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

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 

Jane Austen’s Letters: What a bit of pewter will supply

Illustration from Ackermann's Repository, a Walking Dress (1817)My Dearest 

The parcel arrived safely, & I am much obliged to you for your trouble. It cost 2 shillings 10 but as there is a certain savings of 2 shillings 4 ½ on the other side, I am sure it is well worth doing. I send 4 pair of Silk Stockings but I do not want them washed at present. In the 3 neckhandfs, I include the one sent down before. These things perhaps Edward may be able to bring, but even if he is not, I am extremely pleased with his returning to you from Steventon. It is much better – far preferable. I did mention P.R. (Prince Regent) in my note to Mr. Murray, it brought me a fine compliment in return; whether it has done any good I do not know, but Henry thought it worth trying. The Printers continue to supply me very well, I am advanced in vol. 3 to my arra-root, upon which peculiar style of spelling, there is a modest query in the Margin. I will not forget Anna’s arrow-root. I hope you have told Martha of my first resolution of letting nobody know that I might dedicate &c for fear of being obliged to do it & that she is thoroughly convinced of my being influenced now by nothing but the most mercenary motives. I have paid nine shillings on her account on her account to Miss Palmer; there was no more owing. Well, we were very busy all yesterday; from ½ past 11 to 4 in the Streets, working almost entirely for other people, driving from Place to Place after a parcel for Sandling which we could never find, & encountering the miseries of Grafton House to get a purple frock for Eleanor Bridges. Letter to Cassandra, 26 November 1815 from Hans Place, London 

1815 were heady times for Jane Austen. Her novel Emma had been accepted for publication by John Murray, one of the most important and influential publishing houses in London. She would be in fine company with Sir Walter Scott, Washington Irving, Lord Byron, George Crabbe (her personal favorite) and many others on Murray’s roister of prestigious authors. She had learned that the Prince Regent so admired her first three novels that he would endorse her new effort by allowing her to dedicate it to him. Though she did not agree with this lifestyle, she did not decline the honor, knowing full well what the publicity and sales would generate. “…but tho’ I like praise as well as anybody, I like what Edward calls Pewter too.”(Letter to Cassandra, 30 November 1814). Even though she has book royalties coming in, she is still keenly aware of how much a shilling is worth! 

You can feel her energy and confidence in her letters of this period. As a spinster, she was dependent on her family for financial support. Emma would be her fourth novel to earn her ‘pewter’, and even though it would be published at her expense, she would realize the profits after the payment of a 10 percent commission was paid to Murray. [1] With money coming in and further recognition of her talent, she was experiencing a bit of pride and self-assurance in her life. In this letter to her sister Cassandra from her brother Henry’s residence of Hans Place in London, we see her bustling about town to purchase or collect items for neighbors and family, and a few niceties for herself. The bit about the 4 pairs of silk stockings always makes me smile. It pleases me to think of Jane Austen able to purchase such a luxury items from her own hard earned funds and so concerned over their care. Silk does shrink when you wash it! 

Reading her letters brings her life closer to heart. Even the smallest enjoyment of silk stockings, or her kindness in running errands for her in-law Eleanor Bridges, who was the wife of a Baronet and far richer than Austen would ever be, is enchanting. I can just envision her calling at Grafton House, a stylish linen-drapers on New Bond Street to collect Mrs. Bridges frock, and being amazed at the choice of the color purple. One can only imagine what she had to say to her sister Cassandra in private over her color choice! Oh what a bit of pewter can supply! 

Further reading 

1. David Gilson, A Bibliography of Jane Austen, 2nd ed., Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, Delaware (1997) pp 67

Vintage flourish urn

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for March

Jane Austen Selected Letters, Oxford World's Classics (2009)The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Austen inspired books are heading our way in March, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. 

