The Blog Tour for Godmersham Park: A Novel of the Austen Family by Gill Hornby began on October 24 and runs through November 7, 2022. A work of biographical historical fiction, it is a richly imagined novel inspired by the true story of Anne Sharp, a governess who became very close with Jane Austen and her family. In 2020, Hornby published the acclaimed Miss Austen, about Cassandra Austen, and PBS /Masterpiece has recently announced it is to be a mini-series. We can only hope for the same about this newest work. I am hard at work on casting the major roles…who would you choose to play these characters??
Summary and Advance Praise:
On January 21, 1804, Anne Sharpe arrives at Godmersham Park in Kent to take up the position of governess to Edward and Elizabeth Austen’s daughter Fanny, but also often expected to supervise the other children as well. At thirty-one years old, she has no previous experience of either teaching or fine country houses. Her mother has died, and she has nowhere else to go. Anne is left with no choice. For her new charge—twelve-year-old Fanny Austen—Anne’s arrival is all novelty and excitement.
The governess role is a uniquely awkward one. Anne is neither one of the servants, nor one of the family, and to balance a position between the “upstairs” and “downstairs” members of the household is a diplomatic chess game. One wrong move may result in instant dismissal. Anne knows that she must never let down her guard.
When members of the Austen family come to visit, Anne forms an immediate attachment to Jane. They write plays together and enjoy long discussions. However, in the process, Anne reveals herself as not merely pretty, charming, and competent; she is clever too. Even her sleepy, complacent, mistress can hardly fail to notice.
Meanwhile Jane’s brother Henry begins to take an unusually strong interest in the lovely young governess. And from then on, Anne’s days at Godmersham Park are numbered.
“This is a deeply imagined and deeply moving novel. Reading it made me happy and weepy in equally copious amounts…I read it straight through without looking up.”— Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Bookclub
Hornby’s skillful mix of fact and fiction captures the complexities of the Austens and their era, and her crisp, nimble prose sparkles throughout. Best of all, Hornby genuinely channels the sentiment of 19th-century English literature. Janeites aren’t the only readers who will relish this smart, tender tale.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review
“…a well-written and delightfully observant novel…an excellent read.”— The Historical Novel Society
Godmersham Park begins:
“At half past six, in the bleak icy evening of 21 January in the year 1804, Anne Sharp arrived on the threshold of Godmersham Park.” [p.3]
Anne Sharp stayed for two years… In the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, Hornby writes of the known details of Sharp’s life after she leaves her post and her continued correspondence with Jane Austen and the occasional but all too rare visit. Nothing is known about Sharp’s life before her taking on her governess post, and this novel gives the reader a fine grounding in how life as a governess in a fine house would have played out – all this based on real contemporary biographies of young women thrust into a working life. Fanny’s daily diary entries gave Hornby the true details of the Edward Austen’s home-life, and she brilliantly weaves all into a more than probable tale of Anne Sharp’s time at Godmersham. It is an endearing and warm-hearted tale, at times a tad melancholy, brightened by the growing and real-life friendship between Austen and Sharp, both creative and spirited women. The sprinkling of literary allusions to Austen and other 19th-century writers makes it all the more delightful.
Without giving anything away, I will only add Austen’s own exclamation about her brother: “Oh! what a Henry” [Ltr. 102, 23 June 1814] – and leave it for you, dear reader, to find out what I mean!
What is known about Sharp is all pieced together from various sources – I’ll work up a bibliography of these for another post, as this book will surely peak your interest to know more about this dear friend of Austen’s. One bit to savor is that Sharp’s own copy of Emma, given to her by Austen through her publisher, was treasured by Sharp throughout her life – it just sold once again at auction for £375,000 [it had sold in 2008 for nearly £200,000 – a fine investment indeed] – this copy will be on display at Chawton House in 2023, thanks to the generosity of the anonymous purchaser. [You can read about this here.]
An Excerpt from Chapter XI [p 81-85]:
‘Miss Sharp!’ Fanny burst into the Godmersham attic. ‘Look!’ She brandished a letter. ‘All that time, I was expecting to hear by the morning post, and it came by the evening.’
They both studied the paper, weighed up its width and its quality, ran their eyes over it to judge the length of what was written upon it. ‘In my mind’s eye, I had seen myself receiving it at breakfast and reading it there, just as Mama does. I mean, like a proper young lady.’ She worried at her lip. ‘But now is just as good, is it not?’
