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Jane Austen News – Issue 56

The Jane Austen News gets set to vote

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Jane Austen Fans – Lend Us Your Eyes!     

The Jane Austen News is pleased to announce that over the next few weeks we will be publishing a most interesting letter written by Hans van Leeuwen, a lovely Jane Austen fan from the Netherlands.  

Below is just a taster:

Dear Jane

It is no uncommon occurrence for me to be seen opening a book not written by yourself for the sake of propriety, but hardly have I progressed to chapter two of such a book when I find myself growing increasingly uncomfortable from an anxiousness to replace it by one of your works. How exasperating that I should think it wrong sometimes to be always seen reading the same book or a book by the same authoress! I do, in the end, follow my own inclinations rather than bend to the wishes of others, but only after caring too much about other people’s opinions and patiently putting up with their suggestions to read what they themselves probably have not read. Yet even then I feel the shackles of conventionality, as testified by my continually looking about me when, at length, I have mustered courage enough to go to our library upstairs and choose one of your books again, on which, to your credit, dust never has time to settle.

Hans is hoping to receive remarks and tips for improvements from native speakers of English, preferably Jane Austen devotees, and the purpose of sharing the letter with us is so that some valuable feedback might be gained. 

We hope you might enjoy reading it as much as we did, and that you might share your thoughts in our comments sections as it is published. 


Meeting Young Jane Austen

This week the Jane Austen News heard from Cecily O’Neill; a writer, director and workshop leader based in Winchester. She had exciting news for us that the world premiere of her stage work, Meeting Miss Austen, is going to be performed at the Winchester Discovery Centre as part of the Winchester Festival this year.

In these plays, based on Austen’s Juvenilia, we hear the voice of the teenage Jane, exuberant, saucy and often surreal in tales of love, loss, vice and victuals…

‘The company partook of an elegant entertainment. After which, the bottle being pretty briskly pushed about, the whole party was carried home dead drunk.’ (Jack and Alice)

Cecily also treated us to a sneak peek at one of her most compelling characters – Lady Greville. You can read more about what Cecily had to say about her here.

The performances will be on Saturday 8 July 2017. 8:00pm and again on Sunday 9 July 2017 3:00pm.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 56

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The Origins of Regency Era Christmas Carols

For many of us, Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without many of the carols that we sing or hear on the radio. I know I start playing Christmas music early on in the fall to try and make the season come a little faster, and last just a little longer. While caroling itself dates back to the middle ages, it had long ago died out with the end of the feudal system. By Jane Austen’s day, Friends and neighbors no longer tramped door to door begging Wassail and bringing good cheer. Here We Come a Wassailing, The Twelve Days of Christmas, The First Noel, Good Christian Men Rejoice and Greensleeves are all traditional Carols from the Middle Ages By the Regency Period, some hymns were sung in Christmas church services, but the majority of the carols we know today had not yet been written. Though Jane Austen and her family may have sung familiar words, the tunes might not be recognized by modern audiences. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks at Night was written by Nahum Tate, in 1700 and first appeared in Tate and Brady’s Psalter in 1702. The now common tune was written by George Frederick Handel in 1728 and arranged in Harmonia Sacra, in 1812. Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) is commonly thought to have been written in France in 1710, though the first published version (words and music) would not be seen until 1760. It was translated into English by Frederick Oakeley in 1841. (more…)
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London Theater during the Regency: Covent Garden

I think you judge very wisely in putting off your London visit, and I am mistaken if it be not put off for some time. You speak with such noble resignation of Mrs. Jordan and the Opera House, that it would be an insult to suppose consolation required… Jane Austen to Cassandra January 8, 1801 The Austen family loved the theater. They loved attending plays, talking about plays and performances, and they enjoyed acting in plays. Some of Austen’s earliest works are in the form of a play and many scenese of plot developement in her novels revolve around the acting in and attending of theatrical events. In Austen’s day, it was not unusual for a serious work to be followed by a lighter piece of comdey or opera. Many evening performances included two or even three works in a row. When visiting the London home of her brother, Henry Austen, Jane seems to have visited the theater as often as possible, viewing some of the greatest stage artists of her time including Mrs. Siddons, Mrs. Jordan and Edmund Kean in his acclaimed role as Shylock. Austen, herself, seems to have preferred the light comedic plays to those of operatic prowess. In 1814, she wrote to Cassandra that, “We are to see “The Devil to Pay” to-night. I expect to be very much amused. Excepting Miss Stephens, I daresay “Artexerxes” will be very tiresome.” This was an unusual position on a play that was, “one of the most successful and (more…)
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Dresssing for the Opera

The Mizra Turban and La Brada Mantle are also articles of novel elegance. They will doubtless have a great run during the winter. For the Opera-dress we think them peculiarly calculated.–The Persian costume is at this time much adopted, in every species of decoration, and we really think it is highly advantageous to British beauty. From Le Beau Monde, and Monthly Register Vol. 2, No. 9, December 1809 The London social season evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in its traditional form it peaked in the 19th century. In this era the British elite was dominated by landowning aristocratic and gentry families who generally regarded their country house as their main home, but spent several months of the year in the capital to socialise and to engage in politics. The most exclusive events were held at the town mansions of leading members of the aristocracy; exclusive public venues such as Almack’s played a secondary role. The Season coincided with the sitting of Parliament and began some time after Christmas and ran until midsummer (ie. around late June). The social season also played a role in the political life of the country: the members of the two Houses of Parliament were almost all participants in the season. The Season but was also a chance for the children of marriageable age of the nobility and gentry to be launched into society. Women were formally introduced into society by presentation to the monarch at Court.* One popular venue for entertainment was (more…)