Posted on

Jane Austen News – Issue 91

Fanny Price and Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 

Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford – The Fallout

In the Jane Austen News last week, we gave you a run-down of the week-long Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford debate so Fanny Price and Mary Crawford in Mansfield Parkfar. The debate was a discussion between two Austen-inspired novelists, Kyra Kramer and Lona Manning, who were looking to answer who was the best heroine in Mansfield Park: Fanny Price, or Mary Crawford?

Lona was very definitely on Fanny Price’s side, and Kyra was defending the honour and actions of Mary. That trend continued on days four and five…

Day Four

Question: Was Mary Crawford really Fanny Price’s Friend?

Kyra: It wasn’t JUST as a conduit to Edmund that she became a friend to Fanny, and in time Mary began to actually love her. Remember that Mary rejoiced when Henry declared his love for Fanny, not only because Fanny would make him a sweet little wife, but because she valued Fanny.

Lona: I have been accusing Mary of being insincere, of always having a hidden agenda with the things she says. But you praise her for being an honest person. She knew that her brother planned to make a small ‘hole in Fanny Price’s heart’ and she didn’t stop him or warn Fanny, hmmmm? She deceived Fanny about the origin of the necklace, hmmmm? Where is the honesty you keep telling me about?

Day Five

Question: Who was the more shallow in character? Mary Crawford or Fanny Price?

Kyra: Fanny Price was much more aware of social status and money than she is commonly thought of as being. Fanny clearly preferred living with her moneyed relatives in Mansfield Park rather than with her lower-class parents. It is Mansfield Park that she thinks of as “home”, and she appears to love her rich relatives more than her parents. She is much more concerned about Aunt Bertram needing her than she is with staying to help her own mother. In fact, sweet, noble, unworldly little Fanny is willing to put up with a whole lot of crap – being her aunt’s dogsbody and unpaid companion, getting affection from no one but Edmund Bertram, being emotionally and verbally abused by Mrs. Norris – just to live in a mansion and walk in fancy shrubbery and wallow in general poshness. She sure doesn’t enjoy living like the lower class, with just one shabby servant and vile housing!

Lona: It’s so difficult for us to imagine what it would be like to be so genteel that we couldn’t cook a meal or clean a household. But keeping house was a much rougher and dirtier business back then. Austen stipulates that Fanny was too frail to live in that environment. However, Fanny really loved books and the education she had received, more than the grandeur.

A hotly fought debate was most definitely had. Though, as with all good debates, the opinions of both were taken into account by the other party and it was a good clean argument. Although no clear winner emerged, a lot of salient points were raised and a good discussion was had by all. Links to each day of debates can be found at the end of this edition of the Jane Austen News.


Pride and Prejudice and Prince Harry’s New Home?

 

We reported in a past edition of the Jane Austen News that Luckington Court, which is the manor house which was used as Longbourn for the BBC 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, had gone on the market – with a hefty price-tag of £9 million. Well, despite its film credentials, the house is still up for sale (with a new lower price of £7.75 million), and is, it seems, being considered by Prince Harry and his girlfriend actress Meghan Markle, as their potential new home.

Meghan is due to move to the UK from Toronto when she finishes filming her last season of Suits next month, so she and Harry have been house hunting. An estate agent local to Luckington Court in the Cotswolds confirmed that the couple spent two hours looking at Luckington, though they haven’t made an offer yet. Having said that, according to the Express, a source close to Harry acknowledged that Prince Harry “loved” Luckington, which is only eight miles from Prince Charles’s home, Highgrove.

They both definitely want to be in the Cotswolds, they prefer it to Norfolk [where William and Kate have a house] and they are looking at a shortlist of properties – not too big or too showy, but obviously with the need for privacy and staff accommodation.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 91

Posted on

Jane Austen News – Issue 90

the Jane Austen News is a fight between Fanny Price and Mary Crawford

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 

Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford – The Fallout

In the Jane Austen News last week, we mentioned that a Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford debate would be taking place this week between two Austen-inspired novelists, Kyra Kramer and Lona Manning. The question up for discussion each day this week is different, and given the first two days of debate, there’s at least a week’s-worth of discussions to be had when it comes to Team Mary vs. Team Fanny.

