Stephanie Barron Featured on NPR

Statue of King George III in Weymouth, England

Author, and friend of Austenprose, Stephanie Barron has contributed an online article in the “Three Books” series on NPR. Which books did she choose? Why Regency-era of course.

In Three Books, Two Centuries And One English Regency, Barron highlights: Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty, And Nelson’s Battle of Trafalgar,  by Adam Nicolson; The Battle: A New History of Waterloo, by Alessandro Barbero; and Persuasion, by Jane Austen.

Stephanie is famous for her Being a Jane Austen Mystery series of ten (soon to be eleven) novels featuring Jane Austen as a sleuth. We are reading the entire series this year in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 right here on Austenprose. You can check out my reviews through the 8th book and other participants reviews posted here. Stephanie’s next book in the series, Jane and the Canterbury Tale, arrives next Tuesday, August 30th, 2011! We are presently reading it and are enchanted.

Stephanie’s three books are all very interesting choices to highlight an era that we all love so dearly — but, Gentle Reader, what would you have selected? Mine would have been…


Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

In Memory of Jane Austen ~ July 18, 1817 (via Jane Austen in Vermont)

Deb at Jane Austen in Vermont commemorates the passing of Jane Austen 194 years ago today. R.I.P. gilder of every pleasure.

In Memory of Jane Austen ~ July 18, 1817 [I append here the post I wrote last year on this day] July 18, 1817.  Just a short commemoration on this sad day… No one said it better than her sister Cassandra who wrote I have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed,- She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, & it is as if I had lost a part of myself…” (Letters, … Read More

via Jane Austen in Vermont

Vic at Jane Austen’s World remembers Jane Austen’s life with a book giveaway of In the Garden with Jane Austen.

You can also read my previous posts of Jane Austen’s passing:

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Follow Friday: The Royal Wedding on BBC America

William and Kate Royal engagement 2010Since Jane Austen always ended her novels with a wedding or two, we thought we would be remiss if we did not mention the Royal Wedding of Catherine Middleton to HRH Prince William at Westminster Abbey in London today.  Approximately 2 billion viewers around the world will be tuning in to watch the five and a half hours of commercial free coverage being broadcast live on BBC America. We will be one of them.

For Royal watchers this will be the event of the decade and many will be setting their alarm clocks for 3:00 am Eastern and 12:00 am Pacific time here in the US to watch the glitz, glamour and the reveal of the wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. For anyone who remembers the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and HRH Prince Charles in 1981, it is well worth the loss of sleep. No one does weddings with more pomp and style than the British. We are sure that every milliner in the UK has been laboring away on the perfect bonnet for the occasion for months.  We only wish we had planned ahead and taken the day off of work.

Lady Diana Spencer and HRH Prince Charles Royal Wedding 1981

For those who miss the live Kate and Wills action, there are bound to be re-runs and highlights shown online and on TV for days, and you can pre-order the official DVD from BBC America which will be available on May 24th. And, for those of you who would like to explore the one thousand years of Royal Wedding history, from William the Conquer to Kate and Wills, we highly recommend Emily Brand’s new condensed volume Royal Weddings published by Shire Libraries. Here is the publisher’s blurb:

Royal Weddings, by Emily Brand (2011)With the impending nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton this April, Shire Publications offers Royal Weddings, the perfect primer on Britain’s rich nigh-millennial history of kingly couplings and the ideal accompaniment to the aforementioned must-see event of the twenty-first century.

Royal Weddings traces the evolution of matrimonial majesty from the politically charged, relatively austere, private affairs which dominate much of English history, to the grandiose extravaganza of Prince Charles’s and Diana’s union in 1981. Over time, British royal weddings have become the standard by which all other wedding ceremonies are compared.

The book abounds with eye-opening details and interesting stories, such as how King Henry VIII’s marital vows—“…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part…”— have been paradigmatic ever since; or the touching account of the 15th century monarch, Edward IV, who married beneath him and had to keep his marriage to a poor soldier’s widow a secret.

Even with nearly a thousand years of British royalty to cover, author Emily Brand deftly keeps from wallowing in a mire of historical pedantry. Instead, she has culled together exquisitely fascinating facts and anecdotes and presents her discoveries in a lively and inquisitive tone. Her account of the 1625 wedding of King Charles I—for which the monarch wasn’t even present (he sent a surrogate for the lavish affair held at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris), reads as if she herself was present at the scurrilous event.