Austen’s Oeuvre 

Selected Letters of Jane Austen (Oxford Worlds Classics) 

Oxford University Press continues to re-issue their stable of Oxford World’s Classics including all of Austen’s major novels last year, Catharine and other Writings last January and now her Selected Letters edited by scholar Vivien Jones. This edition includes nearly two-thirds of Austen’s surviving correspondence, and Jones’ lively introduction and helpful notes. Publisher’s description. In one of her personal letters, Jane Austen wrote “Little Matters they are to be sure, but highly important.” In fact, letter-writing was something of an addiction for young women of Jane Austen’s time and in her social position, and Austen’s letters have a freedom and familiarity that only intimate writing can convey. Wiser than her critics, who were disappointed that her correspondence dwelt on gossip and the minutiae of everyday living, Austen understood the importance of “Little Matters,” of the emotional and material details of individual lives shared with friends and family through the medium of the letter. Ironic, acerbic, always entertaining, Jane Austen’s letters are a fascinating record not only of her own day-to-day existence, but of the pleasures and frustrations experienced by women of her social class which are so central to her novels. 

Trade paperback, Oxford Worlds Classics, ISBN: 978-0199538430 

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired) 

Confession fo a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler (2009) UK editionConfessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler 

Great news for UK readers! You will now know what all the Janeite laughter has been about in the Colonies since 2007 when Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict hits your shore on March 16th. Here is the publisher’s description. Courtney Stone – sassy, smart and suddenly single – has always felt she might have been better suited to life in Jane Austen’s England. She senses that she would have found soul mates in Emma and Elinor, and through good times and bad S&S and P&P have been her secret under-the-duvet pleasures. One evening, having drifted off to sleep after self-medicating with pizza, Absolut, and Elizabeth and Darcy, Courtney wakes up in nineteenth-century England, in the bed (not to mention the slim and svelte body) of a girl called Jane Mansfield. At first she thinks this has to be some sort of weird dream, but slowly she becomes used to the absence of toothpaste and fat-free food, and finds herself actually enjoying Jane’s life. Perhaps she could do without her wicked new ‘mother’ who wants to marry Jane off as soon as possible to the nearest wealthy man although this may not be such a bad thing, as the nearest wealthy man just happens to be the very dishy Charles Edgeworth. But, in becoming Jane, Courtney has left some important unfinished business behind, and she soon realises that in order to return to the present day she needs not only to solve the riddle of Jane and Charles but to get to grips with her own twenty-first-century relationship phobias along the way. A laugh-out-loud romp with a Regency heart, this delightful debut is a truly modern comedy of manners. 

Hardcover, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, ISBN: 978-0747594215 

Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, by Sharon Lathan (2009)Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, by Sharon Lathan 

Did you love the sweeping romanticized 2005 adaptation Pride & Prejudice? If so, you might enjoy this new sequel of the movie based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice which continues Elizabeth and Darcy’s life as newlyweds in all its enthusiastic  romantic splendor. Publisher’s description: Elizabeth and Darcy are positively goo-goo eyes for each other and the burgeoning love and closeness between them drives the plot. As the narrative unfolds through the honeymoon and then the challenges of Elizabeth assuming the role of Mistress of Pemberley, Darcy and Elizabeth thoroughly reveal their differing points of view of how their relationship blossomed from misunderstanding to perfect understanding. As the couple grows in maturity and understanding, as they accustom themselves to each other and to married life, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy emerges as a fascinating portrait of a deep and passionate marriage. 

Trade paperback, Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402215230 

Sandition: Jane Austen's Masterpiece Continued, by Jane Austen & Juliette Shapiro (2009)Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Masterpiece Completed, by Jane Austen & Juliette Shapiro 

Jane Austen’s last writing endeavor before her death in 1817 was Sandition. Many other authors over the years have attempted to complete it. Here is author Juliette Shapiro’s contribution in this nice new edition from Ulysses Press. Publisher’s description. Had Jane Austen lived to complete Sanditon, it would undoubtedly be as famous and treasured as her other novels. But unfinished at her death, the masterpiece has remained mysterious and overlooked. Now, author Juliette Shapiro has completed Sanditon in a vivid style recognizable to any Austen fan. Here is the story of Charlotte Heywood, who has recently arrived in the town of Sanditon to enjoy the benefits of the ocean air. At first, Charlotte finds amusement enough standing at her ample Venetian window looking over its placid seafront and salubrious ocean, wind-blown linens and sparkling sea. But there is much more to this promising little coastal resort. Before long, Charlotte discovers that scandals abound. To the delight of her eccentric host Mr. Parker, she becomes captivated by the romance of the seaside lifestyle. But is the town of Sanditon truly the haven that Mr. Parker likes to think it is, and will Charlotte Parker find happiness here? 

