Archive for the ‘Austen Literary History & Criticism’ Category

Note: A post from the archives of 2010 – reposting it because today is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s visit to Carlton House!


Carlton House library

Carlton House Library

Today in Jane Austen’s life:  on November 13, 1815, Jane Austen visited Carlton House, the London home of the Prince Regent, at the invitation of the Prince’s Librarian James Stanier Clarke.  Austen was “asked” to dedicate her next book  – Emma – to the Prince – it is the only dedication in her six novels [her juvenilia was humorously dedicated to her family members – see Peter Sabor’s article in Persuasions 31 (2009) “Brotherly and Sisterly Dedications in Jane Austen’s Juvenilia”].

Carlton House – front view

This is Austen’s  letter to Clarke on the 15th:

Wednesday 15 November 1815


I must take the liberty of asking You a question – Among the many flattering attentions which I rec’d from you at Carlton House, on Monday last, was the Information of my being at liberty to dedicate any future Work to HRH the P.R. without the necessity of any Solicitation on my part.  Such at least, I beleived to be your words; but as I am very anxious to be quite certain of what was intended, I intreat you to have the goodness to inform me how such Permission is to be understood, & whether it is incumbent on me to shew my sense of the Honour, by inscribing the Work now in the Press, to H.R.H. – I sh’d be equally concerned to appear either presumptuous or Ungrateful.-

I am etc…

[Le Faye, Ltr. 125 (D), p. 296]


James Stanier Clarke

Clarke responded immediately:

“It is certainly not incumbent on you to dedicate your work now in the Press to His Royal Highness: but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at some future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part.”  (Ltr. 125 (A), p.296)

Austen and Clarke engaged in a lively correspondence about this dedication and Clarke’s efforts to have Austen write a book about a clergyman… Austen responded in her most humorous fashion:

“I am fully sensible than an Historical Romance founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg might be more to the purpose of Profit or Popularity, than such pictures of domestic Life in Country Villages as I deal in – but I could no more write a Romance than an Epic Poem. – I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other notice than to save my Life, & if it were indispensible for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I finished the first Chapter.- No – I must keep to my own style & go on in my own Way…” (Ltr. 138(D), p. 312).

It is unfortunate that no letter exists in which Jane writes Cassandra her impressions of Carlton House and the Prince’s request – it surely must have been written – how could Austen resist sharing her thoughts about Clarke and Carlton House with her sister! – it is likely one of those that Cassandra felt could not be passed on perhaps for its anti-P.R. sentiments. – In Letter 128 to Cassandra (Le Faye, 300), Austen writes “I did mention the P.R.- in my note to Mr. Murray, it brought me a fine compliment in return…” – which seems to indicate that Austen had written just previously to Cassandra about this request for a dedication.  But all we have is Austen’s very humorous dedication to Emma:







Carlton House staircase

Further reading:


[Images from the Wikipedia article on Carlton House]

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I welcome JASNA-Vermont member Margaret Harrington, who has written a few words on our last JASNA meeting. As part of the Burlington Book Festival, we were fortunate to have Susan J. Wolfson, Professor of English at Princeton University, speak on her annotated edition of Northanger Abbey (Harvard UP 2014). With many thanks to Champlain College for allowing us their fabulous space in Aiken Hall, to our hospitality team Hope Greenberg and Heather Brothers, and all our generous bakers for the usual delicious fare! We were all very honored for the opportunity to listen to and talk with Dr. Wolfson, who made us all love and appreciate Northanger Abbey all the more.

We at JASNA-Vermont also heartily thank JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America) for graciously offering us a grant so we could bring Dr. Wolfson to Vermont for this Burlington Book Festival event – we could not have done it without them!



Susan J. Wolfson spoke on “Jane Austen before She Became Jane Austen” at our JASNA-Vermont September 27th meeting which was also an event for the Burlington Book Festival.


Dr. Wolfson gave a multi-layered talk centered on Northanger Abbey, the first book Jane Austen wrote and sold. In an engaging lecture the Princeton professor placed the book into the history of the time so that we, the audience and readers, could understand events behind the episodes of the novel. We gained new insights into what captured the young author’s imagination because we were given a lively narration of the London riots, Sir William Pitt’s system of surveillance, the social circus in Bath, and most of all, the template of the Gothic novel on which Austen based Northanger Abbey.