On Monday the question was simply one of whose side are you on and why? Who was the real heroine and moral victor in Mansfield Park?

Kyra was definitely Team Mary:

“Fanny Price was a wet hen with all the vivacity of a damp dishcloth.”

“He [Edmund] spoke to Mary like she was filth, just because she had more mercy on Maria than he did. Even though Mary was willing to sacrifice her own brother’s happiness to save Edmund’s sister from ostracization, based on nothing more than Mary’s warm feelings for the Bertram family, he threw her offer back with excessive rudeness and condemnation.”

While Lona was quick to defend Fanny and retorted that Mary was using Fanny for her own ends:

“Fanny is an audience, not a confidante, for Mary.”

“I would argue that Mary is often insincere.”

Then, on Tuesday the question was – “Was Fanny Price sweetly timid, or a backstabbing brat?”

Lorna argued that Fanny had no choice but to show some reciprocal friendship for Mary, despite not feeling warmly towards her. “Given the difference in their ages, social situations and most importantly, the force of their personalities, how was Fanny going to look Mary Crawford in the eye and say, “no thanks, let’s not be friends”? What ought she have done?”

Kyra on the other hand thought that Fanny had no problem upsetting people’s expectations of her when she wanted to, and for that reason was more backstabbing than timid: “She was pressured by people she respected to wed Henry Crawford, too, but she found the wherewithal to refuse that. Agreeing to write Mary was above and beyond polite return visits, too. Letter writing was a serious business, and the Regency equivalent of pledging friendship (not mere acquaintanceship) between two young, unmarried women. If they had been older, married ladies then letters would have been less of a big deal. Fanny knew she was implying a friendship that simply wasn’t there.”

We’ll be sure to let you know in the next Jane Austen News post how the rest of the week of debates goes.


An Award Winning Tribute to Jane

If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Bath this year then you might have been to the Parade Gardens and seen Bath’s floral tribute to Jane Austen. Well, aside from being a sight to behold and a wonderful way to mark the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death, it’s also helped to win Bath an award!

It was announced at the South West in Bloom competition that Bath has been given a Gold award in the BID (Business Improvement District) category, but as well as this, Bath has won the Abbis Cup for the best municipal horticultural display for, you guessed it, the Jane Austen 3D bed in the Parade Gardens.

The large floral display has been in bloom all summer and has been a real eye-catching statement. Here’s how it progressed from the metal structure we saw at the start of the summer, through to the finished article – a book with the statement ‘Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?’ (a quote from Northanger Abbey), beside a copper quill and ink pot.

The Jane Austen News watches the new display take shape

The Jane Austen News celebrates the bicentenary!


  Tea Is On The Up And Up!

Not that it ever went out as such, but in the 90s and 00s it wasn’t so popular as it is now, or as popular as it was in Jane’stea cup and saucer decoration time. In Bath in the late 1790s/early 1800s tea was so popular (but so expensive) that the staff of the tea rooms at the Assembly Rooms used to use the tea leaves three times!

However, this week the Jane Austen News came across an article from Verily that confirms what we had been suspecting for a while: we’re loving our tea more than ever. Just look at these statistics:

  • Tea is currently a $21 billion industry in the U.S.
  • A recent poll found that, for under-thirties, coffee and tea are equally popular beverages.
  • 85 percent of Millennials prefer to drink iced tea, which has resulted in a variety of cold tea products being sold.
  • Since 1998, high-end restaurants such as the W Hotel in New York City began to train and hire tea sommeliers. Today, other establishments have followed suit by rolling out special tea pairings with their menu.

(Verily’s full run-down on our love of tea can be found here.)


 Run, Darcy, Run!

We recently saw Warbutons do a send-up of Pride and Prejudice (with added elements of the film Ghost and Peter Kay’s previous shows thrown in for good measure), and now the latest parody of Pride and Prejudice sees Sophie Monk from Australia’s reality TV show The Bachelorette making eyes at Mr Darcy in doctored footage from the 1995 BBC adaptation. The advert has been released in the run-up to the show’s finale, which is due to air this Thursday.

Even if you don’t watch The Bachelorette, it might give you a good giggle.

