The Penny Post Weekly Review ~ All Things Jane Austen

The Penny Post Weekly Review

  October 1, 2011


Vermont as you know suffered unfathomable damage from the winds and rain of Irene.  We were largely spared here in the Burlington area, but other parts of the state were hammered – you have seen the many pictures on the national news of flooding, senseless deaths, extensive property damage to homes and businesses and farms, covered bridges falling into the rivers – it has been a nightmare – but now the big concern is that the greater world thinks that Vermont is “boarded up” so to speak – not a place to visit this fall, that season that brings the annual leaf-peepers to our lovely state – so I take a minute here to give a shout-out for the State of Vermont – We Are Open for Business! – road crews have been working non-stop to get roads and towns back into shape – so if you want to help out in any way, hop in your car [or plane or train or bike] and come for a visit, go to the restaurants and eat local, shop in the stores  (buy books from the local bookshops!), walk in the woods, hike the mountains – it is all here, just as before, and we are waiting with open arms!


You can visit this website for information on I am Vermont Strong:  where you can buy a t-shirt to help the recovery! – and a  fine example of social networking sites making a difference: 

the Facebook Page:


So, a few events of interest, set in Vermont:

[image – Richard and Gordon]

 Bringing the music of PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND to Vermont…

Richard Wood & Gordon Belsher 

Come and spend an evening of fiddling, singing and tapping
your toes to a mix of Irish, Scottish and Maritime tunes. 

201 Bridge St

Tickets $15 per person (kids under 14 FREE)
Emailpeihouseconcertinvt [at] comcast [dot] net or
call 802-324-0092 for more information
Light refreshments will be provided 

Richard Wood : 
Gordon Belsher: 


Our very own Burlington Country Dancers ~ their Fall schedule: 

Elley-Long Music Center, 223 Ethan Allen Avenue, Colchester,VT
First and Third Fridays (Sept. thru May) w/ LIVE MUSIC
7pm – 7:30pm Session for more experienced dancers – $1
7:30pm – 9:30pm Dancing for all – $8 ($5 student/under 30) 

2011 DATES (All Fridays):

  • Sept. 16 ~ Impropriety (Lar Duggan, McKinley James, Laura Markowitz, Ana Ruesink)
  • Oct. 7 ~ Old Stage Road (Carol Compton, Albert Joy, Margaret Smith)
  • Oct. 21 ~ Lar Duggan, Dominique Gagne, Peter MacFarlane
  • Nov. 4 ~ Aaron Marcus, McKinley James, Laura Markowitz, Ana Ruesink
  • Nov. 18 ~ DANCE PARTY with Guest Teacher Tom Amesse (from NYC) and with Frost & Fire (Hollis Easter, Viveka Fox, Aaron Marcus)
  • Dec. 2 ~ Old Stage Road (Carol Compton, Albert Joy, Margaret Smith)
  • Dec. 16 ~ Aaron Marcus, McKinley James, Laura Markowitz, Ana Ruesink

~ All dances taught & walked through by Wendy Gilchrist, Martha Kent, Val Medve ~ Casual dress ~ Please bring a sweet or savory ‘finger food’ snack ~ We change partners frequently throughout the evening, so there’s no need to bring your own partner (a Mr. Darcy might be lurking, or is that a Mr. Knightley without a partner?…) 

See their website for more information:

And save the date for the next Across the Lake weekend event:  June 8-10, 2012


UVM’s OLLI Program: English Country Dancing in Jane Austen’s World
Instructor: Judy Chaves
Date: Mondays, October 24, 31,  November 7 and 14
Time: 5:30-7pm
Location: Ira Allen Chapel (October 31 in Waterman Lounge) at UVM
Price: Members – $60 / Non-members – $85

Do you enjoy 19th-century British literature? If you’ve ever read any of Jane Austen’s novels or seen any of the recent film adaptations, you know that English country dance plays a prominent role in the culture of the time. The forerunner of American contra dance, English country dance is done in two facing lines (sometimes in squares, less often in circles) and requires no more than a knowledge of left from right and the ability and willingness to move to simply wonderful music. Through a combination of lecture (not much) and dance (as much as we can), you’ll learn the basics of the dance, gain an insider’s appreciation of the vital role it played in the lives of Austen’s characters, understand the etiquette and logistics underpinning Austen’s dance scenes–and have a great deal of fun in the process. You may come by yourself or as a couple!

For more info:


 A Jane Austen Lecture: Norwich Public Library, November 2, 2011, 7pm 

In Want of a Wife: Romance and Realism in Pride and Prejudice 

Jane Austen is considered a realist of social relations – and yet, Pride and Prejudice incorporates an element of the fairy tale: it fulfills the wishes of its poor and not conspicuously beautiful heroine.  Dartmouth Professor Emeritus James Heffernan examines how Jane Austen does it. 

