A Jane Austen Birthday Present

December 16, 2017 at 11:04 am (books, entertainment, jane austen, jasna, news) (, , )

Every December, on Jane Austen’s Birthday (December 16th), JASNA – the Jane Austen Society of North America, celebrates by publishing their digital periodical, Persuasions On-Line. This a free to view periodical of scholarship centering on Austen, her novels, her life, her family.

I’m really thrilled to see an article on the “The Sitting with Jane Art Trail, Celebrating Jane Austen, Basingstoke, and Literary Tourism,” by Misty Krueger. Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will recall a brief post I called “Jane Austen BookBenches“.

Dancing with Jane

NPG 3630; Jane Austen by Cassandra AustenOther articles, some culled from the recent AGM (Annual General Meeting) in Huntington Beach, California, that caught my eye include:

  • “Persuasion: Why the Revised Ending Works so Well,” by Paul Wray
  • “‘My Fanny’ and ‘A Heroine Whom No One but Myself Will Much Like’: Jane Austen and Her Heroines in the Chawton Novels,” by Gillian Dooley
  • “‘I Have Unpacked the Gloves’: Accessories and the Austen Sisters,” by Sara Tavela
  • “Jane Austen’s Early Death in the Context of Austen Family Mortality,” by Christopher O’Brien
  • “The Immortality of Sense and Sensibility: Margaret’s Tree House, Edward’s Handkerchief, Marianne’s Rescue,” by Susan Allen Ford

There’s even a “Conversation with Whit Stillman,” who joined us at Huntington Beach for an evening that included discussion of his film Love & Friendship (based on Austen’s “Lady Susan”), which then played for the assembled audience.

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Etching Memories

November 8, 2017 at 12:35 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, history, places, travel) (, , )

A year or two ago I bought a batch of letters; included was one which should have had a half-page etching of Worthing, England. The Smiths & Goslings _never_ wrote on the rear of these pictures – though the letter confesses that the writer had written ON the drawing: an “X” marked the spot where the parents of the recipient had over-nighted.

But I can’t tell you where anyone stayed: the picture has been cut off. All that remains is the letter.

So within the last few weeks, when I came across some letter sheets I bought them. But none are of Worthing….

Companies, such as ROCK & CO, did produce books of their engravings. You can see one here, currently (Nov 2017) for sale. In my ‘searches’, however, I came across a very useful and touching website.

This book, posted online, forms both a diary and a book of engravings. A unique combination.

Torquay letter sheet

What is *special* about this copy of the book Drives &c In & About TORQUAY is that the author collected the drawings AND put down memories of a trip.

In the days before easy photography, these drawings procured the author the perfect illustrations!

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Visiting 11 Jane Austen Locations

October 26, 2017 at 1:45 pm (books, entertainment, jane austen, travel) (, , )

My surprise came from seeing among the “11 Jane Austen Locations in the U.K. to Visit on Your Next Reading-Inspired Adventure” (a 2015 article) the one large estate most closely related to my Smith & Gosling research: Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire.

Castle Ashby was (and still is) the seat of the Marquess of Northampton. In Emma Austen’s youth this was “Uncle Northampton,” the 9th Earl and 1st Marquess of Northampton; the title then devolved to Emma’s cousin (the 1st Marquess’ only son), Spencer Compton – who usually appears in these blog posts under the title he carried while his father was still alive, Lord Compton. Compton married Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane. Both of them pop up in many Two Teens in the Time of Austen posts.

I visited the archives at Ashby in 2014, and (of course) have many of Emma’s “Castle Ashby” impressions and stories at my finger tips.

The Castle Ashby Gardens are open to the public, but the house is a private residence. So why include it on a to-do list of houses to visit for Jane Austen fans? Its appearance in an issue of Country Life holds the key.

Mansfield Park

Some sites, like Plymouth’s Saltram House, are on the list because of films.

The Jane Austen Center in Bath is a given, as one of the few “museums” dedicated to the author; ditto the Jane Austen’s House Museum and its neighbor Chawton House.

Stoneleigh Abbey has a “Leigh” family connection (the “Leigh” of the Leigh-Perrots, Mrs. Austen’s brother and sister-in-law), which Stoneleigh exploits quite a bit in tourist advertising and tours. Mrs. Austen’s letter home chatters on in great detail about the Austen visit to Stoneleigh in 1806.

