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Jane Austen News – Issue 122

jane austen news

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Charles Austen’s Story to be Shown?

Writer Susanne Notman is helping to tell the story of Charles Austen, one of Jane Austen’s brothers who was an officer in the Navy, through her screenplay Our Own Particular Little Brother.

Notman’s screenplay recently won the Gold Remi award at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, an event which attracts filmmakers from around the world. Notman’s work tells the story in the form of a part-fact, part-fiction script, which sees Charles Austen looking back over his life as he is dying of cholera in the Anglo-Burmese war in 1852. He reviews his time as the officer in command, his marriage to Fanny Palmer (the daughter of Bermuda’s Attorney-General), and his hope to get another command at sea, which effectively condemns he and Fanny to life aboard ship.

Notman’s research began when she met one of Charles Austen’s descendants, Francis Austen, in 1999. Since then she has found lots of information about HMS William (Charles’s ship) through the writing of Henry Wilkinson, who has written widely on Bermuda’s maritime history, and through ship’s logs, Charles’s diaries and letters from Jane Austen.

When Jane was writing to her sister Cassandra, she referred to him as ‘our own particular little brother… doing very well in Bermuda’. He sort of comes into his own in Bermuda.

Notman is currently developing the screenplay into a television series so that she can make room for the story to grow. We hope we’ll get to see Our Own Particular Little Brother grow into an excellent series and, maybe, on a screen near us soon!

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 122

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Searching for Captain Wentworth: A Review

 

For those who love, time does not exist

 

searching for captain wentworthSearching for Captain Wentworth is unlike any Jane Austen inspired novel I’ve ever read. I suspect it’s unlike any Jane Austen novel ever written! Part love story, part time travel fantasy, part Austen biography, it’s all about the author’s (Jane Odiwe) love for Jane Austen and the city of Bath, her ‘Fairyland’ city.

Reading it (in 24 hours! I couldn’t put it down!) was like taking a walk with friends through old, familiar places. Jane’s use of Bath (both in the present and during the Regency) and Lyme, coupled with her deft weaving of historical fact and Austen lore, Austen novels (especially Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion) and films made for a book that felt like there was a cameo appearance on every page. It is truly a book written by someone who knows Austen’s life, novels and films inside out, and though any and all might enjoy the wonderful story she has crafted, for those in the “know”, Easter eggs abound, almost like the many inside jokes, shared by the Austen family, that made their way into Jane Austen’s writing.

Jane Odiwe’s descriptions of Bath, both past and present, make the city come alive, reviving happy memories for those who have visited the beautiful white limestone city, and painting a vivid tour of city highlights and must visit stops for anyone contemplating a visit. Equally compelling are the settings in Lyme Regis, from Cobb to country house to assembly room.

In the story, heroine Sophie Elliot moves into her great-aunt’s flat in Bath, while she recovers from a broken heart, determined to put the past behind her and move on with her life and writing. The house, adjacent to the home occupied by the Austen family in 1802, proves to be full of secrets and surprises, and once her adventure begins, she transports between present day Bath and a hopeful friendship with her new neighbor (and perhaps something more?) and 1802, where she slips into the life of her ancestor Sophie Elliot, and a friendship with Jane and Cassandra Austen.

searching for captain wentworth
Charles Austen’s portrait, the “Rice” Portrait of Jane Austen and a Regency Era inlaid rosewood box all feature prominently in the story.

When Charles Austen, a young Naval officer, enters the scene, Sophie’s life becomes decidedly complicated. Persuasion may be the initial inspiration for the story, a novel many feel was Jane Austen’s attempt to rewrite history in her own life, however, questions remain, “Can the past be changed? Should the past be changed? Are happy endings only to be found in fiction?” A rosewood box and pair of gloves may hold the key to all the secrets of the novel, and in finding them, Sophie discovers the truth about herself and her heart.

