues’ in the novel that is unique and thought-provoking. But for me the more startling ideas were thoughts fired by her comments on Mr Knightley! James painted a picture of an exceptionally strong man, one who not the namby-pamby many name him to be. Makes me want to pull the novel out again — and soon!

HopeGreenberg_orange-regencyHope’s illustrated lecture on Fashion was one of the most comprehensive I have ever had the priviledge to listen to. The amazing amount of pictures – drawn from paintings, clothing (who knew Burlington’s Fleming Museum had so much in their ‘attics’!!), period drawings, etc. – as well as the lovely gowns Hope had on display (including the one she wore!), all brought to our capacity audience, visually and virtually, the fashion in Austen’s era. Thank you, Hope.

One JASNA-Vermont couple, Jim and Carol, had this to say about the presentation: Sunday was delightful …We enjoyed the presentation, especially once the sound was turned up a bit [Hope was microphoned]. I thought the visuals were very effective and useful for someone who is not at all versed in the subtleties of Regency fashion. Indeed, I have been most impressed with the intellectual content and professionalism of all three presentation we have attended. We look forward to our next meeting!”

Thanks, Jim! Great to hear such words of encouragement.

David wrote succinctly: “Thank you for hosting such a nice event…It was the largest attendance I have yet seen at a lecture, although it was only my third.”

We do have a growing and attentive audience in the Montpelier region! ‘Thanks,’ to everyone who attended Sunday.

And David shared his opinion that to bring Austen elsewhere in the state would greatly increase our presence; he writes about having some thing in St. Johnsbury — someday.

For the Montreal JASNA meeting, I went in order to meet their guest speaker, Jan Fergus. Jan’s book on 18th century publishing in Britain utilized the 1730-40 ledger (held at the Bodleian) belonging to Robert Gosling — Mary Gosling’s great-grandfather (my diarist; see SmithandGosling.wordpress.com, my research blog). Jan decried the sloppiness of Norton’s recent Austen publications; she ‘would proof them for free’, she exclaimed, as she showed the handwritten notes in the rear cover of her copy. Her lecture was a preview of her AGM lecture – on Brothers and Sisters in Austen’s novels, of course (Jan centered Sunday’s talk on Jane and Elizabeth Bennet).

The food was plentiful – and the strawberries sweet and delicious! Elaine has a lovely home, and I’m sure everyone was grateful for the invitation to visit her perfumed garden (peonies!). The weather held off just enough to make the day quite pleasant.

Two of the Montreal members are off to England, Elaine Bander herself; and Peter Sabor gives a paper at the Chawton Conference. Someday I hope it’s me that is able to hop a plane and have people anticipate some talk I’m about to give…

Which reminds me again, and I will close with this thought, of my lunch with MKay. We got to discussing – what else! – P&P films (1980, 1995 and 2005), as well as Lost in Austen. And that brought around a discussion of Darcy and Mr Collins. Between this lunch and Jan Fergus’s talk, I am convinced more than ever that 1995 (and, by extension, the Lost in Austen series) got poor Mr Collins ‘wrong’; that Charlotte was never a martyr to her marriage (a match made in heaven? perhaps not; but NOT a match made in hell either…); and that there is more to the Darcy-Collins pairing than people are willing to admit (MY paper proposal for Chawton; not accepted, of course.)

Time’s a tickin’ and Sunday morning’s winding down; so I will get off my soap box and get back to my book – a fascinating look at Virigina Woolf’s servants: Mrs Woolf and the Servants, by Alison Light. A ‘souvenir’ from my Montreal trip…

Still haven’t heard if my registration for the AGM puts me in among the 550 members going to Philadelphia… I see the numbers, as of 6/19, now stand at 503.

And JASNA’s website announces the inclusion of Persuasions vol. 3 – published in 1981. We must applaud JASNA’s dedication (and those who put these journals online for all) in making these invaluable resources available, and for free!

