Chawton House Library Announces the Jane Austen Short Story Competition 2011

Take up your quill pens Austenesque writers and set your cap at the Jane Austen Short Story Award 2011 sponsored by the Chawton House Library in Alton, Hampshire.

This contest celebrates the “life and work of Jane Austen by inspiring and encouraging new writers” and follows the very successful 2009 competition in honor of the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s arrival in the Hampshire village of Chawton in 1809. Twenty stories from the 2009 Award were published in Dancing with Mr. Darcy, edited by Sarah Waters, which I reviewed here last month. It was delightful!

We are looking for short stories of 2,000-2,500 words in length. This year the theme is ‘the heroes and villains in Jane Austen’s novels’. You can draw inspiration from any character or characters, male or female, whom you perceive to be heroic or villainous. Stories can have a historical or a contemporary setting – anything goes as long as it is well written and you state on the entry form how your idea originated.

The first prize winner will receive £1,000 and two runners up £200 each! Twenty stories will again be included in an anthology of winning and shortlisted stories from the competition. The deadline to submit your story is March 31st, 2011 and the complete submission rules can be found on the Chawton House Library Short Story Competition web page.

I had the august pleasure of meeting Mr. Stephen Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer of the Library, and Dr. Gillian Dow, Chawton Lecturer at the JASNA conference in Portland last week. Besides having “dream jobs” at the grand country estate formerly owned by Jane Austen’s elder brother Edward Austen Knight, they are wonderful advocates of the contest and are very excited for the next book of the collection of stories that will be available in print in October 2011. I am so happy to see more Jane Austen anthologies in the queue inspiring writers and honoring our Jane.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

Dancing with Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House, edited by Sarah Waters – A Review

In celebration of the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s arrival at Chawton in Hampshire, the Jane Austen Short Story Award 2009 Competition was sponsored by the Jane Austen House Museum and Chawton House Library. Dancing with Mr. Darcy is a collection of winning entries from the competition. Comprising twenty stories inspired by Jane Austen and or Chawton Cottage, they include the grand prize winner Jane Austen over the Styx, by Victoria Owens, two runners up Jayne, by Kristy Mitchell and Second Thoughts, by Elsa A. Solender, and seventeen short listed stories chosen by a panel of judges and edited by author and Chair of Judges Sarah Waters.

Since the publication of her first novel Sense and Sensibility in 1811, Jane Austen’s works have been cherished by many for a variety of reasons. Some value her astute characterizations and biting wit, others her craft of language and social reproof. If my life-long admiration is any measure of my own flux in “favorite” characters, themes or stories over the years, then I am not surprised that my choice of grand prize and runners up from this collection are different from the august panel of judges. Firstly, there were many fine stories in the collection. Secondly, which ones would Jane Austen choose?

Here is my breakdown of stories by star rating: 3 with 5 stars, 9 with 4 stars, 5 with 3 stars, 3 with 2 stars and 0 with 1 star. This was based on my first impression; I did not reread them. On analyzing my selection of 5 star stories, I found that they all had strong connections to Austen or her characters, were told in a simple and straightforward narrative, and either made me laugh or pulled at my heart. In short, they used some of the same techniques that make Austen’s writing so special. Here are my three 5 star story choices:

Grand Prize: Second Thoughts, by Elsa A. Solender

Poignantly told from Jane Austen’s perspective, we experience her acceptance and eventual rejection in 1802 of wealthy suitor Harris Bigg-Wither of Manydown Park. Torn between her need for financial independence and their unsuitability, Jane ultimately decides “that a marriage without affection can hardly be an agreeable enterprise.”

Runner Up: Eight Years Later, by Elaine Grotefeld

Mirroring Persuasion’s theme of finding the love that you thought you had lost, this story of a young school boy’s hidden regard for his teacher who because of their age difference and positions must remain unrequited. She loves Jane Austen, so over the years he reads her novels over and over to feel connected to her. He is “half agony, half hope” until their fateful reunion.

Runner Up: The Jane Austen Hen Weekend, by Clair Humphries

Four dear friends, two days and one country house should equal a joyous celebration by way of a carefully planned Jane Austen themed hen weekend, but disaster arrives with a sick child, an overflowing toilet and all around apathy at Regency distractions such as whist and the pianoforte, until a plumber arrives to save the day with more skills than expected.

Overall, this collection offered a few real gems, a few disappointing surprises, and solid array of creative inspirations that had nothing to do with dancing with Mr. Darcy. I don’t mind. Dancing might be a charming amusement considered one of the first refinements of polished societies, but, “Every savage can dance.”

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Dancing with Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House, edited by Sarah Waters
HarperCollins (2010)
Trade paperback (256) pages
ISBN: 978-0061999062

© 2007 – 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane Austen Short Story Award 2009 Winners Announced

Dancing with Mr Darcy: Short Stories Inspired by Jane Austen (2009)The winners of the 2009 Jane Austen Short Story Award were announced by author and Chair of Judges Sarah Waters at Chawton House Library on Saturday, July 18th during the New Directions in Austen Studies Conference. The first prize of £1000 went to Victoria Owens with her winning entry Jane Austen over the Styx. Sarah Waters described the story as an “original take on the Austen theme: a story about the author going to Hades to be judged by some of the more unpleasant characters she created in her novels. I thought this was very accomplished and stylish.”  The two runners-up were Kristy Mitchell and Elsa Solender, each receiving a £200 prize.

