Austenprose’s Jane Austen Birthday Soiree – December 16, 2011 – with tons of Giveaways!

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HAPPY 236th BIRTHDAY JANE AUSTEN!

Welcome to our contribution to the Austen’s Birthday Soiree!

Austen's Birthday Soiree 2012We are participating in the Austen’s Birthday Soiree, hosted by Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn & Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club. The daylong blog hop will feature a post in celebration of Jane Austen, her life, her novels and the era in which she lived at each of the 31 blogs!

Quick links to participants in Austen’s Birthday Soiree

  1. Blog: Sharon Lathan
  2. Blog: O! Beauty Unattempted
  3. Blog: Austenprose
  4. Blog: SemiTrue Stories
  5. Blog: First Draft
  6. Blog: Regency Skethes
  7. Blog: Brant Flakes
  8. Blog: Mesmered’s Blog
  9. Blog: The Heroine’s Bookshelf
  10. Blog: vvb32 reads
  11. Blog: The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown
  12. Blog: ReginaJeffers’s Blog
  13. Blog: Alyssa Goodnight   
  14. Blog: Jane Austen in Vermont
  15. Blog: Jane Started It!
  16. Blog: Choc Lit Authors’ Corner
  17. Blog: Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
  18. Blog: The Jane Austen Film Club 
  19. Blog: El Salón de Té de Jane
  20. Blog: Kaitlin Saunders
  21. Blog: One Literature Nut
  22. Blog: Patrice Sarath
  23. Blog: Jane Austen Brasil
  24. Blog: Jane Austen Sequels 
  25. Blog: Stiletto Storytime
  26. Blog: Jennifer W. Becton
  27. Blog: Urban Girl Takes Vermont
  28. Blog: Pemberley Variations 
  29. Blog: AustenAuthors
  30. Blog: November’s Autumn
  31. Blog: My Jane Austen Book Club

Our Tribute to her Letters

Jane Austen's Letters, Fourth Edition, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye (2011The fourth edition of Jane Austen’s Letters, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye was just released in October in the UK and December in the US by the good folks at Oxford University Press. It has some new additions to the text, including a new preface by Le Faye, subject index (huzzah), but sadly no new letters were discovered.  What remains of her correspondence is all here – and for those who have not delved beyond her prose, her letters might surprise you. They start in 1796 and continue until her death in 1817.

Here are some choice quotes from her letters:

Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted. 23 August 1796

What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.         18 September 1796

Next week I shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend. 27 October 1798

I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal. 24 December 1798

You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve. 24 December 1798

We have been exceedingly busy ever since you went away. In the first place we have had to rejoice two or three times everyday at your having such very delightful weather for the whole of your journey. 25 November 1800

You will have a great deal of unreserved discourse with Mrs. K., I dare say, upon this subject, as well as upon many other of our family matters. Abuse everybody but me. 07 January 1807

I begin already to weigh my words and sentences more than I did, and am looking about for a sentiment, an illustration, or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my Ideas flow as fast as the rain in the Storecloset it would be charming. 24 January 1809

How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that one cares for none of them! 31 May 1811

I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive. 31 May 1811

I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or at other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. 01 April 1816

The little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush as produces little effect after much labour. 16 December 1816

Single Women have a dreadful propensity for being poor—which is one very strong argument in favour of Matrimony. 13 March 1817

SUPER SPECTACULAR JANE AUSTEN BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)In celebration of Jane Austen’s birthday, we are offering readers a chance to win twenty Austen items:

And…just for the heck of it…advance reading copies of:

To qualify for one of the giveaway items (one item per person) please leave a comment stating which of the giveaways you are dying to read and wish Jane Austen a happy birthday! Contest ends on 11:59 pm, Wednesday, December 21, 2011. Winners announced on Thursday, December 22, 2012. To claim your prize, please respond by contacting us with the name of the book that you won in the subject line and your full name and address by Wednesday, December 28, 2011. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only.

Good luck to all.

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

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

Features

  • 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

Penelope Hughes-Hallet, Author of My Dear Cassandra Succumbs at 82

My dear Cassandra, Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first? – Jane Austen, June 15, 1808

Two years ago I purchased the lovely illustrated volume My Dear Cassandra by Penelope Hughes-Hallet (1990). Inspired by Jane Austen’s close relationship with her sister Cassandra, it is chockablock full of her letters embellished with beautiful Georgian and Regency-era color illustrations of landscapes, portraits and buildings mentioned in her correspondence. Sadly, the book is out of print, but can still be purchased online through book dealers at Amazon and Advanced Book Exchange. It was also issued under The Illustrated Letters of Jane Austen in 1996. It is a treasure trove of information on the era and a wonderful glimpse into two famous sister’s correspondence.

On April 1 of this year, Penelope Hughes-Hallet passed away at age 82. Born Penelope Fairbain in London in 1927, she spent her early childhood at Patience Close in Steventon, Hampshire (formerly known in Austen’s time as Glebe Farm). Since Steventon was also Jane Austen’s town of birth, we can imagine that the famous authoress’ life permeated her early life and later inspired her interest in the Regency-era leaving us with four fascinating books, two of which are richly illustrated editions: My Dear Cassandra (1990) and Home at Grasmere: The Wordsworths and the Lakes (1994). Her final book was a novel The Immortal Dinner (2000) inspired by the 1817 dinner-party given in London by the painter Benjamin Haydon whose guests included poets Wordsworth and Keats, author Charles Lamb and other significant men arts and science of the day. It received high praise from critics when it was released and is on my to be read list.

