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Why Jane Austen’s Persuasion Still Captivates Audiences

Jane Austen's PersuasionThis Spring 2018, Theatre6 is producing a touring production of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Artistic Director Kate McGregor discusses why they’ve chosen to adapt the work for six actor musicians, and why Persuasion remains so captivating for today’s audiences. Adapting a novel like Jane Austen’s Persuasion for the stage, from the earliest planning stages until the opening night, is a project that absorbs your days and nights for at least two years. In making the decision to dedicate such time to a piece, it has to be one which you’d like to explore visually, conceptually, emotionally and intellectually. Most importantly, it has to be a story that will excite, captivate and be relevant for your audiences. For Stephanie Dale (the novel’s adapter) and I, our biggest inspiration for working on the piece was the character of Anne. We envisioned how the themes in Persuasion could transcend time and space, and imagined how Jane’s ideas could breathe and thrive in our modern world.   A novel must show how the world truly is, how characters genuinely think, how events actually occur, a novel should somehow reveal the true source of our actions – Jane in Becoming Jane.   Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, this is a story about heartbreak. It’s about making decisions you regret, about trusting the right people for the wrong reasons. It asks questions about the inner workings of why we love and who loves the longest. Most importantly it’s an expression of Anne inner thoughts (more…)
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The Janeites by Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling's The JaneitesThe Janeites – Rudyard Kipling’s Short Story Rudyard Kipling’s short story entitled “The Janeites”, about a group of World War I soldiers who were secretly fans of Austen’s novels. This short story is often cited as the place from where the term Janeite came.    *** Jane lies in Winchester-blessed be her shade! Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made! And while the stones of Winchester, or Milsom Street, remain. Glory, love, and honour unto England’s Jane! In the Lodge of Instruction attached to ‘Faith and Works No. 5837 E.C.,’ which has already been described, Saturday afternoon was appointed for the weekly clean-up, when all visiting Brethren were welcome to help under the direction of the Lodge Officer of the day: their reward was light refreshment and the meeting of companions. This particular afternoon-in the autumn of ’20-Brother Burges, P.M., was on duty and, finding a strong shift present, took advantage of it to strip and dust all hangings and curtains, to go over every inch of the Pavement-which was stone, not floorcloth-by hand; and to polish the Columns, Jewels, Working outfit and organ. I was given to clean some Officers’ Jewels-beautiful bits of old Georgian silver-work humanised by generations of elbow-grease-and retired to the organ- loft; for the floor was like the quarterdeck of a battleship on the eve of a ball. Half-a-dozen brethren had already made the Pavement as glassy as the aisle of Greenwich Chapel; the brazen chapiters winked like pure gold (more…)
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A Library Talk About Jane Austen

by Margaret Mills

As a part-time adult education lecturer in English literature and history, I am never happier than when I am asked to deliver a course or a talk about Jane Austen’s life and work.

In October 2017 I was asked to give a talk at our local public library, and I was delighted to hear that this library, along with others in Essex, has decided to offer talks and refreshments in the evenings, when the library would normally be closed to the general public.  This particular library is offering a varied programme of different talks, and considering this is a fairly new venture, I was pleased to find that an audience of 18 people attended, all interested in learning more about Jane, aided by a slide presentation and followed by refreshments and a discussion.  Thanks to the articles and comments in the Jane Austen News I was also able to bring into my talk some more recent developments and discoveries about Jane, her life and times.

People are often surprised at how relatively unknown Jane was as an author at the time of her death.   The comment made by the verger of Winchester Cathedral to a gentleman visiting her grave is a perfect example of this: ‘Pray, sir, can you tell me whether there was anything particular about that lady: so many people want to know where she was buried?’ (Austen Leigh, James Edward. A Memoir of Jane Austen).  This really sums things up.   In today’s world, where we are inundated with the cult of ‘celebrity’, (too often based on very little in the way of genuine talent and ability), it strikes many people as amazing that she was seemingly content to stay in the background. Her letters to her beloved older sister, Cassandra, often project a wistful desire for recognition and acknowledgement, but this is concealed behind a self-effacing, dry humour.

Continue reading A Library Talk About Jane Austen

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Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours with Lizzy Bennet

Lizzy BennetAusten Superpowers: Finding Yours with Lizzy Bennet Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels. We dream of them. We want to be them. We wish they were our best friend. Or our partner. And sometimes, we wish we could shake some sense into them. They are Jane Austen’s heroines and heroes. Each of them has a flawed humanity, but each also has a unique and special quality—an Austen superpower, if you will. Which is why they are so eminently relatable. Like them, we too are flawed. And like them, we have those same superpowers. They may be hidden away where we cannot see them, but they are there neverthless. All we have to do is believe. How do we do that? By following the lead of Austen’s leading ladies and men, who dig down deep within themselves to access their own superpowers. In this first of a series of posts, we turn to the heroine who is perhaps the most beloved of all: Elizabeth aka Lizzy Bennet of Pride and Prejudice. via GIPHY   What are Lizzy Bennet’s superpowers? 1. The ability to have a cheerful attitude and sometimes even laugh in the face of humiliation and disappointment. via GIPHY 2. The ability to recognize and admit that she has been as proud and judgmental as the person she condemned for those same qualities. Let’s discuss Superpower 1 first. This is a tricky one, because (more…)
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An Interview with Author Rachel Knowles