 


And Finally…

We know how excited our overseas fans have been to receive their own Jane Austen £10 notes, and to add to all this The Jane Austen News is: Martin Salterexcitement, the Jane Austen Centre has just received its own special £10 note! The note AA01 001775 is now with us and will shortly be going on display in the exhibition!

 


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Jane Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Jane Austen Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.

Save

Save

Posted on

Jane Austen News – Issue 89

Jane Austen News

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 

Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford

While discussing Austen’s novels, as we are wont to do on a daily basis at the Jane Austen Centre, two of our Centre staff, Jenni and Naomi, got into a discussion about whether Mary Crawford can really be painted as “a bad guy” as so many seem to think she is. “If she’d been in any other novel”, said Naomi, “she’d have been the heroine. She’s got a lot in common with Lizzy Bennet.” Then, as fate would have it, the very next day we at the Jane Austen News heard about the upcoming Fanny vs Mary debates…

The first day of the debate takes place on Claudine Pepe’s blog, Just Jane 1813, on Monday October 23rd. (We know at least two people who’ll be following the discussions with great interest!)


“Don’t Patronise Teenagers”

“We’re more than capable of enjoying classic literature” says Emily Handel, a Year 11 student at Tavistock College in  Devon.

This week we came across a marvelous article on TES by Emily Handel, which argues that classic literature isn’t being presented as something which is suitable for teenagers. At least, it’s not something which they are recommended to read. Emily thinks this is something that needs to change. These are just a few of her reasons:

It is relevant to today’s teens. I picked up Anna Karenina, unsure of what to expect. Due to its classic status, I was worried I might find it obscure. In fact, I found the opposite was the case. I was incredibly moved by the story, finding myself completely swept up in the characters’ continually fluxing emotions.

Being 15, I can’t help but feel that it’s difficult to break away from reading young adult novels. Teenagers are marketed to as if these are the only books for us.

Don’t misunderstand me; there are some fantastic ones (I’ve read Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses more times than I can count), but only picking titles from this category is hugely limiting for adolescents. Why do we need to label novels “young adult”? Good books can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age. I still love to read Winnie the Pooh.

We need to tear down the prejudices surrounding writers from the past, and respect them for what they are: brilliant, insightful people who wrote, in the words of Jane Austen, “works in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature … the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language”.

Certainly we’ve found that the young people who have visited the Jane Austen Centre and who have read classic novels (some of them even before their teenage years) have made similar remarks to those of Emily. Emily’s full article can be read here.


  Looking For An Audio Version of Pride and Prejudice?

If you are, then you might like to try this recording of Pride and Prejudice made by Essential Audiobooks.

This year two of the company’s narrators, Catherine O’Brien and Pearl Hewitt, have been are nominated for Best Voiceover in the Classic Audiobooks Narration category in the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences Awards for their interpretations of the books. Catherine is nominated for her reading of Pride and Prejudice, and Pearl for her rendition of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

“We’re breathing new life into these old classics. Our highly skilled storytellers put their own unique spin on the books, and that’s what makes them so special.” – Essential Audiobooks CEO and nominee, Catherine O’Brien.

(In the course of our reading about Catherine and Pearl’s nominations, the Jane Austen News also came across the surprising news that audiobook publishing is now the fastest growing sector in the publishing industry, with a global value of over 2.8 billion dollars. An interesting trend.)


Austen Well Worth A Read

While having a look for discussions on classic books (yes, at the Jane Austen News we really are such book fanatics that this is something we do in our spare time) we came across a post on BuzzFeed asking “what classic novel should everyone actually read?” An intriguing question, we thought…

As it turns out, it wasn’t an article so much as a request for comments from readers of the article. Scrolling down we were delighted to find that lots of the comments were recommending Jane’s Pride and Prejudice as a must-read novel for one and all.

This was our, and the BuzzFeed community’s, favourite comment:

If you’d like to see what other books were recommended, you can find the full list of comments here.


 Elizabeth Bennet In Our Midst

If you’ve been keeping up with the Jane Austen News newsletters over the past few weeks, then you probably already know that one of our Jane Austen Centre guides is currently in rehearsals for a stage production of Pride and Prejudice. Zoe will be playing her literary heroine Elizabeth Bennet, and she’s been keeping us up to date with all the latest from her rehearsals.

