Museum Bound

October 31, 2015 at 11:02 am (books, entertainment) (, )

VERY interesting article in this week’s Seven Days:

collection bound

A southern Vermont book store (which I haven’t visited in AGES) used to carry a LOT of these “illustrated” bindings, so I’ve seen some “in the flesh” (how ghoulish a thought! considering today is Halloween…). A Burlington collector, Kathleen Roberts, will see her collection of nineteenth (and twentieth) century books become part of the collections of the American Bookbinders Museum. Alas: all the way out in San Francisco…

I’ve some older books – though never purchased for their bindings (and never very costly – or collectible).

GREAT fun to read about the items wanted by the Museum! Things like, a cloth embossing press (which does what you THINK it does: embosses fabric for covers); photographs; ephemera related to books & bindings. And it must be a wonderful museum to volunteer at! Still, rather sad to think of someone’s “home collection” now in a “museum” – rather like finding one’s goods & chattels in the neighborhood “antique store”! (been there…)

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Lady Northampton’s Aviary

October 26, 2015 at 2:17 pm (entertainment, jasna) (, , )

While staying at Louisville’s Galt House hotel, and traipsing DAILY back and forth from the JASNA AGM to our hotel room, I never realized the overpass, described by the hotel as their “conservatory”, was “Modeled after the Crystal Palace in London”.

Galt House

Their aviary of “exotic and colorful songbirds”, within the conservatory, however, fascinated me! You can just glimpse it in this “empty room” shot from the hotel’s website:

Galt House_interior

And even a dolt like me sees the Crystal Palace likeness, when I’m no longer rushing through it. Thank goodness I can say I breakfasted one day (Friday, the first day of the conference) under its arches.

As a child I had one pet: a dog. He spoiled me for ever contemplating a “replacement”. Other relatives had pets, among them a few dogs and the odd cat. I’m sure I had a goldfish at some point. But they never seem to last long, do they… Can’t say I recall any aquariums of vast size; or any caged birds. Maybe they were there, though.

In short, _I_ have often scoffed when reading about the Smiths & Goslings and Aviaries. Seemed like a “wealthy” kind of thing to have…, a fruitless “nothing”…, a “bauble” added to a room.

NOW I HAVE SEEN THE ERROR OF MY THINKING!

The hotel was busy-busy-busy. There was our conference – with over 800 Jane Austen enthusiasts. There was the Ironman Louisville Triathalon. And at least two other “groups” with conference space taken up in BOTH “towers” of the hotel. How wonderful it would be to sit, at leisure, and watch the little birds….

I remember one that swooped down, plucked up straw from the floor of the aviary, and brought it back up to the “basket”-like nest. I watched, amazed, as the straw piece was twisted and turned by the rapid movements of the little beak.

Only now do I wish I had “video”. But I post these photographs in order to share a little of my enthusiasm.

galt house birds1

galt house birds2

galt house birds3

galt house birds4

And from the letters, although I put my finger only on one comment by Lady Northampton about her aviary, I give you these snapshots of Smiths & Birds:

1804, Sarah Smith to Eliza Chute:

thank her [Mrs Bramston] for the kind offer of sending me a Canary Bird or two for the Aviary, Fanny [Lady Frances Compton] I am sure will be so good as to bring them with her

 

1807, Mamma to Augusta:

If the weather is as bad with you, as it is here, you cannot walk out much, & poor Grandmamma will be quite a prisoner; but you can always get to the Aviary, & there see a chearful scene.

 

1812, Maria Lady Northampton to her daughter:

my little birds are cheering me with their soft notes & appear pleased to see me

 

1825, Mamma to Maria:

my condolences on Valentine’s abominable behaviour [a Canary bird is written underneath]; the only excuse for such unnatural voraciousness is that she has been living constantly in the world w:h is a great trial to many people’s principles, you must not expect her to lay any more eggs this year.

and, a few months later:

Valentine is building another Nest, which excites Maria’s anxiety

I’ve now made a memo: The next estate that I buy must CERTAINLY come complete with an AVIARY!

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Further Thoughts on the JASNA AGM in Louisville

October 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm (jane austen, jasna) (, )

Searching for reactions, thoughts, and etc. from other participants, I bring to the attention of readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen the following useful “follow-ups” on the Jane Austen Society of North America’s recent annual general meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

ja world

clicking on the image above will bring you to the facebook page for the AGM 2015. As many know, the Louisville region hosts a yearly Jane Austen Festival, at Locust Grove.

I had been told that it was writer Sharon Lathan‘s husband who acted as AGM “PRESS” Photographer. And Sharon has posted countless photos of speakers, events, companions, and even Louisville. If you couldn’t make it to Louisvile in October 2015, take a look at Sharon’s 2015 AGM Album.