‘I should say it is a fine time for the reading of letters,’ Anne reassured her. ‘A lovely end to the day. And remember, my dear, if this is to be a full correspondence, you can look forward to more in the future . . .’
Fanny breathed out. ‘You are so right. I am beginning to think, Miss Sharp, that you are in the habit of being right on all matters. So, what happens now?’
Anne was becoming a little concerned by her pupil’s over-keen sense of deference. If they went on like this, Fanny would soon be incapable of putting one foot in front of the other without appealing for guidance. ‘I suggest that you read it?’
‘Oh,’ Fanny gave a little laugh. ‘Of course! Shall we do so together?’
‘No, my dear,’ replied Anne, though she was not un- intrigued. ‘This is to you.’
Fortunately, Fanny – who was one of the world’s greatest sharers – chose to read it out loud:
My dear Fanny,
Your letter occasioned such joy among all in your Bath family – but in me, in particular. I cannot imagine what I have done to deserve such an honour – and nor can your superior aunt, my dear sister. When the post came for me, there was a danger that she might drop dead from sheer jealousy, but I quickly revived her with my shrewd observation – Cassandra is harder to spell and consumes too much ink. God bless my short, simple name!
We all marvelled at hearing your Godmersham news, and you have the advantage of me. How can my dull existence compare with the revelation that you have a new governess? It is clear she is a woman of substance for your pen was clear and the contents quite perfect. If you are so kind as to reply to me now, please do us the favour of addressing the following concerns. We all long to know what books you are reading – in particular, which poets? Your grandfather desires that you acquire a sound basis in Shakespeare and, as always – he cannot be helped – issues a plea on behalf of the Classics. Is your Miss S. – among her other perfections – strong in the Classics? If so, then she is truly a paragon.
As you know, your Grandmama has been most unwell and the worry and fear has kept us at home more than is usual. But I am here to report she is now well on the mend, and her spirits returned to their usual height. It cannot be long before we return to the social round. Though I am relieved that the illness is over, I cannot rejoice at being turned out of doors. The streets of Bath are made so dirty by this dreadful wet weather – it keeps one in a perpetual state of inelegance.
We all look forward to hearing from you again, and pray you send our love to all of the Godmersham family.
Your fond Aunt, Jane Austen.
Each expressed their delight in tones of great rapture and agreed it to be one of the greatest – possibly the best – letter yet to be written. Fanny read it twice more, so as to be thoroughly sure, before disappearing down to the library to share it anew. Anne, at last, was able to pick up her own pen, and then Sally came in.
The sullen maid of Anne’s first evening had warmed into a garrulous creature and now, while Anne sat alone working, Sally would work alongside her. Her clear philosophy was that, while the hands toiled at tidying and cleaning, the tongue should not idle.
‘What is it you’re up to there, miss?’ She was sifting through Fanny’s drawers and refolding the inexpertly folded. ‘Another letter, is it? You do write a lot of letters and no mistake.’ She came and looked over Anne’s shoulder. Anne covered her page. ‘Don’t worry about that, miss. All scribbles to me.’
‘You cannot read or write, Sally?’ Anne felt that glorious, prickling anticipation of a new project. ‘Would you like me to teach you? When is your afternoon off? I am sure I could spare a few hours every week.’ She was quite magnificent in her own generosity.
‘Ta, miss, but I’m right as I am.’ Sally went back to her work. ‘My afternoons off are my afternoons off, thanking you very much. I go out on the gad, then, with Becky.’ Anne picked up her pen again, crushed. Suddenly intrigued, she put it back down. ‘You must be most expert gadders to find any gadding to be had in Godmersham, surely?’ The village did not even have a shop, let alone a High Street. Anne had found no amusements beyond solitary walks. How does one even begin to gad in a field? ‘You’d be surprised, miss. There’s some new lads down at the tithe barn.’ Sally gave a little shriek. ‘Ooh, but we do like a laugh with them.’
‘And Mrs Salkeld does not object?’ Anne herself could never be so brave as to incur the wrath of the housekeeper.
Sally shrugged her thin shoulders. ‘If she does, she daren’t say so. We’re still young, miss. Got to enjoy yourself, haven’t you? It’s only a job, after all. If they stopped me, I’d tell them to stick it.’