[Part of the Vermont Humanities Council 1st Wednesdays program] – visit here for more information on this and other events:


 News & Gossip ~ JASNA style: 

The AGM in Fort Worth is only a week and half away! [and alas! I am without proper attire! – though my jeans and cowgirl boots are at the ready!] – check out the meeting link at JASNA website for the schedule and latest news:

But even if your attire may not be quite proper, you can improve your mind by extensive reading: – here is the JASNA reading list for Sense and Sensibility [most available online]: 

Next year’s 2012 AGM is in New York City, “Sex, Money and Power” – Call for papers has been issued – due by November 1, 2011:

The winners of the annual essay context have been named – visit here to read the three top essays, all on S&S: 

Books I am Looking Forward To:

The 4th edition of Jane Austen’s Letters, edited by Deirdre Le Faye is due November 2011 from Oxford UP:  [image] 

This new fourth edition incorporates the findings of recent scholarship to further enrich our understanding of Austen and give us the fullest and most revealing view yet of her life and family. In addition, Le Faye has written a new preface, has amended and updated the biographical and topographical indexes, has introduced a new subject index, and had added the contents of the notes to the general index.  [from the Oxford UP website]

Marvel Comics  has done it again – this time Northanger Abbey, hitting the stores on November 9, 2011


SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austen; with illustrations by Niroot Puttapipat (11 colour and 21 b&w silhouettes); Palazzo Editions: September 2011; £20

Link here for an article on this new edition:

Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine from Yale UP:

Websites  worth a look:


Gillian Dooley’s website Jane Austen’s Music, where you can download various pieces: 

And for the Mary Crawford wannabe in you: Paul Lewis : JANE AUSTEN SUITE for harp solo – Four movements: Prologue; Country Dance; Romance; Ride away. Goodmusic GM058:  

In 1998, inspired by close acquaintance with two antique gilded harps, I decided to compose a work in a style that would remind them of their younger days! To think myself into a thoroughly Regency frame of mind I played through antique music books until I was so immersed in the style of the period that I could close the books and continue playing in the same vein without any anachronistic intrusions. The books were a leather-bound volume of popular piano salon pieces by long-forgotten composers, written out in a neat copperplate ink script: “The Manuscript Books of Mary Heberden, Datchett Lodge, 1819 & 1826” and a similar collection of harp pieces compiled by one Eliza Euphrosina Saris at about the same time. By these means I hope to have produced music of the kind which Jane Austen might have imagined her fictional heroines playing, the sort of music that all well-bred young Regency ladies would have wanted to perform before an admiring audience, no doubt silhouetted with their harps before the French windows, making the most of the opportunity to display their slender fingers upon the strings and their delicate ankles as they moved the pedals. (Paul Lewis)


Museum Trekking: 

Bath Preservation Trust:  the website links on No. 1 Royal Crescent: The Whole Story Project – some great images here:

Royal Crescent Kitchen

and through October 30, there is a Jane Austen exhibition:  Putting Pen to Paper:

 This special temporary exhibition brought to you from the Bath Preservation Trust includes a rare set of Jane Austen’s first editions on loan from a private collection. Visitors to this inspirational exhibition can learn more about the life of Jane’s novels as the story reveals the craftsmanship of book production in the 18th century and the importance of reading in Jane Austen’s Bath. 

This exhibition will be the first opportunity to see a complete collection of Jane Austen’s first editions in Bath. These treasures will be exhibited alongside tools used in the book binding process. Stamps and rollers will show the exquisite designs used by gilders to create the perfect library for their clients. Beautifully coloured illustrations from later editions will highlight Jane’s narrative, defining her characteristic hallmark of accuracy and attention to detail. 


And while there, stop by at the link on Bath Maps

National Portrait Gallery:

if lucky to be in London, do not miss the exhibition on The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons, 20 October 2011 – 8 January 2012 

[Image: Mrs. Robinson as Perdita]

 Yale Center for British Art:  an exhibit on John Zoffany begins October 27, 2011. – Zoffany [1733-1810]- a painter of many Georgian families, including Queen Charlotte:

On My Bedside Table:
[I heartily confess to a table full of fan fiction! – and thoroughly enjoying all! – more on each in the coming weeks…]

And here is a book I just discovered: My Brother and I, a Jane Austen Sequel from a Completely Different Viewpoint [i.e. Edward Benton the farrier’s apprentice, employed at Pemberley], by Cornelis de Jong  – go here for more info  [this one I might send to my kindle…]

For fun: 

With thanks to the always interesting Two Nerdy History Girls: take a few moments to watch both these very funny videos from the BBC– a spoof of Downton Abbey “Uptown Downstairs Abbey” and almost as good as the real thing! – these will just have to do until we here in the US “patiently” wait for the real season 2 next year : 

[and watch out for Kim Cattrall hiding behind her dark locks and the perpetually falling butler!]

Have a fine week one and all!

Web Round-up ~ All Things Austen!!

