In Memoriam: Alan Rickman

January 14, 2016 at 7:08 pm (entertainment, jane austen, news) (, , )

One of the delights of Jane Austen filmdom: Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon.

colonel brandon and marianne

He brought a gentleness to the role that really characterized the “second chance” at happiness.

marianne and colonel brandon

One of the few actors with a very distinctive and “calming” voice. He will be missed.

brandons

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For Latin, a presentation gift “by A Lady”

August 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm (books, entertainment, europe, history, jane austen, people, research) (, , , , , , )

I have been quite enjoying a book purchased many many years ago: Grand Tours and Cook’s Tours by Lynne Withey. A few days ago, the chapter in hand discussed the mid-19th travels of English (and others) to “the playground” of Europe, Switzerland.

Now, Switzerland has a heavy presence in the Smith & Gosling world: Lord Northampton’s father and step-mother lived there in the 1780s/90s. And the 1st Marquess’ sister, Lady Frances Compton, made several lengthy trips back to a country which quite obviously tugged at her heart-strings (though she was in England more than the 6th Marquess, who wrote The History of the Comptons of Compton Wynyates, thought…). She died in Vevey, in February 1832.

So, when I found Withey mention a WOMAN author, who wrote about Switzerland in the years 1859-1860, I was intent on finding out MORE.

Withey had claimed the book published in 1861 was by “A Lady”. A very familiar appellation, for Jane Austen was initially published under the same “soubriquet”.

I found the book, online, at Archive. BUT: Looking thru the “flip book” version I didn’t even see an AUTHOR never mind the designation “A Lady”.

no A Lady

How odd….

I have a tendency to save books as PDFs – and yet I HATE reading them on the computer – so have a tendency NOT to read them in the end. Still: I HAVE them! And that’s what counts. Like the Withey book, some day I will pick it up.

So I clicked on PDF and was intrigued: up came a book-plate! That, too, was not shown on the flip-book.

And that SO intrigued me! But I’ll come back to that thought…

To finish my first thought: the PDF had the same title page (it’s the same book, from Lausanne), but it showed a beautiful little graphic; and curled up within the circle of leaves was the designation I had been missing: BY A LADY

yes A Lady

In typical Library fashion, someone has penciled in a name for “A Lady”: Mrs. Henry Freshfield.

I swear, though, that this book is often ascribed to plain HENRY Freshfield. (Her first name was JANE.)

But what happened to this little graphic (compare image 1 and image 2 – same book!)??

And – (I’m long-winded today) – here comes the original idea for this post: I had thought the book had NO author designated at all. I had chuckled to myself for surmising a story, based on spotting the first book plate (there are two):

hyde house school

This copy of Alpine Byways, or Leaves Gathered in 1859 and 1860 had been presented to a “Mr Thomas” at Hyde House School, Winchester – for LATIN!

The joke which _I_ laughed over was: Bet young Mr Thomas didn’t realize the book was written by A WOMAN! Of course that cannot be the case (joke on ME!).

Still, what an unusual presentation gift.

Could I learn more about Hyde House School – surely in Winchester, England. It does receive, though scant, notice in an 1878 Gazetteer of the County of Hampshire as “a highly respectable private boarding school”.

Even though the “joke” cannot be sustained, this small snippet from lives lived so long ago – Mrs Freshfield, fresh from her sojourn; young Mr Thomas, whose Latin scholarship was cause for a prize – is really heartwarming.

Also missing in the flip-book is this lovely dedication page — which looks quite at home in a book authored by A Lady, and quite apropos for one with a subtitle about gathered “leaves”:

alpine dedication

In short, though, I have never thought about pages or images not showing up. Who knew I was missing so much! For I typically judge a book at “Archive” in it’s flip-book persona.

* * *

An unrelated “Aside”

In the same Hampshire Gazetteer cited above is listed a school whose name JUMPS OUT because it’s all in caps and a bit of an oddity to a 21st century woman: The ASYLUM for FEMALE CHILDREN. It is described as,

“The ASYLUM for FEMALE CHILDREN, in St. Thomas Street, was established in 1816, for boarding, clothing, and educating 30 poor girls, after leaving the Central School, till they are fit for domestic service; but during their stay from 4s. to 5s. per week has to be paid for each of them from other charitable funds. They are generally required to be orphans, either fatherless or motherless.”