It is known that Jane Austen drew her characters from the traits she noticed in those around her, and recognizable characterizations abound including the snobbish Elliot family themselves…oh-so like their “fictional” counterparts. Conversations and scenes from Austen’s novels are woven together in new and unexpected ways, providing a canvas that the “real” Jane Austen might later use in her writing. Additional portrayals of Cassandra Austen, Charles Austen and even Henry and Eliza Austen ring true and offer glimpses of family life that are not only faithful to the recorded history we have, but also all any “ardent admirer” of Jane Austen’s works and life could hope for.

The magically beckoning gate in Sydney Gardens that transports Sophie into 1802.

Moving along at a brisk pace, the story jumps quickly from the present to the past and back again, and readers will visit the amusements, pleasure gardens and assembly rooms of Bath and Lyme and the countryside beyond in both 2012 and 1802. Odiwe cleverly ties up her threads by the end of her story, though readers are left to wonder if Sophie is the only one of her family to have enjoyed the company of L’amiable Jane…leaving room, perhaps, for future stories.

I, for one, certainly hope so!

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Paintbox Publishing (7 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095457222X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954572228

Jane Odiwe is an author and an artist. She is completely obsessed with all things Austen and is the author of is the author of Mr Darcy’s Secret,  Lydia Bennet’s StoryWilloughby’s Return and the newly published Searching For Captain Wentwort. She lives with her husband and three children in North London and Bath, England.


Laura Boyle is fascinated by all aspects of Jane Austen’s life. She is the proprietor of Austenation: Regency Accessories, creating custom hats, bonnets, reticules and more for customers around the globe. Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends is her first book.

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Charles Austen: Jane Austen’s “own particular little brother”

“Our own particular little brother”

Jane Austen to Cassandra
January 21, 1799

Charles Austen CB (1779 – 7 October 1852) was an officer in the Royal Navy. He served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and beyond, eventually rising to the rank of rear-admiral.

Charles was born in 1779 as the fifth and youngest son of the Reverend George Austen. His elder brother, Francis Austen also joined the navy and eventually rose to be Admiral of the Fleet. Their sister was the famous novelist Jane Austen. Charles joined the Royal Naval Academy in July 1791, and by September 1794 he had become midshipman aboard HMS Daedalus. He subsequently served aboard HMS Unicorn and HMS Endymion. While serving aboard the Unicorn Austen assisted in the capture of the 18-gun Dutch brig Comet, the 44-gun French frigate Tribune and the French transport ship Ville de l’Orient.

After transferring to the Endymion he helped in the driving into Hellevoetsluis of the Dutch ship of the line Brutus. As a result of the latter action Austen was promoted to lieutenant on 13 December 1797, and appointed to HMS Scorpion. He was aboard the Scorpion long enough to be present at the capture of the Dutch brig Courier, after which he transferred to HMS Tamar. Aboard the Tamar Austen was frequently involved in attacks and engagements with gunboats and privateers out of Algeciras. On one occasion he set off in a small boat in a gale with only four other men, and succeeded in boarding and taking possession of the 18-gun Scipio, with 140 men aboard. He kept control of her until the following day. He returned to the Endymion in April 1803. After continued good service he was promoted to commander by Captain Charles Paget and given command of the sloop HMS Indian on 10 October 1804.

It was while stationed on the Endymion that Charles purchased for his sisters the famous topaz crosses now on display at Chawton Cottage.

Charles […] has received 30£. for his share of the privateer, and expects 10£. more; but of what avail is it to take prizes if he lays out the produce in presents to his sisters? He has been buying gold chains and topaze crosses for us. He must be well scolded. The “Endymion” has already received orders for taking troops to Egypt, which I should not like at all if I did not trust to Charles being removed from her somehow or other before she sails. He knows nothing of his own destination, he says, but desires me to write directly, as the “Endymion” will probably sail in three or four days. He will receive my yesterday’s letter, and I shall write again by this post to thank and reproach him. We shall be unbearably fine.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
1801

“Charles has been buying gold chains & Topaze crosses for us…” – Jane Austen

According to Catherine Hubback, during Francis Austen’s commands of the Leopard, Canopus, and St. Allans, covering the eventful years of the Boulogne blockade, and of Trafalgar, and up to 1810, Charles Austen was serving on the North American station (based in Bermuda, but with ports throughout the Caribbean and Canada) in command of the Indian sloop. The work to be done on the coast of the United States was both arduous and thankless. It consisted mainly in the enforcement of the right of search for deserters, and the curtailment of the American carrying trade, so far as it was considered illicit.