Anne paused to reflect on their relative positions. She was certainly paid more, but Sally – with her uniform and its upkeep provided – had fewer expenses. Sally enjoyed hours off in the day and the companionship of life in the servants’ hall; Anne belonged neither to staff nor family, was almost always on duty and, when not, entirely alone. It appeared that a maid could make an exhibition of herself abroad and it was tolerated, yet if a governess were to attract even the eye of a gentleman, she would face instant dismissal. The comparison provided food for thought on the question of privilege and the cost of its benefits.
About the Author: Gill Hornby is the author of the novels Miss Austen, The Hive, and All Together Now, as well as The Story of Jane Austen, a biography of Austen for young readers. She lives in Kintbury, England, with her husband and their four children.
When: Saturday, November 5, 2022, 2:00 – 4:00 pm What: Talk on “Gender and the Decorative Arts in Jane Austen’s Novels” with Kristen Miller Zohn* Where: Bluffton Library, 120 Palmetto Way, Bluffton, SC
During the Georgian period, women and men alike had a great interest in architecture, interior design, and fashion, and there was an expectation that the concepts of femininity and masculinity would be reflected in these spheres. This slide lecture will present images of decorative arts, interior design, and clothing to explore how those that are presented in Austen’s novels speak to the roles of women and men in her era.
*Kristen Miller Zohn is the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Lauren, Mississippi, as well as the Executive Director of the Costume Society of America.
Please RSVP: jasnavermont [at] gmail.com or the Bluffton Library, 843-255-6503
Jane Austen and London is a subject that should have its own shelf(ves). This is one of those down the rabbit hole in collecting that will either find you on a completely different path of book buying or become for you “the road not taken.” There will be many such roads if you embark on the adventure of collecting Jane Austen – as you all likely know, it is an endless morass…
Long before I began to collect Jane Austen, I started a collection of books on London – I love London for many reasons – my parents were born in England so I became an anglophile from an early age; I studied in London for a college semester (political science – don’t ask!); and during that semester met my husband, so it serves as a Romantic haven for me. I started collecting any books I could find on London – a heady task (almost as impossible as Jane Austen) – then narrowed it to children’s books about or set in London (many more than you would think) – then when Austen hit my radar I began to focus just on Regency-era London (a bit more manageable but larger than my pocket book or shelf space nonetheless). So I now have rather a mish-mash of various titles, some very collectible and some just commonplace treatises great for reference and beautiful pictures. When I began doing talks on Jane Austen and London, I found a real use for the books I had as well as an excuse to acquire more….and so you see my mighty fall into the Rabbit Hole of collecting….
Today I will just share three titles of the many, for no particular reason other than to show the diversity of what’s out there – I append at the end the very select bibliography handout for the talk I give, though is now a bit outdated and does not contain all the books I have – if you have any favorite books on London, please share the titles in the comments.
1. Regency London, by Stella Margetson. New York: Praeger, 1971 [London: Cassell, 1971].
Margetson wrote a few novels but also a number of books of English social history especially of the late 18th and the 19th-century. This book on Regency London is a short introductory text that covers the basics, with black and white contemporary illustrations throughout:
The Mercantile City
Westminster and Government
The Regent and the Architect
The Artists and the Writers
Some Visitors to London [Jane gets a few pages on her stays in London]
An Expanding City
FYI: Cassell / Praeger did a series of five books on London:
Roman London, by Ralph Merrifield
Medieval London, by Timothy Baker
Elizabethan London, by Martin Holmes
Regency London, by Stella Margetson
Victorian London, by Priscilla Metcalf
2. The A to Z of Regency London, Introduction by Paul Laxton; index compiled by Joseph Wisdom. Lympne Castle, Kent: Harry Margary, in association with Guildhall Library, London, 1985.
This historical atlas is based on Richard Horwood’s survey of London in 1792-9 and updated by William Faden in 1813 – it shows the streets, lanes, courts, yards, and alleys, but also every individual building with its street number – the 40 sheets of the original Horwood have been photographically reduced, and the index for this edition expands the original by threefold.
The Horwood map is available online in various formats [a terrific one is here: https://www.romanticlondon.org/explore-horwoods-plan/#16/51.5112/-0.0747], but this is a treasure to have close at hand. One can easily trace Austen’s meanderings described in her letters, and follow the many characters in Sense and Sensibility – where they live, visit, and shop – her one novel where London is central to the plot (though it is also where the dilemma of Harriet gets sorted!)
