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Jane Austen News – Issue 61

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

 Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen  

In the lead up to the publication of her new book about Jane Austen, Jane Austen at Home, published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 18th May 2017, Lucy Worsley has been writing various articles and giving interviews for websites and newspapers exploring aspects of Jane’s life.

Within the latest article, written for The Sunday Times by Sian Griffiths, Lucy Worsley has highlighted come of the suitors which Jane apparently spurned in order to keep writing.

“She turned down four or five proposals of marriage and financial security to have a go at living by her pen. And because it wasn’t socially appropriate for her to be a writer, she had to write in secret, and go on pretending to be a good daughter, aunt and housekeeper.”

“The list of potential suitors included Charles Powlett, who wanted to kiss Austen when he was 20; Tom Lefroy; the Reverend Samuel Blackall; Harris Bigg-Wither, who proposed only to be turned down by the writer within 24 hours; the Reverend Edward Bridges; Robert Holt Leigh, an MP who flirted with Austen; and William Seymour, a lawyer.”

However, Deirdre Le Faye, editor of Austen’s letters, said that while she accepted that there were several men in Austen’s life, she did not believe the author spurned them so that she could be a writer, or that she made feminist choices.

“Lucy Worsley enjoys mak­ing history fun,” said Le Faye, “but I do not agree with her argument. There were eligible young men in Jane Austen’s orbit but I do not know of evidence she turned them down so she could carry on writing, but we will never know.”

The full article can be found here.


 Joanna Trollope on Jane Austen and The Austen Project 

Best-selling author Joanna Trollope was one of six authors picked to take part in the Austen project; an initiative begun in 2013 by publisher Harper Collins, which saw top contemporary authors reworking Jane’s six completed novels for a modern audience.

This week Joanna was answering questions via The Guardian website and one of the questions she was asked was:

What is the case for the rewrites of Jane Austen’s books? You have redone Sense and Sensibility while others of the Austen canon have been reworked by others. How would you react if a publisher proposed that your books be rewritten by others?“.

Here’s what she had to say:

The Austen Project was dreamt up by a very clever editor at Harper Collins who is now at Faber. Her idea was to emphasise the timelessness of Jane Austen’s characterisation by taking stories that had been written before 1815 and transposing them to 2013. So the aim was not so much to showcase modern writers, as to display the eternal genius of Jane Austen.

I not only think my novels would be very honoured to be rewritten in 200 years time, I think they would benefit! There is, after all, nothing new to say about the human condition that Sophocles or Shakespeare haven’t brilliantly said already. All writers do is reinterpret or translate those eternal truths about humanity for their own times. I am not of the school of writers who believes that we are inventors, as you will gather! And that explains why, when it came to updating Sense and Sensibility, I not only stuck to Jane’s narrative and characterisation like paint, I also stuck to her treatment of her characters. In Sense and Sensibility there are only two characters she does not tease – one is Elinor Dashwood and the other is Colonel Brandon – and I have treated them in the same way Jane does herself.

I started the project thinking she was a brilliant novelist. I ended the project believing she was a complete genius and nothing that has happened since has caused me to revise that opinion.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 61

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Jane Austen News – Issue 41

Jane Austen 200What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  Romance At The Centre  There was excitement in the Jane Austen Centre this week when one visitor was asked an unexpected question by her boyfriend, Jamie Scott. Charlotte, one of our centre guides, described what happened. “I only saw a little bit because I wanted to give them some private time. But by some luck, they were the only two in their talk. When they got to the writing desks, they were alone in the room with only me! While she was reading some of the information boards he wrote ‘Will you marry me?’ on one of the cards. “She then sat down at the other desk and he went and gave her his card. I had left at this point to give them a moment, but was just outside with Serena (another of our guides) when she said yes. He gave her the ring he had kept hidden until that moment, and then we came around the corner and congratulated them. She seemed overwhelmed. It was lovely!” Help Design Jane Austen Benches  Basingstoke and Deane is going to honour the 200 year anniversary of Jane Austen’s death by placing 25 specially decorated ‘BookBenches’ in and around the town during Summer 2017. Local artists are being invited to come up with their own Jane Austen related designs which will be put onto benches that look like open books. Eventually the benches will be available as street furniture for the public of Basingstoke and (more…)
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Elizabeth Bennet information from the Jane Austen Centre

