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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3 Comments

  1. Lady Smatter said,

    What a nice write-up! It was such a great weekend for me too- thanks for welcoming me to my first AGM!
    I’m afraid I didn’t think through the back-story of my nom-de-blog. My husband says he would rather be Mr. Smatter, so I suppose I must be the daughter of a peer?
    As a member of your audience, I can confirm that your talk went very well. It was great to get so much intimate detail from your families’ letters & diaries about a subject that Austen and other novel-writers gloss over with a few phrases. The rest of your listeners agreed with me, judging by their reactions.
    We had a MUCH less dramatic return journey than you did! I’m glad you made it home safely despite the drama!

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hmmm… a “lady” married to a “mr.” – can’t be a peer’s daughter, though b/c then you’d be like Lady Elizabeth Dickins (married to Mr. Charles Dickins), Emma’s cousin.

      We need the advice of a Briton in the know.

      k

      • Janeite Kelly said,

        just dawned: perhaps ‘Smatter’ is your first name? Then you’d be Lady Smatter Xxxxxx??

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