For those of you who love maps, there are others to choose from in this series: The A to Z of Elizabethan London, Restoration London, Georgian London, Victorian London, and Edwardian London (there is also one for Georgian Dublin)
3. One Day in Regency England, by Alastair Scott. Brighton: Robert Tyndall, 1974.
This is a children’s book, and about all of England not just London – but it is a delightful introduction to the period and filled with color and black and white contemporary illustrations; the cover is designed by Gordon King.
The book presents the day of July 20, 1813 in the lives of several characters, starting in the home of Charles Henry Longhurst – we meet him and his family and their friends and his servants, the children in school, life in the country vs. the day in the City – all presented as what goes on in these individual lives in the Morning, Afternoon and Evening. It is skillfully and entertainingly done and in 48 pages takes us in to traveling carriages, cookery in the kitchen, a dinner party and then off to Vauxhall Gardens, all the while getting a glimpse of those doing all the work behind the scenes! It is quite an exhausting day!
As you can see in the bottom paragraph in the above page image, Scott writes that Longhurst’s daughter Amelia is quite taken with Jane Austen and reading Pride and Prejudice – when suddenly her attention is drawn to the arrival of a small chimney-sweep – and thus we are privy to that bit of history, of poor, young, soot-covered boys and the realities and dangers of that job.
[This Day Book Series also includes a number of other “One Day” adventures in a variety of time periods in England and elsewhere: Shakespeare’s England, Roman Britain, Victorian, Medieval, WWI, WWII, etc.]
As noted, this bibliography is very select but gives you an idea of the variety of works on London and specifically London during Jane Austen’s time – again, it is a bit outdated….
‘Jane Austen’s London in Fact and Fiction’: Select Bibliography
The A – Z of Regency London; introduction by Paul Laxton. London: Harry Margary / Guildhall Library, 1985.
Ackermann, R. The Microcosm of London, or London in Miniature. Rpt. ed. London: Methuen, 1904.
Ackroyd, Peter. London: The Biography. London: Chatto & Windus, 2000.
You Are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea!
December approaches and our thoughts turn to…Jane Austen’s Birthday and Tea!
This is just a reminder that the annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea is coming up on December 8 at the Essex Resort and Spa. There will be Food! Dancing! Jane Austen’s Proposals!
Here are the details:
December 8, 2019
The Essex Resort and Spa
70 Essex Way, Essex Junction, VT
$35 for Members / $40 for Non-members / $15 for Students (w/ID)
The afternoon will include:
Full English Tea with finger sandwiches, assortment of sweets, scones, and, of course, tea,
English Country Dancing for all who would like to, no experience necessary, taught and led by the illustrious Val Medve,
A talk by Deb Barnum and Hope Greenberg on “Proposals in Jane Austen: ‘What did she say?… Just what she ought'” – enlivened with a visual journey through these scenes as played out in the various Austen film adaptations,
and, good company—no, the “best company” with “clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.”
Regency dress is encouraged but not required!
Please click here for the reservation form: Dec Tea 2019-Reservation form-final and send it with your payment to the address noted on the form. Registration closes on November 23.
What’s it all about? (without giving too much away – it is a mystery after all!)
A happier heroine than Catherine Morland does not exist in England, for she is about to marry her beloved, the handsome, witty Henry Tilney. The night before the wedding, Henry reluctantly tells Catherine and her horrified parents a secret he has dreaded to share – that there is a terrible curse on his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry is a clergyman, educated and rational, and after her year’s engagement Catherine is no longer the silly young girl who delighted in reading “horrid novels”; she has improved in both reading and rationality. This sensible young couple cannot believe curses are real…until a murder at the Abbey triggers events as horrid and Gothic as Jane Austen ever parodied – events that shake the young Tilneys’ certainties, but never their love for each other…
Blog Tour sites and dates:
The Doyenne of Austenesque fiction, Diana Birchall*, tours the blogosphere October 28 through November 15 to share her latest release, The Bride of Northanger. Thirty popular bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts, and book reviews of this acclaimed continuation of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Here’s the schedule; I will update the links every day, so check back – and please visit for my interview with Diana on November 6!
