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In your Easter Bonnet

Easter is still two weeks away, and yet, somehow the delightful tradition, begun in childhood, of having something new to wear Easter Sunday morning, has me scrambling. The girls (8 and 10 respectively) plead their case last year, not to have to wear gloves and hats to church, but one still feels the need to be turned out fresh and new to celebrate not only the Saviour’s triumph over death, but also spring’s triumph over the cold of winter. A Wet Sunday Morning by Edmund Blair Leighton. In Jane Austen’s novels and letters, Easter is seen more as a time of travel (Mr. Collins to be ordained, Darcy travling to Kent, Mrs. Rushworth staying in Twickenham, along with Jane’s mention of herself, Henry and Edward all traveling at different times during Easter) rather than a season for new clothes. However, the long held habit of beginning a new season with new clothes can be dated back at least to the 16th century, with only a look at Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (“Did’st thou not fall out with a Tailor for wearing his new Doublet before Easter?”) or even the great Samuel Pepys, who wrote: 30 March (Easter Day) 1662 Having my old black suit new furbished, I was pretty neat in clothes to-day, and my boy, his old suit new trimmed, very handsome. The almanac writer, Poor Robin (1661-1776) notes, At Easter let your clothes be new Or else be sure you will it rue. An image from Atelier de (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 8

Jane Austen news 7What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Mr Darcy’s Shirt Is Off To America  Mr Darcy’s famous wet shirt will soon be causing waves in America. As part of an exhibition titled Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington will be displaying the shirt alongside relics including a bundle of wood collected at Shakespeare’s birthplace, a bottle of Austen-inspired Bath Gin (“Gin of a different persuasion”), and Will and Jane action figures. ”The Shirt”  (the minimalist label that will be given to it during the exhibition), belongs to British costume supply house Cosprop. Apparently they receive several requests a year for items of Mr. Darcy’s clothing. Treat Mental Health by Reading Austen “Literature and mental health: Reading for wellbeing” is a free course recently offered by the University of Warwick through it’s open learning platform. It was designed to teach anyone who wished to learn how to cope with the trials and tribulations of modern life through the reading and analysis of classic works. Shakespeare’s King Lear looked at dementia and ageing, Austen’s Sense and Sensibility at heartbreak, and the World War 1 poets at post-traumatic stress disorder. It asked for approximately four hours per week as a time commitment, and offered a certificate at the end. It was so popular that Paula Byrne, Austen biographer and compiler of the programme, hopes that the course will be run in the future a few times reach year. For details of future courses visit the University (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 7

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Sir Walter Scott’s Emma on Show Sir Walter Scott, the eminent Georgian reviewer and novelist, reviewed work from some of the most famous literary names of the era. Now a show titled “Rave Reviewer: Scott on Frankenstein, Emma and Childe Harold”, will tell the story of his engagement and interaction with some of the most famous literature of the early nineteenth century – including the works Jane Austen. In the exhibition visitors will be able to view handwritten documents from Scott himself, from Mary Shelley and from Lord Byron, all of which bring to life the story behind preparing a work for publication and review. Scott’s own first edition of Emma will also be on show. “Rave Reviewer: Scott on Frankenstein, Emma and Childe Harold” will be on display in Abbotsford House, Melrose, Scotland from Saturday 2nd April 2016 until the end of the season on November 2016. Did You Know?    Helen Amy, the author of The Jane Austen Files, has written an article for BBC History Extra magazine with 8 lesser-known Jane Austen facts. Did you know that there’s no mention on Jane’s gravestone that she was an author? Or that Jane’s cousin is said to have saved her life when she was a child? The full article is free to read here. Jane Austen’s Juvenilia: Beautiful Proto-Feminism Devoney Looser, Professor of English at Arizona State University, has published a wonderful article that highlights the fire and feminism in what is possibly Jane’s most satirical work (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 6

Jane Austen NewsWhat’s the Jane Austen News this week? LA Regency Ball is a 60 Second Sell-Out! The team behind the Pasadena-based re-enactment evening, ‘The Jane Austen Evening’, which is now in its 18th year, was amazed by the popularity with which its most recently held event was met. When tickets went on sale for the event at 12pm last November 14th,  it had already sold all of the 500 tickets it had available by 12:01 pm! LA Weekly reporter Renee Camus, who reported on this amazing achievement, also explored why Jane Austen themed balls are becoming increasingly popular. Her full article can be found here. The Leading Ladies of Love & Freindship (sic) Talk Austen Adaptations Kate Beckinsale, who is due to play Lady Susan Vernon in Whit Stillman’s upcoming feature film based on Austen’s Lady Susan, and Chloe Sevigny, who will take the role of her American friend Alicia Johnson, have been speaking about the issues and joys that come with adapting Austen’s work for the big screen. “It’s really difficult to have lunch or get through doorways — I had a hat the size of a cartwheel!” Their video interview can be seen at: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kate-beckinsale-chloe-sevigny-jane-858805 Love and Friendship, the title that Whit Stillman has chosen for the film, is due to be released in the UK on September 2nd. Free Debates for North American Austen Fans Much in the same way that in Karen Joy Fowler’s novel, The Jane Austen Book Club, the members go through and discuss each of Jane’s (more…)
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The Journal of Eveline Helm, Part Two

