Lecture Review: “Planting the Seed for the Austen Oeuvre ~ Mary Wollstonecraft and the Rights of Woman” ~ Guest Post by Margaret Harrington

Gentle Readers: I welcome this guest post by JASNA-Vermont member Margaret Harrington, as she offers a review of the lecture at our last meeting by Vermont author Nancy Means Wright (I would have posted this sooner, but Hurricane Matthew and the JASNA AGM last week kept me from my duties! – thank you Margaret for this write-up, and to Nancy for her terrific talk – see below for links, etc.)

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“Planting the Seed for the Austen Oeuvre ~
Mary Wollstonecraft and the Rights of Woman”
Presented by Nancy Means Wright,
Sept 18, 2016 to JASNA-Vermont

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Nancy Means Wright
in the Morgan Room at Champlain College

 When Nancy Means Wright started off her talk by saying that Mary Wollstonecraft was her alter ego, I knew an extraordinary experience was in store. Nancy brought up her own life and work experiences comparable to Mary Wollstonecraft’s, such as leaving home at a young age, coming from an impecunious family, all the while emphasizing the strength needed to keep trouble at bay. She quoted Mary Wollstonecraft’s early dictum, “I shall live independent or not at all.”

Mary Wollstonecraft, by John Opie 1790-91 (Wikipedia)

Mary Wollstonecraft, by John Opie 1790-91 (Wikipedia)

Then by using Mary Wollstonecraft’s own words in her letters, books, and beautiful illustrations in the power point presentation, Nancy projected us into a thrilling portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft as a caring young woman who made tremendous sacrifices for her family and friends. Concurrently Wollstonecraft formulated her revolutionary thought based on her own life experiences, her intellectual depth and daring, and her intolerance for sham and injustice.

The members of the Irish family with daughters for whom Mary worked as governess were elites of the Protestant Ascendancy. Only a few years older than her pupils, Mary labored to teach the girls to think. In a society which demanded that women obey their husbands and breed more Protestants, this was a revolutionary idea and eventually cost her that job.

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William Blake frontispiece to “Original Stories from Real Life” (Wikipedia)

The moment when Nancy Means Wright brought up the William Blake illustrations for Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories from Real Life* was when I knew I was captured by a masterful storyteller. Step by step Wright transported me into the thoughts and feelings of the founder of modern feminism. She vividly set the scene for Mary’s time in Paris when three hundred people a day passed her window on the way to the guillotine.

I am grateful to Nancy Means Wright who wove so beautifully the tragic facts of Wollstonecraft’s life into a living tapestry. A particularly moving account of Mary’s attempt to drown herself, after being spurned by her lover Gilbert Imlay, was enhanced by Wright’s reading of her own poem which evoked the sorrow which Mary herself did not write ( leaving the task to Nancy as alter-ego).

Later, participants from the audience talked about the slender but strong connection between Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft. Scholars weighed in on the lack of evidence that Austen had read or even had access to A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. There was consensus that Wollstonecraft’s work magnified our understanding of the struggles of Austen’s women who are constrained in the class system of primogeniture and who use their wits to manage the inevitable marriage plot.

Wollstonecraft wanted women to take power, not over men, but over themselves. At the same time, in Wright’s words, “She herself couldn’t balance her principles with her passion.” There are so many deep thoughts that arise from Wright’s talk on the immortal, dynamic woman, Mary Wollstonecraft.

By Margaret Harrington, JASNA Vermont

You can find Margaret’s photos of the event on our facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2094244057466958/permalink/2116252491932781/

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*Full title: Original Stories from Real Life; with Conversations, Calculated to Regulate the Affections, and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness – first published in 1788, with Blake’s illustrations in 1791. You can see all the illustrations at the Blake Archive here: http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/work.xq?workid=but244

You can find Nancy’s Mary Wollstonecraft mysteries here: http://www.nancymeanswright.com/index.htm#acts

  • Midnight Fires (2010) 
  • The Nightmare (2011) 
  • Wild Nights (2015) 
  • Acts of Balance: a Chapbook of Poems (2014) – featuring Mary Wollstonecraft
 c2016, Jane Austen in Vermont

JASNA~Vermont Meeting ~ September 18, 2016 ~ Jane Austen & Mary Wollstonecraft

Photos can be viewed on the event facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2094244057466958/permalink/2116252491932781/

Thank you Nancy for a delightful talk!