British war policy had made it necessary to forbid trading by neutrals between European countries under the sway of Napoleon, and their dependencies in other parts of the world. American ingenuity succeeded in evading this prohibition by arranging for the discharge and reshipment of cargoes at some United States port, en route. The ship would load originally at a West Indian port with goods /or Europe, then sail to a harbour in Massachusetts (for example), where the cargo was warehoused, and the vessel repaired. When ready for sea, the captain got the same cargo on board again, and departed for the designated market on this side of the Atlantic. No wonder that American vessels were so frequently spoken by the Canopus and the St. Albans, for in 1806 and the following years nearly all the carrying trade was done under the Stars and Stripes. American shipmasters were able to pay very high wages, and desertions from British men- of-war were frequent. Our cruisers had to take strong measures in face of this growing evil, and finally an American frigate was boarded, and several of the crew forcibly removed as deserters. Such action was possible only on account of the great strength of the British naval force, a practical blockade of the United States ports being enforced along the whole Atlantic seaboard. This had been done in consequence of decisions of the Admiralty Court against some of the reshipments, which were held by the Judges to be evasions of the actual blockades of hostile ports. The state of tension gradually became acute, but both Governments were so loath to fight that negotiations were on foot for several years before the President of the United States declared war in 1812. In 1809 a settlement seemed to have been reached, and a fleet of six hundred American traders had already got to sea, when it was discovered that the treaty could not be ratified. It was indeed almost impossible for England to alter her policy as regards neutral traders, or to abandon the right of search for deserters, so long as every resource was necessary in the struggle against Napoleon.

In 1808 the Indian, Charles Austen’s ship, captured La Jeune Estelle, a small privateer, but the work on the North-American station was unprofitable as regards prize-money. In 1810 Charles gained post rank as captain of the Swiftsure, flagship to Sir John Warren. The great event of these years for him was his marriage in 1807 with Fanny Palmer, daughter of the Attorney-General of Bermuda.

All in all, Austen spent five years serving on the North American Station, before his promotion to captain on 10 May 1810 when he was given command of the 74-gun HMS Swiftsure, which was then the flagship of Sir John Borlase Warren. Austen moved again the following September, joining HMS Cleopatra. Between November 1811 and September 1814 Austen served as captain of HMS Namur, based at the Nore and flying the flag of Sir Thomas Williams. He was then given command of the 36-gun frigate HMS Phoenix and after the outbreak of hostilities with France Austen was dispatched in command of a squadron with HMS Undaunted and HMS Garland to hunt a Neapolitan squadron suspected to be at large in the Adriatic. After Naples had surrendered Austen was active in the blockade of Brindisi. Lord Exmouth then sent him on to search of a French squadron, but with the end of the war with France in the intervening period he briefly turned his attention to suppressing piracy in the region. He successfully captured two pirate vessels in the port of Pavos, but disaster struck when the Phoenix was wrecked off Smyrna on 20 February, 1816, through the ignorance of her pilots.

It would be another 10 years before Charles was given command of a ship again. In the interim, he struggled with poverty. His wife, Fanny, had died giving birth to their fourth daughter, who also died a few weeks later. In what would be a common move for the Austen brothers, he married again, choosing his wife’s sister as his new bride. Harriet also provided him with four children, though two of these would follow their sister to an early grave.

Austen was appointed to the 46-gun HMS Aurora on 2 June 1826, and was sent to the Jamaica Station as the second in command. He was active in combating the slave trade and had considerable success, intercepting a number of slave ships. He commanded the Aurora for two and a half years, until she was paid off in December 1828. Sir Edward Griffith Colpoys nominated Austen to become his flag captain aboard HMS Winchester on the North American and West Indies Station. Austen remained here until being forced to be invalided home after a severe accident in December 1830 when he fell from a mast. Austen recovered and returned to service, being appointed to HMS Bellerophon on 14 April 1838. He was awarded a pension on 28 August 1840. He sailed with the Bellerophon to the Mediterranean, and was active at the bombardment of Acre on 3 November 1840. As a result of his good service during the bombardment he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 18 December 1840. Austen and the Bellerophon returned home, where the latter was paid off in June 1841.