Dear Reader,  I hope that this journal of my time in Bath should prove to be helpful to you. In reading it may you be spared the numerous faux pas and embarrassments that I was not. I truly feel that if this work should prevent even one other young lady from public ridicule in the Assembly Rooms of Bath then it will have been wholly worthwhile.  Humbly yours,  Eveline Helm. June, 1797 Although I am, as I have said before, most impatient to see the city of Bath itself, I am as yet unable to. This is because the journey in my Uncle’s chaise took a little more than eight hours, which was as expected. As we left not too long after a relatively late ten o’clock breakfast, we arrived in Bath at a quarter past seven, which is, of course, just in time for dinner; a meal which we were all more than ready for. Unfortunately there was no dinner waiting for us, as we had not sent the few servants whom my Uncle had brought with us on ahead in order to make the necessary arrangements. On our arrival therefore, whilst James, my Uncle’s valet, and Mr Johnson, his butler, were taking our bags inside and depositing their contents into their appropriate places, our cook, Mrs Drewit, made the bold move of going out into town in the now empty chaise to try and procure us some sustenance. My Uncle, meanwhile, was busy making further arrangements that I (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 5

austentatiousFollow our blog for all the weekly Jane Austen news from around the world. Austentatious Returns to Bath  In 2013, 2014 and 2015 the Jane Austen Festival has been honoured to play host to the fantastic improv show Austentatious, which takes a made-up book title suggested by the audience and bases the evening’s performance around that title. No two shows are the same but every show is a delight to be a part of, and happily Austentatious will be back in Bath at the Guildhall on Sunday the 6th of March. More information and tickets are available from their website: http://austentatiousimpro.com Harper Lee’s Austen Ambition Along with many others we were sad to learn of the recent death of world renowned author Harper Lee. We knew she was a literary great, but we didn’t know that she had such a high regard for Jane Austen. “I believe that there is something universal in this little world, something decent to be said for it, and something to lament in its passing,” she continued. “In other words, all I want to be is the Jane Austen of South Alabama.” An honourable ambition indeed. Jane Inspires New Art Exhibition Jane Austen’s work has been interpreted in a great number of different ways; through theatre, song, television, films, and of course through hundreds of books. A new interpretation of Jane and her characters saw American artist Amy Lee Lummus fuse her own modern style of painting with Jane’s 18th century stories. You can click here to read what (more…)
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Mrs Bennet’s Round Robin, by Viv Cavallo

To all our dear neighbours in Hertfordshire... What a wonderful year the Bennet family has enjoyed with three of my girls successfully married! My darling Lydia, youngest of my five daughters is blissfully happy with her ‘dear Wickham’ as she calls him.  Just think of it – only sixteen years old, yet she was the first of my daughters to find a husband!   And such a man; he’s a dashing figure, always so courteous, so charming with a smile and compliment at the ready.  I remember when I admired a redcoat myself; indeed I still do at heart.  Lydia is such a lucky girl. The next delightful news came when Jane, my eldest, was married to Mr Bingley.  I always said her beauty would be her fortune.  So when I heard that Netherfield Park was to be taken by a young gentleman of large property, I knew it would be an ideal opportunity for one of my girls.  I can reveal that it was a lucky idea of mine that brought Jane and dear Charles together! When Bingley’s sisters invited her over for tea I insisted that she went on horseback rather than take the carriage, for I thought it likely to rain.  Then a bad cold kept her at Netherfield for some days, just as I had planned, and that was when they fell in love!   Mr Bingley is the most handsome young man ever seen, and worth at the least four or five thousand pounds a year! Yet (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 4

jane austen knittingThe 10 Places All Austen Fans Should Visit  Bustle has recently compiled a list of the top ten places that fans of Jane Austen NEED to go to, and we were delighted to find ourselves at number one! Other locations included in the must-see sites are Lyme Park in Cheshire, which was the location used by the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice for exterior shots of Pemberley, and Box Hill in Surrey, where Emma goes for that memorable group picnic. The full list can be found here: http://www.bustle.com/articles/141101-10-places-all-jane-austen-fans-should-visit. Literary Map Makes Planning a Cultural Break Easy  On a similar note, The Good Men Project has a nifty interactive map on their site which allows users to browse areas of the country and discover the famous books that are inspired by or set there. Each entry comes with suggestions of literary activities and sights to see based on the appropriate book, as well as a series of interesting facts and insider tips on places to eat or stay. Planning a short book-based break just got a whole lot easier. The map can be found at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/dudes-guide-literary-hot-spots-wcz/ New Cozy Classics Coming Soon We love the range of books that Cozy Classics has to offer. The artistic duo Jack and Holman Wang recreate select classics in their distinctive one-word to one-felt-image format, and in doing so have made high-brow literature accessible to the very youngest of readers. Usually we’re used to seeing a slightly different edition of Pride and Prejudice to the (more…)