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Jane Austen News – Issue 55

The Jane Austen News has a new book on its to read list

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Jane Austen at Home (with Lucy Worsley)    

Some of our guides, and we’re sure other Austen/history fans, have been enjoying watching Lucy Worlsey’s new series British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worlsey, and considering how good Lucy is at uncovering the unusual facts and anecdotes that bring history to life, at the Jane Austen News we were very excited to read that her new book Jane Austen at Home: A Biography, has its official UK release date on May the 18th (US release July 11th).

In this new biography of Jane Austen, Lucy takes a trip back to Jane’s world and the many places she lived. Lucy visits Austen’s childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses – both grand and small – of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Lucy discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a ‘life without incident’. Lucy examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to Jane, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. Lucy shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom – a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

We’re looking forward to getting our hands on a copy!


Welsh Austen Fans: Win Tickets to Pride and Prejudice

Calling Welsh Jane Austen fans!

The Penarth Times newspaper has teamed up with the Wales Millennium Centre to offer one lucky person the chance to win a pair of tickets to see Pride and Prejudice.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s production of Pride and Prejudice, which recently visited Bath (during which time some of the cast came to see us at the centre!), will be at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre from Tuesday, February 21st to Saturday, February 25th. To celebrate the newspaper is offering any reader within its area of publication two tickets for the opening night on February 21st.

To enter you need to answer the question: What is the name of the family with the five unmarried daughters?

 Answers are to be sent with your name, address and telephone number to the Pride and Prejudice web competition, Penarth Times, c/o South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Maesglas, Newport, NP20 3QN, or emailed to penarthtimes@penarthtimes.co.uk putting Pride and Prejudice web competition in the subject box.

Closing date for entries is Monday, February 13.

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Jemima Nicholas, Heroine of Fishguard

“This woman was called Jemima Fawr or Jemima the Great from her heroine acts, she having marched against the French who landed hereabout in 1797 and being of such personal powers as to be able to overcome most men in a fight. I recollect her well. She followed the trade of a shoemaker and made me, when a little boy, several pairs of shoes.”

Samuel Fenton, Vicar of Saint Mary’s, 1832

The battle of Fishguard has been memorialized in The Last Invasion Tapestry, the work of more than 70 women, who stitched for over 2 years to complete the project.

Jemima Nicholas (also spelled Niclas; baptised 2nd March 1755– died July 1832), also known as Jemima Fawr, was a Welsh heroine who led the women of Pembrokeshire into battle in what is known as the last invasion of Britain. When the contingent arrived, she reached for a pitchfork and captured 12 French soldiers who were drunk at the time. They surrendered shortly afterwards at the Royal Oak. She died at the age of 82, and a plaque in Fishguard is dedicated to her.
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The Battle of Fishguard

Another moment sufficed to explain the mystery. A dress of very elegant materials, but of very simple form, was drawn forth by the dainty hands of Mrs. Selby, and displayed before the wondering eyes of her mistress. It consisted of a very full short petticoat, the fabric of which it was composed being very rich satin, but the colour of that dark, sombre tint of which the homely duffle garments of the west-country peasants were generally made, before the high-pressure cotton-mills had caused all local peculiarities of costume to give place to their patterned calicos. The upper part of the dress was of very delicate cambric, and bore a picturesque approximation to the short-sleeved under-garment of the females of all lands.

But the most remarkable feature of the dress was a small red cloak, such as little Red Riding-Hood has made immortal throughout the world of Romance, but which has the more solemn stamp of historical renown accorded to it in the Duchy of Cornwall. The head-dress was a somewhat fantastical little black hat, fastened under the chin by a blue ribbon, while the dainty and diminutive black shoes, though the material was black satin, had buckles high up on the instep, and heels that marked a very remote period in the art of shoe-making, lint the whole dress, such as it was, would decidedly have required an interpreter, had it not been made familiar to the London world by a very popular picture recently exhibited, which bore in the catalogue the title of—”The Cornish Heroine.”