Seventeen additional short stories winners were also chosen; Andrea Watsmere, Clair Humphries, Elaine Grotefeld, Elizabeth Hopkinson, Esther Belamy, Felicity Cowie, Hilary Spiers, Jacqui Hazell, Kelly Brendel, Lane Ashfeldt, Mary Howell, Nancy Saunders, Penelope Randall, Rebecca Cordingly, Stephanie Shields, Stephanie Tillotson, and Suzy Hughes. All of the winners will be included in a new anthology Dancing with Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen to be published by Honno and Chawton House Library this October.

The Jane Austen Short Story Award 2009 was created by Chawton House Library in conjunction with the bicentenary celebration of Jane Austen’s arrival in the village of Chawton in Hampshire, where all of her major novels were revised or written, culminating in the most productive writing years of her life.

Dancing with Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen will also contain introductions by Sarah Waters and Rebecca Smith, the five-times great grand-niece of Jane Austen. You can pre-order it directly through Honno, or at The Book Depository.

Congratulations go out to all the winners. I am all anticipation in reading your stories.

Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Jane Austen around the blogosphere for the week of October 13th

The movie The Duchess staring Keria Knightley (Pride and Prejudice 2005) opened in national release this last week and I am all anticipation to see. It has received mixed reviews and a lot of press about comparisons of Georgiana Cavendish to Princess Diana, claims that producers asked Knightley to allow a boob job to the movie posters and all sorts of hooey. The movie is based on the 1998 biography entitled Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman and also features other actors with Austen connections; Hayley Atwell (Mansfield Park 2007), Dominic Cooper (Sense and Sensibility 2008), Joseph Beatie (Mansfield Park 2007), Alistair Petrie (Emma 1996) and composer Rachel Portman (Emma 1996). The costumes look sumptuous and it is on the top of my list of must see movies this fall.

My Austen friends in Canada are definetly the favoured nation, again! First they get a new production of Pride and Prejudice in Edmonton, NOW, they get Lost in Austen on TV! Geesh, I am feeling out of the loop here in the States. ; (

Join romance author Stephanie Sloan as she discusses Jane Austen every Friday with An Austen Friday on her blog.

Austen and Austen-esque book reviews for the week; Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Mr. Darcy Present his Bride, Pride and PrejudiceCassandra & Jane, and a second review of Cassandra & Jane, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet.

One of the October Austen-esque books that really intrigued me was Two Guys Read Jane Austen by Steve Chandler and Terence Hill. What a fascinating premise, — well from a feminine perspective that is! Check out author Steve Chandler’s insights on how the book came about and other musing on the experience of writing it with his friend at his blog. No surprised that their wives put them up to it. ; )

Writer Marilyn Brant shares her wonderful experience at the 30th annual AGM of JASN which concluded in Chicago earlier this month. I am pea green over her Jane Austen watch. You can get your very own at Jane Austen Books. Janeite Deb of Jane Austen in Vermont continues her reports from JASNA also with The Adventures Befalling a Janeite in Chicago – Part 3, and Part 4.

Chawton House Library is offering a short story competition to celebrate the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s arrival in the Hampshire village of Chawton. There are cash prizes and trips to a writer’s retreat at Chawton House. The deadline is March 31st, 2009 and the complete details can be found here.

The Becoming Jane Fansite has an uplifting quote of the week from Jane Austen’s letters, The Happiness Project has another great quote from Miss Bates from Emma, and The Rest is Still Unwritten offers a long quote from Persuasion that sets men straight.

Aimee at Saccharine Irony imagines herself as Mrs. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and has tea. Is that Mrs. Dashwood senior or Fanny Dashwood the daughter-in-law? Hope it’s the former.

What was Jane Austen really like? Find out what author Claire Tomalin and Carol Shields have to say and then vote for which heroine that you think Jane Austen was most like on Ripple Effects.

Find out if Jane Austen was a hot surfer chick as Niqel of The Trim of My Sails blog explains it all for us.

Want to check out the shelves in the closet at Hunsford Parsonage, that humble abode on the Rosings estate of The Rev. Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice ? Well, here’s your chance to get about as close to a fictional structure as can be if you rent the house used in the filming of the Pride and Prejudice movie of 2005. The present owners of Almshouse in Weekley near Kettering in Northamptonshire will let you have it for a song, if your like the tune of £2,350.00 a month!  One wonders out loud if perchance the house is misnamed. ; )

I had been ignoring the fact that the holidays are quickly aproaching and then I received my monthly Jane Austen Centre online newsletter in my mail box and read about fruit cake! If you are wondering what the connection to Jane is, then brace yourself gentle readers, Jane does discuss it in her letter to her sister Cassandra in 1808. Well almost fruit cake since she mentions the family being anxious to receive wedding cake, which was similar to today’s fruit cake and prized by the Regency era. I am one of those odd creatures that adores fruit cake. I know, I just heard you all gasp in horror. You all think of fruit cake as that sticky gooey super sweet concoction that grandma used to send to your family during the holidays and was re-gifted to other family members for 20 years as a joke. Granted, fruit cake has gotten a bum rap since it was cherished in the 1800’s (or lately by your granny), but you might be interested to read over the recipes in the Centre’s article and see for yourself that it does not contain any lost mittens or old socks! I have a cherished recipe too, which will go unshared until someone admits they like it! Subscribe to the Centre’s newsletter here.

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey continues here at Austenprose. I am really enjoying the group read of Northanger Abbey, the guest blogs this week by Margaret Sullivan (Mags) on Henry Tilney, Vic (Ms. Place) on dancing in Bath, and fashion in the 2 Northanger movie adpataions by Kali Pappas. Be sure to check out all the free giveaways, and leave a comment to qualify for the drawings before October 30th.

Until next week, happy Jane sighting,

Laurel Ann