“I indulge my Obsession”: Jane Austen and Hazel Jones

May 16, 2013 at 10:35 am (books, entertainment, history, jane austen) (, , , , , )

Calista in England alerted me to this interesting online interview with Jane Austen and Marriage author Hazel Jones.


I loved her book (see my online review of it), mainly because of the attention she paid to diaries and letter contemporary with those written by Mary and Emma.

In her interview you will find out,

  • Why she adores Henry Tilney, and which actor is her favorite portrayer of that character
  • Which Austen character she finds ‘a complete turn off’
  • Which character she would ‘return’ as, if given the opportunity – and why she chose as she did!

Of course, you’ll also learn about Hazel’s Jane Austen courses…

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Wild for Regency Antiques

March 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm (entertainment, history, research) (, , , , , )

Yesterday I went *wild* for “pinning” Regency Antiques and Furniture, and fleshed out a board that had only a couple of dull pieces. I never really thought about it before, but items like Tea Caskets, Writing Slopes, and Ormolu Lustres were items used every day by the Smiths & Goslings. Peppering their reimagined homes — on Portland Place, at Suttons and Roehampton Grove — with furnishings and knickknacks enables me to fully see their everyday existences.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they had a piece similar to this George I Bookcase (I’m in love…); and check out the *fun* Nutmeg Grater in the “shape” of Brighton Pavilion!

Now this pinning is fun, because I could never afford the Brighton Pavilion grater (there’s NO price listed; and you know the old saying: “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it”), but it will forever be on my Pinterest Board!

What grabbed my attention, and what I’m blogging about today, however, was in seeing the several models of “Regency work tables”. I give as a for-instance, this lovely piece:

work table

I was QUITE perplexed by the fabric “bag” which they all had, dangling like the utter on a cow. It wasn’t until searching specifically for regency work tables tonight that I found one piece illustrated by several photos, one of which included its “bag” pulled out. Ah… ha…!

work table2

I had assumed that the “bag” was more flexible and maybe, just maybe, dropped in from the top. Nope. Pulled out, it seems quite a “constructed” box, doesn’t it; and it obviously slides into place. Ingenious, when you think about “tidying up” your space. Grab your work basket and — slip — under the table it goes, all nice and neat.

In the booklet Scenes from Life at Suttons there is brief mention made of the work basket — quite obviously the pieces distributed to the poor at the year’s end, that the Smith girls worked on periodically. I need to hunt up the passage I’m recalling (so do check back), but my impression was that if you had a spare moment you grabbed a piece of clothing and sewed. Perhaps this was where such works-in-progress were stored!

* * *

NB: www.onlinegalleries.com has been my “place” of antiquing choice. Please, let me know YOUR favorite online shops.

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An Invitation

March 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm (people, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Just a short note to say “thank you” to those visitors who take the time to read this blog.

I reserve *special thanks* to those with items — diaries, letters, book sources — who’ve contacted me and shared their thoughts, and especially, their items. I’ve also met some people who always manage to bring smiles to my face whenever I hear from them. Such interaction and friendship are more meaningly than I can express.

Seeing search terms on the site statistics, today made me think to tell readers that I have more information than many a time does not hit the blog. These extended families are HUGE – and my main interest covers what is a large chunk of time (1800-1842), but at the same time extends in both directions: children lived into the late Victorian times (and sometimes beyond), as well parents and grandparents bring the research span into the mid-18th century.  A lot of people, a lot of family “lines”, a number of generations… Whew!

But I’m always happy to hear from people, and help in any way that I can. So write if you’re interested in specific people, even if you don’t see them often on the blog.

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Jane Austen’s Business

February 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm (books, chutes of the vyne, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Or, James Austen’s Shopping Spree:

A most useful account of soon-to-be new husband James Austen, eldest brother of Jane, when he was setting up a household with his first wife, Anne Mathew (mother of Anna Austen Lefroy), in 1792. The list (and costs) make for interesting reading.

The purveyor was RING BROTHERS of BASINGSTOKE; among their many clients: The Chutes of The Vyne. The company ledgers reside in the Hampshire Record Office (Winchester), although this list is taken from the delightful article written by Edward Copeland entitled “The Austens and the Elliots: A Consumer’s Guide to Persuasion (in: McMaster & Stovel, eds., Jane Austen’s Business: Her World and Her Profession). Ring Brothers is the same firm from which came the beds Rev. Austen purchased for his two daughters, as well as a little writing table.