Wolfson’s talk wrapped the novel in the fabric of the society of the time so that we could understand the characters better, especially the dynamic between Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland. We also were given provocative ideas


such as Northanger Abbey is about training the mind of the reader, and that Jane Austen was not really interested in married life yet her first book has a Meta marriage plot. We learned that although this was her first novel it was not published until after the author’s death and there were years when it sat on the publisher’s shelf prompting Jane Austen to sign her complaint to the publisher as Mrs. Ashton Dennis, an acronym for MAD.

book cover-NA-WolfsonAs I write this short report, I have before me on my desk the Jane Austen Northanger Abbey Annotated Edition edited by Susan J. Wolfson. It is a beautiful book to see, to touch, to open, to smell, and soon I will be reading it. This gives a whole new life to the book for me because I had reread it on my eBook before the lecture. How wonderful to look forward to this edition after attending such an insightful, interesting, accessible, engaging talk.


Some photos from our event:


Co-Rc Marcia M


Hope G setting up food


Heather B, Theresa R, and our youngest JASNA-Vermont member!


Maryann P with more food


Susan Wolfson with Champlain College student Kes S.

©2015 Jane Austen in Vermont; text and images by Margaret Harrington

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We welcome today Margaret Harrington of JASNA-Vermont as she shares her thoughts on and several pictures from the 2015 Jane Austen Summer Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill that she attended in June.


My Rave for the 3rd Annual JASP

EMMA At 200”

The Jane Austen Summer Program 2015
University Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

by Margaret Harrington, JASNA-Vermont


Hope G – JASNA-Vermont fashionista

I had an excellent experience at this year’s Jane Austen Summer Program because I gained new insights into the marvelous book, Emma, and had a good time doing it. The JASP co-directors, Dr. Inger Brody and Dr. James Thompson, planned everything so astutely that each lecture flowed naturally into the following event and led participants happily up the road to new discoveries about Jane Austen. In my opinion, Emma is Austen’s most deeply realized character and she lives and breathes in Austen’s most intricately structured rural society, so it was a consummate pleasure to attend this conference and to come away with a deeper understanding of the book.

Participants were greeted warmly by the graduate students and volunteers. Every day and evening of the conference we were engaged with knowledgeable lecturers and wonderful events, plus dance instruction for the ball.

Highlights were Game Night, the Box Hill Picnic at Ayr Mount, and of course the welcoming dinner, the Duchess of Richmond’s Regency Ball and a delightful production of Austen’s “Henry and Eliza” by the UNC players.

These pictures feature Hope Greenberg from JASNA-Vermont who wore different costumes of her own making for every occasion.

I certainly plan to return for next year’s JASP and Mansfield Park.


Hope turbaned…




Hope off her swing


Box Hill anyone?


Presenting “Henry and Eliza”


Deciphering Emma‘s many puzzles


Off to the Duchess of Richmond’s Regency Ball…


Learning to not dance like a savage … (oops! wrong book…)


“…she had herself the highest value for Elegance…”


Thank you Margaret for sharing your photos with us (but alas! none of you!) – it looks to have been a grand time!


For more information on the JASP “Emma at 200” you can see the full schedule here. But rather than feeling sad that you missed it all this year, you can already start planning to participate in next year’s JASP – read about it here:

Fourth Annual Jane Austen Summer Program

Mansfield Park & its Afterlives”

June 16-19, 2016

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The JASP website is worth a visit: it offers several teaching guides based on the various talks at JASP: on food, medicine, games, and class status in Emma, Austen’s use of free indirect discourse, an adaptation of “Henry and Eliza” – among others – good stuff here! http://janeaustensummer.org/teaching-guides/


And finally, JASP offers a replica of this beautiful Jane Austen bracelet as a fund-raiser for the Jane Austen Summer Program. Cost is $120.00 plus $5 shipping fees. You can order it here.

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont, photos courtesy of Margaret Harringon

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

at the Burlington Book Festival 

Northanger Abbey: Jane Austen’s First Novel,
before she was ‘Jane Austen.’”