Trade paperback, Ulysses Press, ISBN: 978-1569756218 

The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer (2009)The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer 

First published in 1936, the incomparable Georgette Heyer presents a romantic comedy thriller counterpointing a young and older couple, a devise that she would continue to use throughout her writing career. Here is a plot summary from Wikipedia. On his deathbed, Baron Lavenham arranges a marriage between his great-nephew, Sir Tristram Shield, and his young French granddaughter, Eustacie de Vauban. His grandson and heir, Ludovic, is on the run on the Continent, after allegedly murdering a man in a dispute over a valuable heirloom, the talisman ring. The romantic Eustacie, appalled by her betrothed’s phlegmatic character, runs away and soon encounters a smuggler, who turns out to be her cousin Ludovic. The two take refuge at a local inn, after Ludovic is injured escaping from Excisemen. There they encounter an older lady, Miss Sarah Thane, who vows to help them. The subsequent plot revolves around proving Ludovic’s innocence by finding the missing ring and unmasking the real murderer. 

Trade paperback, Sourcebooks, Casablanca, ISBN: 978-1402217715 

Nonfiction 

Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Grillone (2009)Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Adams 

Jane Austen has often been quoted for her pithy and sarcastic witticism, now the tables are turned as writers and others have their say on Jane Austen’s works and life. In this new beautifully package gift quality volume, author and editor Jennifer Adams acknowledges one of the most beloved and influential English novelists of all time. Publisher’s description. Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen offers one hundred quotations on Austen and her writing from well-known authors, critics, intellectuals, and the actors and directors of film adaptations of her novels. The book features writers from J. K. Rowling, Ian McEwan, Anna Quindlen, and P. D. James to Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, C. S. Lewis, and Harper Lee. It also includes quotations from such favorite actors as Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, James McAvoy, and Colin Firth. Insightful, pithy, and often illuminating, these quotations give you a glimpse into why Austen is considered by many to be the greatest writer in the English language second only to Shakespeare. 

Hardcover, Gibbs Smith, ISBN: 978-1423604785 

Austen’s contemporaries  

Waverley: or 'Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford World's Classics), Walter Scott (2009)Waverley: or ‘Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford World’s Classics), by Sir Walter Scott

In 1814, Jane Austen wrote to her friend Anna  Lefroy; “Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. It is not fair. He has fame and profit enough as a poet, and should not be taking the bread out of the mouths of other people. I do not like him, and do not mean to like “Waverly” if I can help it, but fear I must.” Previous to its publication in 1814, Walter Scott had been primarily known as a poet, so when Austen read his first novel, she had good reason to be concerned about his talents challenging other authors royalties! It was an immediate success prompting Scott to continue writing historical novels which he is now most remembered for. Publisher’s description. Generally regarded as the first historical novel, Walter Scott’s Waverley; or, ‘Tis Sixty Years Since is set during the Jacobite rising in Scotland in 1745, this novel springs from Scott’s childhood recollections and his desire to preserve in writing the features of life in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. Waverley was first published anonymously in 1814 and was Scott’s first novel.

Trade paperback Oxford World’s Classics, ISBN: 978-0199538027 

Bride of Lammermore, Oxford World's Classic, by Sir Walter Scott (2009)The Bride of Lammermoor (Oxford World’s Classics), Sir Walter Scott 

The Bride of Lammermoor is an historical novel based on an actual incident in the history of the Dalrymple family of Scotland set in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714). Along with A Legend of Montrose, it forms the third series of Scott’s Tales of My Landlord; the two novels were published together in 1819. The story was also the inspiration for one of my favorite operas, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Publisher’s description: The plans of Edgar, Master of Ravenswood to regain his ancient family estate from the corrupt Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland are frustrated by the complexities of the legal and political situations following the 1707 Act of Union, and by his passion for his enemy’s beautiful daughter Lucy. First published in 1819, this intricate and searching romantic tragedy offers challenging insights into emotional and sexual politics, and demonstrates the shrewd way in which Scott presented his work as historical document, entertainment, and work of art. 

