It’s a pleasure to have a chance to connect with other Jane Austen enthusiasts. Like many people, my passion for Jane Austen grew hugely with the 1996 mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. The theatricality of the characters and the beauty of her dialogue delivered by that magnificent cast made that series one that was watched time and time again for me!
My first full length play (Water Child) was produced in Newcastle, Australia in 2012. Having won an award for that play and received very enthusiastic reviews and comments from audience members, I was keen to write another. But I had no particular idea about what until one day, like a gift, an idea presented itself: Mr and Mrs Bennet. What inspired this unlikely union? I read Pride and Prejudice again eagerly with those characters in focus, and noted that very little context is provided for their past.
Chapter 42 opens with reflections on their courtship and marriage:
Continue reading Mr Bennet’s Bride, by Emma Wood
Original content by Rhian Fender
“There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.”
(Mr Darcy and Mr Wickham of Pride and Prejudice)
During the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, there was one virtue which was strenuously promoted amongst men: sincerity. In November 1844, the young Lord Ashley declared: “We must have nobler, deeper, and sterner stuff, less of refinement and more of truth; more of the inward, not so much of the outward, gentleman.” Inspired by the cultural phenomenon of medievalism, and the resulting revival of the importance of chivalry, the very nature of masculinity began to be questioned and adapted to suit the conventions of society.
The ‘polite’ society of the eighteenth century into which Jane Austen was born was not the most suited to true chivalry, for ‘politeness’ was synonymous with status and wealth, rather than the inherent goodness endorsed by the medieval chivalric code, which stressed the importance of traits such as generosity, loyalty, duty and devotion. A figure who it may be argued truly represents this society was Lord Chesterton, whose letters to his son illustrated the façade of sincerity which many created, instructing his son to “be upon your own guard, and yet; by a seeming natural openness, to put people off theirs.” The call for more authenticity resulted in ‘politeness’ being viewed as rather outdated, with ‘manliness’ emerging as the male ideal. This consideration of masculinity is evident in the work of Jane Austen, with the heroes of the novels embodying the spirit of manliness.
Continue reading Yours Sincerely: Jane Austen’s Heroes
Exclusive content by Rebecca Smith, author of The Jane Austen Writers’ Club
One of the hardest things about writing is just keeping going.
Lots of people can write well, but to finish a novel, receive rejections, keep on editing and revising and then do it all over again takes real stamina. Most published authors’ first novels aren’t their first novels at all. Lots of creative young people want to write but give up in their twenties or thirties when early success eludes them and life takes over. Jane Austen could easily have given up, and at first glance it could seem that for a while she did. It’s easy to think that Jane Austen didn’t write much during her years in Bath and Southampton.
We know from Jane’s letters and family recollections that she was at first horrified about the move to Bath but then became resigned and even looked forward to being in the city and spending summers at the seaside:
Continue reading Writing In Tough Times: Jane Austen in Bath and Southhampton
Share this: The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton A review by Laura Boyle When I was asked to review The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, I had no idea what the story was about, the cover giving only the vaguest idea that it might have something to do with the lovely topaz necklaces that were a gift to Jane and her sister from their seafaring brother Charles. Was it Jane’s personal charm, or this actual, physical charm that the story was about? The answer was to be a little of both. With vivid detail, authors Ada Bright and Cass Grafton set their stage: the opening of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. In a tale of art imitates life, one might suspect, two longtime internet friends are about to meet for the first time in person and partake of the delights Bath has to offer. The city, sights and excitement of the festival come to life in a way that must make all of us who have never been long for a taste of that happiness which comes when “good people get together”. Those who have had a chance to enjoy the festival must revisit these scenes of past pleasure once again with delight. While seemingly straightforward enough, two young ladies ready for love, two single men in want of wives, the story takes a dramatic twistpart way through the novel. It appears (as the reader has already suspected) that Rose Wallace’s (more…)