Susan Wolfson,* Professor of English at Princeton University,
and editor of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition**

book cover-NA-Wolfson

Sunday September 27, 2015, 1:00 – 3:00 pm 

Morgan Room, Aiken Hall,
83 Summit Street
Champlain College, Burlington VT***


Sponsored by JASNA-Vermont and Bygone Books,
funded in part by a grant from the Jane Austen Society of North America.

~ Free & open to the public ~ ~ Light refreshments served ~ 

For more information:   JASNAVTregion [at] gmail [dot] com
Please visit our blog at: http://JaneAustenInVermont.wordpress.com
Burlington Book Festival website: http://burlingtonbookfestival.com/ 


S.Wolfson.2015*Susan Wolfson is Professor of English at Princeton University, where she is a specialist in British Romanticism, a field in which she teaches Jane Austen’s novels. She has recently produced the Harvard Annotated Northanger Abbey, a unique edition of the novel’s text that hews, with less intervention than standard editions, to the text of the 1818 publication, and as with other volumes in the Harvard series, includes page-by-page annotations, illustrations, and other supplementary materials. With her husband Ronald Levao, she has also edited Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the same series. And with her colleague Claudia L. Johnson, she edited Pride and Prejudice for Longman Cultural Editions, of which she is the General Editor, and in this capacity has supervised Emma (edited by Frances Ferguson), and Persuasion (edited by William Galperin). Her most recent book is Reading John Keats (Cambridge), about Keats as a reader as well as a writer, and about how this readerly quality shapes and stimulates how he is read (very Austenian in this way!). Susan Wolfson received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and taught at Rutgers University New Brunswick for 13 years, before her present appointment at Princeton. Widely published in the field of Romantic-era studies, she is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the ACLS, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

**The book will be available for purchase and signing
***Aiken Hall is located at 83 Summit Street [#36 on map]. Park on the street or in any College designated parking during the event: https://www.champlain.edu/Documents/Admissions/Undergraduate%20Admissions/Campus-Map.pdf

book cover-Keats

Hope you can join us!


Dates for your Diary

December 6, 2015:
Annual Birthday Tea & Ball at the Essex Inn –
Celebrating 20 years of the 1995 Pride & Prejudice mini-series!
– details forthcoming
(Colin Firth is welcome if he is available and happens to be in Vermont…)

c2015, Jane Austen in Vermont

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A great article on Emma by Janine Barchas:


Tastes of Home in Emma

                                           by Dr Janine Barchas

Whereas Marcel Proust offers us one evocative madeleine, Jane Austen talks of pork, apples, and cheeses.

I was born in Holland, where I spent my childhood in Den Haag until the age of eleven. I now live in Texas and, like all displaced souls around the globe, know what it is like to crave foods whose tastes and smells convey a sense of home (for me that includes hagelslag, stroopwafels, oude kaas, pannekoeken met spek, and, of course, verse haring). Although my fancy local grocery store in Austin, Texas, now carries many of the Dutch foods from my youth (or the ingredients that would allow me to make them myself), part of me protests the very idea of relocated delicacies. Some foods are simply not going to taste the same in a different place. Eating imported stroopwafels in Texas (perversely made with honey instead of echte stroop) violates a palpable sense of authenticity and belonging.

In many respects, Emma is a novel about that sense of belonging to a certain place, which Austen rather grandly refers to as “amor patriae.” Remarkably, in Emma the central action never leaves Highbury, a small imaginary village in Surrey. All of Austen’s other heroines, whatever their financial or social dependence, traverse significant geographic distances, travelling by necessity or pleasure to multiple counties and towns, including fashionable cities like London and Bath, or seaside resorts like Lyme Regis. But the “handsome, clever, and rich” Emma Woodhouse has never seen the sea and admits that the picnic at celebrated Box Hill, a mere seven miles away, is her first-ever sojourn to even this nearby tourist spot. Critics are divided about the novel’s narrow focus, with some warming to Emma’s small-town setting as snug or consoling and others detecting an acute claustrophobia or constant dread of feeling trapped and boxed in (think of all those puns hiding in Box Hill and Boxing Day)….