Trade paperback Oxford World’s Classics, ISBN: 978-0199552504 

Until next month, happy reading! 

Laurel Ann

Sarah Chauncey Woolsey an admirer of Jane Austen

Image of Sarah Chauncey WoolseyIt would have excited in her an amused incredulity, no doubt, had any one predicted that two generations after her death the real recognition of her powers was to come. Time, which like desert sands has effaced the footprints of so many promising authors, has, with her, served as the desert wind, to blow aside those dusts of the commonplace which for a while concealed her true proportions. She is loved more than she ever hoped to be, and far more widely known. Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, Jane Austen’s Letters (1892). 

This quote is from the preface to Jane Austen’s Letters: Selected from the Compilation of her Great Nephew, Edward, Lord Brabourne (1892) by the famous American children’s author Sarah Chauncey Woolsey. As the editor, she selected about seventy eight of the original ninety six letters from the 1884 English edition and wrote the insightful short preface praising Austen and celebrating her recent revival. 

Like Jane Austen, Woolsey wrote under a pen name, was a bit forward thinking in women’s rights and never married. She greatly admired Austen’s character Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I can feel a bit of Lizzy’s independence and wish to marry only for love in this passage from her poem Of Such As I Have

“Love me for what I am, Love. Not for sake

Of some imagined thing which I might be,

Some brightness or some goodness not in me,

Born of your hope, as dawn to eyes that wake

Imagined morns before the morning break.” 

Read Sarah Chauncey Woolsey’s complete preface to Jane Austen’s Letters (1892) in the Opinions section right here at Austenprose.

Buying Austen Books a Disagreeable Duty? Never!

Illustration of Jane Austen by J. BoneSince I wrote last, my 2nd edition (Sense and Sensibility) has stared me in the face. Mary tells me that Eliza means to buy it. I wish she may. It can hardly depend upon any more Fyfield Estates. I cannot help hoping that many will feel themselves obliged to buy it. I shall not mind imagining it a disagreeable duty to them, so as they do it. Mary heard before she left home that it was very much admired at Cheltenham, and that it was given to Miss Hamilton. It is pleasant to have such a respectable writer named. I cannot tire you, I am sure, on this subject, or I would apologise. Letter to Cassandra Austen, 6 November 1813, Jane Austen’s Letters 

Jane Austen jokes to her sister Cassandra that it is a disagreeable duty for her public to buy her books. If so, then we should all be so unhappy to bear such a burden. 

Being the attentive Austen book buyer, I felt compelled to fulfill my duty to Miss Austen and purchase a few volumes with a Barnes & Noble gift card that happened my way. I could not be happier with my recent selections. Here is a peek at my choices.  Continue reading

Vanity or vexation?

Watercolour portrait of Jane Austen by James Stanier Clarke, 1815VANITY

I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress. The Letters of Jane Austen, 11 December 1815

Unlearned? Uninformed? Vanity? I think NOT!

This one line from a letter written to the Rev. James Stanier Clarke, librarian to the Prince Regent of England, expounds Austen’s sly charm and passive wit!  How humble, how unpretentious, how insignificantly she promotes herself to the Rev. in an attempt to put him off his absurd request for her to write a historical romance formed around the House of Saxe Coburg (Germany). Little he knew what made our Jane tick!

I will concede that Austen was correct on one level. As an author in comparison to some of her learned contemporaries, her education and experiences were indeed unlearned and uninformed. She had little formal education beyond the influences and guideance of a traditionally educated father who augmented his income as a tutor. In her defence, she had the sense to understand her limitations, and the intelligence to write within her scope of knowledge and experience.

In response to Rev. Clarke’s request of topics for her writing, I feel that her reply was more a vexation to his suggestions, than vanity on her part about her ability.