Share this: By Jenni Waugh I recently replied to an email enquiry from a student who was looking for an opinion on the question “To what extent does Jane Austen present her heroines as ideal women within their social contexts?” My reply ended up being fairly lengthy and is below. Let me know what you think! Personally, I’d say that very few, if any, of her heroines are presented as ideal women within their social contexts. They all have their own unique flaws. Elizabeth Bennet is outspoken and opinionated; just think of her responses to Lady Catherine’s enquires about her age, and her dismissal of Mr Collins, and then later of Mr Darcy. Were Lizzy an ideal woman in society she would have accepted Collins in order to secure her family’s home as per her mother’s wishes, or Darcy when he asked her in order to secure an even better future for herself and her family. Emma, likewise, is outspoken, opinionated and meddlesome. Although on a positive note she is at least relatively rich; a most desirable quality in any wife. Anne Elliot is rich and polite, and certainly obeys her family’s wishes, which is why she turned down the Captain’s initial offer of marriage all those years ago. However, Anne would be considered by many to be too old to make a good bride. You could be out in society and looking for a husband from the age of 15, and by the age of 26 you were seen (more…)
Share this: by Marc DeSantis A Rural England Though Jane Austen’s life of forty-one years was lamentably short, her time on earth, 1775 to 1817, was nonetheless one of great and momentous change. England was still largely rural in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the rhythm of its country life was tied to the seasonal needs of agriculture. The population of Britain at the dawn of the nineteenth century was nine million, with four-fifths of this total living in the country. Fully one-third of the population of England was employed in agriculture. Like farmers in all times and places, the rural folk of Jane’s English countryside were at the mercy of the weather, which was especially fickle in the late eighteenth century. The winters were often very cold, and the springs very wet and late in arriving. Summers could be either very dry or cold and wet. Crops and livestock could be devastated by too much cold or not enough rain. Poor weather also encouraged the spread of blights and rots. When the wheat harvest was bad, the price of bread shot up, making it hard for the poor to feed themselves, and riots over food would sometimes erupt among the rural hungry. Life in the country had other hardships. There were highwaymen on the roads ready to waylay travelers, groups of gypsies robbed countryfolk as well, and thieves stole horses and other valuables. On some occasions there were even murders, particularly when it was thought that (more…)
Share this: Here at the Jane Austen Gift Shop, we’ve had a great reaction to our new 3-D Jane Austen cookie cutter. These ingenious plastic cutters enable you to make biscuits, pastries and sandwiches not just in the shape of Jane’s sihouette but as a full living likeness of her! So we asked our supplier if they could give us a cookie recipe to go with it, along with any helpful hints for all prospective cookie chefs out there. And so, without further ado: How to Make Super Shape Sugar Cookies (This recipe can make up to five-dozen 3″ cookies.) Ingredients: 6 cups flour 3 tsp. baking powder 2 cups unsalted butter 2 cups sugar (white granulated) 2 eggs 2 tsp. vanilla extract or desired flavoring 1 tsp. salt Cookie Recipe Instructions: 1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Mix the dry ingredients and add a little at a time (that’s important!) to the butter mixture. Mix until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together. 2. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. 3. Roll to the desired thickness and cut into shapes. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees F, for 8 to 10 minutes (or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges.) Et voila! And now, for some Tips and Tricks! While this all seems pretty self-explanatory, highly detailed cutters can be a little tricky until you get into a rhythm with (more…)
Share this: It’s been an extremely varied 12 months here at the Jane Austen Gift Shop as far as reading matter goes… Our biggest sellers have been the Jane Austen Classic Colouring Book and the Pride and Prejudice Colouring Classic. Whether young or old, it’s hard to resist getting out the pencils, paints or crayons to add a splash of colour to these enchanting illustrations. Some said the colouring craze was just a passing fancy, but if the popularity of these titles is anything to go by, there’s plenty of life in it yet, especially among Jane Austen fans! Of the official releases, you certainly enjoyed The Annotated Emma. This ingenious and illuminating book book pairs the full original text with explanations of historical context, maps and illustrations, definitions of historical terms and concepts, comments and analysis and cross-referencing to Jane’s other novels, letters and writings. The result is almost like reading the novel for the first time, and it’s full of information on everything from English attitudes towards gypsies to the social status of spinsters and illegitimate children, to the shopping habits of fashionable ladies. A gourmet feast for Janeites, it’s one of those books that is sure to drive your friends mad, as you constantly stop and them and say: “Did you know this?” The big movie news of the year was the release of Love and Friendship, based on Jane’s early work Lady Susan. If that’s inspired you to catch up (or re-acquaint yourself) with the juvenilia, (more…)