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A Jane Austen Acrostic Poem

This week we were sent a charming acrostic poem by Violeta Murray.
Jane Austen

 

Jewel in the English crown
Attar of a rose in bown
Nectar and a garden bliss
Eden in it’s Golden Fleece
An anointed Goddess made
Unsurpassed in her trade
Salutations oh divine
Troth of all the written words
Echoes in our souls a stirred
Nectar from the Gods a spurred
Acrostic Poem jewellery
Georgian “Regard” brooch, circa 1810.

An acrostic is a poem (or other form of writing) in which the first letter (or syllable, or word) of each line (or paragraph, or other recurring feature in the text) spells out a word, message or the alphabet. The word comes from the French acrostiche and from post-classical Latin acrostichis.

Using letters to hide a message, as in acrostic ciphers, was popular during the Renaissance, and could employ various methods of enciphering, while in the Regency period, acrostic jewelry came into vogue. These brooches, rings and other ornaments used gemstones beginning with each letter of the alphabet to spell out sentimental sayings such as LOVE, DEAREST, of REGARD.
( If you’re a fan of acrostic puzzles, you might like to have a look at the Jane Austen acrostic puzzle book. )
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In Defence of Mrs Bennet

Mrs Bennet and Elizabeth Bennet in the Jane Austen News
A Defence of Mrs Bennet, written by Jean Main-Reade
Mrs Bennet and Elizabeth Bennet in the Jane Austen NewsIn Pride and Prejudice, and in every stage, screen and fanfic adaptation, Mrs Bennet is a comic character.  She was made to be mocked, first by her husband and then by millions of readers.  Indeed, we see an empty-headed, uneducated woman.  “The business of her life was to get her daughters married.  It’s solace was visiting and news’. Look at the first half of that in isolation.  In working to get husbands for her daughters, I contend that Mrs Bennet was a caring, conscientious mother.

 

The Longbourn property was entailed, and in default of heirs male would revert to Mr Collins.  Mrs Bennet was not clever enough to understand the workings of an entail, but she certainly understood what would be her daughters’ fate if their father died before they had acquired husbands to support them.

 

Jane Austen’s novels drive this point home. In Sense and Sensibility,  the Dashwood family were forced into reduced circumstances by Mr Dashwood’s death.  In Emma, Mrs and Miss Bates would have starved but for the generosity of their neighbours.  In Mansfield Park, Mrs Price did marry, but her poor choice of husband meant that she, and her children, had to live in poverty.

 

When Charlotte Lucas announced her engagement, Elizabeth was horrified and did not withhold her disapproval.  I feel this was unfair.  Charlotte was ‘around twenty-seven’, and plain.  Elizabeth was twenty, and pretty.  Charlotte had faced the possibility of being dependent on her brothers in the future.  Her single state delayed her sisters’ coming out.  The younger Bennet girls were not affected in this way as Mrs Bennet defied convention and brought all her daughters out early.  When we realise that Charlotte preferred life with Mr Collins to spinsterhood, I think that illustrates what Cecily Hamilton spoke of as ‘the fate of every woman not born an heiress’.

 

We should give Mrs Bennet her due.  Was she not more on the side of the angels than her husband?  When faced with the possibility of pre-deceasing his wife all he said was “My dear…let us hope for better things.  Let us flatter ourselves that I may be the survivor”.  To put it another way “I’m all right, Jack”.
***

About the author:

Jean lives in Truro and, in between writing articles for the local press and volunteering as a presenter on the community and hospital radio, she is working on an exciting writing project about the life of former resident of Falmouth who lived in the 1800s.

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Will We Soon Be Going Into The Next Regency Era?

Could the Queen bring us our second Regency era?

The first Regency period ran from 1811 to 1820, and covered the years in which King George III had to give his full powers to his son, King George IV, because of his health. (What the exact illness which the King had is still a hotly debated topic, but the general consensus is that it was probably bipolar disorder or the blood disease porphyria.)

That was the first Regency, and now it looks as if the UK may be entering its second Regency in a couple of years if the latest word from royal author Phil Dampier is to be believed.

Queen Elizabeth is reportedly planning to trigger the Regency Act and relinquish some of her powers to Prince Charles, the heir to the throne. Previously our Queen made it clear that she regards her current position as a lifelong duty and would therefore not step down. She is still not intending on abdicating, but instead when she reaches 95 in a couple of years she may slow down and possibly the Regency Act will be brought in. She will still be Queen but Prince Charles will, in fact, take over most of the duties. In recent years Prince Charles has been increasingly taking on some of her royal duties. He has been at the state opening in Parliament and at the Commonwealth conference.

If the Regency Act is set in place, it will regulate the process of setting up a regency. According to the Regency Act of 1937, Prince Philip, the Chancellor and the Speaker of the House of Commons must be able to provide evidence that the Sovereign is unable to perform her functions before the Regency Act takes effect.

(One final thought, if the Queen does trigger the Regency Act, and we do enter our second Regency era, can we please bring back Spencer jackets and elegant summer balls filled with dancing and refined music?)


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and Jane Austen news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop

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Why Do We Have No Pockets? The Regency Removed Them

The Regency is to blame for no women's pockets

How frustrating is it having no pockets? Very. Just need to take your keys and a phone out with you that day? Don’t want the inconvenience of having to take a bag with you? Too bad, you’ll still need a bag of some kind because very few women’s clothes have pockets in, and those that do have pockets rarely have ones that are strong enough or big enough for purpose. Ask any women about pockets and you’ll see you’ve touched a nerve.

However, it wasn’t always like this. In the 17th century, women had vast pockets, although they weren’t always built in to their clothes. Often they were stringed, silken drawbags which were tied around their waist and worn under their petticoats. The petticoats and skirts had openings in the side seams so women could easily get to their invisible pockets and get whatever you needed from inside. The quasi-pockets were big enough to carry money, a comb, a small bottle – you name it (within reason).

Woman’s Pockets
England, mid-18th century
Made from silk and linen
Measuring: 15 1/2 x 8 in. (39.37 x 20.32 cm)

The change came at the end of the 18th century and into the Regency period (1811-1820) when petticoats and voluptuous skirts went out of fashion and instead the slim-line, empire-waist Regency gowns came to the fore. These dresses had no room for pockets – it would mess with the lovely silhouette, so pockets had to go. In their place came reticules (Jane Austen even referred to one as a “ridicule”). These were essentially what had been worn on the underside of the dress, only now your hands were tied up with holding onto it, and opportunistic thieves could more easily snatch them.

Meanwhile men went on to have more pockets, not less. A gentleman of the 1940s had, thanks to his suit jacket, waistcoat and trousers, an average of two dozen pockets!

The Regency may have given us some beautiful fashions, but it also, in some ways, ended our hands-free capability. Strange how little quirks of fashion can still influence us today.


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and Jane Austen news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop

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Make Your Own Virtual Georgian Wig

Making your own Georgian wig

Before the relatively demure fashions of the Regency period came into Vogue, the Georgian ladies (and gentleman to a lesser degree) reveled in creating the most outlandish and elaborate wigs. To do this they built the hair up using padding and hair pieces and then gooey pastes from pig’s fat were used to keep it all in place.

Next, once the tower was tall enough, they applied coloured hair powders, bows, flowers, fans, feathers, even in some cases small ships!

The taller the wig, the most ostentatious the decorations, the better.

While we may not be keen to actually wear one of these Georgian wig structures – as, not only are they are rather expensive and unwieldy, they’re also very heavy – we do rather like designing them. This is where a website which we came across earlier this week comes into play.

The Victoria and Albert museum created a free online tool which allows you all the fun of making your own whimsical wig, without having to do any of the brushing and architectural balancing! We rather enjoyed ourselves seeing who could make the wildest wig, so we thought you might like to know about it too!

You can find the wig-builder here.

 


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and Jane Austen news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop

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Spreading Literature With A Floating Library

The floating Library in action

This week we came across an article about a rather unusual library. We’re familiar with mobile libraries which are housed in buses, but we hadn’t come across a floating library before! And certainly not one which is so well stocked!

The floating Library in action
The books are on their way, atmospherically emerging from the mist.

Sweden has a floating library — the bokbåten — that brings thousands of books to people on dozens of remote islands in the Stockholm archipelago twice a year. Every spring and autumn since 1953, the Stockholm Library Service rents a boat for a week, loads it full of books, and sets sail for about 23 inhabited islands.

When the boat docks, residents climb aboard to return the books which they borrowed during the last visit and check out the library’s newest offerings. This can take a while as the boat can hold about 3,000 books!

The bokbåten is looked after by three or four volunteer librarians who take turns working on the ship. In 2018, a woman named Maria Anderhagen took over managing the bokbåten. Partially due to her love of books, and partially due to the fact that she owns an enormous cellar and so she could store all the books in between voyages.

What a fantastic initiative! You can read more about the bokbåten here.

Do you also have an unusual library which you like to visit? Tell us about it in the comments below!


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and Jane Austen news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop

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A Look at Jane Austen And Dawlish

Jane Austen and Dawlish article picture

Jane Austen Gives Literary Advice As She Visits Dawlish

by Donna Fletcher Crow

Young (and experienced) writers are always advised to seek outside help for their work—join a writers’ group, find a good editor, acquire beta readers. But can you imagine a budding novelist being able to receive advice personally from Jane Austen?

