Jane Austen wasn’t the only writer to be inspired by and live in the South West. Other famous poets and novelists of the 18th and 19th century who are associated with the West of England include Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, Mary Shelley and Thomas Hardy, and it is these authors, in addition to Jane Austen, who are the subject of a new, free online course.
Writing the West: Literature & Place explores how these writers found inspiration in the West Country, and how they contribute to the culture and economy of the region today. Those taking part in the course will explore their lives, gain insight into their writing, and see the places that influenced them.
The course will start on the 18th of June and will release new content each week, comprising between 3-4 hours study each week which will include articles, videos and interaction with the teaching team through questions and online discussion. The course materials will remain available after the end of the course so that learners can take the course at their own pace.
To find out more and enroll you can visit the course site at: www.udemy.com/writing-the-west
An article by Kelli Maria Korducki published on Literary Hub this week caught our eye here at the Jane Austen News. In it Kelli puts forward the idea that one of the recurring themes in Austen’s novels – that of marrying, at least partly, for financial security – may not be so out-dated a concept as we’d like to believe.
Austen fans know well that some characters could not afford to marry purely for love. In fact Charlotte Lucas consciously marries without it in exchange for the promise of a stable and comfortable future. However Kelli has explained that, thanks to high debts and skewed salaries, the money side of marriage can’t be entirely ignored:
When men continue to hold signiﬁcantly greater earning power than women, is it vulgar to consider economics?
A recent analysis by the American Association of University Women shows that women in the US bear approximately two-thirds of the nation’s student-debt burden, borrowing more and more than our male classmates, only to earn less after graduation. These ﬁgures are comparable in Canada, according to data from the Government of Canada’s Budget 2017 Gender Statement, and nearly identical in the UK as well. In truth, I simply would not have weathered the ﬁnancial unpredictability of an early writing career if I hadn’t met and loved a good man with a great job, one who shouldered the bulk of our shared bills.
During the years that I racked up the chops and bylines I hoped would eventually secure my ﬁnancial independence, I felt like a kept woman. I wanted a relationship that was altruistic and fair, but I also wanted the experience of self-sufficiency. I hated feeling beholden.
Finally in her article, Kelli makes the point that:
Love hasn’t always been conceptually tied up in the context of a singular forever-marriage. In fact, it wasn’t until the 18th century that anyone really did the marrying-for-love thing at all. A majority of people, across the history of humanity, had agreed that the risk was simply too high.
The article is a great read, and one which goes to demonstrate something that many Austen fans strongly believe: that despite the centuries which have elapsed since she was writing, perhaps the themes and values explored in Austen’s works are still more relevant today than we’d like to admit.
We read a lovely piece on the Channel News Asia website this week. The article was a profile piece on the Jane Austen Circle Singapore (JACS). It’s been seven years since the group was founded, and since then they’ve gone on to hold dances and readings, afternoon tea and costume balls – all manner of Regency events.
Members of the society say that they aim to keep the group’s setting intimate, despite its growing popularity. The intention is to imitate Jane Austen’s sense and sensibilities, as she often read her novels at home to her family and close friends.
If you’d like to read more about the Jane Austen Circle of Singapore then the full profile piece can be found here.
You may or may not know about the BBC series Cunk on Britain. It’s essentially a mockumentary series in which the staid, fictional historian Philomena Cunk explores some of Britain’s most iconic cultural features. Anyway, we thought this short clip from it on Austen Novels vs. Mr Men books might bring a smile to a few faces.
Austen’s Women is the latest piece of theatre from writer Rebecca Vaughan and producer Elton Townend Jones, the founders of the small-scale theatre company Dyad Productions.
Austen (played by Vaughan) introduces twelve female characters from her novels (Emma Woodhouse, Lizzy Bennet, Mrs Norris and Miss Bates all feature) who each go on to deliver a monologue which illustrates their principles (or lack thereof), beliefs, and, in some cases, follies. The one-woman show includes only Austen’s own words, and examples not only from Austen’s six completed novels, but also her juvenilia and the unfinished Austen novel Sanditon.
Unfortunately there are no further tour dates of Austen’s Women currently scheduled (its last performance date was May 24th at the Theatre Royal in Wakefield), but it might be worth keeping an eye on the website if this production sounds like one you’d like to see.
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