Royal Weddings is a sleek 56 pages volume, generously enhanced with 60 full-color pieces of rare art and photos that go beyond traditional wedding pictures and add to the guilty, yet informative, pleasure of the book. There are examples of elaborate decorations, feasts and wedding cakes; ornate jewelry, commemorative medallions and other unique items; wedding dresses and evolving fashions; marriage certificates, announcements, menu cards and other juicy particulars; even the nullification document of King Henry VIII’s short-lived marriage to Anne of Cleves, who Henry believed was misrepresented in the picture he was shown of her before agreeing to the coupling.

About the Author

Emily Brand is a writer and historian with a special interest in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England. She has written widely on domestic and family life for a number of history and genealogy magazines, including publications from BBC Magazines Bristol, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath and the National Archives. She is also an author for history society London Historians, of which she has been made an honorary member.

Wedding of Prince George and Princess Caroline 1795

The most infamous wedding of Jane Austen’s era was the disastrous union of George, The Prince of Wales (later George IV) to his first cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick on 8 April 1795 at The Chapel Royal at St. James. Forced into an arranged marriage by his father King George III and Parliament, who pledged to pay off his debts, the Prince arrived for the ceremony “in his cups” stumbling up the aisle supported by the Dukes of Bedford and Roxborough. When no one objected to the proceedings, the Prince tried to escape and then sobbed openly. Jane Austen had a very low opinion of Prinny and his outrageous lifestyle, and for good reason. He openly cheated on his wife, ran up astronomical debts and plummeted the reputation of the British monarchy to the depths of despair by dragging his failed marriage through divorce court. Let’s hope that Wills and Kate have a happier life together.

4th Edition of Jane Austen’s Letters Due Out in November

Jane Austens Letters, edited by Deirdre Le Faye, 4th Edition (2011)Exciting news for Janeites! Deirdre Le Faye’s incredible scholarship on Jane Austen and her family continues in this new edition of Jane Austen’s Letters.

Many will be thrilled to learn that this 4th edition not only includes a new cover, but updates! Here is the description from Oxford University Press:

Jane Austen’s letters afford a unique insight into the daily life of the novelist: intimate and gossipy, observant and informative–they read much like the novels themselves. They bring alive her family and friends, her surroundings and contemporary events, all with a freshness unparalleled in modern biographies. Most important, we recognize the unmistakable voice of the author of such novels as Pride and Prejudice and Emma. We see the shift in her writing from witty and amusing descriptions of the social life of town and country, to a thoughtful and constructive tone while writing about the business of literary composition.

R.W. Chapman’s ground-breaking edition of the collected letters first appeared in 1932, and a second edition followed twenty years later. A third edition, edited Deirdre Le Faye in 1997 added new material, re-ordered the letters into their correct chronological sequence, and provided discreet and full annotation to each letter, including its provenance, and information on the watermarks, postmarks, and other physical details of the manuscripts. This new fourth edition incorporates the findings of recent scholarship to further enrich our understanding of Austen and give us the fullest and most revealing view yet of her life and family. In addition, Le Faye has written a new preface, has amended and updated the biographical and topographical indexes, has introduced a new subject index, and had added the contents of the notes to the general index.

Teachers, students, and fans of Jane Austen, at all levels, will find in these letters remarkable insight into one of the most popular novelists ever.

“These are the letters of our greatest novelist. They give glances and hints at her life from the age of 20 to her death at 41, the years in which she wrote her six imperishable books.”

–Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday


  • An unparalleled and irresistible insight into the life of Jane Austen
  • A complete and accurate transcript of all Austen’s letters as known to date
  • Integrates the discoveries of recent Austen scholarship to reveal more about her life and family
  • 2011 marks the bicentenary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility, the first of Austen’s novels to appear in print

About the Author

Deirdre Le Faye , now retired, worked for many years in the Department of Medieval & Later Antiquities at the British Museum. She started researching the life and times of Jane Austen and her family in the 1970s, and since then has written several books about them, the latest being A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family 1600-2000 , as well as numerous articles in literary journals.

The bit that really got my attention was the incorporation of new scholarship and a new preface. Huzzah!

Jane Austen’s Letters, edited by Deirdre Le Faye
Oxford University Press (2011)
Hardcover (688) pages
ISBN: 9780199576074ISBN10

Due to be released on 1 November 2011

Follow Friday: The Regency Encyclopedia

The Regency Encyclopedia

Here’s a great Follow Firday recommendation for you. Regency history expert Sue Forgue writes to tell us of a wonderful announcement. Her website The Regency Encyclopedia is celebrating its 5th anniversary and has revealed several new enhancements to the Fashion Module. These include:

Fashion Glossary: This is the same database of definitions that powers the highlighted words in the fashion prints’ texts.  You can now search on these definitions without hunting through the fashion prints.