If you were there: You might see yourself! Or, at the very least, “relive” the experience.

  • JASNA Central & Western New York has a nice blog post, complete with photos, that you might wish to visit. I kept hoping we’d see more, following their Saturday (Oct. 17) meeting at a local Barnes & Noble, but I’ve not yet seen any newer post.
  • Sophie’s Diary offers a brief “first-AGM” write-up called “Weekend with Jane”.
  • JASNA linked various Persuasions articles into a “sampling” of Reading about LIVING IN JANE AUSTEN’S WORLD. Two of my early publications are there: look for Elizabeth Bennet’s trip to Derbyshire; as well as Elizabeth Darcy’s wedding journey [both listed under “TRAVEL”]

pic1

I’d like to address a personal aside:

On Saturday, October 10th (breakout session D), I gave my paper, “Who could be more prepared than she was”?  True Tales of Life, Death, and Confinement: Childbirth in early 19th Century England.

In the front row sat someone who seemed to photograph EVERY slide in my presentation. We’ve all been in an audience where some image grabbed our attention so much that we wanted to remember it, to keep it. But I have a vivid memory of changing images at one point quite rapidly – for some slides were “topic” cards (like the above). And it is that memory which I cannot shake: of a camera being lifted, and lifted again, and yet again.

It’s a harried atmosphere, when presenting a breakout paper at a JASNA AGM. My session came immediately after the plenary speaker Amanda Vickery. I had to hustle to my room, unpack the computer, my “script”, my couple of “show and tell” objects.

I had planned on an iPad app for keeping track of time. The last portion of the paper could run as long or as short as required. It was an Excel sheet comparing & contrasting “confinements” in Emma’s family, beginning with the confinement Claire Tomalin pointed to in her biography of Jane Austen: Lady Compton’s 1790 confinement with her son Spencer (the future 2nd Marquess of Northampton).

There’s a certain amount of material to get through; there’s a time limit — and I had three different people telling me when my time was running out (no two in sync). Waiting for the AV tech to arrive with the correct projector connection (HDMI), I neglected to even turn the iPad on (No room ON the lectern, it sat on a shelf below.)

My paper had specific references, letter and diary excerpts, that I wanted to introduce – to an audience who would have NO CLUE who Emma Austen or her family members were. I put a lot of effort into the slides that accompanied my words. So much so, that it felt as if I wrote two papers!

Only late into the paper did I spot the audience member taking “snaps”.

Even as I went through my Excel sheet of “confinements”, I saw the camera rise each time I moved the text on the screen.

My research – culled over nearly ten years now – is very dear to my heart. I’ve written and blogged and talked, always with the hope of exciting others about the “history” of people in another land at another time.

But to what end does someone photograph an entire presentation?

The images and the conclusions made while culling stacks of letters and diaries, was something I wanted to SHARE – with the people in the room.

Cell phones and cameras and selfies are too ubiquitous, for my taste. Nowadays, no one thinks about the possibility that I might have prefered NOT to have my presentation so faithfully reproduced.

It’s great for people to share their thoughts, their photographs; but please do not make assumptions about how I wish to share my work.

If this is a new trend in “note-taking”, I hope audience members will consider asking the speaker beforehand. I, for one, will be more guarded – both about what items I bring and what I include as images during a presentation.

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“Sexing-up” Mr Darcy

October 14, 2015 at 1:57 pm (entertainment, jane austen, news) (, )

Devoney Looser has an article in The Independent entitled Mr. Darcy through the ages. Of course, the flight relies heavily on the Darcy of Colin Firth (and, quite evidently, writer Andrew Davies; he said as much at the Fort Worth AGM in 2011).

Quite eye-opening to read about the “early” attempts at presenting Pride and Prejudice on the stage. Sounds like one should seek more information on the pre-film Darcy, COLIN KEITH-JOHNSTON, who had the role on Broadway.

pp_colin keith johnston

(Olivier of course in the film, with Greer Garson)

As I read more and more of the article, I found myself thinking:

“A novel focused on men never has writers angsting over the smaller-roled women characters; but have a (wonderful!) novel focused on WOMEN and always the focus struggles not to shift to the off-to-one-side men.”

I don’t at all mean this as criticism of Devoney’s EXCELLENT article, but as a wake-up call about all the (never-ending) Darcy-centric-ness in general.

Don’t get me wrong, we all love a LOVE STORY – and Lizzy must have her Darcy. BUT: Must women suffer getting paid LESS for comparable roles & work (read about Jennifer Lawrence) AND have the spotlight taken away, too, when they are the STAR?”