In 1815 Eliza Chute paid for Hester Wheeler‘s schooling somewhere in Winchester, which had a view “down College Street” and Kingsgate Street – and Hester sometimes spotted Caroline Wiggett’s brothers who were attending Winchester College.

Although the years do not overlap – 1815 versus 1816 – it’s hard not to wonder if this “asylum” wasn’t the school that Hester Wheeler simply could not, after a while, abide – so much so that she ran away. Eliza Chute specifies giving the girl a weekly allowance of 3 shillings and mentions that a “Miss Young” arrived to tell her that Hester had absconded (she was promptly sent back). If Hester had been enrolled in a school that expected to turn out domestics, this indeed could point up one reason why she sought to leave, despite being a highly clever girl. I recommend to readers my Academia-uploaded paper: “Uncovering the Face of Hester Wheeler“, which discusses also Colonel Brandon’s “two Elizas” in Sense and Sensibility.

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Janney’s Jane Austen scholar

February 14, 2015 at 8:47 pm (entertainment) (, , , )

Caught Allison Janney on THE TALK, and could not believe my ears when I heard her say that she had a role – against Hugh Grant (Edward Farrars, Sense and Sensibility) – playing a professor whose main interest is JANE AUSTEN!

rewrite

Or, as the Boston Herald calls her in a review of the film, “a prissy, uptight and emasculating Jane Austen scholar” (Hmmm….; Janney herself uses the pleasanter phrase Austen aficionado), meeting up with Grant who’s come to teach in UPSTATE New York (ie, not far from me).

rewrite2

Notable Quotes:

  • “You don’t LIKE Jane Austen?”
  • “Teaching is an absurd profession…”

LINKS:

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Austen in August @ The Book Rat

August 9, 2014 at 11:28 am (books, jane austen) (, , , )

I invite readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen to The Book Rat for the FIFTH annual AUSTEN IN AUGUST — August 18 through 31. A Fest to Feast upon. Check it out!

AIA banner 2014

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The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After (review)

May 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm (books, jane austen) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Review copies of books often yield atrocious reads — no wonder “reviews” need to be sought out…. So when I was offered a copy of The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, by Elizabeth Kantor (Regnery Publishing) I was skeptical, … and reluctant. Ultimately, I said “what the hell” and gave my mailing address.

Marketing links The Jane Austen Guide to the self-help genre; one dust jacket review even terms it an “advice book”. This is definitely a misnomer for this erudite and thought-provoking treatise on Austen’s novels and the exploration of relationships within those novels. Kantor has given readers a detailed and well-argued dissection of relationships, and the comparison with today’s marriage and dating market not only serves to point up what might be missing in our current hustle-bustle living arrangements, but also to give point of reference to readers who may have little background knowledge of the early-nineteenth-century English gentry Austen writes about. Certainly, buy this book if you wish to change your current dating pattern. Better yet, buy this book and pull out your Austen novels; explore the novels with Kantor, and if you happen to live a bit more happily ever after, count that as a bonus.

Indifferent to The Jane Austen Guide’s effect as self-help advice, why recommend this volume take up precious space on your bookshelf beside your collection of Austen novels? From the introduction onwards, Kantor’s sly humor is evident, whether she’s discussing Bridget Jones’s Diary or her own relationship disasters. The quality of the writing and the discourse make this a delightful read.

“[Jane Austen’s] ideals are all about rational balance, not about running screaming from one extreme only to fall off the edge on the other side. If you’ve escaped from a fire, it’s still not a great idea  to jump off a bridge and drown yourself.”