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You are Cordially Invited to JASNA-Vermont’s September Meeting
at the Burlington Book Festival 

“Planting the Seeds for the Austen Oeuvre:
Mary Wollstonecraft and the Rights of Woman.”
with
Nancy Means Wright*

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In an illustrated talk, Wright will describe 18th-century writer Mary Wollstonecraft’s traumatic and unconventional life in an era when women were victims of primogeniture and considered incapable of reason. She will discuss Mary’s groundbreaking Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and her Unitarian publisher’s circle of Dissidents; her years in revolutionary Paris when she lost her head to a feckless American captain – and her voyage to Scandinavia as a lone woman in search of a missing “silver ship.” She will also consider the ongoing question: Was Jane Austen influenced by Mary Wollstonecraft?

Sunday, September 18, 2016 2 – 4 pm
Morgan Room, Aiken Hall**
83 Summit Street
Champlain College
Burlington VT

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Sponsored by JASNA-Vermont and Bygone Books

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

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

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*Vermont author Nancy Means Wright has published fiction with St Martin’s Press, Dutton, Perseverance Press, and elsewhere, including a trilogy of historical mysteries featuring 18th-century Mary Wollstonecraft. Her most recent works are Queens Never Make Bargains, a novel, and The Shady Sisters, a collection of poems. Short stories and poems appear in American Literary Review, Green Mountains Review, Carolina Quarterly, and others. Her children’s books have received an Agatha Award and a grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers. A former teacher and Bread Loaf Scholar, Nancy lives in Middlebury, Vermont, with her spouse and two Maine Coon cats. Her books will be available for purchase and signing.

**Aiken Hall is located at 83 Summit St – #36 on the map here: https://www.champlain.edu/Documents/Admissions/Undergraduate%20Admissions/Campus-Map.pdf  Parking is on the street or in any College designated parking during the event.
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[Britannica.com]

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Hope you can join us!

c2016, Jane Austen in Vermont

JASNA-Vermont Meeting ~ Annual Birthday Tea & Regency Ball! ~ December 6, 2015

Our Next Meeting!

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

~ The Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea! ~

Celebrating 20 years of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice Mini-Series

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A Regency Ball

with the Burlington Country Dancers and “Impropriety”*

Please join us for an Afternoon of Tea, Dancing, P&P Film Clips**,
Fashion, Whist, Quizzes, Shopping, and More! 

Sunday, 6 December 2015, 1 – 5 p.m. 

 The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa
70 Essex Way, Essex Junction, VT 05452

$35. / person ~ $10. / student ~ $40. / at the door
RSVPs required!  ~ Reserve by 11-27-15 

~ Regency Period or Afternoon Tea finery encouraged! ~ 

Event flier: December 6 2015 flier
Reservation form: Dec Tea 2015-Reservation form

For more information:   JASNAVTRegion [at] gmail [dot] com
Visit our blog for the registration form: http://JaneAustenInVermont.wordpress.com

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P&P1995-dancing

* Our Regency Ball features Val Medve and the Burlington Country Dancers, music by “Impropriety” – Aaron Marcus (piano), Laura Markowitz (violin) and Ana Ruesink (viola) – instruction given, all skill levels welcome!

** We ask you to tell us in advance your favorite scene in the 1995 Pride & Prejudice – we will be showing and discussing these during the Tea.

Hope to see you there! 