This week she had some snaps of the Bennet sisters in costume to share with us:

Lydia Bennet

 

Kitty Bennet

 

Mary Bennet

 

Jane Bennet

 

Lizzy Bennet

 

The Bennet Girls’ Formal Portrait…

 

… and the less formal one

Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Jane Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Jane Austen Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.

Save

Save

Posted on

Jane Austen’s ‘Forgotten’ Characters by Priyanka Chavda

By Priyanka Chavda

Jane Austen has many beloved characters – Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse and Marianne Dashwood.

There are a few, however, who are lesser known and often less appreciated, whether it be due to the continued growing admiration of her more popular characters or simply the story and characters themselves. For many Jane Austen fans some of these characters may not be under-appreciated- for them there could be others that need to be added to the list. Nevertheless, here are few who aren’t as recognised as perhaps they could be.

Frances O'Connor as Fanny Price.
Frances O’Connor as Fanny Price, 1999.

Fanny Price is one of the most underrated Austen characters. Even more, Mansfield Park is underrated as a novel in comparison to Austen’s other publications. For many, Fanny comes across as “insipid” (s quoted by Austen’s own mother.) For others, Fanny comes as a demure heroine. Unlike previous heroines such as Elizabeth Bennet, Fanny is not strongly spoken or particularly daring. She is placed in a household where her value is undermined, where she is floating in the middle; forced between what she knew and what she’s forced to learn. Yet Austen has cleverly created her character, suggest literary authors who examined Mansfield Park and Fanny Price for the novel’s anniversary–and pushes us to follow through. She has created someone who stands in full opposition to many characters within Mansfield Park and someone who comes in on her own as the novel progresses.

In fact much could be said about Mansfield Park and the characters within. Continue reading Jane Austen’s ‘Forgotten’ Characters by Priyanka Chavda

Posted on

Mansfield Park: Jane Austen the Contrarian

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park: Jane Austen the Contrarian

Mansfield Park is probably the most controversial and least favored of all six Austen novels. Drawing the issue of slavery into the limelight, post-colonialist critic Edward Said had certainly stirred up some ripples in alleging Austen’s acceptance of British imperialism with her mention of Sir Thomas Bertram’s Antigua plantation. (1) Susan Fraiman has aptly presented her rebuttal to Said’s argument, noting in particular Austen’s brilliant irony and metaphor upon deeper reading. (2) So here, I would just like to concentrate on Austen’s characterization, which I believe is more in line with her central purpose in the novel. That brings me to the other major controversy.

What Makes a Heroine?

Published after Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park presents a very different heroine from that of Austen’s previous success. Fanny Price is often measured against Elizabeth Bennet, consequently being looked upon as inferior. On the outset, Fanny is indeed everything Lizzy is not. First of all, she is physically fragile, easily succumbs to exhaustion and fainting spells, very unlike Lizzy who can take on extensive walks in the outdoors, happily treading through miles of muddy paths. No rosy cheeks from such exercise for Fanny. She may have grown into a fair lady at eighteen, but she does not have Lizzy’s athletic prowess, or her pair of fine eyes, the trademark of her exuberance.

Further, Fanny Price is painfully shy, an introvert. Readers may find her insipid, lacking glamour, but they may be more impatient with her passive, yielding personality. Why does Jane Austen present to us such a heroine, especially after the very lively and charismatic Lizzy Bennet?

Well, I, for one, am glad to see Austen has demonstrated her wisdom by depicting an anti-stereotyped heroine. With Fanny Price, Austen has shattered the image of the typical heroine: a captivating beauty, quick witted and forthright, even audacious at times, endowed with energy and charisma. Why is reticence, or introvert nature being frowned upon? When did we start thinking of long-suffering and perseverance as negative traits? Why is humility not getting its rightful esteem? And, why are the quiet, observant and thinking female not as attractive as those who are more expressive, or who possess only outward beauty?

What Fanny lacks in physical vigor, she more than compensates with her inner strength. And it is in the nobility of character that Austen has chosen to depict her heroine. Underneath Fanny’s fragile appearance is a quiet and principled perseverance. Seeing the impropriety of staging a play which entails the remodelling of Sir Thomas’ very private library in his absence, Fanny stands firm in not participating, despite the pressures and insults from her older cousins, the persuasion from the Crawfords, the scornful criticisms from Mrs. Norris, and even the eventual yielding of Edmund himself.

