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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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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National Coalition Independent Scholars awards grant

September 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm (jasna, news, research) (, , , , , , , )

Quick opportunity to say “Yipee” and “Thanks!” to NCIS for helping to fund my conference trip to the JASNA AGM in October.

One of the toughest things about being “independent” — besides sometimes feeling like ‘nobody cares’! — is that everything is out of pocket, and a very shallow pocket it is too at present… Microfilm, travel, primary documents. Published writing is often gratis. All outgoing and nothing incoming, therefore.

Trying to put one’s name and project out there sometimes entails doing something a bit different — like giving a paper on Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility. Although, in that case, I feel I have something to say about women in that era (c1811) because I’m studying the lives of women who come of age over the next decade.

So how wonderful to find that a grant I applied for was granted! Gives another reason to celebrate with JASNA friends, old and new, down in Fort Worth. The AGM (Annual General Meeting) attracts hundreds of Austen fans and academics – and I’ll be in the thick of things.

Information on The National Coalition of Independent Scholars can be found at the NCIS website. They’ve also a Facebook account. Deep thanks this week (and it’s only Tuesday!) to Charlotte Frost for her Fanny Seymour information; Mike H. at Tring Park School for his “wills” of Drummond and Joshua Smith; Alan from Warwickshire for a new Seymour letter; and NCIS for some very welcome funding.

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Living In: Emma

July 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm (books, fashion) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Happy July! and to celebrate today (Canada Day for those north of the Border from me in VT), I post this link to a fabulous “continuing” series of LIVING IN found on Design*Sponge, and written by Amy Merrick. This one was posted for the First Day of Summer, and particularly targets the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma and its picnic scenes:

LIVING IN: Emma

Reading through the comments, it is AMAZING how many people just love Austen’s novel and her heroine! (Must admit, at least at present, Emma is my favorite.)

Amy has included a “shopping list” of items you might like for your own picnic: English Willow Picnic Basket and Cheshire Cheese, to Floppy Straw Hat and Chloe Ballet Flats (expensive!!)

Amy confesses that her “all-time favorite Austen adaptation” is Thompson’s Sense & Sensibility — and you can find that film’s LIVING IN here.

Be sure to check out other films based on books; among my favorites are DANGEROUS LIAISONS and JANE EYRE. And having just talked of AMELIE with a Montreal friend, I include the link to that one also!

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Long & Winding Road to Fort Worth – Part 2

February 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm (jasna) (, , , )

JASNA has posted the “breakout speaker” sessions!

My own talk, “A House Divided? How the ‘Sister Arts’ Define the Dashwood Sisters,” is among those up first: Friday, 14 October 2011 at 3:00 p.m.

I have to miss a couple papers I’d love to hear, but what others to choose?? One I simply MUST attend: Kristen Miller Zohn, “Tokens of Imperfect Affection: Portrait Miniatures and Hairwork in Sense and Sensibility. Fascinating subject! For the Smiths & Goslings speak so many times about hairwork, that I’ve begun to “keep” hair myself (a nice lock of my own hair, and my of mother).

Check out the schedule here.

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It’s Arrived!

September 3, 2010 at 4:15 pm (books) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Today’s mail brought my long-awaited copy of David Selwyn‘s new book: Jane Austen and Children. Many thanks to JASNA News book review editor Sue Parrill for getting me this review copy.

Blog readers know that I thought Hazel JonesJane Austen and Marriage simply smashing. This combined information culled from Austen’s novels, her letters, letters & diaries & autobiographies from the period — including from the diaries and letters of my dear Eliza Chute of The Vyne. So I’m hoping for equally-stimulating reading from the well-known Selwyn.

The publisher is the same: Continuum. The layout of the books are similar: a timeline-chronology. In this instance Selwyn takes readers from the confinement of the mother, through infancy, childhood and into maturity. I’m hoping for a great ride!

Since the review is destined for JASNA News, I’ll only give some rough ideas on this blog about my thoughts (non-JASNA members will have to wait for the review to appear online: see www.jasna.org) — but reading the first pages and having Sense and Sensibility in mind, let me make a few comments that certainly will never find their way into a book review.

Blog readers will know my passion for anything “first-hand”, be it published letters, biography, autobiography — especially by women, British women, 18th and 19th century British women. One book I came across (which, being old and long out of print and very expensive now) was the oh-so-wonderful A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson’s Style Album. This album, which resides at the V&A, was published in full color back in 1987, edited by Natalie Rothstein. My original post on that book may be found here.

So how have I gotten from “children” to “fashion”??? Rothstein’s introduction to the life of Barbara Johnson introduced me to another book of interest: Opening the Nursery Door: Reading, Writing and Childhood, 1600-1900 (1997), by Morag Styles and Mary Hilton. That book discusses the mother of Barbara Johnson — and her thoughts on childhood education. These authors even comment on how education for the Johnson children could be considered in the light of a reading of Austen’s Emma. David Selwyn opens his book’s introduction with comments on books, toys and education for children. My mind immediately flew to Jane Johnson.

When Selwyn writes of children being viewed as “natural innocents,” how hard — having just finished Sense & Sensibility — not to wonder: Is that a good description of Marianne? at her young age, was she still a “natural innocent” until her rude awakening via Willoughby?

Certainly Eliza and Willoughby’s child — which Austen never reveals the sex of: boy or girl? — must be one that Selwyn would classify among those thought of as (according to the dust jacket) “children in the way”.

And, after S&S with its pointed play (and display!) between Proud Mothers Mrs John Dashwood and Lady Middleton, who could ever accuse Selwyn of wrong-mindedness when he writes of children being for Austen “a source of comedy”.

A great gift, a new book, to have for a holiday weekend. I know what I will be ‘laboring’ over.

BTW: To read my review of Jones, Jane Austen and Marriage click here.

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Willoughby’s Confession

August 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm (books) (, , , )

I was close to finishing Sense & Sensibility last evening, when I got stuck on the chapter comprising Willoughby’s ‘confession’. Rather than continue reading, I turned back and RE-read this chapter.

Am I the only one who thinks less of Willoughby after this chapter?

There are so many moments when I wonder if Austen actually meant this appearance to expiate Willoughby — or condemn him a bit further, thereby drawing a line for the credulity of Elinor.

For instance: Did Miss Grey really “dictate” Willoughby’s letter to Marianne? She could certainly play that card, but that’s a position of power for her. With her fortune, Miss Grey could have had her pick of men. There’s just something about her” jealousy,” as Willoughby tells of it, that doesn’t jibe.

What first got me thinking this way? Willoughby’s talking about all stories having two sides and how Elinor mustn’t think him rascal and Eliza saint — as he reminds her to beware who told her one side of this story, he then proceeds to tell her one side of his story. Are we meant to believe it?

Should readers juxtapose this chapter with the *comical* chapter where Brandon offers the Delaford living while Mrs Jennings thinks him offering Elinor his hand? That opens to interpretation the notion that What Willoughby Says may not be what Willoughby in truth is saying.

Frankly, I’m in total confusion…

After last night, I’ve become more like Mrs Dashwood: Ready to write him off as a scoundrel.

Why has Austen included this chapter? Are parts of it truth, and parts of it untruth? Is this confession supposed to point up the “say anything” part of Willoughby’s character? What did he hope to gain? Just to leave Marianne (and Elinor) with such good feelings towards him that she never could say ‘yes’ to the one man Willoughby dreads her marrying? What am I missing here?

Very frustrating at this moment, though I’ve enjoyed this reading of the novel even more than when I read it last (3 years ago).

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