Octavia Cox on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice

April 14, 2023 at 5:35 pm (books, entertainment, history, jane austen) (, , , )

A few days ago I found the Youtube channel of Dr. Octavia Cox. I’m still working through the lectures (in length, they vary from 15-minutes to over 40-minutes), but what a revelation to hear a succinct and well-focused lecture on, for instance, the English Class system as Jane Austen would have recognized it. The first lecture, “What CLASS are the Bingleys? Caroline Bingley and the Gentry – Jane Austen and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE,” delineated well beyond the Bingleys – formerly “in trade” and now, with father Bingley’s hard work, in a position to join the landowning “gentry” – if only Brother would purchase an estate! (Not rent, or “let” as they say in the UK, as he has done with Netherfield.)

Dr. Cox touches on the aristocracy (Lady Catherine, anyone?), the clergy (Mr. Collins, of course!), and the dear Gardiners. A highly interesting section covers Cheapside, financial heart of England.

Dr. Cox’s “Close Reading” encompasses other authors – Brontë and Keats, for instance. ALL THINGS CLASSIC LITERATURE, as the channel is named.

But I will center this post on her Austen offerings. The link attached to the picture (above) will bring you to Dr. Octavia Cox’s Youtube channel’s list of videos. Below are a few of Cox’s Austen lectures that I have either watched or intend to watch soon.

Of course, there are lectures covering Sense and SensibilityMansfield ParkEmma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey, too. Plus – like “Austen’s Wit,” above, some non-novels lectures. These include stories from the Austen juvenilia,  Austen’s free indirect style, and even Jane Austen and “sales & profits.”

The weekend is upon us. Enjoy!

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Stop to Smell the ROSES

March 29, 2020 at 9:35 am (jane austen, people) (, , , )

Last week I divided a bouquet – flowers at my mother’s grave; gifted to my aunt; and a couple retained for myself.

Photo Mar 22, 12 36 45 PM

The color GRABBED me when I saw them, a deep blush pink – They “called to me.”

Then I spotted their ‘name’:

Photo Mar 22, 12 36 06 PM


How could someone who reads Jane Austen and researches her niece-by-marriage, Emma Austen Leigh, RESIST? Instantly, sprang to mind: “LYDIA BENNET” (Pride and Prejudice, of course).

By the time I got home, though, I found the name had morphed in my mind into:

Laughing Lydia

and that is what I call them now, whenever I glance at these roses, though the blooms in my vase have now “dried” into little dangling bells of pink blush.

I leave you that thought today, and wish you – especially those who are home, sheltering from the coronavirus – to “take a moment and smell the roses.” Enjoy what brings you pleasure, whether online or in a book (for instance). Revel in good health, or increasing health if you’ve been ill (any illness). Leave a moment, too, to remember those no longer in your life. And always: LAUGH along with Lydia.

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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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Jane Austen’s Matchmaker (game)

September 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm (entertainment, jane austen) (, , , , )

Every once in a while I visit Kickstarter – to see what “AUSTEN” projects are out there. (Never know… one day it may be a project of my own!)

Today I found Jane Austen’s Matchmaker — what looks to be a really fun game to play, and of course for the Austen fan a “gotta have that” item.

You’ve still a week (until 28 Sept 2014) to pledge – and there’s even time enough to receive your “gift” before Christmas!

ja matchmaker

A Ruthlessly Romantic Card Game!

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Pride & Prejudice: Having a Ball

May 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm (entertainment, fashion, history, jane austen, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Act now to watch Amanda Vickery’s program Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball.

Austen! Food! Dance! Music! Wonderfully informative.

You’ll even learn about White Soup.

ball1 ball2 ball3 ball4 ball5 ball6 ball7 ball8 ball9 ball10 ball12 ball13 ball14 ball15 ball16 ball17 ball18 ball19 ball20 ball21 ball22 ball23

for more on

Comment on the show

  • leave comments below; I’d LOVE to hear from you

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Jane Austen “News”

May 4, 2013 at 10:54 am (books, entertainment, history, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , )

Just received the latest issue of JASNA News — an article on Goucher College’s Pride and Prejudice: A 200-Year Affair exhibit is front and center.

On display until July 26th (2013), you can visit the exhibition online. I love the book images, like this ‘map’ to characters of Pride and Prejudice by B. Gordon Smith:

pride and prejudice characters

Other Goucher links:

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Mr Bennet celebrates 200th Anniversary Pride and Prejudice

March 10, 2013 at 11:09 am (books, jane austen) (, , , , )

Terribly funny letter from Mr Bennet to his “dear Lizzy” can be found in this short (3-minute) performance by Timothy West, script by Sue Limb.

timothy westAfter “200 years”… Timothy West / Mr Bennet props up the bar on Coronation Street
(Thanks, Calista, for the link!)


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Lady Frances Compton’s Library

February 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm (books, chutes of the vyne, entertainment, europe, jane austen, news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , )

Compton_Lady FrancesLady Frances Compton, sister of the 1st Marquess of Northampton of Castle Ashby, is just one of the many strong women I have come across in the extended Smith of Suttons family. You cannot image how thrilling it is to see a picture of her. And sold so long ago (see Sotheby’s 2006 auction). Her father’s miniature I had seen, but it’s hers I’m happy to see!

She is more easily tracked than her niece (and namesake), Lady Frances Elizabeth Compton (aka Lady Elizabeth Dickins, wife of Charles Scrase Dickins), and among the items unearthed yesterday are some BOOKS.