Diana Birchall worked for many years at Warner Bros studios as a story analyst, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading manuscripts went side by side with a restorative and sanity-preserving life in Jane Austen studies and resulted in her writing Austenesque fiction both as homage and attempted investigation of the secrets of Jane Austen’s style. She is the author of In Defense of Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Elton in America, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, and the new The Bride of Northanger. She has written hundreds of Austenesque short stories and plays, as well as a biography of her novelist grandmother, and has lectured on her books and staged play readings at places as diverse as Hollywood, Brooklyn, Montreal, Chawton House Library, Alaska, and Yale.
Dear Healthy Readers: I welcome today Bryan Kozlowski, author of The Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness– he joins us here to answer a few questions about his book, why he wrote it, how long he’s been a reader of Jane Austen, and when he discovered she had all these things to say about nutrition and health. Joceline Bury, the book reviewer for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine calls it “a delectable salmagundy or culinary history, illuminating quotes, dietary science and intriguing recipes – it made this gourmand’s heart sing. Delicious in every way.”
When did you first start to realize that Austen’s work contained these words of wisdom about wellness?
Very unexpectedly. Looking back, Jane and I had always been in a very superficial relationship. Begging her polite pardon, I never viewed her beyond anything other than a pure romance writer, always good for a giggle over the newest rich gent in the neighborhood, but not exactly influential to everyday life. If anything, Austen was just a bosom buddy I turned to for distraction from modern life, never realizing she held one of its biggest solutions. Yet that all changed rather quickly two years ago. Nearing my 30th birthday and in the midst of a personal wellness quandary (wondering, among other things, whatever happened to the energy levels of my roaring twenties), I delved into the latest health books for answers. That’s when it happened. Reading the “newest” research on eating, exercise, and holistic living felt very familiar, like literary déjà vu. Hadn’t I come across these exact insights before in Austen’s novels? Hadn’t she said the same thing, espoused nearly identical lifestyle advice, over two-hundred years ago? It all looked amazingly similar to the way her healthiest characters eat, stay fit, and interact with nature. The discovery led me to health maxims in Austen’s writings I never knew existed, which revealed a side to this famous English spinster rarely, if ever, discussed. Here was a woman just as interested in persuading her readers to live a healthier life as she was inspiring them to fall in love. Plainly, Austen wanted to take my relationship with her to the next level. So I took the plunge, deciding to test out her unique health strategies for myself (rather secretly, at first – one doesn’t announce to the world that one is going on the Jane Austen “diet,” does one?) It was a personal guinea-pig project that – shockingly – was not only suitable to the 21st century, the elegance of embracing “health and happiness” like a true Austenite is one that I now heartily announce to anyone in sore need of adding back some civility and sense to their own modern health routine.
You’re not a health professional. Do you intend for people to actually follow this plan? Is it a serious contribution to the wellness space?
Quite right. It’s something I discuss upfront in the book: that neither am I nor was Austen a doctor (or apothecary, rather!). Austen was, however, one of the most brilliant observers of human nature, and devoted her literary life to finding out what makes people happier and healthier both in mind and body. For this reason, Austen is often considered one of the best “didactic” novelists, meaning she made it her mission to inspire us – no matter the century – to live a better life. And just like she didn’t need to get married herself to understand the nuances of love, she didn’t need a medical degree to accurately grasp what our bodies need to thrive – the evidence is all in her novels. In fact, the health advice scattered throughout her writing continues to be so timeless today because it was based on organic observation, not on shifting fashions or fads. She knew what naturally worked for our bodies and what didn’t, which is why her wellness philosophies find such resounding support from the latest health research. Moreover, it’s important to remember that Austen lived in an age that faced health challenges nearly identical to the ones we grapple with today. The Regency era had its own mini obesity epidemic, movement crises, and trendy starvation diets to contend with. Yet in her own clever way, Austen chose to respond (never bluntly) but with subtle, counterculture clues woven throughout her fiction: clues meant to gently motivate us to better alternatives. And I, for one, am so grateful she did.
What is the best piece of advice gleaned from Austen included in your book?
Austen would probably get a merry kick out of my attempt to answer this, as her health code purposefully defies any attempt at tidy condensing. But if possible to boil down, you could say that it’s built on one refreshing reminder – that “health” is far more holistic than most of us have been conditioned to view it today (that is, as an isolated number on a scale, BMI chart, food plan, fitness strategy, or dress size). As a matter of fact, weight hardly mattered to Jane at all, who progressively considered excessive thinness, not fatness, as a much more serious risk to health. There are corpulent characters in her novels, of course, who could certainly loose a few pounds, but Austen chose to widen the lens and focus instead on what she calls the “complete” “picture of health” throughout her fiction. In short, Austen’s healthiest characters never have just one defining attribute that makes them “lovely, blooming, [and] healthful” but a sweeping range of interconnected lifestyle habits and patterns that keep them effortlessly “in health” from tip to toe: from their relationship to food and exercise, to their interactions with nature, to how they think and feel about their bodies. Your corset size mattered far less to Jane than how you laced up the rest of your life.