Beneath this effervescent surface, which does keep pages turning, are nuggets that will have Janeites reaching to take the novels off the shelf (as opposed to turning on the DVD). All the characters are there: from level-headed Lizzy Bennet, to boy-crazy Lydia; from Maria Bertram who “sells herself for ‘an escape from Mansfield’ and a ‘house in town’” to Charlotte Lucas, who wants to be assured of “three square meals a day” and discussions of why proud Darcy makes a better mate than the jocular, popular Wickham. No matter which novel, which couple, is your favorite, you will find a whole variety of characters given center-stage. Even the Juvenilia come under consideration, whenever a story involves love, happiness, and marriage. Love and Freindship’s heroine Laura “is proud of herself for allowing her life to be governed by intense emotions at the expense of common sense and even common decency. She falls in love in the approved Romantic manner, at first sight: ‘No sooner did I first behold him, then I felt that on him the happiness or Misery of my future Life may depend.’” Instantly, a precursor to Austen’s better-known Marianne Dashwood is established, and this makes for more correlations between Marianne and today’s reader – much as there would have been correlations felt by Austen’s original audience for Sense and Sensibility.

Male characters come under Kantor’s scrutiny as well. For instance, she nails down Wentworth’s character with this short portrait: Wentworth “was honor-bound to wait and see if his attentions to Louisa Musgrove had made Louisa expect to marry him. It was ‘dreadful,’  Wentworth tells Anne, ‘to be waiting so long in inaction.’ He never stops to think that he’s complaining about six weeks of terrible suspense to a woman who waited for him for seven years.” The crux behind Edmund Bertram’s stars dropping from his eyes is given as briefly and succinctly: “Mary’s reaction to this adulterous affair {Maria Rushworth running off with Mr. Crawford} finally opens Edmund’s eyes. He can hardly believe that the woman he wanted to marry thinks that Maria’s only real mistake in her affair with Henry was … getting caught.” Nowadays, that is the typical reaction; the ramifications of how this affair would have affected an entire family, like the disappearance of Lydia Bennet with Wickham, sometimes needs to be reasserted for less tutored readers. Kantor accomplishes that tutoring with ease, especially when she can equate past behavior with today’s behavior. For instance, in Mary Crawford’s handling of Edmund Bertram in a most “calculating way–as if the dating game were some kind of competition in looks, money, and status.” To Kantor much of Austen’s character-actions have “a very familiar flavor.”

Families, living arrangements, even “elbow room” then and now, help readers to see historically and rationally Austen’s milieu and how our own compares. “[C]olleges building new dorms with only ‘singles’ to accommodate freshman classes full of kids who’ve never shared a room in their lives; cell phones so ubiquitous that it’s becoming awkward even to ask a stranger the time”. Such comments cull current information for points of study that will make readers think about life today, i.e., what we might be missing as our lives continue to become more insular — as well as more insulated by parents and society. Food for thought, on many levels.

“[L]iving in the eighteen-teens, you pretty much had to learn to live with other people in a way that twenty-first-century people can mostly avoid. …. To hear music, you had to actually collect live musicians in one place. Games were with fellow guests around a card table, not at your solitary screen. And getting to a ball often meant having to be grateful to more well-to-do neighbors for a place in their carriage.”

In the end, Kantor recognizes, “It does make it dangerously easy for us to fall out of the habit of getting along with other people at close quarters. … And yet, ironically, we also find independence so compelling that we avoid putting ourselves in situations where we’re likely to form those kind of {i.e., close} friendships.”

Kantor’s delivery will delight younger-adult readers, and her lines of thought should provoke Austen scholars to think outside the box. Run to your nearest bookstore and buy your own copy of The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After.

four filled-to-the-brim inkwells.

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First Edition Jane Austen Novels

January 11, 2012 at 7:07 am (books, history, jane austen, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Readers of Two Teens in the Time Austen have probably come to realize that I *ADORE* anything that is “old” and “authentic” and “original”.

So a while back I S-E-A-R-C-H-E-D high and low for pages images (not text) or the early editions of Austen’s novels. I’m still searching for a couple of volumes. These multi-volumes for one title are a killer! So if anyone comes across the missing volumes do let me know…

In the meantime, enjoy the “originals”.

These can also be accessed by using the page link at the right –> Authentic Austen, Scott & Waldie. I like my Austen with a cup of tea; how about you??