Regretfully, as in many cases with living authors who wish to remain in the background, there was very little information about Hughes-Hallet online when I researched her when I purchased the book. Her obituary in the Telegraph online fills in quite a bit more than we usually see for a minor author and is written with reverence and personal insight, almost like it was from a family member or personal friend. Though it answers my questions about her life and career, I am still craving more sumptuous illustrated editions and clever prose from this author. I think I am so drawn to her work and life because I admire her choices, enthusiasm, perspective and legacy. She seems to have had it all. Raised in Steventon, married with a lovely family and her final years as a respected author. Life does not get much better. R.I.P.

My Dear Cassandra, or The Illustrated Letters of Jane Austen is one of my favorite editions in my Austen library. Please seek it out and take a gander. You will not be disappointed.

Jane Austen Selected Letters (Oxford World’s Classics) – A Review

Jane Austen Selected=“You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve.” Jane Austen, 24 December 1798 

Jane Austen’s personal correspondence has stirred up controversy since her untimely death in 1817 at age 41. The next year her brother Henry Austen wrote in the ‘Biographical Notice of the Author’ included with the publication of her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion that she ‘never dispatched a note or a letter unworthy of publication’. Years later, a niece Caroline Austen did not agree, ‘there is nothing in those letters which I have seen that would be acceptable to the public.’ In comparison to her published works, the letters do dwell upon ‘little matters’ of domestic life in the county, but to the patient reader we begin to understand Austen’s life and experiences beyond the minutia and realize through her clever descriptions and acerbic observations how this simple parson’s daughter became the author of novels that are so valued and cherished close to 200 years after their publication. 

This reissue by Oxford University Press of their 2004 edition of Jane Austen Selected Letters is more than worthy of a second printing. Not only does it include two thirds of the known surviving letters and a thoughtful introduction by scholar Vivien Jones chronicling the history of the letters stewardship with the family, its supplemental material alone makes it an incredible value for the price. As with the other Oxford World’s Classics of Austen’s major and minor works that have been reissued this past year, it includes a brief biography, notes on the text, a select bibliography, a chronology of Jane Austen’s life, and explanatory notes. Unique to this edition, and by far the highlight are the glossary of people and places and the detailed index for quick reference. 

For students and Austen enthusiast seeking a compact edition in comparison to the comprehensive and hefty Jane Austen’s Letters edited by Deirdre Le Faye, this reissue is a sleek and densely informative package. Usually I abhor abridged editions of anything, but in this instance we are given an excellent selection of letters and a lively introduction at less than a third of the price of its competitor. In this economy, I say better and better.   

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Jane Austen Selected Letters (Oxford World’s Classics)
Selected, introduced and notes by Vivien Jones
Oxford University Press, USA (2009)
ISBN: 978-0199538430

Austen at Large: Jane Reads Pride and Prejudice to Miss Benn – the luckiest woman in the world

Pride and Prejudice first edition (1813)I have been reading Austen’s letters this week that have to do with Pride and Prejudice, and in them I have found a very intriguing story. When Pride and Prejudice was first published, Jane and her mother read the story aloud over several nights to Miss Benn who was dinning with them. Jane read the first half one night, and her mother read the second half on another evening. In letters to her sister Cassandra on 29 January 1813 and then again on 4 February 1813, Jane Austen explains…

Miss Benn dinned with us on the very day of the Books coming, & in the evening we set fairly at it & read half the first volume to her – prefacing that having intelligence from Henry that such a work would soon appear we had desired him to send it whenever it came out – & I believe it passed with her unsuspected.

I don’t know if Miss Benn knew how lucky she was. It is slightly unclear whether Miss Benn ever knew that Jane Austen was the author or not, but I got the impresTitle page from a first edition of Pride and Prejudice (1813)sion that at least at first she didn’t. What a lucky lady! Who would not kill to have Jane Austen read the part of Mrs. Bennet or Elizabeth? It would have been a truly magical experience.

Miss Benn was the younger sister of the Reverend John Benn who was the rector of Farringdon. She was unmarried and living in very poor circumstances in Chawton, close to the Austen’s. She dined with them frequently, as we can see in some of Jane’s letters and is often remembered by Cassandra who gave her a gift of a shawl. Though she was a very poor ‘old maid’, I think she has an enviable situation because she got to hear Jane Austen read Pride and Prejudice aloud.

Jane Austen also writes about Miss Benn’s enjoyment of the novel. “She was amused, poor soul! That she could not help you know, with two such people to lead the way; but she really does seem to admire Elizabeth.” Then we get to the famous quote about Jane Austen’s view of Elizabeth saying…

I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”

The second night of reading did not go over as well as the first because Jane writes in the February 4th letter remarking, “I had had some fits of disgust.” Miss Benn was again at the second reading for Pride and Prejudice but Jane tells Cassandra of some problems with their mother’s reading of the novel. She says, “I believe something must be attributed to my Mother’s too rapid way of getting on.” I can just imagine Mrs. Austen rushing through one of Jane’s favorite passages and how annoying that would have been to her. I am sIllustration of a morning dress from La Belle Assemblee (1813)ure she had specific voices in her head for characters and specific ways that conversations would have happened, but Mrs. Austen must not have been doing the best job. Jane explains to Cassandra, “& though she perfectly understands the characters herself, she cannot speak as they ought. Upon the whole however I am quite vain enough & well satisfied enough.”

We can only imagine what it would have been like to be a fly on the wall that evening and what a great thing it must have been. To hear Jane Austen read her own beloved characters the day that she received the text in the mail, whoa! I can only dream in my head how wonderfully witty that would have been. (NOT ANYTHING LIKE THE READING IN THE MOVIE BECOMING JANE AT THE VERY END!!! ) She must have been thrilled, exuberant, excited and yet able to conceal it all from Miss Benn who did not know that Jane was the author, and how lucky she was to be hearing the first reading of the newly published Pride and Prejudice. If only there was such a thing as a time machine, I would go back to that night just to be a fly on the wall.

Until next week,

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Further reading