  • NB: Leigh family papers at the Huntington Library (California) is completely online, in a very useful digital collection.

Also on Emma Oulton’s “11 Jane Austen sites” list (of course) is Austen’s grave, inside Winchester Cathedral.

Some sites come straight from the books: Fanny Price (Mansfield Park) mentions “the Island”, which to her indicates the Isle of Wight (much as Emma Austen and Lady Smith call London “Town”). Emma Woodhouse (Emma) visits Box Hill – a “vista” that a kind friend drove me to experience for myself in October 2016. Also on the list, Gretna Green – although Lydia Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) did not cross the border into Scotland, but remained (unmarried…) somewhere in London.

Then, the realm of “inspiration” and Oulton’s “must visit” list takes a bit of an unexpected turn: Tintern Abbey for its gothic inspiration. Chatsworth more for its supposed “Pemberley” inspiration than its film location persona. And this is where and how CASTLE ASHBY appears. All thanks to a Country Life article that got picked up by The Telegraph in 2015.

Ashby’s archivist had mentioned to me in 2014 that some Jane Austen scholar had “a theory about Ashby,” but it wasn’t until The Telegraph article got emailed that I tracked down the origin article. Relooking for this blog post, I found one blogger’s thoughts to be RIGHT ON target when it comes to writing and what could be behind any writer’s “inspiration”.

Mansfield Park2

Margaret C. Sullivan’sWill Jane Austen’s Real Inspiration Please Stand Up” specifically addresses issues concerning a writer’s “inspiration” and, obliquely, the theory Dr. Robert Clark (University of East Anglia) had set in motion.

Clark’s rationale is the genealogy of “Uncle Northampton” and Spencer Perceval, the member for Northampton who became Prime Minister and who has gone down in history as the only British Prime Minister assassinated while in office.

The Percevals (Spencer and his elder brother Lord Arden) were cousins of Lord Northampton. Lady Northampton (Emma’s aunt) was the eldest sister of Eliza Chute of The Vine; the Chutes were neighbors of the Austens – ergo: six degrees of separation and Jane Austen’s “inspiration” for Mansfield Park (the estate) was (fanfare, please: ta-da!) Castle Ashby.

You are invited to seek out Clark’s Country Life article (I do have an emailable PDF, if you’re really desperate; contact info under “About the Author” link); the Telegraph article can be found online (see next link).

But, first, several of Sullivan’s blog post thoughts:

  • “When I saw this article in the Telegraph …, I rolled my eyes a bit and prepared myself for silliness. We’ve had so much of this sort of thing: the Real Mr. Darcy, the Real Pemberley, etc., and it’s becoming tiresome…”
  • “I think it’s rare for writers, especially writers of Jane Austen’s genius, to be so literal about their inspiration…. Writers get inspiration from all over—the littlest thing to the biggest— … used however we need them to fit the plot.”
  • “tiresome … when five thousand Internet listicle sites pick it up like Moses brought it down from the mountain, and all our well-meaning friends send us links saying, ‘DID YOU SEE THIS?'”

I invite you to read Sullivan’s post in its entirety, for she makes some excellent points about Austen and Mansfield Park.

[By the way, Cottesbrook – which you’ll see in the comments section, is ALSO related to the Smiths & Goslings – home of the Langham family, relations of Elizabeth Gosling’s husband Langham Christie.]

My concern with Clark’s theory is less about “inspiration” and more about the veracity and depth of his familial research. Entitled, “Is this the Real Mansfield Park?” the sub-header entices Country Life readers by asking: “‘Are there hedgerows in Northamptonshire?Robert Clark has found compelling evidence to identify the country house on which Jane Austen based her novel Mansfield Park and to look at it in a new light.” A smaller-font teaser between paragraphs then asks, “Did the political and family connections of Castle Ashby draw Jane Austen to immortalize it in Mansfield Park?

Anyone who has read Mansfield Park will guess why Austen wanted to know if she could write about Hedgerows in the course of the novel. Austen’s query to Cassandra (letter of 29 Jan 1813) was, “If you c:d discover whether Northamptonshire is a Country of hedgerows, I sh:d be glad again.”