What regency Women Did For UsNot all Regency women were alike… Author and Regency history blogger Rachel Knowles came to visit us at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath recently, and she was kind enough to tell us a little more about her latest book, What Regency Women Did For Us, and about some of the amazing women of the Regency. Over the next few weeks we’ll be uploading Rachel Knowles’ interview about Jane Austen, blogging and Regency women in regular episodes and then posting them all here. Enjoy! Part One Rachel Knowles introduces herself and explains how why the Regency appealed to her and is still relevant today: (more…)
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Finding Happiness, Austen Style, with Emma, our favourite matchmaker

Finding happiness with EmmaWelcome to the fourth of a multi-part series of posts on how to lift yourself out of the blues, Austen style. This time, with Emma. Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels. Does the following sound familiar to you? You’ve found the perfect certain someone for your friend, neighbour, colleague, or other unsuspecting acquaintance. There’s just one small problem: Said friend has told you that no way, no how is he/she interested in that perfect certain someone. And yet, you know better–just as you always do. Just as Emma, the eponymous heroine of Austen’s novel, always did. Hold on a minute. Did Jane Austen write two versions of Emma? Or could it be that you, like Emma, are turning into the queen of know-it-all? Heaven forbid. After all, look what happened to Emma. She very nearly totally screwed up her life. But never fear. We’ve got a little game for you to play. It’s called “Emma, Reformed Matchmaker.” All you need to do is follow the rules: 1. You’ll need to play with a single friend (preferably a single friend who would like to be in a couple. Otherwise, we might need to come up with another game entitled, “Emma Reformed Bulldozer”). 2. Each of you sits down and writes a list of qualities that your friend’s perfect, future mate should possess. 3. Do not reveal what is on your lists until both of you are finished writing. 4. Now share. You (more…)
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The Enduring Inspiration of Miss Jane Austen Now and Forever

Reviewer of Austenesque works

We’re delighted to be able to bring you this fantastic blog post by Claudine Pepe; blogger and devoted Austen fan, in which she asks fellow Austenesque authors why Jane Austen inspires them so much, and why they personally have an enduring love for Jane Austen and all things Austenesque.

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Fans of Jane Austen throughout the world connect with her today in so many different ways.

For me, as well as for thousands of other readers, our love for Jane Austen now continues in the fan fiction stories that we love to read based on the characters she created over 200 years ago. I don’t know how many other authors have such a large amount of fan fiction that is published based on their work, but for me it has been a blessing and a joy to be part of the Jane Austen Fan Fiction community, where we are able to continue to enjoy Jane’s characters and stories in so many new ways.

I am so grateful to Miss Austen for starting all of this with her wonderfully crafted stories and her characters that feel as true-to-life as our very own family and friends. I also would like to thank all of the authors who have been inspired so deeply by their love for Jane Austen’s work that they themselves take on the challenges of creating stories based on her work to entertain readers all over the globe.

In tribute to Jane Austen, today I am sharing some of my quotes from my favorite Jane Austen Fan Fiction writers who have visited Just Jane 1813 over the past few years, as they share with us how they have also been inspired by the brilliant Jane Austen. I can never thank Jane Austen enough for giving us her unforgettable stories, but it is my hope that this post demonstrates our appreciation and love for this talented and witty woman!

 

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“I happened to be at a train station without a book and picked up Longbourn by Jo Baker, which I really enjoyed, though I wasn’t always happy with the depictions of Darcy and Elizabeth, but it started me looking for other books on my Kindle and I was delighted to find that there were hundreds of variations and sequels, and I devoured them. There are some brilliant JAFF writers around and they inspired me. I remember reading Joana Starnes’ book The Falmouth Connection, putting it down and thinking ‘that was bloody great, I want to have a go myself.’ At that time I just used to read books I found on Amazon, and I had no idea there were blogs and places like ‘A Happy Assembly’ or even that Meryton Press existed. Continue reading The Enduring Inspiration of Miss Jane Austen Now and Forever

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Jane Austen and the Oliphant in the Room

by Alice Chandler, author of Aunt Jane and the Missing Cherry Pie

I do apologize for the pun in my title.

The Olifant I refer to is Margaret Olifant (1828-1894), a prolific and popular nineteenth-century writer and said to be Queen Victoria’s favorite novelist. The reason that I figuratively place Olifant in the same room as Jane Austen is that she was such a trenchant and perceptive critic of Austen’s work.

Austen was not always fortunate in her woman critics during the century after her death. While famous male authors lauded her and often compared her work to Shakespeare’s, some notable women writers were very critical of her writing.  Her contemporary Mary Mitford, whose mother actually knew Jane Austen, was well-known in her time for her charming short novel, Our Village. Mitford disliked Elizabeth Bennett as a character and criticized “the entire want of taste that could produce so pert, so worldly a heroine as the beloved of such a man as Darcy.”

 Charlotte Bronte was particularly negative about Austen. She compared her writing to a “daguerrotyped portrait of a commonplace face” and complained that her work “lacked poetry.” She thought that Austen’s novels delineated “the surface… lives of genteel English people.”  But they ignored “what throbs fast and full… what the blood rushes through… the unseen seat of life.” Or to put it more simply, her books had no heart. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was similarly, though less violently, critical of Austen’s passionlessness. She found her novels perfect but shallow.

Whi Continue reading Jane Austen and the Oliphant in the Room