Continue reading at the Jane Austen Society Nederland website – Barchas on Emma.


barchas-janineJanine 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.  You can visit (and spend hours browsing!) her online digital project What Jane Saw (www.whatjanesaw.org) which includes the gallery of the British Institution that Jane Austen visited on May 24, 1813. Look for the upcoming “Shakespeare Gallery of 1796” on this website as well . Barchas, along with colleague Kristina Straub, will be curating an exhibition at the Folger on Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity – look for this in 2016.

c2015, Janine Barchas

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[I append here the post I wrote in 2009 on this day]

July 18, 1817.  Just a short commemoration on this sad day…

No one said it better than her sister Cassandra who wrote

have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed,- She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, & it is as if I had lost a part of myself…”

(Letters, ed. by Deidre Le Faye [3rd ed, 1997], From Cassandra to Fanny Knight, 20 July 1817, p. 343; full text of this letter is at the Republic of Pemberley)

There has been much written on Austen’s lingering illness and death; see the article by Sir Zachary Cope published in the British Medical Journal of July 18, 1964, in which he first proposes that Austen suffered from Addison’s disease.  And see also Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A life, “Appendix I, “A Note on Jane Austen’s Last Illness” where she suggests that Austen’s symptoms align more with a lymphoma such as Hodgkin’s disease.

The Gravesite:

Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral

….where no mention is made of her writing life on her grave:

It was not until after 1870 that a brass memorial tablet was placed by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh on the north wall of the nave, near her grave:

It tells the visitor that:

Jane Austen

[in part] Known to many by her writings,
endeared to her family
by the varied charms of her characters
and ennobled by her Christian faith and piety
was born at Steventon in the County of Hants.
December 16 1775
and buried in the Cathedral
July 18 1817.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

The Obituaries:

David Gilson writes in his article “Obituaries” that there are eleven known published newspaper and periodical obituary notices of Jane Austen: here are a few of them:

  1. Hampshire Chronicle and Courier (vol. 44, no. 2254, July 21, 1817, p.4):  “Winchester, Saturday, July 19th: Died yesterday, in College-street, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen formerly Rector of Steventon, in this county.”
  2. Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (vol. 18, no. 928, p. 4)…”On Friday last died, Miss Austen, late of Chawton, in this County.”
  3. Courier (July 22, 1817, no. 7744, p. 4), makes the first published admission of Jane Austen’s authorship of the four novels then published: “On the 18th inst. at Winchester, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen, Rector of Steventon, in Hampshire, and the Authoress of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.  Her manners were most gentle; her affections ardent; her candor was not to be surpassed, and she lived and died as became a humble Christian.” [A manuscript copy of this notice in Cassandra Austen’s hand exists, as described by B.C. Southam]
  4. The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle published a second notice in its next issue (July 28, 1817, p. 4) to include Austen’s writings.

There are seven other notices extant, stating the same as the above in varying degrees.  The last notice to appear, in the New Monthly Magazine (vol. 8, no. 44, September 1, 1817, p. 173) wrongly gives her father’s name as “Jas” (for James), but describes her as “the ingenious authoress” of the four novels…

[from Gilson’s article “Obituaries”, THE JANE AUSTEN COMPANION [Macmillan 1986], p. 320-1]

Links to other articles and sources:

Copyright @2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

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BookCover-Slothouber…and the winner is Nancy who wrote:

Quite fascinating. I am particularly interested in your comment that Edward had more land and less money than many thought then and today. I know there are those who revile Edward today for not doing more for his mother and sisters instead of praising him for what he did do. . I’d love to have a copy of that book as much for what it says about general conditions and Edward’s in particular. –  I have the impression that Mr. Knightley also had more land than cash on hand and that his brother John received an allowance or something from their estate.

Nancy, please contact me as soon as possible with your contact details, and Linda will get the book sent off to you right away.

Thanks all for your terrific comments, and to Linda for her generosity for the guest post and responding to all your questions. Those of you who didn’t win, I encourage you to do it the old-fashioned way and buy the book – it is worth every penny and more of the $11.95!

And apologies for delay in announcing the giveaway – the Holiday caught me up short!

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

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