As I re-read Country Life, from their 2 September 2015 issue, these annoyances pop out:

  • Elizabeth Chute – this is more correctly applied to William Wiggett Chute’s wife. William Wiggett inherited The Vine after the deaths of brothers William and Thomas Chute, but only took possession of the Hampshire estate [there was also a Norfolk estate, as well] after the death of William’s widow ELIZA Chute. She may have been born an Elizabeth, but it is not the name she (or Claire Tomalin, in her Jane Austen biography, which the article cites) used.
  • Who the hell is “James Henry Austen-Leigh”? Typo or misprint is no excuse. The man’s name was James EDWARD Austen Leigh (and went by ‘Edward’). Austen scholars often abbreviate the Austen, and contract him to ‘JEAL’. So many writers seem unable to check their sources over James Austen and his son James Edward Austen (Leigh). [NB: Edward married my diarist Emma Smith]
  • The next section really is egregious: “Perhaps Austen-Leigh exaggerated [the intimacy of the Chutes and Percevals in his book on the Vine Hunt], as his wife was descended from another sister … and he wanted to affirm his kinship with the great, but the fact that he named two of his children — Spencer Austen and Edward Compton Austen — to commemorate the family relationships must lend weight to the suggestion….”

Emma had a brother Spencer, as well as cousin ‘Spencer Compton’. The two Compton siblings – Lord Compton and Lady Elizabeth Compton – were the ONLY first cousins the Smiths had. Clark’s concept of Edward Austen wishing to “affirm” kinship “with the great” might be altered if Clark had noted that Spencer Perceval had been William Chute’s fag at Harrow.

The Telegraph article by Hannah Furness brings other issues:

  • “Jane Austen’s fictional country house was based on the real-­life Castle Ashby, in Northamptonshire, the home of the family of Spencer Perceval.” [to me this sounds like Ashby was the Perceval seat; not so.]

Reactions of friends at the time of the Telegraph article, rather echoed the “letters to the editor”; they included:

  • “It’s a while since I read MP, but I got the impression that the house was quite contemporary, fairly recently built.  …. Castle Ashby is Elizabethan, and seems to me to be much grander than MP.
  • “Methinks that too many people are reading/trying to read too many things into not very much.”

My own response took the form of a (never published) Letter to the Editor:

Why Jane Austen should require “models” for the creation of characters or estates is a question few address; besides, it is fun to pose “what ifs” (“Sleuth’s trail to the heart and home of an Austen classic”, Sept 3).

I research the very persons Prof. Clark theorizes about: Eliza Chute’s family, into which James Edward Austen married on 16 December 1828. I agree with Prof. Richards (letters, Sept 11) that Castle Ashby and its Spencer Perceval connection seems too loose a thread for Austen to have woven its connotations into Mansfield Park. In the midst of re-reading Nelson’s Purse (Martyn Downer, 2004) as this story broke, I have an alternative suggestion from the same family: Swarland, owned by Alexander Davison. His involvement with Admiral Horatio Nelson; the family unit of Edmund and Fanny (Nelson’s father and estranged wife) against the mesmerizing newcomer; and a strong dose of Church, Navy, Portsmouth, and the West Indies all fall within Austen’s story.

Swarland was a neo-Palladian house, mid-eighteenth-century built, with substantial parkland – including a ha-ha and extensive walks á la Sotherton. It serves for house, grounds, and the extra-textural fare Clark seeks for the “cognoscenti reader”. Far north if left in situ (Northumberland), Swarland could have precipitated Jane Austen’s questions about hedgerows and Northamptonshire, if she prepared to “relocate” the action to a southerly county with a similar name.

See, even _I_ can play the game!

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American Duchess: Dressmaking!

September 26, 2017 at 7:39 pm (books, fashion, history, research) (, , , , )

Many of you will already be familiar with “American Duchess” for their “historical footwear” (I’m in love with their new “Regency” shoe, called Dashwood), or for the American Duchess blog on “Historical Costuming“. Those of you who do your own hand-sewn costumes, or those who WANT to begin such a project, will be happy with a new book by Lauren Stowell (“American Duchess”) and Abby Cox.

18th-Century-Dressmaking

Click the book’s cover to see the “preview” at Amazon.

