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1stfolio-frontis-bodleian

William Shakespeare – circa April 23, 1564 – April 23, 1616

The Bodleian First Folio
A digital facsimile of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays

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Henry Crawford: “…But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an English-man’s constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them every where; one is intimate with him by instinct. – No man of any brain can open at a good part of one of his plays, without falling into the flow of his meaning immediately.” 

“No doubt, one is familiar with Shakespeare in a degree,” said Edmund, “from one’s earliest years. His celebrated passages are quoted by every body; they are in half the books we open, and we all talk Shakespeare, use his similes, and describe with his descriptions; but this is totally distinct from giving his sense as you gave it. To know him in bits and scraps is common enough; to know him pretty thoroughly is, perhaps, not uncommon; but to read him well aloud is no everyday talent.” 

- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Vol. III, Ch. III

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“His reading was capital…”
Mansfield Park, illus. CE Brock [Mollands]

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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I welcome today Stuart Bennett [no relation to our esteemed Mr. Bennet - the difference a "t" can make!], antiquarian bookseller and author of two novels starring Jane Austen. You can read my April 2012 interview with Stuart about his first novel The Perfect Visit here:

As you know I loved this book because of its time-travel intrigue wherein we meet Shakespeare and Jane Austen, as well as its literary and bibliographical adventure through the London and Bath of the 16th and 19th century. Stuart’s new novel, Lord Moira’s Echo, has just been published and has a new and historically fascinating take on Jane Austen’s “lost” years from the spring of 1801 through the fall of 1804. I highly recommend it – it offers a tale of those years when “Jane Austen went missing” as biographer David Nokes writes, that is certainly as plausible and interesting as any of the other various fictional efforts in this vein out there. I cannot say more because the post would be an entire “Spoiler Alert” that would ruin the pleasure of your own reading! Please see below for the book giveaway.

I have been asked if one should read The Perfect Visit first, and I say that while this second book does stand completely on its own, an understanding of Vanessa and her story of being catapulted into Jane Austen’s England would only enhance your enjoyment.

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So in lieu of an all-out review, I have asked Stuart to tell us something about this new work:

Stuart: I discovered references to the Austen family in the unpublished Hastings family archive at the Huntington Library in California. From these, I felt I could introduce this historical character, Francis Rawdon Hastings, the second Earl of Moira, as one who might have met Jane Austen during those lost years. The novel tells its story from two perspectives, Lord Moira’s own, and a young Canadian musician, Vanessa Horwood, who was the protagonist of The Perfect Visit; Vanessa is from our time, caught in a time-travel snafu and stuck in early 19th-century England. The narrative of my new novel shifts back and forth from 1823 to 1801 and 1802, imagining what might have happened if the Earl, about whom Jane’s banker brother Henry spoke bitterly even after Jane’s death in 1817 and who features in Austen family correspondence well into the 1830s, had been more than a just a shadowy figure in the lives of the Austens.

Jane herself plays a major part in the 1801-1802 sections of Lord Moira’s Echo. Lord Moira, whom I first discovered in a glancing reference in Brian Southam’s Jane Austen and the Navy, really could have played the role I give him. The social history of Regency England is full of much stranger tales.

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Thank you Stuart, and also a hearty thanks for offering a copy to commenters. For those in the Vermont JASNA region, Stuart spoke on this novel as a work-in-progress in September 2012, where we were all intrigued to hear of his take on Jane Austen’s mystery love. He just recently spoke at the JASNA-MA and JASNA-SC regions, and is scheduled with the JASNA-Maine group in September. For readers wanting the full historical tale behind the references to the Austen family in the Hastings archive, Bennett’s essay, “Lord Moira and the Austens,” will appear in the next issue of Persuasions – Vol. 35 (2013), due out this May.

You can find more information on both novels at the Longbourn Press: http://longbournpress.com/

Lord Moira’s Echo is available in large format paperback ($14.95) and as a Kindle download ($2.99) via the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Moiras-Echo-Stuart-Bennett/dp/1494475197/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394040137&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Lord+Moria%27s+Echo%3A+A+Novel

The Perfect Visit can be found here: pb ($13. 46); kindle ($2.99)

http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Visit-Stuart-Bennett/dp/0615542700/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323810829&sr=8-1

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Bennett photo-ILABAbout the author: Stuart Bennett was an auctioneer at Christie’s in London before starting his own rare book business. He is the author of the Christie’s Collectors Guide How to Buy Photographs (1987), Trade Binding in the British Isles (2004) which the London Times Literary Supplement called “a bold and welcome step forward” in the history of bookbinding, and many publications on early photography, auctions and auctioneers, and rare books, and of course these two novels on Jane Austen. He currently lives and works near Boston, Massachusetts.

Book Giveaway!

Please leave your questions or comments for Stuart in the comment section below to be eligible for a free inscribed copy of Lord Moira’s Echo by Monday April 21, 2014, 11:59 pm.  Winner will be announced on Tuesday April 22nd.  Open to US respondents only (sorry, but postal rates are now over-the-top!)

book-cover-perfect-visit-bennett

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Originally posted on Sarah Emsley:

Mansfield Park You’re invited to a conversation about Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park !

When: from May 9 to December 31, 2014

Where: right here at sarahemsley.com

I really hope you’ll join us in celebrating 200 years of Austen’s masterpiece. More than forty wonderful people are writing guest posts about Mansfield Park for my blog this year, and I hope you’ll all participate in the discussion in the comments. With exactly one month to go before the 200th anniversary of the novel’s publication, the countdown is on!

An Invitation to Mansfield Park

The party begins on Friday, May 9th, with Lyn Bennett’s thoughts on the first paragraph, followed in the next few weeks by Judith Thompson on Mrs. Norris and adoption, Jennie Duke on Fanny Price at age ten (“though there might not be much in her first appearance to captivate, there was, at least, nothing to disgust her relations”), Cheryl Kinney on Tom Bertram’s assessment of Dr. Grant’s health (“he…

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A special issue of Persuasions On-Line is now available for reading, free to all!