Austen was advanced to rear-admiral on 9 November 1846, and was appointed commander-in-chief in the East Indies on 14 January 1850, hoisting his flag the following day. He commanded the British expedition during the Second Anglo-Burmese War but died of cholera at Prome on 7 October 1852, at the age of 73. On 30 April 1852 Austen had been thanked for his services in Burma by the Governor-General of India, The Marquess of Dalhousie, who subsequently also formally recorded his regret for Austen’s death.


Jane Austen’s sailor brothers: being the adventures of Sir Francis Austen, G … By Edith Charlotte Hubback 1906 – 293 pages

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Jane Austen’s Brothers

Jane Austen’s brothers

“A Family of [Eight] children will always be called a fine family, where there are head and arms and legs enough for the number. ”
-Jane Austen

Jane Austen had six brothers– each with different talents, each contributing to her work in some way.

James (1765-1819)

Often thought by the family to be the “literary one” (see his poem on Sense and Sensibility), one of Austen’s brothers James followed in his father’s footsteps attending Oxford university at the age of 14 in 1779. After his ordination in 1787, he and his brother Henry edited a university magazine called The Loiterer, which ran for sixty issues. (Some issues of The Loiterer are available on-line.) After his marriage, he became his father’s curate at Deane, and after his retirement, He took on the duties of the Steventon as well.

James was not Jane Austen’s favorite brother, though she did call him “good and clever”. He seems to have had a bit of melancholy about him, uncharacteristic of the other Austens. Perhaps it was turning from the excitement of Oxford to the retired life of a country Vicar. Perhaps it was seeing his literary pretensions lived out through his sister or the wealth acceded to by his younger brother. It is true that his life was not untouched by sorrow, as well. His first wife died when their daughter, Anna (1793-1872), was but two years old. Anna was the first niece and a favorite of Jane Austen’s. She also had her father’s creative streak and worked on a a novel, Which is the Heroine, with the help of her aunt, until Jane Austen’s death, at which time Anna burned the work.

James married again and his second wife, Mary Lloyd, was not a favorite of Jane Austen’s, even though she was the sister of her dear friend, Martha Lloyd. James and Mary had two children, James Edward (1798-1874) and Caroline (1805-1880) who also solicited their aunt’s approval on their literary efforts. Caroline later wrote down her memories of her Aunt Jane and James Edward wrote the Memoir.

George (1766-1838)

Not much is known about young George Austen. Though he lived a relatively long life, characteristic of the Leigh side of the family, he spent the whole of it living with a farming family a few miles from Steventon. Some scholars believe he was mentally retarded, others that he was merely deaf, speculation rising from Jane Austen’s comment that she was fluent in “finger speaking”. Regardless of the cause, George was destined to play little part in the Austen’s brothers and family daily lives.

Edward Knight (1767-1852)

Edward was the only Austen brother not to have a profession. Early in the 1780’s he was adopted by Mr. Austen’s Patron, the rich but childless Thomas and Catherine Knight. Instead of going off to University, He was sent on the “grand tour” of continental Europe in 1786-1788, and eventually inherited their estate of Godmersham, Kent, and took the last name of “Knight”.

As part of his inheritance, Edward also acquired Steventon and an estate in Chawton. It was a cottage attached to the latter that he made available to his widowed mother and sisters, and here that millions of fans tour each year when they visit “Jane Austen’s Home”.

Edward had a large family and lively, cultured wife, Elizabeth. The Austen Aunts, Cassandra and Jane were frequent visitors to Godmersham during the early years, and when Edward’s wife died during her eleventh confinement the aunts became an integral part of the Godmersham and then Chawton, life.