Jennifer EhleElizabeth Bennet Elizabeth Bennet, or Lizzy Bennet, or Eliza, is the main character of the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice (1813). She is a witty young girl of twenty with dark eyes and hair. Elizabeth Bennet is the second of five sisters and resides in a small house called Longbourn outside the town of Meryton. Her closest companions are her eldest sister Jane Bennet and her friend Charlotte Lucas. ElizabethBennet is closest to her father, she is his favourite daughter and he tries to look out for her as best he can. Her other sisters are Mary, Lydia and Kitty. She has no fortune of her own and her welfare depends on the wealth of her marriage. Pride and Prejudice is the story of how Elizabeth Bennet meets and falls in love with Mr. Darcy, a wealthy man who could solve all her problems of fortune. Elizabeth loves to laugh at the folly of others and is a bright energetic girl. She also has in her character a tendency to judge others on first appearance. This is how she establishes Mr. Darcy as a proud, hateful man and what guides her in her trust of the charming and handsome militiaman, Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth Bennet receives three a proposals of marriage in the course of the novel. The first is from her distant cousin Mr. Collins, who is to inherit her family’s estate. He is a very foolish, ridiculous man and she flatly refuses him. The second two are from (more…)
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Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, by Quinçon “She possessed the pure Grecian contour; her head was exquisitely formed, her forehead fair and shapely, her eyes large and dark, with an expression of tenderness that did not belong to her character; and the delicate loveliness of her mouth and chin, the soft bloom of her complexion, together with her beautifully rounded shoulders and tapering arms, combined to form one of the loveliest of women.” -quote about Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, by an unknown admirer Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was born Baltimore, Maryland,  February 6 1785, the eldest of 13 children .  Known as “Betsy”,  she was the daughter of a Baltimore, Maryland merchant, the first wife of Jérôme Bonaparte, and sister-in-law of Emperor Napoleon I of France. Elizabeth’s father, William Patterson, had been born in Ireland and came to North America prior to the American Revolutionary War. He was a Catholic, and the wealthiest man in Maryland after Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Elizabeth’s brother, Robert, married Carroll’s granddaughter, Marianne Caton (but more on her later…) How they met is a mystery,  but Elizabeth and Jérôme Bonaparte (at the time 18 and 20, respectively) were married on December 24, 1803, at a ceremony presided over by John Carroll, the Archbishop of Baltimore. Betsy quickly became known for her “risqué” taste in fashion, starting with her wedding dress. Elizabeth Patterson's Wedding Dress, described as a dress so small that it “would fit easily into a gentleman’s pocket.” Image (more…)
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The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After: A Review

In her book, The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, Elizabeth Kantor asks the question, “Just what is it about Jane Austen that has us coming back year after year, decade after decade, making her by far the most famous female writer of her time. Why DO we read Jane Austen?” It’s more than just wanting a good read or to be part of a perfect world, set apart in time. She theorizes that “We wish we could be Jane Austen heroines in our own lives, dealing with everything—especially men—with the sophistication and competence we admire in characters like Elizabeth Bennet. Women see something in Jane Austen  that’s missing from modern relationships, and we can’t help wondering if there might be some way to have what we see there—without going back to empire waistlines, horse-drawn carriages, and the bad old days before the Married Women’s Property Act.” “I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness” -Elizabeth Bennet My mother’s favorite axiom is, “Your attitude is your choice”. After researching all of Jane’s work, using not only her six published novels, but also the fragments, Juvenilia and surviving letters, Kantor has come to a similar conclusion. Your happiness—or lack thereof, is the result of your own choices in life. Sure, we can be dealt situations less than idyllic—not everyone can be born a gentleman’s daughter in Hertfordshire, but the first question she would have us ask of ourselves is whether (more…)
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Free Iphone App

Jane Austen App  The Free Jane Austen App. How odd that an 18th century author finds her work being promoted and enjoyed via the medium of 21st century technology. The Jane Austen Centre in Bath has been busy working on an Iphone app which will deliver a witty or meaningful quote from Jane Austen’s novels or letters to your phone every day. These quotes, compiled over the past 6 months are as relevant to life today as they were in the C18th! Jane Austen speaks of love, marriage and friendship. Here are some examples that may chime with you; “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” Pride and Prejudice “I do not like to have people throw themselves away; but everybody should marry as soon as they can do it to advantage.” Mansfield Park “To flatter and follow others, without being flattered and followed in turn, is but a state of half enjoyment.” Persuasion “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.” Pride and Prejudice “I think very highly of the understanding of all the women in the world — especially of those — whoever they may be — with whom I happen to be in company.” Northanger Abbey The app is free and can be found at the appstore by searching for Jane Austen Centre. (more…)
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Account of Joseph Paisley: ‘The Celebrated Gretna-Green Parson’

“MY DEAR HARRIET, You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! Pride and Prejudice This account of the life of Joseph Paisley (with an etched Likeness), styled as ‘The Celebrated Gretna-Green Parson’, appeared in the Lady’s Magazine, or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated solely to their Use and Amusement, May, 1811, as a letter to the editor. To the Editor of the Lady’s Magazine SIR, I inclose you an Account (from the Carlisle Journal) of the Gretna-Green Parson, who died a few days ago, as also an etching, which is an excellent likeness, and was taken some years ago, by a neighbouring country lad, without the knowledge of the Parson; he not being willing to sit for such a purpose. If you think them worth publishing, they are at your service. In addition to the printed (more…)
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See they come, post haste from Thanet

Lovely couple, side by side; They’ve left behind them Richard Kennet With the Parents of the Bride! Canterbury they have passed through; Next succeeded Stamford-bridge; Chilham village they came fast through; Now they’ve mounted yonder ridge. Down the hill they’re swift proceeding, Now they skirt the Park around; Lo! The Cattle sweetly feeding Scamper, startled at the sound! Run, my Brothers, to the Pier gate! Throw it open, very wide! Let it not be said that we’re late In welcoming my Uncle’s Bride! To the house the chaise advances; Now it stops–They’re here, they’re here! How d’ye do, my Uncle Francis? How does do your Lady dear? Jane Austen   Enjoyed this article? Browse our book shop at janeaustengiftshop.co.uk (more…)