From JASNA:

JASNA header

As we usher in spring, we are pleased to announce the release of Persuasions On-Line, Vol. 34, No. 2, a collection of essays on “Teaching Austen and Her Contemporaries.” This issue, which is freely accessible on our website, furthers JASNA’s commitment to fostering the study and appreciation of Jane Austen’s works, life, and genius. Relatively little has been published on teaching Jane Austen, and the articles in this edition expand on that important area of Austen scholarship.

Many thanks to Persuasions Editor Susan Allen Ford and Co-Editors Bridget Draxler (Monmouth College) and Misty Krueger (University of Maine) for developing this unique issue.

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persuasionsOL34-2-2014
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Table of Contents:
Editors’ Note Bridget Draxler, Misty Krueger, and Susan Allen Ford

Discovering Jane Austen in Today’s College Classroom Devoney Looser

Teaching Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey as a “Crossover” Text Misty Krueger

Teaching Two Janes: Austen and West in Dialogue Daniel Schierenbeck

Taking Emma to the Street: Toward a Civic Engagement Model of Austen Pedagogy Danielle Spratt

Teaching to the Resistance: What to Do When Students Dislike Austen Olivera Jokic

“Hastening Together to Perfect Felicity”:  Teaching the British Gothic Tradition through Parody and Role-Playing Andrea Rehn

Teaching Jane Austen in Bits and Bytes: Digitizing Undergraduate Archival Research Bridget Draxler

Jane Austen Then and Now: Teaching Georgian Jane in the Jane-Mania Media Age Jodi L. Wyett

Dancing with Jane Austen: History and Practice in the Classroom Cheryl A. Wilson

Contributors’ Syllabi

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c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont; text and images from JASNA.org

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Originally posted on Current Projects:

By Keira Mckee

An important stage in the treatment of any object is for the conservator to thoroughly assess the object “as is” before any work gets underway, if any work is in fact needed. In the books conservation department, we fill out a condition and treatment report that documents the exact condition of a book, when received by the conservator, identifying all issues that may require attention. As times goes on, all work will also be logged in this same document so that a thorough report can go back with the book to the owner, and possibly inform future treatments if another conservator works with the book in the future.

I was asked by David Dorning to create a condition report for the sample of Jane Austen handwriting that the department has been commissioned to treat. You can read about the project here.

The full condition report is…

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Jane Austen on Her Mansfield Park

As we begin celebrating the bicentenary of the publication of Mansfield Park [it was first advertised on May 9, 1814 in The Star], I post here all the references that Jane Austen made in her letters to her third book. My intention for the year ahead is to post about MP’s publishing history and the variety of illustrated and collectible editions. Then a post on Austen’s own “Opinions of Mansfield Park” where she collected and recorded all the comments from family and friends [she also did this for Emma] – she may have called P&P her “own darling Child” – but I think it is “universally acknowledged” that her very own favorite was MP – she seemed most concerned about others’ reactions to it and was discouraged that no review of MP appeared at the time of its publication.  And then I will post on sequels / continuations – not as many as the other works [doesn’t anyone think of Edmund as a romantic Hero? – why hasn’t an oversized sculpture of him been dragged into the Serpentine?], but interesting all the same!  … But first: her own commentary on MP – again, there is that feeling of Austen hovering over my shoulder as I read the letters – if only one could ask the many questions we all have – if you could, what would you ask Jane Austen about Mansfield Park?

References:


1. Austen, Jane.  Jane Austen’s Letters.  3rd ed., edited by Deirdre Le Faye. Oxford, 1997. [I have the 4th edition but alas! it is not with me at present, so I continue to cite the 3rd ed.]
2. _____. Mansfield Park. Introd. Jane Stabler. Oxford, 2008, c2003.
2. Gilson, David. A Bibliography of Jane Austen. Oak Knoll, 1997.

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MP-1sted-titlepage

              Image: Mansfield Park 1st edition, Printed for T. Egerton, 1814.

According to Cassandra Austen’s memorandum with regard to the writing of the novels, Austen was working on Mansfield Park from February 1811, finished soon after June 1813. These early letters make it clear that Cassandra was familiar with the story all along…

  • Ltr. 78 Sunday 24 January 1813 from Chawton to Cassandra at Steventon (p. 198-99)

I learn from Sir J. Carr that there is no Government House at Gibraltar. – I must alter it to the Commissioner’s.  

NOTE:  The Commissioner held a shore-posting, usually as rank of Captain; often given to injured sea officers. He was responsible to the administration of naval accounts at a local level. [MP, Oxford, 410]

John_Carr_1809-wp

Sir John Carr (wikipedia)

Carr is not in the Le Faye index …, but according to Gilson, this is Sir John Carr, author of Descriptive Travels in the Southern and Eastern parts of Spain and the Balearic Isles in the year 1809. (1811) – and what Austen must have read to confirm this information [Gilson, 48]

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_John_Carr

Austen uses it here:

He [Henry Crawford] honoured the warm–hearted, blunt fondness of the young sailor [William Price], which led him to say, with his hands stretched towards Fanny’s head, “Do you know, I begin to like that queer fashion already, though when I first heard of such things being done in England, I could not believe it; and when Mrs. Brown, and the other women at the Commissioner’s at Gibraltar, appeared in the same trim, I thought they were mad; but Fanny can reconcile me to anything”… [MP, Vol. II, ch. vi]

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In the same letter (78), Austen writes:

As soon as a Whist party was formed & a round Table threatened, I made my Mother an excuse, & came away; leaving just as many for their round Table, as there were at Ms. Grants. – I wish they might be as agreable a set.  

NOTE:  round table = eleven, less 4 for whist, and JA, leaves 6. The round table in MP consisted of Lady Bertram and Edmund, 2 Prices, and 2 Crawfords [Le Faye, 410].

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  • Ltr. 79. Friday 29 January 1813. From Chawton to Cassandra at Steventon (p. 202)

After a rather lengthy paragraph on the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Austen jumps into another topic:

Now I will try to write of something else; – it shall be a complete change of subject – Ordination. I am glad to find your enquiries have ended so well. – If you discover whether Northamptonshire is a Country of Hedgerows, I sh’d be glad again.

NOTE: This line has led early scholars to believe that she was referring to the theme of her newest novel – but if we notice the previous letter’s references to MP, we know that she is nearly half-way through its composition.  Le Faye notes that the “enqueries” no doubt refer to the time necessary for the process of ordination – i.e. how long Edmund Bertram might be kept away from Mansfield Park for this purpose.  Cassandra was then staying with James Austen, and could have provided these details. [Le Faye, 411]

Speed_Northampton-wp

Image: 17th century map of Northamptonshire, by John Speed (wikipedia)

NOTE: The hedgerows reference: Chapman assumed this meant Austen was thinking of using the device in MP she later uses in Persuasion [Anne overhearing the conversation between Capt. Wentworth and Louisa] – Cassandra told her there were no hedgerows in Northamptonshire – but she does use this in MP:

“This is pretty, very pretty,” said Fanny, looking around her as they were thus sitting together one day; “every time I come into this shrubbery I am more struck with its growth and beauty. Three years ago, this was nothing but a rough hedgerow along the upper side of the field, never thought of as anything, or capable of becoming anything;…” [MP, vol. II, ch. IV]

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  • Ltr. 82 Tuesday 16 February 1813. From Chawton to Martha Lloyd [in Kintsbury]. (p. 208).

A reference to her questions about Northamptonshire as in the above letter to Cassandra.

I am obliged to you for your inquiries about Northamptonshire, but do not wish you to renew them, as I am sure of getting the intelligence I want from Henry, to whom I can apply at some convenient moment “sans peur et sans reproche.” [without fear and without reproach]

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  • Ltr.  86. Saturday 3 – Tuesday 6 July 1813. From Chawton to Capt. Francis Austen on the HMS Elephant, Baltic. (p. 217)

    FrancisAusten-wp

    Francis Austen (wikipedia)

Here she refers to MP as not being as entertaining as P&P, and asks her sailor brother if she can mention his Ships:

You will be glad to hear that every Copy of S&S is sold…I have now therefore written myself into £250. – which only makes me long for more. I have something in hand – which I hope on the credit of P. & P. will sell well, tho’ not half so entertaining. And by the bye – shall you object to my mentioning the Elephant in it, & two or three other of your old Ships? – I have done it, but it shall not stay, to make you angry. – They are only just mentioned.

NOTE: the ships mentioned in MP are the Cleopatra, Elephant, and Endymion.

 

HMS_Cleopatra_(1779)-wp
Image: HMS Cleopatra, by Nicholas Pocock (Wikipedia) 

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  • Ltr. 90. Saturday 25 September 1813.  From Godmersham Park To Francis Austen, HMS Elephant, Baltic. (p. 231) 

Where she thanks her brother for permission to use his ships, tells him that the great Secret of her as author is now quite public, and goes on to lay the blame on Henry for telling all!

I thank you very warmly for your kind consent to my application & the kind hint which followed it. – I was previously aware of what I sh’d be laying myself open to – but the truth is that the Secret has spread so far as to be scarcely the Shadow of a secret  now – & that I believe whenever the 3d appears, I shall not even attempt to tell Lies about it. – I shall rather try to make all the Money than all the Mystery I can of it. -  People shall pay for their Knowledge if I can make them…

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  • Ltr. 97. Wednesday 2 – Thursday 3 March 1814. From London (Henrietta St.) to Cassandra in Chawton. (p. 255-56)

Austen is travelling with Henry to London – it is assumed the reading she refers to is the proof-sheets of MP – she is returning to London in hopes of having Egerton publish the book in April.

We did not begin reading till Bentley Green.  Henry’s approbation hitherto is even equal to my wishes; he says it is very different from the other two, but not appear to think it at all inferior. He has only married Mrs. R. I am afraid he has gone through the most entertaining part. – He took to Lady B. & Mrs. N most kindly, & gives great praise to the drawing of the Characters. He understands them all, likes Fanny & I think foresees how it will all be.

 And later:

Henry is going on with Mansfield Park; he admires H. Crawford – I mean properly – as a clever, pleasant Man. – I tell you all the Good I can, as I know how much you will enjoy it…
 Brock2-reading-mollands

Image: “His [Henry Crawford] reading was capital.”  Vol. III, ch. iii.  (Mollands) 

Austen makes reference to a “Frederick” when referring to Christopher (Tilson) Chowne – it has been suggested that perhaps he played the role of Frederick in Lovers’ Vows at one of many amateur theatricals at Steventon. [Le Faye, 429]

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  • Ltr. 98. Saturday 5 – Tuesday 8 March 1814. From Henrietta St. to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 258)

Henry has this moment said that he likes my M. P. better & better; – he is in the 3d vol. – I believe now he has changed his mind as to foreseeing the end; – he said yesterday at least that he defied anybody to say whether H. C. would be reformed, or would forget Fanny in a fortnight.  

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  • Ltr. 99. Wednesday 9 March 1814. From Henrietta St. to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 261)

Henry has finished Mansfield Park. & his approbation has not lessened. He found the last half of the last volume extremely interesting.

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  • Ltr. 100. Monday 21 March 1814. From London (Henrietta St) to Francis Austen ? (p. 262) – fragment only

Perhaps before the end of April, Mansfield park by the author of S&S.– P.&P. may be in the World. Keep the name to yourself. I sh’d not like to have it know beforehand. 

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  • Ltr. 101. Tuesday 14 June 1814. From Chawton to Cassandra in London. (p. 263)  cover-JAClergy

In addition to their [Mr. and Mrs. Cooke] standing claims on me, they admire Mansfield Park exceedingly. Mr. Cooke says “it is the most sensible Novel he ever read” – and the manner in which I treat the Clergy, delights them very much. [Mr. Cooke was Rev. Samuel Cooke]

Image: Jane Austen and the Clergy, by Irene Collins (2004)

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  • Ltr. 102. Thursday 23 Jun 1814. From Chawton to Cassandra in London. (p. 265)

We have called upon Miss Dusautoy & Miss Papillon & been very pretty. – Miss D. has a great idea of being Fanny Price, she & her youngest sister together, who is named Fanny. 

Fanny- Sylvestra-dashwoodblog

Image:  Fanny Price – Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny, MP (BBC, 1983)
(Miss Dashwood blog) 

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  • Ltr. 106. Friday 2 September 1814. From London (Henrietta St) to Martha Lloyd in Bath. (p. 274)

Mr. Barlowe is to dine with us today, & I am in some hope of getting Egerton’s account before I go away.

NOTE:  Mr. Barlowe is an employee of Henry’s London bank – she refers here to Egerton’s account of the 1st edition of MP. [Le Faye, 436.]

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  • Ltr. 109. Friday 18-Sunday 20 November 1814. From Chawton to Fanny Knight at Goodnestone Park, Kent. (p. 281)

GoodnestonePark

Image: Goodnestone Park website

You will be glad to hear that the first Edit. of M.P. is all sold. – Your Uncle Henry is rather wanting me to come to Town, to settle about a 2d Edit: – but as I could not very conveniently leave home now, I have written him my Will & pleasure, & unless he still urges it, shall not go. – I am very greedy and want to make the most of it; – but as you are much above caring about money, I shall not plague with my particulars.- The pleasures of Vanity are more within your comprehension, & you will enter into mine, at receiving the praise which every now & then comes to me, through some channel or other.-  

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  • Ltr. 110. Tuesday 22 November 1814. From Chawton to Anna Lefroy in Hendon. (p. 282)

Make everybody at Hendon admire Mansfield Park.- 

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  • Ltr. 111. ?Thursday 24 November 1814. From Chawton to Anna Lefroy in Hendon. (p. 282-83)

Mrs. Creed’s opinion is gone down on my list [i.e. her opinions of MP list]; but fortunately I may excuse myself from entering Mr as my paper only relates to Mansfield Park. I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of “Self-control” as soon as I can; – I will improve upon it… 

Mary Brunton (Wikipedia)

Mary Brunton (Wikipedia)

NOTE: Self-Control was a novel written by Mary Brunton (1811) – Austen refers to it in her letters three times:

Ltr. 72 (p. 186): We have tried to get Self-controul, but in vain.- I should like to know where her Estimate is – but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever – & of finding my own story & my own people all forestalled.

Ltr. 91 (p. 234). I am looking over Self-Control again, & my opinion is confirmed of its’ being an excellently-meant, elegantly-written Work, without anything of Nature or Probability in it. I declare I do not know whether Laura’s passage down the American River, is not the most natural, possible, every-day thing she ever does.

Ltr. 111 (p. 283). I will redeem my credit with him, by writing a close Imitation of “Self-control” as soon as I can; – I will improve upon it; – my Heroine shall not merely be wafted down an American river in a boat by herself, she shall cross the Atlantic in the same way, & never stop till she reaches Gravesent.-

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  • Ltr. 114. 30 November 1814. From London (Hans Place) to Fanny Knight at Godmersham Park, Kent. (p. 287)

Contains one of Austen’s most-quoted lines:

Thank you – but it is not settled yet whether I do hazard a 2d Edition. We are to see Egerton today, when it will probably be determined. – People are more ready to borrow & praise, than to buy – which I cannot wonder at; – but tho’ I like praise as well as anybody, I like what Edward calls Pewter too. 

NOTE: We know that Egerton did not publish this hoped for 2nd edition – Did he refuse? Did he not offer good terms? Or was Jane Austen displeased with Egerton’s printing of the 1st edition? We do not know, but Austen moved to the firm of John Murray to publish her Emma, and Murray took on the 2nd ed of MP, which was published on February 19, 1816.

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John Murray (Wikipedia)

John Murray (Wikipedia)

  • Ltr. 121. Tuesday 17 – Wednessday 18 October 1815. From London (Hans Place)to Cassandra at Chawton. (p. 291)

Mr Murray’s Letter is come; he is a Rogue of course, but a civil one. He offers £450- but wants to have the Copyright of MP. & S&S included. It will end in my publishing for myself I dare say. – He sends more praise however than I expected. It is an amusing Letter. You shall see it. 

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  • Ltr. 122 (A) (D). ?Friday 20 / Saturday 21 October 1815. From Henry Austen in London to John Murray [in
    Henry Austen

    Henry Austen

    London]. (p. 293-94)

I include this letter because it shows Henry’s involvement in his sister’s publishing history – he was very ill at the time and Jane was his nurse.  She was in London at Hans Place to negotiate the publication of Emma, as well as the 2nd ed. of MP… [see my previous post on this letter ] – I just love the line: “great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation”!

[A Letter to Mr. Murray which Henry dictated a few days after his Illness began, & just before the severe Relapse which threw him into such Danger. - ]

Dear Sir

Severe illness has confined me to my Bed ever since I received Yours of ye 15th – I cannot yet hold a pen, & employ an Amuensis [sic]. – The Politeness & Perspicuity of your Letter equally claim my earliest Exertion. – Your official opinion of the Merits of Emma, is very valuable & satisfactory. – Though I venture to differ occasionally from your Critique, yet I assure you the Quantum of your commendation rather exceeds than falls short of the Author’s expectation & my own. – The Terms you offer are so very inferior to what we had expected, that I am apprehensive of having made some great Error in my Arithmetical Calculation. – On the subject of the expense & profit of publishing, you must be much better informed that I am; – but Documents in my possession appear to prove that the Sum offered by you, for the Copyright of Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park & Emma, is not equal to the Money which my Sister has actually cleared by one very moderate Edition of Mansfield Park –(You Yourself expressed astonishment that so small an Edit. of such a work should have been sent into the World) & a still smaller one of Sense & Sensibility.- …

Image of Henry Austen: Jasna.org, essay by Kristen Miller Zohn

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  • Ltr.  124. Friday 3 November 1815.  From London (Hans Place) to John Murray. (p. 295)

I mention this letter because it shows how involved Jane Austen was in her own publishing ventures.  Here she writes about Henry being ill, requesting Murray to visit her at Hans Place to discuss Emma – she might have wished to also talk about the 2nd edition of MP – note that the drafted letter above to Murray was actually not sent until after this one; it also has one of my favorite lines from the letters, which I have underlined

Sir

My Brother’s severe Illness has prevented his replying to Yours of Oct. 15, on the subject of the MS of Emma, now in your hands-and as he is, though recovering, still in a state which we are fearful of harrassing by Business & I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on me here, any day that may suit you best, at any hour in the Evening, or any in the Morning except from Eleven to One. – A short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing.

My Brother begs his Compts  & best Thanks for your polite attention in supplying him with a Copy of Waterloo.

   I am Sir
Your Ob. Hum: Servt
Jane Austen

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  • Ltr. 125 (A). Thursday 16 November 1815. From James Stanier Clarke (Carlton House) to Jane Austen at Hans Place, London. (p. 296)

I include this because Clarke singles out MP so, which must have gratified her very much! I think Clarke had quite the crush on Jane Austen:

Your late Works, Madam, and in particular Mansfield Park reflect the highest honour on your Genius & your Principles; in every new work your mind seems to increase its energy and powers of discrimination. The Regent has read & admired all your publications…

James_Stanier_Clarke-wp.pg

Image: James Stanier Clarke (wikipedia)

NOTE:  See more on the letters between Austen and Clarke and her visit to Carlton House here: http://janeausteninvermont.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/a-visit-to-carlton-house-november-13-1815/

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  • Ltr. 128. Sunday 26 November 1815. From London (Hans Place) to Cassandra [at Chawton ]. (p. 301)

Mr. H. [Haden] is reading Mansfield Park for the first time & prefers it to P&P.

NOTE:  I think Austen and / or her niece Fanny had a wild crush on Charles Thomas Haden. He was a London surgeon. She calls him ” a sort of wonderful nondescript Creature on two Legs, something between a Man & an Angel” [Le Faye, Ltr. 129, p. 303)

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  • Ltr. 130. Monday 11 December 1815. From London (Hans Place) to John Murray in London. (p. 305)

I return also, Mansfield Park, as ready for a 2d Edit: I believe, as I can make it.

NOTE:  It is unknown whether Austen gave Murray a marked-up copy of the first edition [which had many errors], or she was working from new galleys…

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  • Ltr. 132(D). Monday 11 December 1815. From London (Hans Place) to James Stanier Clarke (London). (p. 306)

I must make use of this opportunity to thank you, dear Sir, for the very high praise you bestow on my other Novels – I am too vain to wish to convince you that you have praised them beyond their Merit.

My greatest anxiety at present is that this 4th work shd not disgrace what was good in the others. … I am very strongly haunted with the idea that to those Readers who have preferred P&P. it will appear inferior in Wit, & to those who have preferred MP. very inferior in good Sense.  

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  • Ltr. 134(A). Wednesday 27 December 1815. From the Countess of Morley at Saltram to Jane Austen at Chawton. (p. 308)

I am already become intimate in the Woodhouse family, & feel that they will not amuse & interest me less than the Bennetts [sic], Bertrams, Norriss & all their admirable predecessors – I can give them no higher praise-

NOTE:  At the time, many believed the Countess of Morley to be the Authoress of both S&S and P&P.

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  • Ltr. 139. Monday 1 April 1816. From Chawton to John Murray in London. (p. 313)

Dear Sir,

   I return you the Quarterly Review with many Thanks. The Authoress of Emma has no reason I think to complain of her treatment in it – except in the total omission of Mansfield Park. – I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reveiwer of Emma should consider it as unworthy of being noticed.

This is Austen’s final word on MP in her letters: she is peeved that MP is not mentioned in this anonymous review – we know now this reviewer of Emma was Sir Walter Scott, but did Austen know that?? Recall that she wrote this about him to her niece Anna, tongue in cheek of course, as we know that she liked his work very much:

Sir_Henry_Raeburn_-_Portrait_of_Sir_Walter_Scott-wp

Image: Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, by Henry Raeburn (wikipedia)

Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. – It is not fair. – He has Fame & Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths. – I do not like him, & do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it-but fear I must. [Ltr. 108, p. 277]

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CEBrock-MP-beautiful-mollands

Image: C.E. Brock – “Oh, this is beautiful indeed!”
Mansfield Park, Vol. II, ch. ix (Mollands)

Stay tuned for more on Mansfield Park. You might also like to follow Sarah Emsley’s (and guests’) blog posts on MP, which will begin in May: http://sarahemsley.com/2014/01/01/200-years-of-mansfield-park/

And I ask again: if you could, what would you ask Jane Austen about Mansfield Park?

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Pardon delay in announcing the winner of the giveaway of The Introduction of  Gentleman by Heather Brothers – I was trying to get in touch with the winner before I announced it on the blog and have now heard back – Fran Politi of our own JASNA-Vermont group wins the honors this time around! – Congratulations Fran! – very happy to have you win. Heather will send off the book to you pronto … I think you will enjoy it very much! And thank you Heather for the interview and offering a copy to us – the best of luck to you in your first publishing venture!

cover-IntroGent-Brothers

 

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Gentle Readers:  I welcome today one of our very own JASNA-Vermont members, Heather Brothers, to talk to us about her very own, just published, novel! – The Introduction of a Gentleman.  A long-time Jane Austen fan, Heather has been coming to our meetings for the past several years – she loves the Regency period and this is her first go at a Regency historical romance – it is a great read, full of all the things you expect from the genre – good guys, bad guys, a naïve heroine, an estate in jeopardy, a bit of a mystery, and a fine Scottish setting both in the country and in Glasgow. Heather has graciously offered to tell us a little bit about herself and how she came to write this first book, and she will provide a free copy for a giveaway -  see below for the giveaway details. 

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cover-IntroGent-Brothers

Deb: Welcome Heather!  All of us in Vermont are very excited for you, about this, your first published book! Tell us something about The Introduction of a Gentleman and what set you on the path to writing it… 

Heather: The seed that grew into my love of the Regency Era was planted – as many others may have experienced themselves – when I saw the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I lived in Australia at the time and was visiting my best friend’s family. Being proper members of the Commonwealth, they were shocked that I had not seen P&P. The first day at their house we sat and watched it from beginning to end – I was so enraptured by it, I didn’t want to leave my seat for anything!

Being your typical enthusiast, I proceeded to throw a Pride and Prejudice New Year’s Eve party the following year – complete with country dance jammed into a most decidedly un-Pemberleyan dance hall (i.e. the living room of a cape house.) I had movie-viewing parties, read through each novel, connected with other Janeites, and after a trip to Scotland in 2008 for a friend’s wedding, I began the story that is The Introduction of a Gentleman.

Inspired by names such as Carrick and Strathclyde (both of which my husband has refused to name any future children), I began thinking and working on who these characters would be. And being fairly recently graduated from that tumultuous match-making time of life myself, I wanted to create that time and those feelings in Laura’s life.

After two years, I had created a rough draft and then fell victim to the precursor to the most glorious blessing one can possibly experience in life. Morning sickness led to hospitalization. Thank heaven for anti-nausea medication. And incidentally, if you throw up in the waiting room, you’ll get a hospital bed really fast. Keep that in mind.

My daughter being born was so amazing and during the nursing phase I was able to read a ton of books – the first being re-reading Emma. I learned so much about writing from that intense reading-filled timeframe.

I found that self-publishing really relies on your network of friends and family members. I got three critical reviews from friends – one who is a published writer, one who is an award-winning writer and Regency Era subject matter expert, and one who has a PhD in the Classics and is qualified to teach writing at the college level. My husband was also an invaluable help since, in self-publishing, you have to do all the formatting yourself (i.e. become a software expert.) I would really recommend Createspace, though. They have a lot of tools and all the channels set up for you.

And this is how I come to be where I am now. I really hope you enjoy The Introduction of a Gentleman.  It doesn’t compare to the works of Jane Austen, but I think it’s a good read if you like that era.

Deb: What sort of reading have you done to prepare you to write a Regency historical novel?

Heather: Reading Jane Austen’s novels are in themselves a tutorial on many levels. I have also read some great books about the era – most recently The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan. I have done online research as well as learned a lot from the JASNA-Vermont meetings.

Deb: How long have you been reading Jane Austen? And what is your favorite book? Your favorite thing about her?

Heather: Interestingly, I ordered Sense and Sensibility from the Scholastic Book Club when I was in 9th grade. I tried to read it butcover-persuasion-oxford couldn’t understand who everyone was, so gave up. Fortunately, through increased brain development and a more keen interest, since that time, I have been able to enjoy each novel.

My favorite book is Persuasion. What I love about Jane Austen is how funny she is and how brilliant she was in weaving everything together in these books. I’ve written an essay on the book Persuasion called “Might I Persuade You?” which I hope to record in an audio format. After listening to the audio version so wonderfully performed by Juliet Stevenson, I was struck by just how hilariously and wonderfully Jane Austen wrote. The other aspect of Persuasion that is so great is the theme of redeemed love and second chances – which is just irresistible.

Deb: Are you working on another novel? And if so will it be set in the same time period as The Introduction of a Gentleman? Will you continue with any of the characters?

Heather: I am working on another novel – but it is a present-day story set in Vermont about a 10-year old girl who wants to figure out a family mystery amidst her quirky aunts, uncles and grandparents:  Your typical Vermont family.

Deb: Sounds like Cold Comfort Farm in Vermont! Can’t wait! What other kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Heather:  My favorite books right now are Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

Deb: You mention a trip to Scotland and the reason why it is the setting for your book, but have you travelled to other places in the UK as well, specifically to Jane Austen country in England?

Chatsworth-wp

Chatsworth House and Bridge [Wikimedia Commons ]

Heather: My travels in Scotland helped me decide the general areas that I wanted things to take place. Sir William Blair’s country home, for instance, is based on a castle that my husband and I visited. Other scenes were inspired by a prior trip to England. One of my aunts used to live in Nottingham. When visiting her, she took me to some amazing sites like Chatsworth, but this was before I became an Austen fan – so I didn’t realize what I missing out on! I actually had no idea what Chatsworth was prior to her taking me there. I was 18 at the time – with so much to learn! So another trip to England is definitely a hope.

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Hope Greenberg

Deb:  You dedicate the book to your sister, and also “To my husband, who came with me to my first Jane Austen Society meeting…on fashion.”  Was that at a JASNA-Vermont meeting, or another meeting somewhere else? 

Heather: Yes – the dedication refers to my first JASNA meeting – the one where Hope Greenberg spoke in Montpelier at the Vermont College of Fine Arts! I loved it and actually mentioned it to Hope at the Christmas tea when she wore her wonderful dress and hat to that meeting. I have been coming to JASNA meetings – when I could (i.e. not when Claire was tiny…) – since that meeting. [Ed. This meeting was on June 7, 2009 – with our very own regency fashionista Hope Greenberg on “Fashion in Jane Austen’s World” and a great intro to JASNA-Vermont for Heather! (and her husband!)] 

Thanks so much for having me here Deb!

 Deb: Thank you Heather! – and wishing you a great deal of luck with your first publishing endeavor.

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Plot synopsis: In 1797 Laura McCay searches for her path and a husband in the Scottish gentry. When the intriguing Mr. Strathclyde arrives at the May Ball, Laura is captivated by both his stature and his status. Her close friend, Carrick, deplores both the change he sees in Laura and Mr. Strathclyde’s growing influence over her. Heedless of the ramifications, Laura follows after Mr. Strathclyde, leaving family responsibilities and friends behind in the country. Laura disregards Carrick’s admonitions and throws herself into the city life of concerts, dresses and fashionable balls, only to find that not everything is as it seems….

The Introduction of a Gentleman at Amazon
ISBN: 978-1492725480
$8.99
[there is one online on Amazon for $999.11 – don’t buy that one… :)] 

About the Author:

Heather and Claire2

Heather Brothers and daughter Claire

What Amazon says: Heather Brothers is an avid Jane Austen fan and has had the pleasure of visiting Scotland several times. She lives in Vermont with her family.

More detail from Heather:  I was born and raised mostly in Vermont, with three years of my childhood spent in Germany. I went to McGill University in Montreal, and spent one year in Australia. I studied Political Science, German and French, and like many with a liberal arts degree, my job doesn’t reflect my studies. I work as a loan analyst at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, where I have worked for eight and a half years.

I love going to Shelburne Farms in the summer with my daughter and husband. My favorite restaurant is Mirabelle’s downtown – which has the best hot chocolate. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s become an addiction, seeing as I stop there every Sunday before church and am on a first name basis with the staff…

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Book Giveaway 

Please leave a comment or a question for Heather at the end of this post and you will be entered into a random drawing for a copy of The Introduction of a Gentleman.  Deadline is Tuesday January 21, 2014, 11:59 pm.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday January 22nd.  US entries only please. [sorry about that – postage rates are sky-high to everywhere else…]

C2014, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Dear Gentle Readers: I welcome today Janine Barchas with her review of the recently published Jane Austen: A New Revelation by Nicholas Ennos – his book tackles the question of who really authored Jane Austen’ s six novels and juvenilia…

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“Conspiracy is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”

Review of Nicholas Ennos, Jane Austen: A New Revelation (Senesino Books, Oct. 2013).  Pp. 372.  £25.  Available from Amazon.com as an e-book for Kindle for $10.99. 

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The litmus test of true literary achievement is whether your works are deemed so great that you simply could not have written them.

Janeites need no longer envy students of Shakespeare their intricate web of Renaissance conspiracy theories.  Whereas Shakespeare scholarship has long enjoyed the spectral presence of the Earl of Oxford, Austen studies can now boast a countess named Eliza de Feuillide.

The self-published Jane Austen: A New Revelation alleges that “a poor, uneducated woman with no experience of sex or marriage” could not possibly have written the sophisticated works of social satire and enduring romance that we traditionally attribute to Jane Austen.  The book’s author, Nicholas Ennos (the aura of conspiracy allows that this is not necessarily his/her real name), asserts that biographers have been leading everyone by the nose.  The true author of the Austen canon is, instead, Madame la Comtesse de Feuillide, born Eliza Hancock (1761-1813).  Eliza was the worldly and well-educated older cousin of Jane Austen who, after being made a young widow by the French Revolution, married Henry Austen, Jane’s favorite brother.  The sassy Eliza has long been pointed to as a model for the morally challenged characters of Lady Susan and Mary Crawford in the fictions.  To identify Eliza as the actual author was, Ennos explains, the next logical step.

shakespeare-1stfolio-haverford

Shakespeare’s First Folio – Haverford.edu

Just so, and also about two centuries into his literary afterlife, William Shakespeare’s lofty literary achievements were judged incompatible with his humble origins, sowing seeds of doubt that a person so little known could have achieved so much.  Slowly, the man named Will Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon came to be considered by a small-but-articulate fringe to be a mere front shielding the genuine author (or authors) of the works written under the pen name of Shakespeare.  Austen’s genteel poverty, relative isolation, and biographical quiet allows for a similar approach.  For how, asks Ennos, can genius thrive with so little food of experience to feed it?

The arguments for Shakespeare reattribution rely heavily upon biographical allusions as well as the absence of works in manuscript.  Similarly, Austen critics who have been keen to spot biographical references to real places and family members in the fictions have apparently opened the door to skeptics who can now point to Cassandra’s “systematic destruction” of her sister’s letters as proof of a conspiracy.  Ennos also draws attention to the “suspicious” parallel fact that no Austen novel survives in manuscript.  The juvenilia, which does survive in Jane’s hand, is explained away as early secretarial work for Eliza during her visits to the Steventon household.

Eliza died in April of 1813, well before the publication of Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), or Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (Dec 1817).  The so-called Oxfordians overcame the timeline obstacles posed by Edward de Vere’s early death in 1604 by redating many Shakespeare texts, which (their logic dictates) must have been composed earlier than previously thought and squirreled away for later publication by an appointed agent.  So too is the Austen corpus deftly redated by Ennos—with husband Henry, cousin Cassandra, and amanuensis Jane as co-conspirators.  Some historians allow that Eliza was in all probability the natural daughter of politician Warren Hastings.  Ennos adds to this existing context of secrecy that Eliza’s illegitimacy was the “disgrace” that the Austens “were determined to cover up after Eliza’s death” and the reason that “the myth of Jane Austen’s authorship was invented.”

Readers of Austen will doubtless need some time to process the implications of these revelations.  For example, what of the presumed poignancy of Persuasion’s temporal setting?  The events in this novel take place during the false peace of the summer of 1814—a short reprieve in the Napoleonic wars that saw the premature return of Britain’s navy men after the initial exile of Napoleon to Elba.  Persuasion has been on record as composed between August 1815 and August 1816, in the full knowledge of both the false hopes of that summer and the true end to the war that came with the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815.  Ennos moves the novel’s date of composition prior to April 1813.  Although he does not go so far as to urge Eliza’s historical prescience, he suggests that these features are merely evidence of judicious tweaks to manuscripts left in Henry’s care at Eliza’s death.

Eliza de Feuillide                 Frances Burney                 Jane Austen

This is not all.  Ennos further declares that the precocious Eliza also wrote the novels conventionally attributed to Frances Burney (1752-1840).  The resemblances between Evelina and Pride and Prejudice have long been acknowledged by scholars who have (mistakenly, according to Ennos) attributed this to Burney’s literary influence upon the young Austen.  Ennos reasons that Frances Burney’s lack of literary success after Eliza’s death, including her “truly dreadful” novel The Wanderer in 1814, is evidence of her being, in fact, an imposter.  While future stylometric analysis may eventually confirm that Jane and Fanny were one and the same Eliza, this method has not settled the authorship question irrevocably for Shakespeare.  Perhaps this is why Ennos does not turn to computer analysis or linguistics for help.  He does identify Elizabeth Hamilton, the name of another minor authoress, as a further pseudonym used by the talented Eliza—ever widening the corpus of works that might appeal to those already interested in Austen.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the novels attributed to Jane Austen were published anonymously during her lifetime.  Logically, any book written anonymously must be in want of a conspiracy.   The grassy knoll of this particular conspiracy is the biographical notice in Northanger Abbey, released simultaneously with Persuasion six months after Jane Austen’s death in 1817.  History has taken Henry Austen, a failed banker, at his word in identifying the author as his sister.  Ennos, who is not very gallant towards the species of academics and literary critics whom he dismisses as “simple souls,” suggests that Austen scholarship has been surprisingly gullible in accepting Henry’s attribution without question.

In the wake of the Ireland forgeries of the 1790s, generations of Shakespeare scholars offered dozens of different names for the man behind the mask of “Will Shakespeare.”  Although the Earl of Oxford has garnered Hollywood’s vote, Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe are next in popularity.  We can only hope that these allegations by Ennos prop open the doors of Austen authorship so that additional candidates can step forward to provide generations of graduate students with dissertation fodder.

Does the Eliza attribution theory expect to be taken seriously?  Or does this maverick publication deliberately mock established scholarship by means of cartoonish imitation?  I’m not sure it really matters.  If this project had ambitions to be a serious Sokal-style hoax, then it did not manage to convince a top publisher and, as a result, lacks the ability to wound deeply.  The prose is also too earnest and unadorned for an academic satire—devoid of the jargon that should dutifully accompany a spoof.  The resulting pace is too sluggish for irony.  That said, there are plenty of moments that even David Lodge could not improve upon.  For example, Ennos points to an acrostic “proof” of hidden clues in the dedicatory poem to Evelina (only visible if decoded into Latin abbreviations).  There is also the syllogistic central assertion that if the novels of both Burney and Austen resemble the Latinate style of Tacitus, then these could only have been written by 1) the same person and 2) someone schooled in Latin.  Ergo, Eliza is the true author behind both, since only she could have learned Latin from Reverend George Austen, Jane’s father (who might teach a niece but never his youngest daughter).  Finally, there are gestures towards wider bodies of knowledge: “In this respect the philosophy of both authors has been linked to the views of the Swedish philosopher, Swedenborg.”  Perhaps Ennos is simply angling for someone to buy the movie option.  “Anonymous” did well at the box office, so why not a film dubbed “Eliza”?

No matter what the intention, hearty congratulations are due to Jane Austen.  For her, this news makes for a strong start to the New Year.  Exactly two centuries into her literary afterlife, a doubting Thomas was the last requirement of literary celebrity still missing from her resume.  Austen can now take her seat next to Shakespeare, secure in the knowledge that her authorship, too, has begun to be questioned.

You know you’ve hit the big time when you didn’t write your own work.

– Reviewed by Janine Barchas

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Barchas is the author of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity (Johns Hopkins, 2012).  She is also the creator of “What Jane Saw”, an on-line reconstruction of an art exhibit attended by Jane Austen on 24 May 1813.   Recently, she has written for The New York Times and the Johns Hopkins University Press Blog.

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont; text c2014 Janine Barchas

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Volume1st2013-bodleianIf you love Jane Austen’s Juvenilia [and who cannot!], then you must add this to your collection: the Bodleian Library has published the first volume of her youthful writings in a fine facsimile edition, with an introduction by Kathryn Sutherland.

Here is the link:

http://www.bodleianbookshop.co.uk/display.asp?isb=9781851242818&TAG=&CID=#

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Volume the First: A Facsimile. By Jane Austen, ed. Kathryn Sutherland.
Bodleian Library, 18 October 2013.
Page Dimensions: 224 pages, 188 x 142 x 21 mm
ISBN: 9781851242818
Format: Hardback
Price: £25.00

[available from the Bodleian Bookshop and various online book vendors; and for pre-order on Amazon (to be released May 2014 in the US)]

Synopsis (from the website):

A plain, blank stationer’s notebook from the 1780s in the Bodleian Library contains some of the most famous juvenilia in all of English literature. Copied out in Jane Austen’s youthful hand, Volume the First, which takes its name from the inscription on the cover, preserves the stories, playlets, verses, and moral fragments she wrote during her teenage years. For the first time, the entire manuscript of Volume the First is available in a printed facsimile. In it, we see the young author’s delight in language, in expressing ideas and sentiments sharply and economically. We also see Jane Austen learning the craft of genre by closely observing and parodying the popular stories of her day. Kathryn Sutherland’s introduction places Jane’s Austen’s earliest works in context and explains how she mimicked even the style and manner in which these stories were presented and arranged on the page. Clearly the work of a teenager, Volume the First reveals the development of the unmistakable voice and style that would mark out Jane Austen as one of the most popular authors of all time. None of her six famous novels survives in manuscript form.This is a unique opportunity to own a likeness of Jane Austen’s hand in the form of a complete manuscript facsimile.

You can view the entire volume page by page on the website Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts: http://www.janeausten.ac.uk/edition/ms/VolFirstHeadNote.html

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 The Contents in Austen’s own hand

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But now you can have your very own copy – I don’t know of a better Christmas gift! Do you?

Happy Reading!

C2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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