An Afternoon with Susan Wolfson and her Annotated Northanger Abbey

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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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Some photos from our event:

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Co-Rc Marcia M

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Hope G setting up food

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

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Maryann P with more food

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Susan Wolfson with Champlain College student Kes S.

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

JASNA-Vermont September Meeting ~ Susan Wolfson on Northanger Abbey

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.’”

with

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***

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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/ 

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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!

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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

Guest Post ~ “Encountering Jane Austen…”

Governors house

My friend Suzanne is the Innkeeper at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont, where she four times a year holds Jane Austen Weekends for those of us who like to retreat into the early 19th century for a few days. She also offers an annual In-Character Weekend, where all manner of various Austen characters people the Inn and where one must remain in character for the whole time or risk being evicted… it is all in good fun, what with archery, and fencing, and quill-making and dancing and efforts to make bonnets and turbans , one easily forgets the call of the internet or the chatter of cell phones, and as long as a resident Lady Catherine or Mr. Collins, or a grave General Tilney do not ruin the festivities, one can really get quite lost in it all. One such weekend is coming up August 7-9, 2015 and you can read all about it here: Governor’s House-JA weekends.

But I write here today about Suzanne’s and my Love of London, discovered several years ago, and about which we have yet to stop talking… We have been there together, and alas! separately, and as she was in the UK this spring without me (I am struggling to forgive her…), I here offer a post that Suzanne wrote on her Innkeeper’s blog a few weeks ago about her latest trip and the rather alarming number of encounters she had with Jane Austen! – here is the first paragraph with a link to the rest of the post … a perfect trip for armchair travelers!

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Encountering Jane Austen

After a tough Vermont winter and a serious bout of flu what form of R and R would be good before getting back to the 24/7 business of running a small inn? As is so often the case, a little Jane Austen seemed like a good plan. I’d been noticing how amazingly often JA is mentioned in whatever I’m reading, from Mr. Churchill’s Secretary to a serious article in the Economist just last week. So I wondered how many encounters there might be as I did some walking in her part of England and decided to chronicle my adventures. And all I can say now is that it is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen truly is everywhere!

Day 1

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Arriving in London after an overnight flight, I immediately set out for a walk. First stop was Hatchard’s, England’s oldest bookshop founded in 1797. JA’s writings were well represented and it’s always a great place to look for guides to Regency London and places with literary ties, but the appeal for me is the list of authors who were also customers. Next stop was the National Portrait Gallery for “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends”, John Singer Sargent’s striking portraits of Monet, Rodin, Robert Louis Stevenson and others, but certainly not JA who’d lived a century earlier. But returning the long way down from the third floor ladies, I came to this wall of JA’s contemporaries surrounding the tiny portrait of her we know so well.

Day 2… Continue reading at Suzanne’s blog here: http://www.onehundredmain.com/encountering-jane-austen/

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You can read more about the In Character Jane Austen Weekend for August 7-9, 2015 here: http://www.onehundredmain.com/events/jane-austen-weekends/ – it is not too late to sign up to give the performance of your life, Mr. Collins anyone?? and all you closet Mrs. Allens (dare I say Mrs. Norris??) can come and rave about your fashions to your heart’s content…

Showing off the Regency style turbans they made that afternoon in Hope Greenberg’s workshop

Showing off the Regency style turbans they made that afternoon in Hope Greenberg’s workshop

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On another note of interest to members of JASNA-Vermont – Suzanne is hosting us at the Governor’s House for an Afternoon Tea on July 26, 2015, from 2-4, where we will hear my good friend Ingrid Graff speak on “A Home of Her Own: Space and Synthesis in Sense and Sensibility.” As a member of JASNA, Suzanne is offering us this Tea at minimal cost to us, $8. / per person – reservations are required, so please email or call – invitations are being emailed later today to all on our JASNA-Vermont mailing list. Hope to see many of you there!

[Images courtesy of Suzanne B. from her Governor’s House website]

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

Book Giveaway Winner! ~ Linda Slothouber’s Jane Austen, Edward Knight, and Chawton

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