In her ingenious manner, with biting irony, Austen pits Fanny Price against her formidable foe, Mary Crawford. At first sight, “Mary Crawford was remarkably pretty.” Not long after that, Austen adds:

 

“She had none of Fanny’s delicacy of taste, of mind, of feeling; she saw nature, inanimate nature, with little observation; her attention was all for men and women, her talents for the light and lively.”

Indeed, when it comes to moral uprightness, Mary Crawford is no match. Thanks to the way she defends her brother Henry who has snatched Maria away from her husband, even Edmund can now see clearly. Henry Crawford is a carnal schemer, and Mary Crawford is equally manipulative and egotistic. Unfortunately, it takes a scandal and trepidations for others to learn what Fanny has seen clearly from the very beginning.

In a way, Fanny Price is more lucid than Elizabeth Bennet in not succumbing to the lure of vanity with Henry Crawford’s superfluous praise and wooing. If only Elizabeth had conquered that soft spot regarding Wickham earlier on….but of course, there wouldn’t be any story then. And if it is admirably bold for Lizzy to resist Lady Catherine de Bourgh, someone who is of no relation to her, Fanny is all the more courageous in her refusing to marry Henry Crawford by standing up against the very guardian to whom she owed her upbringing and her present living, the patriarch Sir Thomas Bertram. It takes extraordinary fortitude to go against everyone in Mansfield Park, and follow her own heart, while the privilege to explain herself is infeasible.

Compared to other Austen heroines, Fanny Price is equally, if not more, worthy. Fanny has the passion of Marianne, while possessing the rationale of Elinor. That is why her secret love for Edmund can endure unfavorable conditions. Her lucid sense of judgement restrains her to reveal it to Edmund, who, with his emotional frailty, would be exasperated knowing his own beloved cousin is a rival rather than a friend of Mary Crawford. Her perseverance can easily match and surpass that of Anne Elliot. She may be uneducated and naive like Catherine Morland to start with, though equally moldable and respectful when taught, as the story progresses she far surpasses her mentor in insight and maturity .

By presenting a heroine who may not be a typical favorite, Austen seems to be writing contrary to conventional norms. (But is it just modern audience who have differed in their expectations, resulting in recent film adaptations altering the very spirit and essence of Austen’s characters to appeal to them?) Has Austen created a character so different from her other heroines?

Comparing Mansfield Park with all her other novels, I do not feel she is particularly off her usual standpoint. As with her other heroines, Austen is more concerned with character, virtues, and morals, the inner qualities of the person rather than the outer appearance. Mansfield Park is the best manifestation of her stance.

Ultimately, what shine through for our Austenian heroine are:

“…the sweetness of her temper, the purity of her mind, and the excellence of her principles.”

In the end, the steadfast and long-suffering Fanny Price triumphs. And for critics who assert that Austen had silently condoned slavery, the ending of Mansfield Park should silence them all, for it is the socially and economically disenfranchised and marginalized that is exalted and vindicated. In my view, Edmund does not deserve her. However, it is Fanny’s heart and long unrequited love that Austen attempts to satisfy. And I totally concur with that, for our heroine deserves it. And no, Fanny does not become mistress of Mansfield Park, which is also ideal: it is not affluence and materialism that win after all, but spiritual values and nobility of character that overcome, and they are their own rewards. The Parsonage is a most fitting place for both Edmund and Fanny to begin their life together.

 


 

Written By Arti of Ripple Effects

Arti reviews movies, books, arts and entertainment on her blog Ripple Effects. She has pleasure in many things, in particular, the work and wit of Jane Austen.

Notes:
1. Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993). His chapter on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park can be read in Dorothy Hale’s The Novel: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory 1900- 2000. (Blackwell, 2005) pp. 691-715. You can read part of it online on Google Books by clicking here.

2. Fairman, Susan. Jane Austen and Edward Said: Gender, Culture, and Imperialism.Critical Inquiry, 21 (4), pp. 805-821.

Enjoyed this article? Browse our book shop at www.www.janeausten.co.uk/shop

Join Waitlist We will inform you when the product arrives in stock. Just leave your valid email address below.
Email Quantity We won't share your address with anybody else.
MENU