Which of Austen’s heroines lives the healthiest life, and why?
What I love about Austen’s approach to wellness is its firm footing in reality – that is, none of her heroines start their stories as perfect paradigms of health. Everybody has something to learn. Anne Elliot begins Persuasion “faded” and frumpy and Marianne Dashwood certainly has some hard health lessons ahead of her in Sense and Sensibility. But if any heroine could be said to have a head start on the rest, I believe it would be Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. If nothing more than the fact that she begins the novel completely comfortable in her own skin. So much so, she instantly laughs off Mr. Darcy’s infamous body-shaming snark (“he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form”). And that alone was incredibly important to Austen, an early promoter of body positivity. Because becoming healthy in Austenworld truly begins in your mind, where the quality of your relationship to food, fitness, and even your reflection in the mirror will greatly depend on how you think about those things. Still incredibly important today, these are the mental “exercises” that set apart the body healthy from the body harmful in Austen’s novels. As Fanny Price insists in Mansfield Park, “that would be exercise only to my body, and I must take care of my mind.”
What is the most surprising/useful habit that those living in Austen’s era abided by for health?
The most surprising aspect of Austen’s wellness program is her insistence that a healthy diet includes far more than just food – that it relies on a daily dose of nature, too. Things like fresh air, sunlight, trees, good clean dirt and sea breezes are practically treated like vitamins in her fiction, routinely prescribed to any character in need of a body reboot. And though I used to (shamefully) think Austen had gone a wee bit too far with her love for nature – note Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice, at one point, prefers “rocks and mountains” to actual men – thanks to new and growing support from modern science, it is now an essential part of my own wellness walk with Jane, and one I cannot live without.
About the author:
Bryan Kozlowski is a passionate champion of “lit wit” – bringing the wisdom of classic literature into everyday life. From Jane Austen to Charles Dickens to children’s cookbooks, his books celebrate the modern magic of living literarily. His works have appeared in Vogue, the New York Times and the Washington Post. He graduated valedictorian from The Culinary Institute of America in New York, where he fell in love with British food history, and interned at Saveur food magazine before setting off on the writing path.
About the book:
Bryan Kozlowski, The Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness
Dear Readers: Here is an update to the Astley’s Amphitheatre bit I mentioned in yesterday’s “Pemberley Post” – our esteemed co-regional coordinator for the Vermont region (Hope) was by complete coincidence doing some research in the 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers and found some relevant tidbits to add to our understanding of Astley’s and what Jane Austen might have exactly seen – Hope left a comment on the blog post, but I have put it in here as its own post in order to see some of the newspaper images to best advantage…
Austen mentions Astley’s in a letter to Cassandra on 23 August 1796:
“Edward and Frank are both gone out to seek their fortunes; the latter is to return soon and help us seek ours. The former we shall never see again. We are to be at Astley’s to-night, which I am glad of.”
And in Emma: He [Robert Martin] delivered these papers to John, at his chambers, and was asked by him to join their party the same evening to Astley’s. They were going to take the two eldest boys to Astley’s… and in the next chapter: Harriet was most happy to give every particular of the evening at Astley’s, and the dinner the next day…
What a coincidence. I was just looking in an online newspaper database from that period and had noticed some Astley’s news. So, I looked up the dates around Jane’s letter [August 23, 1796, Letter 3]. Astley’s changed their program every Monday (for Tuesday’s performance). If Jane had read the advertisements Tuesday morning for the performance that night she would have seen that the program included:
The West India Heroic Spectacle, Mechanical Fireworks, Hydraulic Devices, a new comic ballad by Mr. Johannot, called “The Nine Musical Taylors, or, A Sure way to get rich (arranged, compiled, written and composed by Mr. Astley, Sen.), Mr. Johannot also singing New Cries of London (also by Mr. Astley, Sen.), a Pantomimical Dance (composed by Mr. West) called “New Wheat; or, The Mill’s Agoing, a new dance called The Provincial Sailors, Chemical experiments with Signor Romaldo, Professor of Natural Philosophy, Equestrian activities as a Minuet by two horses, a Hornpipe by another, and a variety of military pantomimes, all concluding with a Grand Pantomime “The Magician of the Alps” with a “most beautiful and magnificent Aerial Vertical Colonnade and Brilliant Transparent Celestial Temple, the whole of which are in motion.”