Edward’s oldest daughter, Fanny, was but 16 when her mother died. She was another favorite niece who looked to her aunt for emotional as well as literary guidance. Unfortunately, Jane Austen died before she was able to see her find her own Mr. Darcy. Fanny eventually married a baronet; her son edited the first edition of Jane Austen’s letters.

Henry Thomas (1771-1850)

Henry was Jane Austen’s favorite brother and the sibling most like her in looks and temperament. He was witty and enthusiastic in whatever he did; the eternal optimist, though success did not always find him. He entered Oxford in 1788 in time to co edit the Loiterer with his brother James. He and James also shared a passion for the same woman, their widowed cousin, Eliza de Feuillide. She eventually chose Henry, 10 years her junior, and they were married in 1797.

Thanks in part to Eliza’s influence, Henry forsook his family’s expectations that he join James in the ministry and instead chose the militia. He later tried banking and lived the life of a London Business man until the bank failed, due to economic factors, in 1815. His wife, Eliza had died two years previously allowing him to return to his intended profession, eventually becoming a Calvinist-leaning minister. He served at different times in the curacy of Steventon and Chawton before becoming the Perpetual Curate at Bentley.

Henry was the sibling most influential in allowing Jane Austen to publish her works. Not only was his home available for her to stay in during her trips to London to work with her publisher, these visits also gave her an insight into society life that she would not otherwise have had, furnishing settings, events and characters for her novels to come. It was Henry who saw to the publication of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey after her death, and a Henry who wrote the brief, but loving biographical notice which prefaced these two novels and provided the world with their first glimpse into the life of this author.

Henry went on to marry again, this time Eleanor Jackson, a woman the family considered “an excellent wife”. He spent the rest of his days living the retired life of a country curate.

Francis William (1774–1865)

Francis Austen had, perhaps, the most glorious career of the Austen brothers, serving in the Navy from the age of 12 and eventually achieving Knighthood as Sir Francis Austen and rising to the position of Admiral of the Fleet. Considered by Admiral Nelson to be “an excellent young man”, he narrowly missed involvement in the battle of Trafalgar due to his temporary detachment as captain of a captured French Ship, the Canopus.

It is doubtless this connection which gave Jane Austen such an admiration for the men of the Royal Navy. A look at his career proclaims him not only the inspiration for the young Lieutenant William Price in Mansfield Park, but even more so for the unforgettable Captain Wentworth of Persuasion. Even the high points of their promotions stem from the same Battle, The Action off Santo Domingo.

According to some, Francis’ earlier promotions were due to the patronage of Warren Hastings, a friend of the family and supposed father of his cousin, Eliza de Feuillide. His ports of call ranged to the far corner of the British Empire at the time, spending time in the Far East from age 14 to 18 and later the Indies.

Francis and his wife, Mary had a cordial relationship with the Austen ladies, even including them for some time in their household in Southampton from 1805-1808, after the death of Rev. Austen. This arrangement, happy for all, as Frank was often at sea, also included their close friend, Martha Lloyd, sister to James Austen’s wife Mary. Unfortunately for Francis, His happy home was broken up upon the death of his wife in 1823 after the birth of their 11th child. In 1828 he remarried, completing the family circle by wedding Martha Lloyd (1765-1843). She gained fame in her own right, by collecting the recipes which later were compiled into The Jane Austen Household Book and more lately, The Jane Austen Cookbook.

Francis’ daughter, Catherine married John Hubback and went on to write the first completion of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, The Watsons. Her son, John Henry Hubback co-authored Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers with his Daughter, Edith Hubback, in 1906.

Charles John (1779-1852)

Charles was Jane’s darling little brother, clearly a favorite with both sisters as a boy. Though his career was nowhere near as distinguished as that of his brother, he also joined the Naval Academy as Midshipman at the age of 12 and rose to become a Rear-Admiral. Much to the regret of his family, he was stationed in the West Indies where he remained for seven years straight, returning at the end of that time with a wife and child.

It was Charles’ gift of Topaz Crosses to his sisters which inspired a similar scene in Mansfield Park. Charles Austen’s ship, Endymion captured many prizes during the war with France, leaving him a comfortable settlement. He died, at age 75, still on Active Duty, during a naval river-war in Burma.