Think about it. It’s The King and I all over again: once Yul Brynner broke out as “quintessential” king, the role of Anna slightly dimmed forever.

Pride and Prejudice is Lizzy’s story – we see things through her eyes, and realize what she comes to realize, that this aloof young man is a worthy life-mate. Even in this highly VISUAL age (which I’m a bit disdainful of, at the present moment especially) — and _I_ understand as well as anyone how vital good looks and pleasing places and costumes are to a production (I’m as susceptible as anyone…) — ALL this blathering about Darcy (and especially the same ONE incarnation) seems unfair to my dear LIZZY!

So, my question is: IF this were a novel about DARCY, would there be as much ink spilled over the over-shadowing of Miss Elizabeth Bennet? Would screenwriters work hard to sex her up or give HER more screen time?

[certainly TV sexed up Fanny Price… totally ruining the television series of that novel..]

Would Lizzy’s LOOKS mean more than her inner integrity, wit, and intelligence? Aren’t women already OBJECTS? (especially in advertising).

Like Anna Leonowens, Lizzy Bennet seems now to have sunk into second place behind the man. Am _I_ the only one shouting, “ENOUGH about DARCY! Get back to the novel, and let’s lift Elizabeth Bennet back up to her starring role”???

It’s like our heroine has been elbowed out of the limelight.

And Lizzy’s toe-tapping means she’s getting rather TIRED of being treated as second banana in her own tale…

back to the bookBACK to the BOOK

darcy-lizzy together(where Darcy doesn’t over-shadow Miss E. Bennet)

lizzy bennet_noooo(Lizzy Bennet is NOT happy!)

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Louisville: Living in Jane Austen’s World

October 13, 2015 at 12:23 pm (jane austen, jasna, travel) (, , )

For FOUR DAYS we all certainly DID LIVE in Jane’s Austen’s World! But I’m back, having roamed to the state of My Old Kentucky Home for oh-so-short a time only.

kentucky quarter

I never thought about it, until the guide at Locust Grove (a Mr. Boone !), said that Kentucky was the fifteenth state in the Union. Vermont (as some may know), was the FOURTEENTH! We joined in 1791!

(Kentucky, for those wishing to know, entered a year later, in summer 1792.)

It put the “geography” of the JASNA AGM in perspective, a bit, for me. Of course, being a conference, unless you make TIME for something by bumping something else you don’t get to see too much of the conference city. Did take a lovely walk by the Ohio River…; did take a drive through some neighborhoods of “historic Louisville”…; and did get out (thanks to JASNA member Lady Smatter and her husband [Lord Smatter? I’ll have to ask. We quickly got down to first names, and I’m unsure of the gentleman’s title… Lady Smatter may be a lady in her own right.]) to Locust Grove Sunday afternoon.

NB: we’ve heard a rumor that a portrait within the house – and we sense two contenders – had her decolletage painted over at some point (which has been removed… like the lady’s clothing in a JASNA special session!). IF anyone can tell us WHICH painting, Lady Smatter and I would be delighted to know. (Mr. Boone had had no clue.)

Speaking of Mr. Boone – I will say that I did ASK. For I watch some mornings (on ME.TV) the TV series Daniel Boone. Today’s episode was QUITE delightful: the Daniel and Mingo (and even Rebecca) was helping to destroy some new rifles the British were acquiring:

boone1

boone2

I, too, love a “red” coat. And powdered wigs. (Apologies for the poor images: will have to check my camera setting…; NB: Mingo stands besides Rebecca, in “disguise” as a British Major.) Mr. Boone said his family predated that of Boonesboro’s founder.

To toot my own horn, although so much of the 30-plus minutes is a blur to me (I can see why people getting the Academy Award later say they don’t remember…), my talk entitled:

AGM1

went quite well. I remember a roomful of people (standees even). And was very happy to have a woman come up to me prior to Saturday’s banquet saying how much she had enjoyed the talk. I don’t get much feedback on my work (and sometimes, in my daily life, I don’t get much encouragement for the pursuit of the Smiths & Goslings), so this was really touching to me that she would take a moment and come up to tell me her reaction.

I had brought with me a new purchase – the 1793 Will of Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mother), a eight-page original document; and a letter I gifted to myself for my 50th birthday, an 1824 letter written by Augusta (the sister) and Augusta (the mother) Smith. Not too many people have seen an original pre-stamp era letter. I am lucky enough to own two full letters (the other from 1837). And (ah-hem) always on the lookout for MORE Smith & Gosling ephemera and materials.

I was lucky enough to be gifted, by the author, with this delightful Jane Austen Daybook:

ja daybook

LOTS of illustrations – I couldn’t locate it on the US site, so the link is to the UK one; but do check both.