Lauren and Abby have a well-thought-out series of “Georgian Gowns”. The Amazon preview gives the pages that cover “Historic stitches and how to sew them.” The photos that accompany this section show the detail clearly.

From the table of contents, other sections cover gowns:

  • The English Gown, 1740s
  • The Sacque Gown, 1760s-1770s
  • The Italian Gown, 1780s-1790s
  • The Round Gown, 1790s

Looking at the sub-categories, topics covered include items like “1740s Cap”; “1760s Undies – Side Hoops”; “1760s Ribbon Choker Necklace”; “1780s Poufs and Bows”; “Learning to Love Linen”; “1790s The ‘Frog’ Reticule”.

_I_ am more impressed with books that narrow the focus of research. Heaven forbid a brief book on an all-encompassing idea of “European Men and Women’s Fashions, 17th to 21st Centuries”.

So this book gets a BIG thumbs up for a nice number of pages (240 pages) and a tight focus that makes it a true “Guide to Eighteenth Century Dressmaking: How to Hand Sew Georgian Gowns and Wear Them With Style“.

Dare we hope that there will be further entries, making a series of Dressmaking Guides?!? Fingers crossed!!

Book release date is 21 November 2017! The video has “news” about MANY of their upcoming plans – watch it to find out more…. They also promise more videos as the weeks pass, counting down to November.

(note that Lauren & Abby show the cover, above; rather than the picture on Amazon’s website. Barnes & Noble have the correct cover. Be advised: the book images are “reversed” in the video.)

the ladies favoriteThe Ladies and their “favorite gown to work on”

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New Matrimonial Ladder (c1853)

September 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , )

In search of images by artist Thomas Onwhyn (c1814-1886), also known as Samuel Weller (under which name he did “illegitimate” illustrations of works by Charles Dickens), I came across a wonderful blog post at BOOKTRYST. Onwhyn illustrated his own version of a book I fell in love with when first coming across The Matrimonial Ladder (1825).

new matrimonial ladder_possession

Onwhyn’s version – called (surprise) A New Matrimonial Ladder – of the “tale” has charm, and you see above his deft handing of scenery (many of his drawings were published by Rock & Co., London), with the cliffs in the background. It is a hard choice – like choosing between the prettiness of Brock or the allure of Hugh Thomson when discussing illustrations of Jane Austen novels.

Declaration

The drawings of “M.E.” (above) have much in common with such delightful books as Mrs. Hurst Dancing (drawings of Diana Sperling) or A Picture History of the Grenville Family of Rosedale House (drawings of Mary Yelloly).

I think you will enjoy BOTH (online) “books”.

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Marylebone: the Art of Painting

September 4, 2017 at 8:08 pm (books, entertainment, london's landscape) (, , )

Watching a recent episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?,” featuring Charles Dance, there came an intriguing moment for _me_ when he chased after an ancestor who had a shop at No. 83 High Street, Marylebone.

It began when Charles Dance encountered a husband/wife pair of portraits. Knowing the husband was officially “an artist,” he simply had to track down some of his work (which he secretly hoped would lead back to the portraits, i.e., a portrait of his wife by the artist and a self-portrait).

His ancestor, Charles François FUTVOYE caused a LOT of comment. “Unusual name” was the gist of the consternation. When the following turned up in one of the London papers which _I_ have often consulted, MY ears perked up!

futvoye_ad

Charles Dance was related to a man who taught “Japanning” to the “Nobility and Gentry”. The above ad ran in 1829. Could any of my Smiths & Goslings visited his shop at No. 83 High-street??

For the older girls, married or marrying by 1829, some of them with young children, their desire for Japanning may have been lessening. And, like Charles Dance, I could well imagine that SUCH an unusual name (the man had emigrated from Spa, Belgium) would have caused me no end of consternation during transcription. So, even if he’s there, his name could be misspelled!

I did search, with no luck, Emma’s diaries from the 1820s; I’ll go back further – and also take a look through all the letters, to see if anything turns up. No. 83 High-street would have been a ten- to fifteen-minute walk from Portland Place. Mr. Futvoye also sold art materials. Anything is possible, therefore.