– Attendees were adjured to arrive between 5:30 and 6:30 and could, if they so desired, send their servants in at 5:00 to save their seats as long as they had spoken first with Mrs. Connell.
– Tickets cost 4s for Boxes, 2s if space available after 8:00; 2s. For Pit, 1s as available after 8:00; and 1s. for the Gallery, 6d after 8:00.
– Jane may have also compared her reaction to the show with some “reviews” touting the fine entertainment to be had at Astley’s, or even have learned that on the same day she went, the traveling version of the show, led by “Young Astley” was playing in Manchester to great acclaim, Manchester being filled with troops preparing for a review two days hence.
1) Morning Chronicle (London, England), Friday, August 19, 1796; Issue 8380. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
A similar notice appeared in:
2) Morning Post and Fashionable World(London, England), Friday, August 19, 1796; Issue 7625. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
3) Another can be found in Times (London, England), Friday, August 19, 1796; Issue 3666. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
4) St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post(London, England), August 20, 1796 – August 23, 1796; Issue 6033. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
Note that this one announces some changes to the program, including the intriguing notice that: “Ballad Singer, Mr. JOHANNOT, who will sing the NEW CRIES of LONDON; written and composed by Mr. Astley, Sen.”
5) Those changes were also duly noted in:
Whitehall Evening Post (1770) (London, England), August 20, 1796 – August 23, 1796; Issue 7168. (2949 words). 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
In slightly abbreviated form in:
Times (London, England), Monday, August 22, 1796; Issue 3668. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
6) On the morning that Austen mentions they will be going to Astley’s, they could have found the latest version with the above changes at:
– Daily Advertiser (London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 21131. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers. – Oracle and Public Advertiser(London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 19 407. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers. – Star (London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 2504. (2372 words). 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
Throughout the year reviewers made sure to mention the fact that Astley changed the program every week, and to praise the results. Here are some examples.
7) True Briton (1793) (London, England), Saturday, August 20, 1796; Issue 1140. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
8) Star(London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 2504. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
9) True Briton(1793) (London, England), Tuesday, August 23, 1796; Issue 1142. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
10) And this one, referring to the end of that week’s program:
11) Meanwhile, from Manchester, we learn that: Star (London, England), Saturday, August 27, 1796; Issue 2508. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
The same “letter” also appears in: Star(London, England), Saturday, August 27, 1796; Issue 2508. (1080 words). 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
Thank you Hope for all this information – certainly proof that Astley’s was as great a source of entertainment as it was of journalistic interest!
C. E. Brock, ‘Persuasion’ (Dent, 1898)
By examining the various injuries and illnesses in the novel (think Anne’s “loss of bloom and spirits;” Mary’s “always worse than anybody’s” sore throats; Louisa “taken up lifeless” on the Cobb pavement; and more), Dr, Kinney will show how Jane Austen uses these bodily changes to expose the moral worth and inner nature of her characters. The talk also reviews the changes that were occurring in Regency medicine and how Jane Austen’s interaction with doctors influenced her writing.
~ Free & open to the public ~
~ Light refreshments served ~
*Dr. Kinney is a gynecologist in Dallas, Texas, listed in “Best Doctors in America” since 2001, named by the Consumer’s Research Council as one of “America’s Top Obstetricians and Gynecologists” yearly since 2002, and chosen as a “Texas Super Doctor” by her peers for the last eleven years. She is on several medical-related boards and has lectured around the world on issues relating to gynecology. But also, and lucky for us, she has been very involved in the Jane Austen Society of North America, both at the national and regional level, and has spoken in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom on health and sickness in the novels of Jane Austen and other 18th and 19th century British authors.