I have long been interested in the library holdings of the extended family. And was just overjoyed to be holding in my hands — thanks to a gift from Martyn Downer (author of, among other texts, Nelson’s Purse, which traces the friendship of Lord Nelson with Mary Gosling’s uncle, Alexander Davison) of an actual book once in the library of Mrs Gosling (her bookplate attachment). More about that important gift at a later date.

A small image of Lady Frances’ bookplate will continue my story.

bookplate_Lady FrancesThis appears in what seems to be a CURRENT sale of a book entitled, Wild Flowers, or, Pastoral and Local Poetry by Robert Bloomfield, published in 1806.

But there’s more out there…

This one is of great interest to me, being an ‘American Lady‘: Memoirs of an American Lady: with sketches and manners and scenery in America, as they existed previous to the Revolution. By the author of Letters from the Mountains, &c &c {Anne Grant}. Published in 1808. How wonderful to picture Lady Frances, whether in England or abroad on the Continent, sitting down to read about a woman who “spent her formative years” in Albany, New York — which is a few hours to the south of me in northern Vermont.

But there’s more….

A copy of Amelie Opie’s Valentine’s Eve (3 vols; 1816) also comes complete “Mit dem heraldischen Exlibris von Lady Frances Compton auf den Innendeckeln.” The seller is in Switzerland, a country which Lady Frances frequented.

And more…

Richard Johnson’s Lilliputian Library; Or, Gulliver’s Museum containing Lectures on Morality. Historical Pieces. Interesting Fables…. has a subscription list. Lady Frances began early then, as she is listed in this 1779 title.

Last, I will mention one academic library – King’s library at Miami University – which has in its Special Collections a volume once owned by Lady Frances. I LOVE the title, which I include in full: An essay on the art of ingeniously tormenting: with proper rules for the exercise of that pleasant art, humbly addressed; In the first part to the master, husband &c. In the second part to the wife, friend &c. with some general instructions for plaguing all your acquaintance.

I leave my best two thoughts for last.

The sellers of the first book, Wild Flowers, have possibly seen Deirdre Le Faye’s excellent Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family – for they cite the following as an inducement to purchase: “Lady Frances was a friend of the Austen family and frequently visited and dined with them.” Hmmmm….

And then there’s this:

The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets.

4 volumes. [6], 436; v, [1], 431; [4], 409 + [1] ad; [4], 452 pp. Copper-engraved frontispiece portrait of Johnson in Vol. I. 8½x5, period straight-grained red morocco ruled in gilt, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Attractive edition, in nice period bindings. With the bookplates of Mrs. Chute, and an ink inscription in the first volume, “Elizabeth Chute, Lady Francis Compton’s gift, 1799.”
Author: Johnson, Samuel
Place Published: London
Publisher Name: Printed for T. Longman, et al.
Date Published: 1794

lives_English Poets

Did Eliza really write her name as Lady Francis Compton?
The entire family (until Emma’s involvement with James Edward Austen)
did typical write Austin rather than Austen.
“Misspellings” make searches more challenging.

Check out Lot 6 from the same 2006 sale. Who was Lady Tara?

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No Words Can Express…

January 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm (books, jane austen) (, , , , )

EdwardAusten-silhouetteAccording to his daughter, Mary Augusta Austen Leigh, it wasn’t until the end of 1814 that James Edward Austen was “admitted to the knowledge of a well-kept secret, this being that his Aunt Jane had lately published two books, though he had read these books with a keen enjoyment.”

The two books, of course, were Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813). The latter first saw the light of day TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY (28 January).

Many in the family traded poems, and Edward composed this one after finally being let in on the “secret” of Jane Austen’s authorship:

To Miss J. Austen

No words can express, my dear Aunt, my surprise
Or make you conceive how I opened my eyes,
Like a pig Butcher Pile has just struck with his knife,
When I heard for the very first time in my life
That I had the honour to have a relation
Whose works were dispersed throughout the whole of the nation.


And though Mr. Collins, so grateful for all,
Will Lady de Bourgh his dear Patroness call,
‘Tis to your ingenuity he really owed
His living, his wife, and his humble abode.

Cheers! to the author who invented Elizabeth Bennet, Mr Darcy of Pemberley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, my dear Charlotte Lucas, and of course the sisters Bennet and their relation the Reverend Mr Collins.

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2Teens joins Pinterest!

September 3, 2012 at 10:55 am (books, entertainment, fashion, jane austen, research) (, , , , , )

I could resist no longer. Although I may never have the time to devote to my Pinterest boards as I might wish, I’ve begun! So, if you too are on Pinterest, please follow me and I’ll follow you. There’s a lot of boards dedicated to Jane Austen; to films; to books; to Regency fashions. I’ve only found the tip of the Austen Iceberg, I’m sure.

And what made me finally take the plunge?

The following made me chuckle – How True, How True:

Then this one made me LAUGH OUT LOUD:

(I, too, have no children… and because my work colleagues have youngsters, I think I now know why Austen called Pride & Prejudice her own darling child => manuscripts clamber for attention and time, just as children do. Only people easily dismiss your work and dedication.)

Although the boards have only been up since last evening – and are hardly “filled”, this little image (one among so many along the same lines; how DID this type of  “poster” begin its life???) has been a hit, getting likes and repins. It perfectly illustrates how I wish my life — as a wish to live by my research takes hold more and more (but the bank account has other ideas!) — could be:

Visit the Pinterest board that first posted these images

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