Today the premises is a lovely bookshop: Daunt Books for Travellers.

futvoye_shop

Recent fans will join Charles Dance’s newly-found kin in wanting to hear about Game of Thrones (his role: Tywin Lannister); I remember him most fondly for The Jewel in the Crown (his role: Guy Perron).

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Boswell’s ‘my Miss Cunliffe’

August 28, 2017 at 7:05 pm (books, people, research, spotlight on) (, , , )

James Boswell actually has a few connections to people in the Smith & Gosling families. I’ve already written about the GREGG family – my diarist Mary Gosling‘s Aunt Gregg (sister of Mary’s father, William Gosling) married into this family. Aunt Gregg’s husband was Henry Gregg. Henry and his sister Miss Gregg (the future Caroline Carr) can be found in diary entries by Boswell.

But my earliest Boswell *find* concerned Lady Cunliffe – Mary’s maternal grandmother – and her two daughters Mary and Eliza. Lady Cunliffe came from Chester, England and maintained ties there. It was in my second post to THIS blog, on 7 June 2008, that I first mentioned the “tie” between my Cunliffe ladies and James Boswell. And YES! 2018 will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Two Teens in the Time of Austen.

Boswell wrote A LOT – letters, diaries, memos to self even. He and his later heirs saved a LOT. But one item that slipped through, and evidently was lost BY Boswell in his lifetime, is his “Chester Journal“. I cannot say how WONDERFUL it would have been to read his words about my trio of ladies! Alas…

Based on a few letters from circa 1780, my article on Academia.edu, “Boswell’s ‘my Miss Cunliffe’: Augmenting James Boswell’s missing Chester Journal,” rectifies the misidentification of the two sisters in the original Boswell literature. They appear in the volume, The Correspondence of James Boswell with Certain members of the Club (1976); and also letters between Boswell and Margaret Stuart (née Cuninghame) in Catalogue of the Papers of James Boswell at Yale University (1993).

This article is the only place to read so much information about Lady Cunliffe (below, in a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds) and her daughters Mrs. Drummond Smith (Mary) and Mrs. William Gosling (Eliza).

Read: Boswell’s ‘my Miss Cunliffe’ (also linked in the sidebar)

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An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman (review)

August 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm (books, diaries, entertainment, history) (, , , )

James Boswell sums up in one sentence his idea of good biography:

I cannot conceive a more perfect mode of writing any man’s life than not only relating all the most important events of it in their order, but interweaving what he privately wrote, and said, and thought.”

Susan M. Ouellette, who presents the entire extant diary of Phebe Orvis Eastman, first provides an adroit clarification of the diary, in a set of essays. The diarist, of course, never wrote with the intention of publication. Her thoughts are personal and private – and, at times, (well-labeled by the editor) cryptic. This layout, of essays then diary, guides the reader to pick up on the crumb-like indicators within the diary. Ouellette has uncovered a good deal of the life of Phebe Orvis Eastman — before, during, and after the diary, which makes for a rounded biographical profile. She also informs the reader about the era in which Phebe lived.

Extraordinary Ordinary Woman

An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820-1830 tells of life on the American “frontier,” first in Vermont and then in the vicinity of Canton, New York. A young nation, the United States was still at war with England during Phebe’s childhood (she lived from 1801 to 1868). The geography of her diary is not the cosmopolitan perspective of Philadelphia, New York, or Washington; nor even from some great plantation. Thereby supplementing those perspectives, it enlarges our knowledge of young women in post-Revolutionary War America.

Phebe’s immediate family had staked claims and worked to clear the land and worked to create their community. (Vermont joined the Union as the Fourteenth State in 1791.) Phebe’s picture of rural Vermont, in the decades beyond that first settlement, offers readers first-hand experience of a growing, interconnected community. And through her move to a less congenial, even “wilder” frontier, Phebe’s own words involve us as witnesses to her personal pain and turmoil.

Phebe Orvis lived a somewhat carefree life as a young woman in Bristol, Vermont. Ouellette’s earliest chapter covers the tragedy of Phebe’s early life: Her mother died when Phebe was just a toddler. The baby’s age and gender (she was the fourth child, but the only daughter) resulted in her living not with her father and siblings, but with her aging maternal grandparents.