Mrs. Cuthbert certainly contemplated this dress with more surprise than satisfaction. She was by no means ignorant of the tradition which attributed the safety of the Cornish coast, at a moment of threatened invasion, to the imposing appearance of a multitude of red cloaks, so arranged as to make the wearers mistaken for cohorts of the stouter sex; but she could trace no connection between this old story, and her present position as the honoured mistress of a mansion favoured by the presence of the Sovereign.
-The days of the Regency, George the fourth; or, Town and country
By Frances Trollope, 1857

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Scraps

To Miss Fanny Catherine Austen My Dear Niece As I am prevented by the great distance between Rowling and Steventon from superintending Your Education Myself, the care of which will probably on that account devolve on your Father & Mother, I think it it my particular Duty to prevent your feeling as much as possible the want of my personal instructions, by addressing to You on paper my Opinions & Admonitions on the conduct of Young Women, which you will find expressed in the following pages. — I am my dear Neice Your affectionate Aunt The Author   The Female Philosopher — A Letter   My Dear Louisa Your friend Mr. Millar called upon us yesterday in his way to Bath, whither he is going for his health; two of his daughters were with him, but the oldest & the three Boys are with their Mother in Sussex. Though you have often told me that Miss Millar was remarkably handsome, you never mentioned anything of her Sisters’ beauty; yet they are certainly extremely pretty. I’ll give you their description. — Julia is eighteen; with a countenance in which Modesty, Sense, & Dignity are happily blended, she has a form which at once presents you with Grace, Elegance, & Symmetry. Charlotte, who is just Sixteen, is shorter than her Sister, and though her figure cannot boast the easy dignity of Julia’s, yet it has a pleasing plumpness which is in a different way as estimable. She is fair & her face (more…)
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Touring with the Gardiners

Before they were separated by the conclusion of the play, she had the unexpected happiness of an invitation to accompany her uncle and aunt in a tour of pleasure which they proposed taking in the summer. “We have not quite determined how far it shall carry us,” said Mrs Gardiner, “but perhaps to the Lakes.” No scheme could have been more agreeable to Elizabeth, and her acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful. “My dear, dear aunt,” she rapturously cried, “what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea of any thing…Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations; nor, when we attempt to describe any particular scene, will we begin quarrelling about its relative situation. –Pride and Prejudice Just as summer vacation trips are popular today, “touring the countryside” was a popular activity during Regency Summers. When the weather was hot, those that could retreat to countryside estates would. If you didn’t own such a place, visiting a cooler climate and touring grand estates was the next best thing. In Emma, Boxhill is beset by summer travelers, some travelling in an “Irish car”….which, by the way, is not a car at all, but a particular type of carriage arranged with two rows of seats facing outward. Of course, the most famous instance of (more…)
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The Regency Dessert Course

When the dessert and the wine were arranged, and Mrs Dashwood and Elinor were left by themselves, they remained long together in a similarity of thoughtfulness and silence. Sense and Sensibility In the 18th and 19th century, a formal dinner was looked upon as more than a fine meal. It was a sort of grand show. The finale of the meal–dessert–was the most elaborate and expensive course of the dinner; and it required a knowledgeable confectioner to create the spectacular dessert displays of the day. The dessert fare included biscuits in great variety and macaroons served for dipping into sweet wines and liqueurs. Sugar biscuits that were closely related to meringues and gimblettes de fleurs d’orange that were large knotted biscuits were popular. The most fashionable dessert–ices–were presented in little serving cups known as tasses à glaces and came in a variety of flavors including: pistachio, barberry, and rye bread. The table was decorated with sugar-paste (pastillage) sculptures in forms such as cherubs and architectural shapes that recreated a garden or exotic locale in miniature. The display might decorate the dinning table throughout the dinner or grace a special dessert table in another room. This centerpiece was known as a plateau. It was generally placed on a mirror to increase the light and would include such items as temples and all the features usually found in a garden such as decorative pattern hedges (parterres) and flowers all created in sugar. The sugar-paste sculptures might be made by pressing the sugar (more…)