Bishop’s PRIDE

Two Saturdays ago (March 14th, to be exact) I ventured up to Bishop’s University (Lennoxville, Quebec) for a Pride & Prejudice Weekend – a symposium, thanks to English department professor Claire Grogan; a delicious ‘Jane Austen’s Cream Tea’ at Uplands; a Pride & Prejudice play, adapted by drama professor George Rideout; and an Austen-era Sunday Service in the university’s beautiful chapel. Sure the footlights have dimmed, the curtain has dropped, and the weekend’s events have faded into memory – but readers should know what they missed; and why they should keep an eye out for a production of this well-thought-out new play.

Saturday afternoon’s symposium featured three speakers; a full-hall (a good 70 people) had gathered to hear them.

Prof. Peter Sabor
McGill University, Montreal
“Portraying Jane Austen: How Anonymous became a Celebrity”. 
senseandsensibilitytitlepage

Illustrated by images, Dr. Sabor brought the audience along Austen’s circuitous route to celebrity – beginning with the original “BY A LADY” title page of Sense and Sensibility and showing near the end a publicity photo that made everyone chuckle: Jane Austen Hollywood-ized, complete with cell phone (the giant, 1980s version), conducting business while lounging on a poolside chaise.

In between these humble beginnings and the 20th-century hype lay a lot of Austen territory to be explored. Austen, of course, sold the copyright to Pride & Prejudice – her most popular novel – for ₤110. In 1813, the three volumes sold for 18 shilling (“about $2 Canadian today”).

Austen’s name has been located on a few subscription lists (Burney’s Camilla; the 1808 sermons of the Rev. Thomas Jefferson). Dr. Sabor explained that it was costly to purchase books by subscription. Such lists, however, can be invaluable to the researcher (I have located many Goslings and Smiths on subscription lists; it gives a thrill to realize they knew the author or valued the work enough to purchase a copy – or more than one – before the presses rolled).

The anonymous review (in reality Walter Scott) of Emma highlights Austen’s soon-acknowledged authorship a few years later: Although the title page of Northanger Abbey cited “By the author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Mansfield Park,’ &c,” the first volume included brother Henry’s biographical notice – thereby naming in print for the first time exactly who authored all six of these novels. [See also Henry’s updated version in the Bentley edition (1833) of S&S.] Beginning in 1818, we see reviews that mention Austen by name. (In an aside: Emma Smith, the future Mrs James-Edward Austen, was in 1817 already citing her as the author, specifically, of Mansfield Park; though Emma spelled the last name, as many did and often still do, Austin.)

A French translation of Austen’s last completed novel – published under the title La famille Elliot – becomes the first book in which Austen’s name appears as author on a title page. The year is 1821. [For information on the translator, see Ellen Moody.]

When discussion of the known and purported Austen portraits began, the audience was given a truly informative lesson on the pitfalls, as well as hopes and shattered dreams, of claimants to “authentic Janes”. Even the 1804 sketch: Is it a depiction of Jane by her sister Cassandra?? Anna Lefroy (half-sister to James-Edward Austen) inherited it, and to this day it resides within the family. (It was first presented by Chapman in his volume of Letters.)

The illustrations of Austen grow more wild as the publicity picks up – paper dolls, figures made for ‘action,’ plush and bobble-headed dolls, even an Austen Powers ‘superhero’. From recreations to fantasy depictions, Austen’s ‘anonymity’ has certainly turned a complete 360-degrees.

ADDENDUM: for an observation on the so-called ‘wedding ring portrait’ of Jane Austen (which Dr. Sabor called “bizarre”, see SEPARATED AT BIRTH?)

*

next: Prof. Robert Morrison (Queen’s), “Getting Around Pride & Prejudice: Gothicism, Fairy Tales & the Very World of All Us”

Waiting in the Wings: read insights into the character of Miss Bingley by actress Stephanie Izsak.