Hope you can join us! ~~
Upcoming meeting: Dec. 2, 2018: Annual Birthday Brunch / Tea, with Prof. Anna Battigelli (SUNY-Plattsburgh) on “Landscapes and Soundscapes in Jane Austen’s Narratives”
Next Thursday, August 3rd, we will be welcoming author Julienne Gehrer to Vermont! She will be speaking at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington from 5-7 pm on, you guessed it, “Dining with Jane Austen.” This is the first event in the Library’s new series “BURLINGTON RISING: Lectures & Culinary Demonstrations centered on the historical role of bread in human civilization” – see below for more information on this series.
Julienne will be giving her full talk to us at the Library; a shorter talk will be offered on Friday evening at Shelburne Farms as we partake in a full-course Regency-era dinner provided by local chef Richard Witting and his Isolde Dinner Club – you can read the details of both events here.
Today, a little introduction to Julienne’s book – it will be available for purchase and signing at both events – if you would like to reserve a copy in advance, please contact me.
Telling Jane Austen’s Life Though Food
During a cool and rainy summer in Hampshire, England, an American writer received unprecedented access to two manuscript cookbooks connected to Jane Austen. Paging through the unpublished works, it became clear that many of the family recipes could be connected to foods referenced in the author’s letters and novels.
Fast forward through three years of research, 45 period food articles, 75 recipe adaptations, plus on-site photography at two Hampshire houses where Jane Austen lived and dined. In her new book, Dining with Jane Austen, Julienne Gehrer tells the story of the famous author’s life through the foods on her plate. The book’s May release date coincides with the launch of Hampshire events celebrating the 200th anniversary year of the author’s death.
Readers will enjoy the book’s food-centric stories sequenced in the order of Jane Austen’s letters and residences: her girlhood home in Steventon, economic struggles in Bath, stability in Southampton, creative freedom at Chawton, and death in Winchester. Now Haricot Mutton, Orange Wine, Bath Buns, White Soup, and many other foods familiar to Austen can be recreated using the her family’s own recipes. By understanding and recreating these foods, readers can enjoy a certain level of intimacy with the author—much like that of sharing a meal with family and close friends.
Dining with Jane Austen gives readers their first view of family recipes on the family china in the family houses. To create the book, Gehrer was allowed to photograph from attic to cellar in Chawton Cottage, where Austen wrote or revised all her major novels. The cottage is now known as Jane Austen’s House Museum, located just down the lane from Chawton Great House, the home of Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight. Here Gehrer was allowed to photograph the recreated recipes on the Knight family china bearing the familiar grey friar. Jane accompanied her brother and niece to select the pattern at Wedgwood’s London showroom in 1813—the same year Pride and Prejudice was published. One of Jane’s letters describes the pattern of “a small Lozenge in purple, between Lines of narrow Gold;—& it is to have the Crest.”
In the midst of so many books offering the fictitious dishes of Mrs. Elton’s Rout Cakes or the dinner Mrs. Bennet might have served Mr. Darcy, Gehrer made it her goal was to serve up Austen with well-researched authenticity. By recreating the famous author’s favorite foods, readers may indeed feel like they are dining with Jane Austen.
Dining with Jane Austen By Julienne Gehrer
May, 2017 (Ash Grove Press, Inc.) 218 soft-bound pages with 250 full color illustrations $34 at diningwithjaneausten.org and Amazon
Julienne Gehrer is a Lifetime Member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and has served as a Board Member and Regional Coordinator. She worked as an Editorial Director for Hallmark Cards, Inc., and retired after a 31-year career. Julienne is the author of two books: In Season: Cooking Fresh From the Kansas City Farmers’ Market and Love Lore: Symbols, Legends and Recipes for Romance. She is the creator of three board games including Pride and Prejudice—the Game. Julienne has spoken at several JASNA conferences and regional events on topics including, Did Jane Austen Prefer a Plain Dish to a Ragout? and Jane Austen and 18th Century Kitchen Wisdom.Although she admits a preference for modern kitchens, Julienne has cooked period foods over the open hearth at the 1858 John Wornall House Museum.
Burlington Rising explores bread’s connection to cultural identity, the development of cooperative economies and food systems, archaeological artifacts from Africa to New England and the breads brought from across the globe to Vermont through immigration. Burlington Rising provides opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds to learn from each other; educates our community about the historical foundations of diet and food preparation; and engages multiple generations in activities that build relationships through stories and food preparation.
Burlington Rising Lectures on Bread Traditions and Culinary Demonstrations:
August – from Europe
September – from Africa
October – from Asia
Late October & Early November – from the Americas
c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont, with thanks to Julienne Gehrer