Brian Southam, president of the Jane Austen Society, has written a wonderful book about these two daring brothers, entitled Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers.

 


Laura Boyle creates custom made hats, bonnets, reticules and other Regency Accessories for Austentation a Regency Fashion History site and Boutique.

Portrait of the Austen Family by Jane Odiwe. Visite her website, Austen Effusions for more original Austen Art and Gift Items.

Portrait of Francis Austen reproduced by kind permission of the owner. No other reproudctions permissable.

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Rum Cake

Tortuga Rum Cakes are perhaps the most readily available, commercially baked rum cakes.

As a Naval man, Charles Austen would have been quite familiar with the Rum rations offered at sea, and with his many years in Bermuda and the Caribbean, would, no doubt have been familiar with rum cake, as well. Just as rum was adapted from available resources, so rum cake is a variation on classic Christmas, or Plum Pudding recipes– instead of boiling it for hours in a pudding cloth, however, cooks in the tropics took to baking the ingredients in a cake tin– saving a lot of labor and heat in the kitchen! Rum cake is now sold year round at tourist hotspots and each island has its own specialty flavor and brand.

 

“So romantic is the history of rum that it has long since been adopted as the drink of the working class man throughout the world. This might be due to its association with the “fighting man” and the strength of victorious sailors fighting for the New World; or perhaps, the defeat of Napoleon’s fleet by Admiral Nelson’s rum drinking crew at the crucial battle of Trafalgar; or maybe down to the swashbuckling, freedom-tales of Caribbean pirates handed down through the centuries. Whichever, it is clear that rum has had a checkered history undeniably linked to the riskier business of the day.

One of the main challenges of sixteenth century sea voyages was providing their crews with a liquid supply to last long journeys. Navy captains turned to the most readily available sources of liquid in the day – water and beer, with no real discrimination made between the two. Water contained in casks was the quicker of the two to spoil by algae, but beer also soured when stored for too long. Royal Navy sailors took to drinking their rations of beer first and water second, sweetening the spoiling water with beer or wine to make it more palatable. The longer the voyage, the larger the cargo of liquid required, and the larger the problems of storage and spoilage would be.

As seafaring vessels entered the Caribbean regions captains took advantage of a cheaper and more readily available source of liquid sold by local sugar cane plantations called “kil devil” – a foul tasting by-product of sugar cane processing which later became known as rum. Rum quickly replaced the beer rations and became an official ration on British navy ships from 1655 onwards. Reportedly these rum rations were causing such a “rumbullion” (drunkenness and discipline problems) amongst the seamen that in 1740 Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon issued an order to dilute rum rations with sugar and lime juice (possibly why the mixture was reputed to fight off the sailors ‘lurgy’ or scurvy). Due to his nickname – the ‘old grog’ – this new mixture attained the new name of ‘grog’.

Dilution ratio’s varied aboard different ships and over time but the tradition continued until ‘black tot day’ on July 30, 1970 when the last “up spirits” rum measure was served aboard Royal Navy ships forever.”*

Classic Rum Cake
1 c. chopped pecans (walnuts will do)
1 18.5-oz. box yellow cake mix (do not use the sort with pudding in the mix)
1 3.75-oz. vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. rum

Mix all cake ingredients together. Bake in bundt or tube pan at 325 for one hour. Let cool slightly and remove from pan. Glaze when cool.

Glaze:
1/4 lb. butter
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. rum

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add rum.

In order to glaze the cake, first use a carving fork to poke holes in the top and sides of the cake. Slowly spoon glaze over cake. It will take a while for the cake to soak up all the glaze. Sometimes it is necessary to let the cake stand for five minutes or so in the midst of glazing so it can absord the liquid. Then continue to glaze the cake until the glaze is all used up.


To purchase your own authentic Bermuda Rum cake– baked on location at the Royal Dockyards, Charles Austen would have been so familiar with, visit Bermudarumcakes.com.

Step by step instructions with photographs can be found at The Pioneer Woman.com

*The history of Rum provided by Barcardi

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