Readers of The Midwife’s Tale, featuring Maine’s Martha Ballard, will find a similarity here in the craft-skills taught to young women. Phebe Orvis is a weaver, spinner, and sewer; for instance, when Phebe writes of “Finished my web”, she is telling readers that she has yet again begun a weaving project. Such projects probably helped to fund the classes she took at the Middlebury Female Seminary.

Phebe Orvis is a serious student – and among the early cohort of women attending Willard’s establishment (though Willard herself had moved on by this time). Phebe’s “formal education” is unfortunately cut short, and readers feel her disappointment, and her reticence in doing what is requested of her: She moves to Parishville, New York, to help at her aunt and uncle’s Tavern. This transition led her to marry a man who was not her first choice for a life-partner. Ouellette uncovered in the diary the subtle “ceremony” of gifts exchanged (and ultimately returned), which points out a certain young man as Phebe’s prior attachment.

The Eastmans married in 1823; it is the marriage, the arrival of children, and the constant scratching for a living in New York, which concerns the remainder of the diary, which ends in October 1830. The blank pages that follow serve as silent testament that life went on, even if the woman writing could see no reason to spare the time to record more of that life. Phebe Orvis Eastman retained her diary, and even placed a few later inserts inside it. The diary meant enough to her, at the very least as evidence of early concerns and feelings, to have preserved it.

And others preserved it after Phebe’s death.

Special mention should be made of the late Mary Smallman, who encountered the diary after it surfaced again in Plattsburgh, NY. She transcribed the diary and dug about for information about the mystery diarist. Safe in her hands at a time when few put value on such manuscripts, Smallman ultimately deposited the diary and support materials with the Saint Lawrence County Historical Association (NY).

As with any primary source, records helped to fill out details, but aspects remain that can never truly be known. This book, with the diary in its entirety, ably supported by informative essays, is a window into early 19th century America. That its roots begin in Vermont makes it special to me, a native Vermonter, like Phebe. The physical world she knew nearly two hundred years ago can still be discerned.

Maps provide visuals for those needing to conceptualize the placement of Bristol, Middlebury, and Vergennes, Vermont; also, Saint Lawrence County, New York. An index is included. The size of the book – being both taller and wider than the average hardcover – somehow makes it a bit unwieldy; being produced in hardcover rather than paperback might have minimized that sensation. A tighter layout of the diary entries might have allowed for slightly larger type without increasing page count. Generous spacing between lines tries to compensate for the font and font size. Notes and a bibliography bring the book to 380 pages (Excelsior Editions, SUNY Press; $29.95).

Diaries, in general, are filled with the insignificant, and Ouellette has done the hard work of teasing out the significance behind the diarist’s little clues of life-events. This single volume diary indeed covers (as Boswell prescribed) “all the most important events” in the life of this Vermont girl, from her days as a single woman seeking education at the Middlebury establishment founded by Emma Willard; to her employment in New York, which brought her into the company of Samuel Eastman, whom she eventually married. The diary tells her story; the essays and finely-tuned editing makes Phebe’s history accessible to all readers.

*

Susan Ouellette, a history professor from Saint Michael’s College (VT), has written on Phebe Orvis Eastman over the decade that researches into the diary have taken. One of the more accessible (it’s ONLINE) is her article “Religion and Piety in the Journal of Phebe Orvis“, in the Vermont History magazine. The book An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820-1830 is the richer for this lengthy gestation.

See also:

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Regency Explorer explores BOOKS!

August 26, 2017 at 7:14 pm (books, entertainment, europe, news) (, , , )

Today, in looking for reviews of the book I’m currently reading (The Real Persuasion, by Peter James Bowman), I found the kind of post I’ve LONG longed for: All about new books!

Specifically, Regency Explorer – and its author Anna M. Thane – gives a monthly listing of releases in the area of ‘non-fiction Georgian age’ books. Anna’s list can include books in French, German, as well as English; and the books run the gamut of war and politics, as well as biography, history, art, architecture; not to mention scholarly monographs. Covers many contries outside of Europe, including India and the United States. I think readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will find the lists of as much help and guidance as I do.

regency explorer blog

I’ll list separate links to the recent months of:

(I’m not sure WHERE in the world the new releases take place, but bibliophiles all know how to buy from overseas vendors, if you have to do so.)