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

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



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

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

*A review at Austenprose 

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

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



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


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

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

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

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


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





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

Dates: December 17-19, 2010

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

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

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


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


Follow-up ~ A Talk on ‘Persuasion’

[see our follow-up to the talk below…]

Kellogg-Hubbard Library,  135 Main St, Montpelier, Vermont

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 7pm

Powers of “Persuasion” a Vermont Humanities Council First Wednesdays 2008-2009 Classic Book Program by Bennington College Professor April Bernard

In her final superb novel, Persuasion, Jane Austen combined social satire with profound feeling. Why does this “fairy tale for grown-ups” continue to compel readers? How does Austen hold our attention and sympathy? And finally, who are some contemporary writers who might have learned some of Austen’s lessons?

April Bernard is a poet, novelist, and essayist who teaches literature and writing at Bennington College. Her most recent book is a collection of poems, Swan Electric.


Follow-up to the gathering from Janeite Kelly:

Thanks to the Vermont Humanities Council and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, this event drew a nice little crowd of readers interested in Persuasion and Austen. The Q&A session was amazingly robust!

Prof. Bernard brought up some useful and though-provoking points — including this comment on Austen novels: THEY’RE NOT JUST GIRLS’ BOOKS!! And that was undoubtedly bourne out, if not in her Bennington College classrooms, in the men comprising a portion of the audience for this evening’s lecture!

Some points brought up for discussion: The narcissism of Sir Walter Elliot; the brilliance of Samuel Johnson’s writing (admired by many Austens, including – of course! – Jane); how writers are also avid readers; and some tricks whereby Prof. Bernard teaches writing to her students.

She introduced some ‘nuggets’:

In Austen’s novels the YOUNG end up showing the ELDER generation how one should act and react in life; the ‘old’ versus ‘new’ order, if you will.

One point I had never thought about before, that the NAVY in the characters of Admiral and Mrs Croft – self-made, responsible, wealthier – in essence TAKE OVER from where the gentry, in the form of Sir Walter, have left off (’abondoned ship’, if I can be allowed to think of it that way!). Austen, of course, had her own Naval brothers – men who pulled themselves up through the ranks, and ended up with rank, a title, and some amount of wealth.

One audience member asked where the idea of ‘a fairy tale for adults’ (used in the advertising) fit into her idea of Persuasion. Prof Bernard responded: Second chances at happiness. Children, she said, know fear, hunger (the subjects of traditional fairy tales, yes?) — but children do NOT know disappointment. Anne knew just such a debilitating feeling, and Austen gave this ‘past her bloom’ woman a second chance. We should all live such ‘fairy tale’ lives!

Follow-up from Janeite Deb:

Kelly summarizes nicely some of the main points of Prof. Bernard’s talk on Persuasion – the younger generation proving the older generation wrong [in most of Austen’s writings,  but esp. in Persuasion] by criticizing the establishment; the “fairy-tale” quality of Anne and Wentworth’s second chance at happiness; the Crofts taking over Kellynch Hall as a symbol of Austen’s democratic view of men being able to rise in society by their own efforts.

Prof Bernard emphasized Austen as a “conservative” writer, i.e. as a follower of Johnson, Austen writes of a conventional reality, her code of conduct and moral compass clearly defined in her novels [with Mansfield Park being her most conservative work].  But Berhard views Persuasion as a departure from this for Austen, with this more “democratic” view of society’s changing possibilities, her criticism of the Peerage in the guise of Sir Walter and the rise of the Navy which makes Wentworth an eligible partner for Anne, a lateral social move so to speak.  Bernard also points out how for the first time, Austen has Anne speak in quite radical terms in her speech to Harville that Wentworth [thankfully!] overhears [though not radical for the times, this feminist-speak IS radical for Austen].

Austen’s writing technique is what interests Bernard –  her creative writing classes must be fabulous! – She believes that Austen in this her last completed work was experimenting with her writing, her use of direct vs. indirect discourse most pronounced here.  And Bernard makes a great point about Austen as a creator of the “surrogate writer” in her works, as in Emma, where Emma is writing her own “bad” novels with all her matchmaking stories; and in Persuasion when Anne becomes annoyed with Mr. Elliot for trying to write her own story or to tell her who she is. 

Bernard does make one point that I would like to put out there as a query and field your thoughts:  All of Austen’s books have the “happy ending” we like to see in our “fairy-tale” romances [and in Persuasion we are given her only equal and nearly perfect union in the marriage of Admiral and Mrs. Croft], but Bernard does say quite strongly that these pleasing endings do not all end in happy marriages:  Emma, she says, married her father in Mr. Knightley, and she will spend a lifetime being told what to do by him; and in Mansfield Park, Fanny and Edmund will not live happily ever after because Edmund clearly does not really love Fanny.  [this is perhaps why there are such a spate of sequels?!] – [and I should also add that I do not agree with this outcome for Emma and Fanny, but that is why I request your musings…and Kelly and I will post more on this later…]

So please share with us your thoughts on the “happily ever after” of Austen’s marriages?