Among the furniture items listed for purchase by James Austen:

A 2-foot 10-inch Mahogany Pembroke table on casters (£1 18s)
An Oval Mahogany Card Table, lined in green cloth (£2 2s)
2 Mahogany Convenient Stools (£1 11s)
2 Mahogany beds on casters (£4 4s)
A 4-poster bed on casters (£1 18s 6d)

Household “necessities” include a Dumb waiter on casters (£2 2s)
2 Mahogany Face Screens on Claws (£1 1s)
flat irons
a twenty-gallon tub
a deal ironing-board
a nutmeg grater
and “other backstairs necessities” (costs: unspecified by Copeland)

Another day evident found James bringing home such items as:
Best Urn Topped Shovel Tongs & Poker (8s)

My favorites are the eventual “extravagances”:
a clock — “arch head’ model, with a walnut case (£7)
sopha – “with all the extras of covers, pads, pillows” (£7)

I can’t wait to delve more into the Ring Brothers’ files at HRO. Another item for my list!

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Women’s History and Jane Austen

March 10, 2009 at 6:40 pm (books) (, , , )

Although I study Jane Austen’s novels, I look for what they can tell about the time period; and compare them to the diaries and letters of the Goslings and Smiths in order to flesh out how their lives would have been led. When I read Jane Austen’s works, it is usually for pleasure and certainly never for dissecting them into quiz questions. There is simply a lot I do not recall about them – no bad thing, as it allows me to read them more than once, for the enjoyment of her language if nothing else.

So when on Sunday, March 1st, our JASNA chapter’s guest speaker Prof. Mary Ellen Bertolini (Middlebury College) mentioned the essays of Tony Tanner (who wrote these mainly in the 1960s-1980s) as being insightful commentaries on Austen, I trotted over to the university’s library and took it out. Right away the title of one essay sounded arresting: “The Anger in the Abbey” – about Northanger Abbey, of course. (Tanner treats this last published book first, in consequence of its being written c1803).

Austen provides a particular image of Catherine Morland when she has Catherine speak about her dislike for history. But only after Tanner’s stressing one piece of Catherine’s comment did my little grey cells begin to grasp that the comment may be taken at face value — or more than face value. Here is Tanner:

“I should like to draw attention to a conversation in chapter 14 during which Catherine expresses her distaste for ‘real solemn history’. Compared with the Tilneys’ liking for ‘history’ this might seem to indicate a certain shallowness or callowness of mind on Catherine’s part. Yet she does make one telling point which is usually overlooked. One reason why ‘history’, as then written, does not appeal to her is this: ‘the men are all good for nothing, and hardly any women at all–it is very tiresome [emphasis added].”

It is a comment we can associate with the Austen who wrote her comic History of England.

I know I enjoy reading the letters of the women of the two families I am studying — perhaps simply because, being a woman, they touch on the fundamentals of life that interest me: travel, family, friendships. Business matters or how many birds were bagged over a shooting weekend I can live without! But I never THOUGHT about Catherine Morland’s comment (and the hidden meaning behind it) before: Was Jane Austen, then, an early advocate for what we would now call Women’s Studies??? Perhaps so…

I must say, after pondering the TYPES of information we historians can find about those who lived a couple hundred years ago, it does rather boil down to: When they were born and to whom; who they married; their children; and when they died. So who can ever blame Austen for concentrating on the most ‘interesting’ part of any person’s life: her character’s family and whose family that someone marries into.

I had reason to look up letters of Emma Austen’s maternal grandmother: she writes of visiting a Mrs Carr and says “to our great surprise [we] were informed that she was at liberty to say every thing was now settled Between her Brother Henry Greg [sic& Miss Gosling  the Greggs are as you may suppose in high Spirits  the Goslings not much delighted  Old Mrs. Gosling sais she will not consent but I think Miss Gosling is determined… poor Mrs Gosling finds the Pill rather disagreeable to swallow“. Miss Gosling, by the way, is Mary Gosling’s Aunt Gregg – her father’s sister. Born c1770, she would have been about 24-years-old at this time (spring 1794), and the lone chick left in her mother’s nest. Mrs Smith adds something to which many woman might relate: “I fancy her home was not comfortable  the Mother is an odd woman“. Oh dear!

My point in bringing this up is that this little snag in the lives of the Goslings and Greggs is just what sucks one into their lives, it entices you to tease out more of their story (though whether more can be found, in any instance, never mind this one, is another story). What was Old Mrs Gosling like? If her daughter (Maria Gosling) was unhappy, what about her son William and his Eliza (for she evidently lived long periods with them)? And here is the very type of story we love Austen for! The push and pull of family, versus the new family a woman wants to make for herself. It is actually surprising how many couples, in just this extended family, encountered problems with familial opposition: Augusta Wilder seems not to have been the dessert of choice for Henry’s father — though Henry was besotted with her; Richard Seymour’s sister was actually talked out of marrying the man of her choice (he did not make enough money); and yet she finally married him. And another couple in Richard’s family, brought down upon themselves the rath of the potential father-in-law — before they too wed. Such tales are why Austen’s novels seem timeless — as well as perfect mirrors of her time.

And why I will never read them in order to remember how much Lady Catherine spent on her chimney piece, or what type of dog Henry Tilney keeps!

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