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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

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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.



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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.



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In Defense of Edmund Bertram

I would like to try to defend Edmund Bertram (Mansfield Park). The problem is that, while I think he is much more thoroughly and consistently developed than Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility), the defense would have to be based on scattered passages, for the evolving consciousnesses of the books are those of the women. We’ve often talk of how we don’t see sufficiently into Darcy’s change of heart, into Captain Wentworth’s revolution in feeling. We are to admire Edmund and Edward for what they are from the time we meet them; though again, Edmund is an improvement on Edward, for he does evolve in front of us as his courtship of Mary Crawford proceeds, is stymied, and is finally brought to a dead close. What I like about Edmund is how, except in the case of Mary (Cupid is blind!), he doesn’t miss anything, and his kindness is based on the subtlest of things, which is how it is in life. The little things count so.

It would also have to be on moral grounds: he is good, kind, decent, absolutely loyal, unwilling to wound, sensible. This too is, I think, true of all Austen’s heroes once we get to know them. There are also several long scenes between Fanny Price and Edmund which we lack in Sense and Sensibility; they go into the shrubbery too, like Emma & Knightley, and he makes the best case for Henry Crawford that anyone in the novel does, because he makes it based on Fanny’s nature: his “cheerfulness” will “counteract” Fanny’s tendency, let’s say, not to be cheerful; “He sees difficulties no where; and his pleasantness and gaiety will be a constant support to you” (Chapter 35). He sees they are unalike, but Crawford has strengths Fanny lacks, which will help her and cheer her. He also finally looks at her to see (because she is under a real strain emotionally, to have to listen to this) “weariness and distress in her face, and immediately resolved to forbear”. Little phrases like this ring home. There is just so much more about Fanny, funny things too, as when she goes on about “the name Edmund. It is a name of heroism and renown — of kings, princes, and knights; and seems to breathe the spirit of chivalry and warm affections” (Chapter 22). Boy, has she got it bad! Henry hadn’t a hope; Austen does say outright that Fanny’s was an absolutely “pre-engaged heart.”

Edmund loves Fanny but he has his

limitations too. He cannot feel things he has

not personally been made to feel. He guesses on

Henry from a male point of view (he does not

think what Fanny would suffer from yearly

flirtations nor suspect what they might

comprize); and after all, Fanny has not had a

chance to get to know Henry and we are not sure

what the future might have been. But she knows

Mrs Norris. We know her. Over a long period of

time and from many acts and words. Edmund

himself never felt what it’s like to be an

outsider and treated the way Fanny has been. He is the one person I expected to stick up for Fanny, but he does not stand up for her when she refuses Henry. He should have her values, her insight, and strength to stand up for what he believes, if he is going to be the kind of clergy he was lecturing Mary Crawford about. Does he think gentlemen always treat their women as well as his father has? I know he has had a sheltered life, but it should have occurred to him that Henry might not be suitable for Fanny.

I’d like to suggest many are too hard on Edmund Bertram; he is self-centered; he sees the world in terms of his own desires and values, and nothing in his life has taught him to think himself insignificant, but he is no Mr. Collins. He is not witty, and doesn’t know how to flirt and play lightly, but he is not a hypocrite, not a fawner, not a fool. I believe he is genuinely religious, and genuinely takes a religious view of sexual behavior; he is horrified at Maria and Henry’s behavior. (Actually I get a stronger sense of horror from his words than Fanny’s; Fanny seems sorrowful, and more concerned for her aunt and uncle and Edmund than radically appalled by the “sin” — not that she does not regard it gravely; she does).

Edmund is not a central character in Mansfield Park. Like Fanny he has his faults, but they are not the major ones of heartless selfishness and false values that many others in the book either deliberately or unthinkingly act out.

Ellen Moody, a Lecturer in English at George Mason University, has compiled the most accurate calendars for Jane Austen’s work, to date. She

has created timelines for each of the six novels and the three unfinished novel fragments. She is currently working on a book, The Austen

Movies. Visit her website for further Austen related articles.