A woman beside me at the banquet (who also had attended my talk! small world sometimes…), asked if breakout session speakers were compensated in any way. I was holding up my hand, with fingers meeting the top of the thumb, when my roommate said, “You got a mug”.

True: in our registration packet there was a half-page letter, telling us to pop over to the Kentucky Table at the Regency Boutique to claim our prize! (I have no letter to show you, b/c that was the “prize” they claimed in return.) There was a Jane Christmas Ornament (haven’t put up a tree in decades) or a license plate surround (never put anything on the car) or a MUG. It’s lovely! With the quote of Captain Wentworth’s letter, Jane’s silhouette on one side and a “man” on the other.

But who IS that “masked” man???

agm2

I swear it looks like my Edward Austen. (Someone in the know: tell me!)

EdwardAusten-silhouette

I’m sure there are mugs for sale (JASNA’s website as “shops” for various regions; if I find that Kentucky and this Persuasions mug is there, I’ll pop in a link later). Your price would be far less than the amount of time it takes to write a paper, condense it (for it has more info than could possibly be rattled off in 30 to 40 minutes), AND come up with a very lengthy and involved Powerpoint presentation.

This morning I did christen it with a cuppa! But I have SO MANY mugs – and only three that I perpetually drink tea from.

MUST mention one of the most intriguing of the special sessions: Thomasina’s Notebook and Tom Lefroy’s House“, presented by Prof. Glynis Ridley. FASCINATING *find* at a flea market (of all places) of this handwritten commonplace book.

I feel like Mamma Smith… a visitor has captured my attention, mid-blog, and now I once again pick up my “pen” – BUT: my original train of thought may – or may not – be followed. If I’ve left out anything I REALLY wanted to say, I’ll either put addenda to this post, or post anew.

I simply must share my “pins” – the Emma one in our “goodie bag” (next year’s AGM is in Washington, D.C.) and the butterfly (my one splurge) comes from Locust Grove’s giftshop:

agm3

and you might like to see our tote bags, for JASNA AGM 2015:

agm4

A Kentucky Derby theme! Our own “colors” in jockey silks.

I travelled – by bus – for over 24 hours (include ride & wait times); a tale to be told on the ride back: in Ohio a fist fight broke out in the aisle! The guys landed on a woman in the set of seats right in front of me. Police were called – and the bus, at that point, was already running more than an hour behind schedule. (Up to that point, no one at Greyhound/Trailways in Ohio seemed to worry about trying to make up time! Bus arrived IN Louisville about the time it should have DEPARTED. Ditto for all the other stops along the way. Luckily, my layover IN Buffalo had been two-plus hours = I made it with about 20 or 30 minutes to spare.). The police came instantly; didn’t even come on board to ask questions, except from the guy who broke them up. It was an odd occurrence: no shouts, not “wham” or “bamm” (like in the TV show BATMAN), just a pair of bodies moving in the aisle in the middle of the night (it was like 3 AM).

It might be “All in the Name of Jane,” but at the same time I will never again bus through Columbus-Cincinnati!

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Two Teens in Louisville

October 11, 2015 at 1:47 am (books, jane austen, jasna) (, , , )

Here I am at the JASNA – Jane Austen Society of North America – Annual General Meeting 2015. I’ve given my paper Saturday (the room seemed filled; but it is rather all a blur), and some participants had interest in my book that went on sale at the Boutique shop JANE AUSTEN BOOKS.

The bookshop does mail order! so click on the link to ask about obtaining YOUR copy of TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN: RANDOM JOTTINGS, 2008-2015. This is a new expanded version of the Kindle book (sorry to say, I’ve no current plans to re-do the Kindle version). I may do PDFs of the updated book version (write to me, if that interests you).

km_book_2015

Copies arrived at my home a couple months ago (above), but have not been on sale prior to this AGM weekend. Here they are (unfocused, I’m afraid; not my camera!) on the table, amid all the other JANE AUSTEN goodies, at the Regency Boutique here at the Galt House hotel:

2015-10-10 16.08.28

I’ll have more to say a bit later. So enjoy this view of Louisville in the meantime (from our hotel room):

2015-10-09 17.54.33

Jane Austen Books will need time to get their inventory home – but I’d love to see readers support this research, and I hope the book would interest — given all the pertinent articles spelling out the family of Emma and Mary exist in one place. Thanks – no matter what – for reading and commenting on the blog. Support comes in many forms, and from many people. I’m always GRATEFUL when you “lend an ear”.

JA books

NB: Amanda Vickery was plenary speaker this year. Fascinating talk – and she signed TWO of my books, The Gentleman’s Daughter and Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England.

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