Research Fashion Palettes: Ever wonder what a color like morone looks like or what garments would be in that color? This database allows you to research the fashion palette colors by year (1800-1829) or by the color itself.  A couple of caveats to keep in mind: First, since the color swatches are html codes, your monitor will determine how they display, so at best, these can only be considered approximations. Second, each year’s fashion palette has been compiled from the original fashion print texts and other contemporary fashion articles. If a color shows up in one year and not another, it doesn’t mean the color wasn’t used, it only means that I don’t have any original source documentation for it.

Visit the Modiste Shop to Dress the Doll: Have some fun creating your own regency era outfit. This is the first of an eventual six dolls in the series. Pick the year and the applicable colors for each garment type will load. You can pick any combination of available colors and change them as much as you please before the doll is displayed. When you do, you’ll see the doll in a lovely setting with text incorporating your color choices written in the style of the fashion column in “La Belle Assemblée”.

In addition to these functions, the fashion prints database has been increased to almost 1,700 images thanks to the generous contributions of Vicky Hinshaw of Milwaukee and Jeanne Steen of Chicago.

Many thanks to Sue and her crew for the incredible information available to Austen fans and Regency history buffs. The site is password protected so please use this info for access. Enjoy!

User ID: JaneAusten
Password: brilliant1
(both are case sensitive)

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Regency-era English Christmas Pudding: American Fruitcake’s Kissin’ Cousin

Mrs. Beeton's Traditional Christmas Plum Pudding circa 1890s

I recently read the delightful Regency-era Christmas novel The Mischief of the Mistletoe, by Lauren Willig. Our hero Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh and heroine Arabella Dempsey are brought together by a Christmas pudding! Yep. A very creative ice-breaker to introduce and spark a romance, right?

The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas, by Lauren Willig (2010)In 1803, Arabella is an instructor at Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies in Bath, where “Turnip’s” sister Sally is a pupil. He is delivering her Christmas hamper to her and she in turn gives him a small muslin-wrapped and beribboned Christmas pudding which he proceeds to drop after barreling into to our heroine in the making in the hallway of the school. After profusely apologizing, he bounds out the door with Arabella in pursuit in an attempt to return the pudding to him:

“Mr. Fitzhugh?” she called after him, holding the small, muslin-wrapped parcel aloft. “Mr. Fitzhugh! You forgot your pudding!”

Blast. He didn’t seem to have heard her. Lifting her skirts, Arabella hurried down the short flight of steps. Mr. Fitzhugh, his legs longer that hers, was already some way down the street, making for a very flashy phaeton driven by a team of matched bays.

“Mr. Fitzhugh!” she called, waving the pudding in the air, when the second man in one day knocked the breath out of her by taking a flying leap at the pudding she held in her hand.

It must have been pure stubbornness that caused her to keep her grip, but as the man tugged, Arabella found herself tugging back. Harder.

“I need that pudding!” her growled. “Give it over.”

“No!” gasped Arabella, clinging to the muslin wrapper with all her might. People couldn’t just go about taking other people’s puddings. It was positively un-British.

Indeed! “Turnip” comes to her rescue, fending off her assailant and hauling her off the ground for a second time in a day. The Christmas pudding is slightly askew from its original round shape, but what puzzles her most is a piece of paper attached to it written in French. Is it a cryptic message? A clue? A joke? It is this mystery that draws them together and the catalyst to their adventure and eventual romance. Continue reading

Happy Birthday Jane Austen Blog Tour: A Celebration of her Legacy – Her Juvenilia

Jane Austen Birthday banner from Google 2010

Put on you party hats and rip open the streamers. Today is Jane Austen’s 235th birthday! Even Google is getting into the spirit. Isn’t the banner they are displaying today lovely?

Welcome to the Happy Birthday Jane Blog Tour sponsored by Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club blog. If you have joined the party in progress, you have landed on one of the fifteen Austen bloggers or Austenesque authors that are honoring our favorite author today. The full list of participants is listed at the bottom of this blog post.

In addition to celebratory posts in honor of our dear Jane, there are tons of giveaway prizes. Just leave a comment before December 22, 2010 on one or all of the blog posts on the tour to multiply your chances of winning more of the prizes. Full details of the giveaway can be found on the My Jane Austen Book Club blog who will be announcing the winners.