This piece was oringally posted on Austen-L, and is used by permission.

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The Harp as a Status Symbol

The Harp as a Status Symbol

A young woman, pretty, lively, with a harp as elegant as herself, and both placed near a window, cut down to the ground, and opening on a little lawn, surrounded by shrubs in the rich foliage of summer, was enough to catch any man’s heart.

Mansfield Park

Next to the Pianoforte, the Harp is the most mentioned instrument in Jane Austen’s Novels. Lessons on the Harp were reserved for the privileged daughters of indulgent parents. While the piano was necessary and functional, the harp was stylish. It was an expensive indulgence taught by visiting “Masters”. Some music training, along with art and dancing lessons was deemed necessary to finish off the training provided by the family governess, regardless of Whether the family daughters were sent to school or not.

Indeed, the level of education obtained by Jane Austen’s heroines is in direct proportion to her family’s financial and social status. Jane Fairfax, Marianne Dashwood and Anne Elliot play the piano, but Catherine Morland, daughter of a country curate neither draws or plays. Mary Crawford, Georgiana Darcy and Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove, wealthy, fashionable young ladies, all, play the harp.

In his essay on female accomplishments, Henry Churchyard notes, “For women of the “genteel” classes the goal of non-domestic education was thus often the acquisition of “accomplishments”, such as the ability to draw, sing, play music, or speak modern (i.e. non-Classical) languages (generally French and Italian). Though it was not usually stated with such open cynicism, the purpose of such accomplishments was often only to attract a husband; so that these skills then tended to be neglected after marriage (Lady Middleton in Sense and Sensibility “had celebrated her marriage by giving up music, although by her mother’s account she had played extremely well, and by her own was very fond of it”, while Mrs. Elton in Emma fears that her musical skills will deteriorate as have those of several married women she knows). In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet displays her relatively detached attitude towards the more trivial aspects of this conventional game by adopting a somewhat careless attitude towards her “accomplishment” of playing the piano, and not practicing it diligently.”

The harp’s origins may lie in the sound of a plucked hunter’s bow string. The oldest documented references to the harp are from 4000 BC in Egypt and 3000 BC in Mesopotamia. While the harp is mentioned in most translations of the Bible, King David being the most prominent musician, the Biblical “harp” was actually a kinnor, a type of lyre with 10 strings. Harps also appear in ancient epics, and in Egyptian wall paintings. This kind of harp, now known as the folk harp, continued to evolve in many different cultures all over the world. It may have developed independently in some places.

The lever harp came about in the second half of the 17th century to enable key changes while playing. The player manually turned a hook or lever against an individual string to raise the string’s pitch by a semitone. In the 1700s, a link mechanism was developed connecting these hooks with pedals, leading to the invention of the single-action pedal harp. Later, a second row of hooks was installed along the neck to allow for the double-action pedal harp, capable of raising the pitch of a string by either one or two semitones. With this final enhancement, the modern concert harp was born.

The European harp tradition seems to have originated in ancient Ireland over a thousand years ago. In Irish mythology, a magical harp, Daurdabla is possessed by The Dagda. Most European-derived harps have a single row of strings with strings for each note of the C Major scale (over several octaves). Harpists can tell which strings they are playing because all F strings are black or blue and all C strings are red or orange. The instrument rests between the knees of the harpist and along their right shoulder. The Welsh triple harp and early Irish and Scottish harp24s, however, are traditionally placed on the left shoulder. The first four fingers of each hand are used to pluck the strings; the pinky fingers are too short and cannot reach the correct position without distorting the position of the other fingers, although on some folk harp25s with light tension, closely spaced strings, they may occasionally be used. Plucking with varying degrees of force creates dynamics. Depending on finger position, different tones can be produced: a fleshy pluck (near the middle of the first finger joint) will make a warm tone, while a pluck near the end of the finger will make a loud, bright sound.


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