Sense and Sensibility
(the first edition is missing vol. III though…; let’s hope all the pages are present in the others)

*1811 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III
*1833 Bentley edition (books.google.com)   (complete)

Pride and Prejudice
          *1813 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III   (vol. 2 & 3: complete)

Mansfield Park
          *1814 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III   (all: complete)
          *1816 (2nd) edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III   (all: complete)

Emma
          *1816 edition vol. I; vol. II; vol. III   (all: complete)

Northanger Abbey & Persuasion
          *1818 edition vol. I (inc: biographical notice); vol. II; vol. III; vol. IV 
            (vol. 2 & 4: complete)

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JASNA AGM Revisited

December 17, 2011 at 11:40 am (jane austen, jasna, research) (, , , , , , , , )

Here, on a Sunny (!!) Saturday in northern Vermont, I am transported back to the “summery” October days of Fort Worth, Texas:

I remembered this morning that December 16th also brought the publication of Persuasions On-Line! Of course, much of its contents center on the 2011 AGM, which focused on the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s first novel, Sense & Sensibility.

I’ve recently been asked, by the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, to write about my AGM experience; so how timely to also see some scholarship produced from the conference.

  • Juliet McMaster was a RIOT in person, and in P-Online you have her written presentation on duels. I love her book of diaries by Rosalie Hook, called Woman Behind the Painter: The Diaries of Rosalie, Mrs James Charles Hook. Don’t miss this, or Juliet’s AGM paper. Who else could have gotten Border officials to allow her to cross into the US from Canada with a sword!?!
  • Dear Peter Sabor once again writes about letters, a fascinating subject particularly dear to me. His was a very interesting talk, even if not accompanied with sword… or pen!
  • Jeffrey Nigro, who had a PowerPoint presentation, was one talk I attended that had catastrophic computer problems that ate up time — and jettisoned the talk at the point that I found it most interesting. Hurray for paper copies!
  • Kristen Miller Zohn was one paper I just HAD to attend: on Miniatures and Hairwork! I’ve still not followed-up on the contact she suggested for help in locating some Smith & Gosling items… But, can’t wait to read her paper. Pity: no miniatures in the flesh, though some excellent photography!

Of course the P-Online always includes a Miscellany section — so how interesting to see Laurie Kaplan‘s article on Teaching Jane Austen’s “London” Novels in situ. There will be more about London when I talk about a recent book arrival (thanks to Charlotte Frost): Walks Through Regency London, by Louise Allen. And Deb Barnum has provided two years’ worth of Austen Bibliography (2007 and 2010)

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Some “Jane Austen” Fans

October 20, 2011 at 7:47 am (fashion, history, jane austen, jasna, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

In my paper for the JASNA AGM (the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America), I made mention of the FIRE SCREENS passed around the London household of the Ferrars family. They had been gifts — painted by Elinor Dashwood for her sister-in-law Fanny — and were now under scrutiny by the formidable Mrs Ferrars!

My comment, too, was under scrutiny, for I of course concluded that Elinor’s fire screens were painted and probably wood — though the more I thought about the 183os Princeton letter, with a trip up North for the Smiths (and Caroline Austen!), I considered a good bet also that the material was papier mâché. The Smiths had toured just such a factory (and Maria, the letter’s author, so wished to buy something for Mamma – but the price was evidently beyond her pocketbook that day).

My questioner insisted the screens were embroidered. I said I would look into it, though we settled then and there — thanks to an audience member with the book in hand — that Elinor’s was “painted” and therefore embroidery was quite doubtful. I have a feeling the annotated edition of S&S makes mention of embroidery, but I’d not looked for a copy of the book yet. Chapman makes no mention.

Now, my assumption was of a small pole screen:

These were made so that the “shield” could slide up and down the “shaft”, turn a bit left or right. The back has a “ring” that you tighten — so I assume they come off their pole. Lifted off the “screen” itself could easily be passed around the room, until it lands in the hands of Mrs Ferrars.

The clue may lie in the fact that they had to be “mounted”; if that does not indicate the pole — which usually was nicely turned, and showed an inventive base and feet, “mounted” may indicate being placed within a frame and having a handle attached. For my JASNA roommate Sally believes Elinor’s fire screens to have been hand-held, fan-style FACE SCREENS, as seen below.

Click on the image to visit the website — this 1809 fan is FASCINATING!

NB: I will say I don’t quite believe in their “wax-based” cosmetics theory for the prevalence of face screens. Try sitting near a ROARING, BLAZING fire: you face feels the effects rapidly – dries out the eyes and mouth. You, too, would be happy to have a “screen”. But how prevalent cosmetics were within the Smith/Gosling circle is another question for another blog post!

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Howdy from Texas and the JASNA AGM

October 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm (jane austen, jasna) (, , , , , , , )

How-dee!

Been some wonderful weather down here in Fort Worth, Texas — cloudless blue skies; warm days but some breeze. Can’t say I’ve seen much of the city, however what I’ve seen is quite lovely. This evening, for instance, on the Promenade (yes, those dressed in costumes walked the square; I don’t dress but I did walk!), a gorgeous building near Sundance Square was illuminated and the trumpeting figures on the sides of the facade stood out in full relief. A-ma-zing.

Some highlights:

  • Tried taking the public transportation (bus –> train to Fort Worth and the hotel); all worked well, but it took me nearly as long to get luggage, get bus, await train, and walk to hotel as it did to FLY from Manchester (NH) to Atlanta (GA)! 3 hours….
  • My Friday talk — “A House Divided? How the ‘Sister Arts’ Define the Dashwood Sisters” — went well. People seemed interested in hearing about music and opera, art and drawing and how the two elder Dashwoods somewhat personified the art they each practiced.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner was on our own Friday; I had a cup of tea English Breakfast tea made with water in the coffee maker, and with half-and-half (no milk!). Lunch was a sandwich; I think it was turkey & cheese on a croissant. Not bad – but purchased in the hotel so a bit pri$ey. Thanks to the PRESS for TIME (am: last read-through of paper; lunch: really the last read-through and a little preparation — while the room was being cleaned…) dinner was going to be the bag of popcorn on offer for the evening’s movie marathon. Instead: it was pizza shared with screenwriter Andrew Davies, who sat down beside me. How kind. Can say that I ‘rubbed elbows and shoulders’ with him. If only some of his Austen “luck” would rub off on me.
  • an interesting talk on miniatures and hair tokens, with perhaps a source for helping to track down some of those “missing” portraits I know about.
  • a nice breakfast on Saturday with three British ladies (and much better tea than the day before!).
  • a lovely dinner Saturday night, followed by the promenade.
  • a fun talk (though it lacked any true “ending”) by Andrew Davies, with clips from Pride & Prejudice (of course), Northanger Abbey, Emma (EXCEPTIONALLY hysterical story behind that one!), and Sense & Sensibility.
  • the singing Cowboys, “(clap-clap-clap-clap), deep in the heart of Texas”.
  • a five-second face-to-face with Freydis Welland and her sister about their relatives: the Austen Leighs, Smiths of Suttons &c.
  • a wonderful roommate in JASNA board member Sally Palmer.

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Texas Beckons – Long and Winding Road nears its end

October 12, 2011 at 8:03 am (jane austen, jasna, news, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Today marks the beginning of the JASNA AGM long and winding road: I leave for Manchester, NH and a Thursday flight for Dallas-Fort Worth.

It has, indeed, been long and winding…

Was last year about this time that I proposed a paper to the Annual General Meeting 2011 of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Then came the acceptance! Hurrah, was my first thought; but it’s been much work — and time away from my beloved Smiths & Goslings. In the last month, when I might have been living life in 1830s England, transcribing Richard Seymour’s diaries, I’ve been looking to fine tune some Jane Austen writings. I’ve read Austen because she would have been Emma’s “Aunt”; Emma, on visits to Chawton, when she describes Cassandra Austen or Edward Knight, might have been rubbing elbows with a woman whose books she read (there is a diary notation of Mansfield Park in 1818). I’ve certainly learned a lot about life, reading Austen’s novels; and also learned about obscure aspects of her novelistic world by studying the Smiths & Goslings. Yet, I’ll be glad to get back to “work” come November. I’m missing “my people”!

I’ve never been West – so this will be a bit of a treat. Going book-looking in New Hampshire (if all goes well) at my favorite used bookstore: Old Depot No. 6, in Henniker.

Not a lot of book room in the suitcase, should the JASNA Emporium beckon…

Hope to keep you up-to-date while I’m at the AGM!

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