To whet your appetite, some ‘for instances’ that caught my eye:

A Visitor’s Guide to Georgian England, by Monica Hall. This was Anna’s “choice” book in July. _I_ like the idea behind “everything you need to know in order to survive undetected among the ordinary people.”

A Political Biography of Frances Burney, by Lorna J. Clark

Fame and Fortune: Sir John Hill and London Life in the 1750s, by Clare Brant and George Rousseau

The Social Life of Books: Reading Together in the Eighteenth-Century Home, by Abigail Williams

Anna’s pick for August was Gainsburough; A Portrait, by James Hamilton

I am intrigued to see, in the September list, the biography A Striking Likeness: The Life of George Romney, by David A. Cross – especially as the lovely portrait of Mrs. Drummond Smith was once thought, in the 19th century, to have been painted by Romney instead of Sir Joshua Reynolds! [This may be a reprint]

Striking Likeness

Cultivating Commerce: Cultures of Botany in Britain and France, 1760-1815, by Sarah Easterby-Smith

Cultivating Commerce

The Emergence of the Professional Watercolourist: Contentions and Alliances in the Artistic Domain, 1760-1824, by Greg Smith

There’s even – to go with your Jane Austen and Food – a Poldark Cookery Book

poldark cookery

In short, we all owe Anna a debt of thanks for enumerating “new releases” every month, even if it means significantly lightening our wallets…

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Jane Austen-mania

August 21, 2017 at 11:11 pm (books, jane austen, jasna) (, , )

I wish to draw to the attention of readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen an article in the LITERARY REVIEW for July 2017, by Lucy Lethbridge, entitled AUSTENMANIA.

Literary Review

Lucy is discussing and reviewing a HUGE pile of *new* Jane Austen books, including:

  • Jane Austen at Home: A Biography — by Lucy Worsley
  • Jane Austen the Banker’s Sister — by E.J. Clery
  • Jane and Dorothy: A True Tale of Sense and Sensibility — by Marian Veevers
  • A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf — by Claire Sweeney
  • The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood — by Paula Byrne
  • The Making of Jane Austen — by Devoney Looser
  • Jane Austen: A Brief Life — by Fiona Stafford

[whew!]

I must say, Lucy doesn’t think much of Jane and Dorothy – a book I recently ordered (it shipped today!) mainly because of Veevers’ connection to Wordsworth scholarship. Might be a while, but hopefully I’ll have something to say about reading it.

I’ve been VERY intrigued by the book that obviously discusses Henry Austen – he’s the banker in the family (and I like to think had some kind of connections with the firm of Goslings & Sharpe! the banking family _I_ am most closely associated with).

I must look at the book more closely, for I’m really confused by Lucy Lethbridge’s use of the word (IN quotes!) ‘cosmic’ – as in the sentence: the book “looks at her [Jane Austen’s] ‘cosmic’ connection with her brother”.

Although I’d LOVE to know more about Anne Sharp (Fanny Knight’s governess), I’m not all caring about the other authors.

I found Worsley’s TV show, Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors, of interest – but don’t care to read her exclamation-filled book (read Amazon reviews, and you’ll see some of the criticisms of her current writing style).

Lucy Lethbridge saves her highest praises for the two books that are from authors familiar to JASNA members. Byrne’s book is a revamped, expanded edition of her earlier book on Jane Austen and the “theatre”. I’m rather glad that, for once, a publisher allowed for updates rather than simply renaming, and re-dust-jacketing an old title.

And she’s put Devoney Looser’s book on the radar for me, especially by calling it a “lively account”. A decent price ($29.95) for a university press is also a PLUS.

I’ve grown rather tired of the same “life histories” of Austen, but I’d even like to take a look at Stafford’s stab at “A Brief Life”. At 184 pages, not as brief as the title made it originally sound. (obviously, the brief life refers to Austen’s life being brief)

Would welcome hearing from anyone (reader or writer) about these books, or if there’s something out or coming out.

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NB: for those, like me, who wondered WHY the Lethbridge post’s URL was “Austenmania-2”; Austenmania was the original review (by Mark Bostridge, 2009) for Claire Harmon’s Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (alas! can only read it with a subscription to Literary Review)

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