That was the enviable experience of young Anna Austen Lefroy who wrote to Aunt Jane for help on the novel she was writing. Apparently Anna’s heroine had an unsuccessful visit to the library in Dawlish, because Jane said, “I am not sensible of any blunders about Dawlish; the library was particularly pitiful and wretched twelve years ago and not likely to have anybody’s publications.”

10 days later, 10 August, 1814,

“We are reading the last book [of Anna’s 3 volume rough draft novel]. They must be two days going from Dawlish to Bath. They are nearly one hundred miles apart.” Distances must have been challenging for Anna, who probably had not travelled a great deal. Aunt Jane advises, “Lynn will not do. Lynn is towards forty miles from Dawlish and would not be talked of there.”

And the next day, “Thursday.— We finished it last night after our return from drinking tea at the Great House. The last chapter does not please us quite so well; we do not thoroughly like the play. . . and we think you had better not leave England. Let the Portmans go to Ireland; but as you know nothing of the manners there, you had better not go with them. You will be in danger of giving false representations.” [This piece of advice is an all-time favourite of mine and the driving motive for undertaking this tour. I try never to write about a place I haven’t visited.]

And, finally, Jane’s advice on editing one’s own work—which we know she did extensively on her own novels, “indeed the more you can find in your heart to curtail between Dawlish and Newton Priors, the better I think it will be. . .”

Sadly, in spite of the excellent advice and family support Anna received the novel has not survived. It does seem that Jane, however, was following her own advice and basing her recommendations on personal experience. A London journal stated that about 1802 the Austens resided for “some weeks” in Teignmouth (which would be very easily combined with a visit to Dawlish.)

Certainly, Jane’s reference to the library speaks of personal experience. Could Jane have enjoyed any place that did not offer an adequate library? And, ironically, my own experience was not a great deal more successful than that of Jane or Anna’s character. My advice: Don’t go to Dawlish on a Wednesday.

I can’t judge the adequacy of the modern library because it is closed on Wednesdays.

The Visitor’s Information Centre, always my first stop on a research trip, is closed on Wednesdays. Although they offer informative reader boards.

The theatre is—you guessed it—closed on Wednesdays.

The tea room, in the historic mill, which had been highly recommended, is apparently permanently closed.

The Lawn, the  very attractive centre of Dawlish, would have been a wild and sometimes dangerous marsh with the unprepossessing name Tunnicliffe Waste when the Austens visited around 1802.

By 1807, however, things were looking up. A visionary 23-year-old named John Ede Manning saw the potential and purchased the Waste. By 1807, 7 years before Anna sent her novel to Aunt Jane, he began building a canal to drain the marsh. Manning landscaped The Lawn and turned the town centre into an attractive area to promenade and socialize—as it remains today.

The enterprising John Ede Manning is not one of the names I’ve seen put forth by writers speculating on role models for the developer Mr. Parker in Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, but he was certainly an example of the type Austen parodied in her story of turning a quiet seaside town into a bustling resort.

But not like “your large, overgrown Places, like Brighton, or Worthing, or East Bourne,” Sanditon was to be “precluded by its size from experiencing any of the evils of Civilization. . . and the sure resort of the very best Company. . .”

Today the train line, originally built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, inserting itself between the beach and the town might make the sea view seem less idyllic than it would have been in Jane’s day, but it did make for a delightful train journey between Teignmouth and Sidmouth.

 

*****

This article about Jane Austen and Dawlish was written by Donna Fletcher Crow, and the article is reproduced here with her permission.

Donna is a novelist of British history, and a traveling researcher who engages people and places from Britain’s past and present – drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today’s reader. Her website can be found here.

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A Look at The First Photos of Sanditon

The first photos of Sanditon are here

The first official photos of Sanditonthe upcoming production of Jane Austen’s 11-chapter long unfinished novel of the same name, have been released. We were looking forward to it before, but now we’re more excited than ever to see the finished result!

Rose Williams as Charlotte Heywood, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway 

 

Rose Williams and Theo James, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway 

 

Anne Reid as Lady Denham, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway  

 

Theo James as Sidney Parker, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway 

 

I’m very excited that we are bringing the world of Sanditon to the TV audience with such a brilliant ensemble cast, headed by star of the future Rose Williams as our heroine, independent and forthright Charlotte Heywood, together with Theo James as Sidney Parker, our Regency entrepreneur with an aura of danger. It’s been such fun to develop Jane Austen’s fragment into a series – now I’m eager to see our exceptional cast bring “Sanditon” to life.

Andrew Davies, Creator and Screenwriter for Sanditon

The series will be shown on the UK TV channel ITV in this coming Autumn. The series will consist of eight 60-minute long episodes. The series will also be shown on PBS Masterpiece in the 2020 season.

Did these photos of Sanditon intrigue you? For more information about the series, you can read our summary of the cast and the storyline here.

 


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and Jane Austen news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop