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Guest post by JASNA-Vermont member Lynne H.

Our JASNA Vermont reading group recently discussed Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.  A skeptical member asked the question: why should we read Heyer?  Georgette Heyer is a prolific 20th century novelist known for writing Historical Fiction, Regency Romances, and Mysteries.  Frederica is one of the Regency Romances. (Think Harlequin not Hawthorne….)   So, why should a thoughtful group of Austen devotees choose a Heyer Romance?    Below are some of the answers from our group’s discussion.

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Reason # 7: It’s summer.  Let’s face it, we don’t have to read Tolstoy, Dickens, or even Austen all year.  Go to the beach and relax!

Reason #6: Heyer, as mentioned above, is prolific.  If you like one of her Regency Romances, you have 33 more to choose from.

Reason #5: Heyer researched and included wonderful Regency detail.  She described the carriages, dress, and food, for example, in specific detail.   You can read about phaetons and curricles, neck-cloths and laces, and jellies and sauces.  If you have any interest in the Regency period, it is both fun and informative to have such specifics included in the novels.

Reason #4: Ditto for Regency language, cant, lingo, etc.  Heyer used Regency cant in all of her Romances.  What does it mean if someone is a “nodcock”  or a “ninnyhammer”?  What about if someone is trying to “gammon” another person?  Usually the meanings of the expressions are clear from the context; however, members of our group also mentioned further Regency reading to fill in more information about the period.  Two of the books were Jennifer Kloester’s Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, and Carolly Erickson’s Our Tempestuous Day. 

Reason #3: Heyer’s dialogue.  She used dialogue extensively. Her dialogue is witty, but it is also artfully constructed to expose and develop character.

Reason #2: Heyer’s characterization.  While her main characters are usually from the aristocracy (these are Romances after all!), they are not two dimensional ladies and gentlemen.  Within the structure of the Romance, Heyer adeptly fills in the motivations, foibles, and flaws, of her main characters.  Her writing usually depends on the characters to move the books forward.  In the following excerpt, you can see both the characterization and dialogue at work.  This is from an early episode of Frederica in which Frederica and Lord Alverstoke have their first meeting.  Frederica begins by responding to him:

            “I see. You don’t wish to recognize us, do you?  Then there isn’t the least occasion for me to explain our situation to you.  I beg your pardon for having put you to the trouble of visiting me.”

            At these words, the Marquis, who had every intention of bringing the interview to a summary end, irrationally chose to prolong it.  Whether he relented because Miss Merriville amused him, or because the novelty of having one of his rebuffs accepted without demur intrigued him remained undecided, even in his own mind.  But however it may have been he laughed suddenly, and said, quizzing her: “Oh, so high!  No, no, don’t hold up your nose at me: it don’t become you!”

Reason #1: Her books provide both escape and solace.  One of our members mentioned that she read Heyer while she was undergoing chemotherapy.  She said that during this difficult time in her life, Heyer made her laugh and gave her a place to retreat to for comfort and solace.  For Janeites this is very familiar ground!

So…if your interest has been piqued by our reasons to read Heyer, we’d suggest that you start with Frederica.  Just about all of our group members enjoyed it.    And remember, unlike Austen, there are many, many more novels to choose from for those lazy summer days or for times when you just need to escape.  Don’t be a ninnyhammer, try one.

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Frederica
Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2008
ISBN:  1402214766
[originally published 1965]


Further reading:

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book cover-Frederica1st

[Image: 1st edition cover, Bodley Head, 1965 - Wikipedia] – I love this cover!

What is your favorite Georgette Heyer? – i.e, after starting with Frederica, which Heyer would you recommend to our book group to read next?

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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…has launched today! – visit the website What Jane Saw and you can follow Jane Austen as she tours the exhibit!

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The perfect time-travel adventure – it is May 24, 1813 –  what do you see?…

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From the website: [ http://www.whatjanesaw.org/index.php ]

On 24 May 1813, Jane Austen visited an important and  much-talked-about art exhibit at the British Institution in Pall Mall, London. The show  was a retrospective of the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), England’s  celebrated portrait painter.

No visual record of this show is known to have survived, although it  attracted hundreds of daily visitors during its much-publicized three-month run.  However, many details of the exhibit can be reconstructed from the original 1813  “Catalogue of Pictures,” a one-shilling pamphlet purchased by visitors as a guide  through the three large rooms where hung 141 paintings by Reynolds. Armed with  surviving copies of this pamphlet, narrative accounts in nineteenth-century newspapers  and books, and precise architectural measurements of the British Institution’s exhibit  space, this website reconstructs the Reynolds show as Jane Austen (as well as any Jane  Doe) saw it.

I. Why reconstruct this museum exhibit from 1813?

In truth, even if Jane Austen had not attended this public  exhibit, it would still be well worth reconstructing. The British Institution’s show  was a star-studded “first” of great magnitude for the art community and a turning point  in the history of modern exhibit practices. The 1813 show amounted to the first  commemorative exhibition devoted to a single artist ever staged by an institution.  Although Reynolds, who had died a mere twenty-one years earlier, did not yet qualify as  an Old Master, he was already hailed as the founder of the British School and  celebrated as a model for contemporary artists to emulate. The preface to the exhibit  catalogue, written by Richard Payne Knight, treats the work of Sir Joshua Reynolds as a  national treasure in order “to call attention generally to British, in preference to  Foreign Art” (Knight, 9). Knight allows that some of Reynolds’ paintings are better  than others, likening the show to a pedagogical tool for artists and connoisseurs. He  also insists upon the show’s modernity, hailing “the genuine excellence of modern”  artists over the work of their forbearers (Knight, 9). In light of the coverage it  received in the popular press and the London crowds that attended, the British  Institution’s Reynolds exhibit presaged the modern museum blockbuster.

In the age before the photograph, portraits of the rich and famous were  often reproduced by engravers as inexpensive prints. These black and white  reproductions circulated Reynolds’ images of contemporary celebrities widely,  providing pinups to the middling consumer. In this manner, Reynolds’ works  functioned as the modern photographs of Annie Leibovitz do today, making it  hard to say whether he recorded or created celebrity with his art. Wherever  possible, the light-boxes in the e-exhibit therefore show an early engraving  as well as the original canvas. Reynolds’ portraits of “abnormally interesting  people” whom we now term celebrities offer concrete examples of just how  someone like Austen, who did not personally circulate among the social elite,  was nonetheless immersed in England’s vibrant celebrity culture (Roach,  1).

More questions are answered under the About WJS page:

  • Is there a connection between this exhibit and Jane Austen’s fiction?
  • Who, other than the Austens, attended this 1813 exhibit?
  • How did visitors in 1813 experience the British Institution?
  • Did the Catalogue function as a museum guide in 1813?
  • How historically accurate is this website?
  • Room for interpretation and improvement
  • Works Cited / Site Credits

It is a rainy weekend here in Vermont – what better way to spend a few hours but at such an exhibition as this!

Further reading:

reynolds - self-portrait detail - britannica

Sir Joshua Reynolds

barchas-janine

Janine Barchas is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is the author of  Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity (Johns Hopkins University Press, August 2012).  Her  first book, Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Cambridge UP, 2003), won the SHARP book prize for best work in the field of book history.  Her newest project is the website What Jane Saw (www.whatjanesaw.org).

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c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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We have been both to the Exhibition & Sir J. Reynolds’, – and I am disappointed, for there was nothing like Mrs. D. [Darcy] at either. – I can only imagine that Mr. D. prizes any Picture of her too much to like it should be exposed to the public eye. – I can imagine he w’d have that sort [of omitted] feeling – that mixture of Love, Pride & Delicacy.- Setting aside this disappointment, I had great amusement among the Pictures…”

[Jane Austen, Letter 85, Monday 24 May 1813]

Those who have read Jane Austen’s letters are familiar with her comments on visiting London. It has been an ongoing project of mine to figure out where she went and what she did and how she uses the pieces of her London treks in her novels.  One of the more interesting and frustrating is her reference to the art exhibit of Sir Joshua Reynolds – what did she see there, other than not finding a portrait of Mrs. Darcy? It has been revealed today that we will now have a chance to see exactly that, sort of following Jane herself around the galleries, as Professor Janine Barchas of the University of Texas at Austin launches What Jane Saw - a complete reconstruction of that exhibit. You will surely want to bookmark this new website and mark your calendars to view the happening on May 24, 2013!

From the website:

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On 24 May 1813, Jane Austen visited an art exhibit at the British Institution in Pall Mall, London. The popular show was the first-ever retrospective of the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), England’s celebrated portrait painter.  On 24 May 2013, two centuries to the day that Austen viewed the 141 paintings in that exhibit, this site will open its doors as a public e-gallery, offering the modern visitor a precise historical reconstruction of that long-lost Regency blockbuster.

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I will be posting more on this as we near the launch date – this is very exciting, so stay tuned!!

[image from What Jane Saw]

reynolds - self-portrait detail - britannica

Self-portrait of Sir Joshua Reynolds

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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The March/April issue (No. 62, 2013) of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is published this week!

JARW62_CoverSmall_1
In it you can read about…

  • Austentatious: the theatre group that is improvising Austen themes
  • What Jane did next: life at Chawton Cottage after the publication of Pride & Prejudice
  • Secrets of a happy marriage: the Leigh-Perrots were a devoted couple
  • Portraits of perfection: miniature paintings were fashionable in Georgian drawing rooms
  • Lonely as a cloud: the life of William Wordsworth, Jane’s contemporary
  • Plus News, Letters, Book Reviews and information from Jane Austen Societies in the US, UK and Australia

To subscribe click here.

[If you would like the magazine delivered to your tablet, visit the JARW partner magzter and subscribe there.]

William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

[Image: The Guardian]

 

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The July/August issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is published this weekend and will be mailed to subscribers next week. In it you can read about: 

*A Royal Affair: a new film depicts the scandal that rocked a European monarchy 

*Olympic Jane: as the 2012 Games open in London, we look at the sports that Jane might have played

*Bath Jane Austen Festival: an exclusive preview of the fun planned for September

*Stand and deliver! the terror of highwaymen that threatened Jane’s friends and family

*Gothic horror: how Jane Austen satirised the latest literary fashion

*Plus News, Letters, Book Reviews and information from Jane Austen Societies in the US, UK and Australia

To subscribe now click here – and make sure that you are among the first to read all the news from Jane Austen’s Regency World.

Text and image from JARW – you can now read more about Jane’s world on the magazine’s new website, blog, and facebook pages here:

@2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Day 4: Thursday 22 December 2011

For Your Enjoyment

A plug for the Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine – if you don’t already subscribe, time to treat yourself by asking for it for Christmas; or a perfect gift for your best Jane Austen fan friend…

The next issue, Jan/Feb 2012, Issue 55 will be on sale January 1, 2012!

 

Contents:

  • An interview with P. D. James [on the cover] ~ on her love of Austen and her new book Death Comes to Pemberley
  • Regency Childbirth ~ Pregnancy horrors in Georgian times
  • Let it Snow, Let it Snow ~ exploring the winter weather in Jane’s novels
  • Letter to Cassandra ~ the joy of seeing Austen’s handwriting
  • Austen’s Contemporaries ~ the ‘other’ Jane ~ Jane Porter, and her sister Anna Maria

And of course all the regular columns from JAS, JASNA, the topical news from contemporary papers, the quiz, and so much more – even the advertisements are interesting!

You can visit the magazine’s website here.

You can subscribe online here: 
http://www.janeaustenmagazine.co.uk/subscriptions.html

  • from outside the UK: £29.70 plus £9.00 postage [@ $60.74 total]
  • from inside the UK: £29.70 plus £3.30 postage

…and worth every penny!

Copyright @2011 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Regency Dancing was how young ladies and young gentlemen met and courted, and the dance floor was often the only place they could talk without being overheard by their chaperones. As was to be expected, the dancing was lively and flirtateous. The dancing needs to be accurate and elegant, but always remember that it is also about love and young people having fun.

A lovely email from a Gentleman in England alerted me to this new website on Regency Dances [ http://RegencyDances.org ]. 

From his email:

Launched in January, the site is a free learning resource for Regency Dances. As well as providing dance notations, the dances are shown as animations.  This combination of watching the animation while following the notation has been found to be an excellent way of quickly understanding the structure of a dance.  The dances are taken from original 18th -19th century sources and written into modern notation by experienced dancers under the watchful eye of a recognised international expert. 

Two or three new dances are added each week.  To keep informed you can “follow” them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RegencyDances

The objective of http://RegencyDances.org is to create an international shared website resource independent of any specific dance group for (a) sharing genuine Regency dances of known provenance, (b) sharing news of upcoming Regency balls, and (c) sharing information about other Regency groups. 

The site includes a history of the dances, the various dance steps presented in animations, lists of dances and music sources, plans on how to organize a Regency party, a listing of various societies and upcoming events, and a very informative section on “What to Wear” which includes the details of the era fashions and how to locate or make your very own costume.

Please visit the site if you have any interest in the dance of Jane Austen’s period – new information is being constantly added, and the site editors are “looking for sources of recorded music that we may use, videos of single dances to be selected as examples of ‘good practice’ and a few more editors.”

If you are a member of a Regency dance group, certainly add your name and events to their growing list.

[Image: Regency Dances website]

Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont.

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The Huntington Library is hosting an exhibit “Revisiting the Regency: England, 1811-1820″ from April 23 – August 1, 2011:

A new exhibition takes a closer look at a glittering yet turbulent era.  In October of 1810, England’s King George III slipped into that final madness from which only death would release him, nearly a decade later. The following February, Parliament authorized the king’s estranged and profligate eldest son, the Prince of Wales (the future George IV), to rule in his place as regent. Extravagant, emotional, controversial, and self-indulgent, the prince regent lent his name and many of his characteristics to a glittering era. 

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of this extraordinary decade, The Huntington presents an exhibition titled “Revisiting the Regency: England, 1811–1820.” Opening April 23 in the West Hall of the Library and continuing through Aug. 1, the exhibition draws on The Huntington’s extensive holdings of rare books, manuscripts, prints, and drawings documenting this historic era.

The term “Regency England” usually evokes Jane Austen’s world of graceful country-house living and decorous village society, the elegance of London’s fashionable elite, or the licentious activities of the prince and his aristocratic Carlton House set. Ladies followed the latest fashions in La Belle Assemblée while gentlemen copied Beau Brummell’s severe elegance. Readers found new works by a generation of England’s greatest poets and novelists: Austen, Lord Byron, John Keats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Sir Walter Scott. Londoners enjoyed a rich theatrical and musical life, watching Edmund Kean’s premiere in Richard III or hearing the first English production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Art lovers followed the latest exhibits at the Royal Academy. Under the prince’s patronage, architect John Nash created the fantasy Royal Pavilion at Brighton and remade London’s West End with the new developments of Regent’s Park and Regent Street.

Yet underneath this ordered upper-class surface lay a far more complex and turbulent world: more than a century of intermittent war with France ended at Waterloo, but peace revealed wrenching poverty, social unrest, the strains of rapid industrialization, and growing calls for political reform. The first railroads, gas lighting, and other advances in technology altered the landscape of everyday life.

This rich cavalcade of people and events provided irresistible targets for a brilliant generation of visual satirists. The witty, savage, and iconic images of George Cruikshank and his fellow caricaturists, well represented in the exhibition, capture all the vagaries of an extraordinary decade in English arts, letters, science, and society.

[Text and images from the Huntington Library website]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont

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Cavendish Square

You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s March Meeting 

~Jane Austen’s London in Fact & Fiction ~ 

with 
  Suzanne Boden* & Deborah Barnum** 

Jane Austen and London! ~ Why did she go & How did she get there? ~ Where did she stay & What did she do? ~ Was it a ‘Scene of Dissipation & Vice’ or a place of lively ‘Amusement’ filled with Shopping, the Theatre, Art Galleries & Menageries? ~ And her fiction? ~ How does Mr. Darcy know where to find Lydia and Wickham? And Why does nearly everyone in Sense & Sensibility go to Town? To find out all this  & more absolutely essential Austen biographical & geographical trivia, please… 

Join Us for a Visual Tour of Regency London!

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Sunday, 27 March 2011, 2 – 4 p.m. 

 Champlain College, Hauke Conference Center,
375 Maple St Burlington VT

Free & Open to the Public
Light refreshments served

For more information:   JASNAVermont [at] gmail [dot] com  Please visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.wordpress.com

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Suzanne & Deb will share their mutual love of London! ~ *Suzanne Boden is the well-traveled proprietress of The Governor’s House in Hyde Park, where she regularly holds Jane Austen Weekends:  http://www.onehundredmain.com/ ; **Deb Barnum is the owner of Bygone Books, a shop of fine used & collectible books, the Regional Coordinator for the Vermont Region of JASNA,  author of the JASNA-Vermont blog, and compiler of the annual Jane Austen Bibliography.   

Upcoming:  June 5: A Lecture & Organ Recital on ‘The Musical World of Jane Austen’ with Professor William Tortolano.  At Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier.  See blog for details.

[Image:  Blackfriars Bridge, 1802.  The City of London.  London: The Times, circa 1928, facing p. 192]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum, at Jane Austen in Vermont

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Want to understand more about the life of a Regency-era woman? Nancy Mayer of Regency Researcher  fame will be offering an online workshop on “The Regency Woman.” The class is offered through the Colorado Romance Writers  and will run from April 4 – 29, 2011. Cost is $25. for non-members, $20. for members. 

The Regency Woman: Online Workshop at Colorado RomanceWriters

April 4 – 29, 2011

DESCRIPTION: The Regency woman. She was a woman of stern morals and little laughter. A governess who didn’t feel oppressed and a governess who did. She owned her own business. She was an author, a poet, a scientist, a runaway. She lived a discreet and quiet life and she was notorious. She was the faithful wife and the mother of many children, or a divorced woman who had to give up her children to escape her husband.

No one pattern, not even a pattern card of propriety, fits all the women but despite their differences there were some things they had in common. The class will look at the world of the Regency woman from the domestic, political, social, and economic angles, using the lives of real women as examples. While I will try to include a great deal of new material, some of the information I have presented before has to be repeated.

BIO: Nancy Mayer has been trying to write Regency romances for more years than she wants to remember. She is always getting distracted and sidetracked by research.

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[text and image from CWR]

Visit the website for more information and to sign-up. Scroll down to find Nancy’s class and read about the other interesting workshops as well! [The class is run as a Yahoo Group.]

Copyright @2011, by Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont

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