Jane Austen's birthplace, Steventon Rectory, Hampshire, England

The Birth of a Genius

Born on the 16 of December in 1775 at Steventon Rectory near Alton Hampshire, Jane entered this world during a record snow storm. She was the seventh child and second daughter born to Reverend George Austen and his wife Cassandra nee Leigh. Here is an excerpt from a letter written on 17 December, 1775 from Jane Austen’s father to his sister-in-law Susannah Walter:

‘You have doubtless been for some time in expectation of hearing from Hampshire, and perhaps wondered a little if we were in our old age grown such bad reckoners but so it was, for Cassy certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago: however last night the time came, and without a great deal of warning, everything was soon happily over. We have now another girl, a present plaything for her sister Cassy and a future companion. She is to be Jenny, and seems to me as if she would be as like Henry, as Cassy is to Neddy.’

It is the only remaining written reference to Jane Austen being called Jenny.

The Abbey School, Reading, England, Gatehouse from Austenonly

Early Education

Educated briefly at The Abbey School in Reading, Jane was basically a home schooled girl. At the knee of her Oxford educated father Reverend Austen she read extensively from her father’s diverse personal library of classics and, wait for it, NOVELS. Books would be her biggest influence in forming her education. Yes. The Austen’s were novel readers. This dramatic emphasis may sound inconsequential today in the age when novels outsell nonfiction hand over fist, but in the late eighteenth-century when Austen was being educated, poetry was the preferred medium. Novels were considered low-brow fare. The novel as we know it today was only yet taking flight on the wings of Samuel Richardson, William Defoe and Henry Fielding. Austen was exposed to these writers through her father, and other more adventurous prose from Gothic fiction writer Anne Radcliffe and her favorite romantic novelist Fanny Burney. Another early influence upon her education was the family’s interest in theatricals. Many popular plays were produced by the Austen children setting the stage, so-to-speak, for her later talent in her novels for creating drama and emotion in her dialogue and building arcs in her plots.

Illustration by Joan Hassall, Love and Freindship, The Folio Society (1973)

Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint.” Love and Freindship

A Writer in the Making

Reverend Austen encouraged both of his daughters to develop their talents and nurtured their creativity by giving them expensive supplies for writing and drawing. From 1787 to 1793, Jane wrote several poems, stories and plays for the amusement of her family. These were later reassembled into her personal writing journals given to her by her father and transferred into a “fair copy” in three bound notebooks. These are now called her Juvenilia. They contain many comical, far-fetched and boisterous tales of murder, death and romantic melodrama. Exuberant and high-spirited, this was Austen as a writer in the making, totally unbound, experimenting with style, content and letting loose with her wildest imaginings. Among my favorites in this collection are Love and Freindship (yes, note the spelling of e before i), The History of England and The Beautiful Cassandra. You can view scanned images of the original manuscripts at Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition online website. They are a real treat.

History of England Illustrations by Cassandra Austen

Volume the First

Volume the Second

Volume the Third

Happy Birthday Jane Austen Blog Tour 2010

Visit the other Happy Birthday, Jane Blog Tour posts today:

  1. Adriana Zardini, at Jane Austen Sociedad do Brasil
  2. Laurel Ann, at Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog
  3. Vic Sanborn, at Jane Austen’s World
  4. Katherine Cox, at November’s Autumn
  5. Karen Wasylowski, at Karen Wasylowski Blog
  6. Laurie Viera Rigler, at Jane Austen Addict Blog
  7. Lynn Shepherd, at her Lynn Shepherd Blog
  8. Jane Greensmith, at Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
  9. Jane Odiwe, at Jane Austen Sequels Blog
  10. Alexa Adams, at First Impressions Blog
  11. Regina Jeffers, at her Regina Jeffers Blog
  12. Cindy Jones at First Draft Blog
  13. Janet Mullany at Risky Regencies Blog
  14. Maria Grazia at My Jane Austen Book Club Blog
  15. Meredith at Austenesque Reviews

Get Your Free, Free, and did I say Free, Ebooks, for two days only!

In celebration of Jane Austen’s Birthday, Sourcebooks, the world’s leading publisher of Jane Austen fiction, is offering free digital downloads of ten of their popular sequels for two days only, December 16 and 17, 2010. I have placed links to the NookBook editions of each of the books being offered. Follow this link to my previous post listing all ten novels and six of the Jane Austen illustrated editions being offered today. Enjoy!

Here is a link to Sourcebooks for the free Jane Austen eBooks with all of the links to download for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Sourcebooks, Google eBookstore and Sony eBookstore.

Happy Birthday Jane. Thanks for many, many hours of enjoyment.


Laurel Ann

© 2007-2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose