Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Books’

It only seems fitting to end 2014 with a final nod to Mansfield Park. My intention of course had been to spend the entire year discussing the various illustrators of this novel over the past 200 years, but alas! such best intentions are all I have to offer up – so here is the first and final post on illustrating Mansfield Park!

Emma1948-Gough

[Source: StrangeGirl.com]

When Macdonald & Co. (London) published its first volume of Jane Austen’s work in 1948, Emma was the chosen work, with Philip Gough as illustrator. It was the 4thvolume in the Macdonald Illustrated Classics series. It is a small book, under 8 inches, bound in red leatherette, with a frontispiece and six full-page plates of watercolor drawings by Gough. There is no introduction. Macdonald published its next Jane Austen in this series in 1951 – Pride and Prejudice, with illustrations again by Gough and again no introduction.  If you are lucky enough to have all the six volumes published by Macdonald, you will see that they appear to be a set, all with the same binding and all illustrated by Gough – but they were published over a period of years from 1948 to 1961 as follows – with the No. in the Macdonald series in ():

  • 1948 – Emma (No. 4)
  • 1951 – Pride & Prejudice (No. 23)
  • 1957 – Mansfield Park (No. 34); introduction by Q. D. Leavis
  • 1958 – Sense & Sensibility (No. 37), with Lady Susan and The Watsons; intro by Q. D. Leavis
  • 1961 – Northanger Abbey (No. 40); intro by Malcolm Elwin
  • 1961 – Perusasion (No. 41); intro by Malcolm Elwin

Not sure why Leavis did not do the other introductions – her essays on Jane Austen are magnificent, and a definite must-have for your Austen library. Her Mansfield Park introduction, after stating that MP is “now recognized as the most interesting and important of the Austen novels,” gives us a brief summary of Austen’s life and times, then writes of her theories that Lady Susan is the matrix of Mansfield Park, that Austen was “soaked in Shakespeare,” that the Sotherton sequence  is one of the “most remarkable in any English novel” where all the action is symbolic and how its pattern of events is “exactly and awfully repeated” in the final outcome of the book, and finally how Mansfield Park is really a tragedy “in spite of the appearance of a happy ending.”

****************

There is little known about Philip Gough and I cannot find much researching the internet other than he was born in 1908, illustrated a number of children’s books, this Jane Austen series from Macdonald, and a goodly number of dust jackets for Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels.

But it is worth noting that in the introduction to the 1961 Persuasion by Malcolm Elwin (and also quoted by David Gilson in his entry E327 on this edition), Elwin states that the drawings of Hugh Thomson are said to be “too Victorian in their sentimentality to suit the spirit and period of the novels” – and that “Mr. Gough has shown himself a student of the Regency period, and many sound critics have judged him to have succeeded in conveying the subtlety of Jane Austen’s satiric humour.” Gilson also notes a TLS review of this edition (10 November 1961, 810), quoting that “Philip Gough’s illustrations have their own brand of sentimentality, this time of the pretty-pretty sub-Rex Whistler variety.”

Now I confess to having to google Rex Whistler, and find that there was an exhibition of his works at the Salisbury Museum in 2013: http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/rex-whistler-talent-cut-short

Here is a Whistler drawing to better understand the “pretty-pretty” the TLS critic was referring to:

WhistlerInterior-guardian

 [Source: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/aug/25/rex-whistler-british-artist-exhibition ]

How easy it is to get off-track when researching!

Children’s literature
: Gough’s illustrations for children’s works range from Alice in Wonderland for the Heirloom Library to Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales:

Gough-Alice-Heirloom

[Source:  https://aliceintheinternet.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/alice-illustrated-by-philip-gough/ ]

Gough-Andersen FT-Abe

 [Source: Abebooks: http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=14347377033&searchurl =an%3Dhans+christian+andersen+philip+gough ] 

GoodReads has a starting list of books illustrated by Gough – this is not complete, as I find in a quick search on WorldCat a number of titles not listed, so if you know of others, please add to this GoodReads list!

********

Georgette Heyer: Philip Gough was one of Heyer’s favorite dust jacket illustrators (another was Arthur Barbosa) – you can see many of the jackets here.

But here are a few of your favorite Heyers – and clearly signed by Gough:

Illustrating Jane Austen:

Gough’s watercolors for the Jane Austen novels have a tendency toward “Pretty in Pink” (as they do for Heyer) – indeed I have always looked rather wide-eyed at the abundance of Pink in his Pride and Prejudice – especially in this portrait of Mr. Darcy at the pianoforte…!

MacDonald1951-Gough-e&d-dcb2
You can see all the Emma watercolors here, where again, and as evident in the Gough illustration opening this post, you see one dominant color  – it seems that Gough equated the Regency period and Jane Austen with the feminine Pink! https://www.fulltable.com/vts/aoi/g/emma/a.htm

But now to our Mansfield Park, with Gough’s illustrations in the order as they appear in the book:

1-Frontispiece-Gough1

Frontispiece

TitlePage-MP-Gough 2-ChapHeadV1C1-Gough 3-Carriage drove off-Gough 4-SpeakFanny-Gough (2) 5-ThorntonLacy 6-Astonished-Crawford-Gough 7-FannyIntroduce-Gough 8-FannyEdmundTrees-Gough

Now, go back and look at the illustrations and think about these questions [and comment below with your thoughts…]:

  • Do the illustrations tell the story?
  • Does Gough get the characters right?
  • Why do you think the illustrator chose these scenes to depict? Would you have chosen other scenes?
  • Do they give a sense of the time and place, the setting of MP?
  • Does anything in the illustrations give a clue to Gough’s time rather than the time of the novel?
  • Does Gough get anything really wrong?
  • Do you have another illustrated edition of MP that you think conveys the story better than these??

Please leave a comment on any and all of these questions – I am interested in your thoughts and welcome the chance to hear from you as we end this year-long celebration of Mansfield Park!

Wishing all a Very Happy New Year!

2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

Read Full Post »

mp-200-logo

The JASNA AGM in Montreal was quite wonderful – five days immersed in Mansfield Park! – Fanny Price and Jane Austen were celebrated in style and received their just due in attention and adoration… The Montreal-Quebec Region outdid themselves in making us all comfortable [much more than “tolerable”!], entertained, and enlightened! I haven’t had a chance to post anything but start here with my annual compilation of book purchases at the Emporium [Jane Austen Books, Traveller’s Tales from Picton Ontario, and The Word Bookstore in Montreal] – successful as always with finding several goodies at the book stalls! – in no particular order…

1. Mudrick, Marvin. Jane Austen: Irony as Defense and Discovery. Berkeley: U of California P, 1968. [originally published in 1952 by Princeton UP].

One of the classic works of Austen literary criticism – I’ve always borrowed this from the library – now happy to have my own copy. Mudrick was one of the earliest to appraise the ironic aspects of Jane Austen – “her ironic detachment that enabled her to expose and dissect, in novels that are masterpieces of comic wit and brilliant satire, the follies and delusions of eighteenth-century English society.” In his preface, Mudrick writes “this book began as an essay to document my conviction that Emma is a novel admired, even consecrated, for qualities which it in fact subverts or ignores.” – and he goes on from there to apply his theory to all the novels, juvenilia and minor works. A must have for your Austen collection…

MrsBeetonNeedlework 2. Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Needlework, Consisting of Descriptions and Instructions, Illustrated by 600 Engravings. London: Bounty Books, 2007.

A facsimile of the original 1870 edition by Ward, Lock and Tyler. Just because I didn’t have this, and do quite adore anything my dear Mrs. Beeton [despite being in the wrong period].

  1. 3.  Fleishman, Avrom. A Reading of Mansfield Park: An Essay in Critical Synthesis. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1967.

One of the few critical works just on an Austen novel, and in this year of celebrating MP, I wanted to add this to my collection… I have not read it other than in excerpts in other essays.

4.  Favret, Mary A. Romantic Correspondence: Women, Politics and the Fiction of Letters. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993.

Has a chapter “Jane Austen and the Look of Letters” which examines the letters in Austen’s fiction as well as her real-life correspondence. A must-have…

5. Lamb, Charles. The Book of the Ranks and Dignities of British Society. London Jonathan Cape, 1924.

Marquis-Lamb

A reprint of Lamb’s 1805 edition published by William Henry for Tabart & Co. Includes 8 coloured plates and 16 in monochrome [the original edition has 24 in color]. I couldn’t resist, as you can see from this plate of “A Marquis.” The original seems to range upwards from $350.

*********

6.  Tristram, W. Outram. Coaching Days and Coaching Ways. Illus. Hugh Thomson and Herbert Railton. London: Macmillan, 1894.

Tristram-Coaching-Cummins

A 3rd printing of the 2nd edition [first edition published in 1888] – another must-have for anyone with an interest in travel and the carriages of Austen’s period – with the added plus of Thomson’s and Railton’s 214 illustrations. [You also must try to say the author’s name 10 times very fast …]

7.  Waldram, Richard. Overton in Regency Times. Illus. Rosemary Trollope. Overton, Hampshire: Parsonage Farmhouse, 2008.

OvertonRegency

From an exhibition during the Overton Regency Sheep Fair, 2008. With many illustrations of ephemera from the time. Overton was near Steventon and Basingstoke; Austen would have walked there and mentions it in her letters.

8.  The Knight Family Cookbook; Preface by Richard Knight. Introd. Gillian Dow. Chawton House Press, 2013. KnightFamilyCkBk-CHL

A Facsimile edition of the handwritten cookbook of the Knight Family, never published but dated circa 1793. Who can resist this family treasure so you too can make some of the recipes that were in use at Chawton House and Godmersham Park during Jane Austen’s time:

  • To Make Plumb Porridge (p. 70)
  • To Make Cracknails (p. 51)
  • To Make Hedge-Hog-Cream (p. 35)
  • To Make Tansy without Frying (p. 28)
  • To dress a Codds-Head (p. 111)
  • To Pickle Pigeons (p. 193)

There is even a handwritten index, but alas! I find nothing to help make Mr. Woodhouse’s famous gruel – just as well I think!

This book was published by subscription; i.e. if you had made a donation to Chawton House Library as a subscriber (just as Jane Austen subscribed to Frances Burney’s Cecilia), your name will be listed on the “subscriber” page. More information on this at the CHL website. Their next book is The Duties of a Lady’s Maid; with directions for conduct, and numerous receipts for the toilette (1825). Make a donation if you can and see your name in print!

9.  Simo, Melanie Louise. Loudon and the Landscape: From County Seat to Metropolis, 1783-1843. New Haven: Yale UP, 1988. LoudonLandscape

John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) was the designer of England’s first public park and inventor of the means to construct curvilinear glasshouses, and the first landscape gardener to address the problems of the modern city. A must-have study to have on your shelves next to your Humphry Repton, Capability Brown, and others. Illustrated with maps, photographs, and drawings.

10.  Prochaska, Alice and Frank Prochaska, eds. Margaretta Acworth’s Georgian Cookery Book. London: Pavilion / Michael Joseph, 1987.AcworthCkBk

The cookery book of a London housewife of the Georgian period, of which 90 recipes are transcribed and “updated” with modern ingredients and modern cooking practices by the Prochaskas. Lovely black and white and full-page color illustrations. The introduction offers biographical background on Acworth.

11.  Lucas, E. V. Mr. Punch’s County Songs. Illus. Ernest H. Shepard. London: Methuen, 1928.

A delightful book of poems by Lucas on each county in England with each on the recto, verso is blank. Shepard’s [of Winnie-the-Pooh fame] drawings get you into the spirit of each place, and the poems tell of history and story.

Lucas-Hampshire

 Here is the page on Austen’s own Hampshire

But I bought this solely for its page on London:

Though a Wren built St. Paul’s, sacerdotal and grey,

That fame is a stronghold of pigeons today:

They bill there and coo there and bring up their brood,

And swarm on the pavement at lunchtime for food. 

…. Etc.

**********

12.  Archbold, Rick. Last Dinner on the Titanic. Recipes by Dana McCauley. Introd. Walter Lord. New York: Hyperion, 1997.Archbold-TitanicDinner

Wonderful illustrations of the Titanic interior and the various recipes from the last meal. Why you ask? Well, I have been obsessed with the Titanic since I was a little girl. Both my parents emigrated from England as children, but my father was 11 years old in 1912, when his entire family boarded a ship to take them to America only a few months after the Titanic had taken its maiden and tragic voyage. I always thought that if my father had been on the Titanic I would not exist – I also have marveled at how brave they all were to do this crossing… so hence I have collected various Titanic things for years. I do not have this book and especially like it because it is signed by the author…

 13.  The Infant’s Grammar, or a Picnic Party of the Parts of Speech. London: Scholar Press, 1977. Reprint of the original 1824 edition by Harris and Son.

This picture says it all:

InfantsGrammar

 *******

14. Rocque’s Map of Georgian London, 1746. Colchester, Essex, UK: Old House, 2013.

Nothing to say except that this is fabulous: here is the description from their website: http://www.shirebooks.co.uk/old_house_books/

RocqueMap1746

First published in 1746, it extends from Marylebone to Bow and from Vauxhall to Knightsbridge and Hyde Park. Reproduced here in four detailed sheets, it gives a fascinating glimpse of Georgian London in the early industrial age and is a perfect research tool for the historian and genealogist. As well as over 5,500 street and place names, the survey also includes: Markets, churches, barracks, parks, bridges, hospitals, workhouses, schools, prisons, asylums, theatres, inns and much more.

*********

15.  Crow, Donna Fletcher. A Jane Austen Encounter (#3 The Elizabeth and Richard Mysteries). Boise: StoneHouse Ink, 2013.Crow-JAEncounter

I haven’t read the previous two mysteries (about Dorothy L. Sayers and Shakespeare), but this one is about the married professors Elizabeth and Richard on a vacation trekking through Jane Austen country – they encounter murder and mayhem and a missing letter about The Watsons. Can’t wait to read this one…

16.  Jones, Will. How to Read Houses: A Crash Course in Domestic Architecture. New York: Rizzoli, 2014.

I picked this up at the Musee des Beaux-Arts Montreal shop – a compact little guide to architecture with photographs and drawings and enlightening text to answer all your questions about the differences between Queen Ann and Georgian and Federal and all the various decorations…

Jones-Houses

17.  First Day of Issue – Royal Mint coin commemorating Charles and Diana’s wedding with stamps; and another First Day of Issue from the Falkland Islands with new stamps:

RoyalMint-FDOI

Stamps-FDOI-Falklands

***********

So, all in all, a goodly haul – this time I didn’t have to worry about luggage weight, only crossing through immigration from Canada into Vermont. They only seem to ask about alcohol, cigarettes and fruit! so Jane Austen passed through with nary a glitch… now to find room on the bookshelves and the added dilemma of time for reading…

What did you buy at the AGM??

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

Read Full Post »

MP-Atlantic2012-ebay

Have finished yet another re-read of Mansfield Park, in celebration of its bicentenary, and as always with a slow, deliberate re-read of anything Austen, one finds all sorts of new insights, new sentences, new cause for chuckles [yes! even Mansfield Park is chuckle-worthy!] – but as I have little time at present to engage in long semi-thoughtful posts on this novel, I shall just begin posting every few days some of my favorite lines, passages, all exhibiting the best of Jane Austen … and welcome your comments…

Today I start with a sentence in the first paragraph. Without the legendary opening line of Pride & Prejudice’s “a truth universally acknowledged” to start the tale, Mansfield Park begins rather like a family accounting – how the three Ward sisters fared with husband finding. And then we have this sentence, rather snuck in there I think to echo Pride and Prejudice:

But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.” 

[MP, Vol. I, Ch. I]

And we find in the three Ward sisters the limited options available to women of limited fortune in Jane Austen’s day: Maria lands the baronet, Frances marries for Love and ends up the worst of the lot, and the eldest becomes a vicar’s wife and one of Austen’s most beastly characters … and thus begins Mansfield Park

Thoughts anyone?

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

Read Full Post »

darcy_cover

I most fortunately stumbled upon this book My Mr. Darcys when searching for another Austen title and found the bookseller had this title as well – but alas! no available copies. So I went straight to the source and found not only this but other delightful books from the Boston-based book artist Laura Davidson – we got into a conversation about what inspired her to create this miniature book [4 ¼” x 3”] about the various Mr. Darcys in film:

LD My Mr. Darcys: An Appreciation (2009) is a tribute to the many actors who have played the role of Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice adaptations. It includes portrait miniatures of six actors along with text from each film.  It is especially made for the true Austenite.

There are 500 copies, each signed and numbered. $28.00

When I was doing research for this book, I had to re-watch all of the films, taking notes about which line would work with each painted miniature of the actors. This was easier than one might think, and also really fun. When it came to the text on the back of my book, I knew which line from P&P I wanted to use, but had no idea where to find it quickly. I phoned my older sister Paula, a devoted Austenite and the one who introduced me to Jane originally. She was driving, pulled off the road, and reached into the side pocket of the passenger door to pull out her emergency copy of P&P and found the passage for me right away. At the time – I was amused by this. But now, of course, I carry an emergency copy of P&P on my phone (along with Persuasion). [Ed. I am not going to tell you which passage Laura chose for the back of the book – you will just have to buy your own copy to find out! – but what passage do you think she might have chosen?]

JAIV:  Why did you feel compelled to do this book – you refer to your sister being an “Austenite” – are you as well?  

LD:  At the time, my sister and I were talking quite often about the various adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and it occurred to me that there must be women everywhere having the same conversations and comparing Darcys. I’m a book artist, and much of my work is making visual lists, drawing everyday items, familiar yet very personal things. My work often reflects my passion for art history, maps and architecture. My Mr. Darcys was a bit out of the blue. I don’t really know how it came into my mind to do the book exactly, but once the seed was planted there was no turning back. I like that a book a woman wrote 200 years ago still resonates today and inspires artists, writers, and filmmakers to keep the characters alive. So, I would say that yes, I am an Austenite.

JAIV:  Which of the novels do you like the best?

LD: Persuasion. I adore Anne Elliot, because she always knew her own heart even though she was afraid to follow it.

JAIV: Which adaptation do you like the best?

LD:  I love the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I think it was perfectly cast. Of all the Austen adaptations I’ve seen though, the Persuasion from 1995 is my favorite. Watching it is like comfort food to me.

JAIV:  And which Mr. Darcy is your favorite, and why?

LD: Laurence Olivier was in the first “Hollywoodized” version which was terribly cast, except for him.  He played Darcy’s imperiousness beautifully, but the compromised ending let him down.

Colin Firth was absolutely perfect in the role, getting the arrogance right, but showing the vulnerability beneath.  Plus, all the Darcys that came after were a direct result of his performance, and that of the rest of the cast.  If he hadn’t had the charm and charisma to pull off the Darcy character, I doubt any of the other adaptations would have been made.

So, Colin Firth, to me, is the definitive Mr. Darcy. And we can’t forget the lake scene…!

darcy 2

************

So fellow Darcy fans, this is must have book – know that some of you like David Rintoul the best from the 1980 BBC production – he is, sorry to say not in this book – but everyone else is, each with an appropriate quote that sums up his character best… it is small, doesn’t take up much shelf space, but I think you will choose to display it in a prominent place somewhere as a centerpiece to your Austen collection.

What else I had to buy: for an obsessed Red-Sox Fan! [and a best friend, even though I am, dare I say it, a Yankee Fan…]

fenway-tunnel

Fenway Park Tunnel Book: This tunnel book shows a view of Fenway Park and the skyline of Boston. The images were painted, then offset printed, laser cut and pieced together by hand. Each copy is signed.

2007, 2008; 2nd edition (with 2007 world championship flag); 6.5 x 8 and 3/16 inches, 6 two-sided pages;  $38.

I bought another book but as it is a gift for a friend that I have not yet given it to, I must wait – but will say it has something to do with Birds!

And what book-loving person would not require this:

block4_read_art

Block Prints: Read Art

2012, 10 x 14” hand printed on Kitakata rice paper, two colors. One small print on a book page is attached, printed in an edition of 12. Unframed  $125.

*********************

Here is Laura’s website and contact information:  http://www.lauradavidson.com/ – take some time to look at her various creations – time well-spent I assure you! If you have a question or a comment for Laura, please do so here and I will pass them on to her for a response…

[all images copyright Laura Davidson and used with permission]

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

Read Full Post »

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.

Layout 1

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.

*****************

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


Further reading:

*******************

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

Read Full Post »

I posted several months ago about a miniature Emma, published by the bookbinder Tony Firman at his Plum Park Press. Since then I have received my very own Emma and am delighted with it:

Miniature Emma from Park Plum Press

Miniature ‘Emma’ from Park Plum Press

And now doubly delighted to hear from Tony that he is planning a similar miniature edition of Pride and Prejudice – perfect timing for this bicentenary year.  It will be another triple-decker, as was the original, in the same format and size as Emma with the same typeface. Each of the three volumes is to be published separately, in April, June, and August; the third volume will include a slipcase for the set.

Volume I and II will contain 240 pages, and 260 pages for Vol. III, all bound in a lovely soft faux leather, in a pretty butterscotch color. The endpapers will be decorated with colored illustrations from the 1907 Dent edition, four different pictures in each volume. The slipcase will be decorated with some of the same illustrations. It will be a limited edition of 15 copies. [no image is yet available]

C. E. Brock - Pride and Prejudice, Dent 1907 - Mollands

C. E. Brock – ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – Dent 1907 – Mollands

The first volume will be available near the end of April; price is $35. / volume, the complete set with slipcase, $105.  You can order either by volume as they become available or wait for the complete set in August, but with only 15 sets available, you best get your order in soon!  [There was a second edition of Emma, and there are copies still available.]

Other titles that Tony has published in this miniature format: [see his website for more information on each]

  • Priestley: Experiments and Observations of Different Kinds of Air
  • Curtis: The Botanical Magazine
  • Housman: A Shropshire Lad and Last Poems
  • Davenport: English Embroidered Bookbindings
  • Hubbard: William Morris
  • Crane: A Floral Fantasy
  • Huygens: Treatise on Light
  • Morris: A Dream of John Ball
  • Higgin: Handbook of Embroidery
  • Browning: The Last Ride
  • Blades: The Enemies of Books
  • Geikie: Geology
  • Einstein: Relativity
  • Austen: Emma
  • Wells: The Time Machine
  • Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Lavoisier: Elements of Chemistry
  • Fitzwilliam: Jacobean Embroidery

firmanlogo
Tony Firman Bookbinding
205 Bayne Road, Haslet, TX 76052
www.TonyFirmanBookbinding.com

************************

Further reading: and if you have any questions, please comment below…

In the United States, a miniature book is usually considered to be one which is no more than three inches in height, width, or thickness. Some aficionados collect slightly larger books while others specialize in even smaller sizes. Outside of the United States, books up to four inches are often considered miniature.

 c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

Read Full Post »

Today I again welcome Stuart Bennett, for Part II of our interview where we discuss his new book The Perfect Visit, a time-travel tale, a romance, and a pure escape into the Regency world of Jane Austen and the Elizabethan world of William Shakespeare! [Please go to this link for Part I of the interview.]

You can enter the book giveaway by commenting on either post before 11:59 pm 15 April 2012.  Winner will be announced on Monday April 16, 2012. [worldwide eligibility]

Talking about the Feminist Question: [because I always have to ask…] 

JAIV:  Vanessa is in all ways a 21st century woman, yet when she finds herself stranded in the early 19th century England she is “visiting” she must, I assume, “just fit in” – she even goes to the lengths of wanting marriage for protection alone – she cannot earn a living as she would have done here in the present – she is trapped and at times just so incredibly sad. You do have her debating women’s rights and voting and the realities for women publishing, and she does stand up for herself innumerable times – and you did create Meg, a lovely character, true to her time and herself – but I am perhaps taking Vanessa and her story too much to heart here? –  she feels very real to me [and I thought only Jane Austen’s characters are really real!] – and I felt that if I were there, I would be pushing Wollstonecraft’s Vindication on every passer-by, screaming for equality, hanging out with the bluestockings! – yet you have her taking such a back seat in these socio-political conversations of the day.  I just see that as a difficult issue for you as a writer – making her a very modern woman living in an earlier time and not scaring all the people around her! Did you feel this in creating her? – needing to make her an almost “invisible” being, with your own time travel rules at play to not change things, to lay-low so to speak, to not bring too much attention to oneself? …  And did you find her enforced silence painful as well? Or is this more my response as a female reader moved by her inability to speak out – more so than even for you who created her? [you might just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and head on to the next question!]

[Image: wikipedia]

SB:  It is tempting just to say “yes” and move along.  But a question that shows such close and sympathetic reading deserves better than that.  Vanessa is young at the beginning of The Perfect Visit.  Resourceful and tough as she is, she still has to deal with the triple-whammy of being trapped in another time, imprisoned, and ill.  Without Meg (and other interventions which I hope readers will discover for themselves) Vanessa would surely have died. 

And so she does her best to lie low, to get by, to fit in.  And at times it all makes her feel like she is about to explode.  This is the Vanessa who came alive for me, and as a writer it brings me joy to know that she came alive for you too.  Thank you!
 

Talking about Books

 

JAIV:  All references to book titles, authors, prices, etc. are you say valid – in your words, you may have “tinkered a little with history, but I have done my best not to tinker with bibliography.” [p.341] – and this book abounds in Bibliography! I love to come away from such a story with pages of things, people and places, and books to research! – And I thank you for your “Historical postscript – the truth in Jane Austen’s life and her fiction, and the amalgamations of real people to create your heroine and hero and all the various booksellers… [though I did miss the Godwin reference I am ashamed to say! – so clear after reading your postscript…]  

So I would ask, can your story be enjoyed by the non-Austen aficionado? The non-bookseller? The person little acquainted with Shakespeare bibliography? – What can you tell us about your basic plot without all these fabulous extras that give the book such depth and meaning…? 


SB:
  I suspect most authors, like me, have readers they can count on for honest opinions.  Several of my readers, warned that the typescript was on its way, voiced advance worries about the time-travel, others about the bibliographical elements.  Virtually all reported that neither got in the way of what I wanted above all to be a romance: a romance for those who wish we could meet the authors we love, and for those who love (or wish they could love) someone as bookish as they are.  The rest of the novel could perhaps be seen as illustrating the old adage “be careful what you wish for. . . .” 

JAIV:   The value of Jane Austen’s books today either seems outrageous [to those who know that she received so little for her labors] or a fair accounting of what the market will bear… what are your thoughts on this, as a bookseller and an author?

 [Pride and Prejudice – 1st edition, 1813.  Sold for $35,000, Sotheby’s, June 17, 2011]

SB:  First, I don’t think Jane Austen fared too badly in the context of the commercial publishing world of her day.  It may have helped (here comes the gender discrimination again) that she had her father and brothers on her side in dealing with publishers, and she certainly had the last laugh when in 1816 (through her brother Henry) she bought back the manuscript and copyright of what became Northanger Abbey, for the same ten pounds a neglectful publisher had paid for it in 1803.  The net proceeds to JA’s heirs from the first edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion amounted to a hefty £453.14.11 – somewhere (by my rough reckoning) on the order of £35,000 in today’s money.

Second, I suppose if JA’s first editions are selling at today’s hefty prices (a nice Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice, the two most difficult first editions, might well appear on the market for the same £35,000 I just mentioned) then those prices must surely be judged a fair accounting. 

But I’m not sure those prices are sustainable.  When I was selling J.A. first editions in the early 1980s, auction prices were normally in the mid-hundreds of pounds, and my copies – almost never more than £1,000 – flew off the shelf.  When the modern movies came along prices went up, and up, and up – and now many high-end antiquarian booksellers have copies of the first editions that have lingered for years.

JAIV:   You have published the book Trade Bookbinding in the British Isles (2004), which surely comes into this story with the variety of publishers and booksellers and Vanessa’s publication of children’s books. What were the realities of publishing in the Regency period? And how different from today? …

 Oak Knoll Press, 2004

Indeed, you created your own press [the aptly named Longbourn Press!] to publish your book, as well as offer it as a kindle ebook.  Did you try to publish with a traditional publisher? And how is this form of publishing any different from what was available to Jane Austen as a first time novel-writer [sell her copyright outright or pay for printing and marketing costs herself, etc.]? 

SB:  I’ve given a couple of clues about Regency publishing in my previous answer.  “How different from today?”  Well, today’s publishing, with Kindle etc., seems to me to be reverting more to the Regency model than otherwise, with those able to pay for self-publication able to get their books printed and distributed more easily than in the last half-century or so.

Regency publishers were, of course, always on the lookout for potential blockbusters, especially if they could buy the copyrights outright (often for small sums, like the ten pounds originally paid for Northanger Abbey – then titled Susan).  Many women writers, often publishing anonymously, produced novels and other works, especially children’s books, at their leisure; others were desperate for money and sold manuscripts and copyrights for whatever they could get.  Those (men and women) able to pay the cost of their own publications could negotiate commissions with commercial publishers.  John Murray took only ten percent of the net proceeds of Jane Austen’s later novels, a deal which if available to J.K. Rowling might have made her a whole, whole lot richer than the Queen of England.  

The Perfect Visit had wonderful literary agents in London and New York who offered the manuscript to commercial publishers in the even-darker-than-usual publishing days of early 2009.  There were no takers; one London publisher described it as a nice “potential mid-list” novel, but not the blockbuster they were looking for.  But some wayward typescripts kept bringing notes and e-mails, and when a couple of enthusiastic ones came from perfect strangers as far away asAustralia, I decided to consider the Amazon route.  Another bonus, as a much-published friend observed: printing the book meant I had to stop revising.

JAIV:   Well, I for one am certainly glad you listened to those perfect strangers!  And yes, it is interesting to read about Austen’s publication history – very ironic that the only work for which she sold the copyright outright was Pride and Prejudice, always her most popular and enduring work.

One question I have about the story:  what might the ethical issues be about this bringing of old manuscripts and books into the present to sell? even if the resulting profit is for a good cause?

SB:  I think any reader’s guess is as good as mine.  Would it be unfair to the original author? If so, how?  Certainly if I could go back to Jane Austen’s time (not to mention Shakespeare’s) and buy new copies of her first editions to bring back to sell in 2012, I could also undercut the prices of my high-end bookselling colleagues.  Does caveat emptor apply in such circumstances? 

But of course the paramount ethical issue involves time-travel itself.  Surely time-traveller appearances would change the past, à la Ray Bradbury’s “Sound of Thunder,” and so skew subsequent history.  People who should have been born might not be, and vice versa.  

Someone once wrote an apocalyptic story where only the very rich could afford to travel back in time to escape the end of the world.  Against those kinds of fantasy possibilities, surely sneaking a few otherwise-vanished books and manuscripts out of their own times seems comparatively harmless.  Or not? 

JAIV:  Yes, it is an interesting question – one way to look at it is to believe you might be preserving a work that would have been destroyed in a fire or such, and otherwise lost to posterity…. [and I do have to remember, this is a fiction, after all!]

Here is a very specific question about a book you mention: You place your heroine in a library reading The Invisible Gentleman – I had to research this one I confess – written in 1833 by J. Dalton, author of Chartley the Fatalist, and The Robber, all published by Edward Bull of Holles St, London… you call it “a heavy-handed historical romance set in the twelfth century” [p. 312]… no wonder Vanessa tossed it aside! – So I ask, why this book for that scene?? –


SB:
  Because Vanessa wished she were invisible – and because I found it on an 1833 list of novels “just published” and couldn’t resist. 

JAIV: Oh good! glad I don’t have to add this to my TBR pile! 

Can you share anything about your writing process? – When, Where, and How [and maybe even Why?] – any advice for budding writers? 

SB:  I don’t think this is any kind of advice for budding writers, but here’s the truth behind my Perfect Visit process.  I’d written a couple of non-fiction books, lots of magazine articles on rare books and auctions, and during the 1980s attempted and abandoned a couple of novels.  I knew a little bit about sitting down and writing, and even writing with deadlines.  This helps.

 But the inspiration for The Perfect Visit and its (unpublished) sequels came as a surprise.  I have George R.R. Martin to thank – and if your readers aren’t sure who he is, the ubiquitous advertisements for the television version of his Game of Thrones gives the clue. 

[SPOILER ALERT re: Game of Thrones] At the beginning of 2006 I started reading Martin’s “Fire and Ice” series (Game of Thrones is Book One).  Initially I was hooked, but I started having doubts somewhere in Book Two.  By the middle of Book Three (I’ve repressed the books’ individual names) I felt like I was being had, that the author had realized he was onto a cash cow and decided to turn what might have been a trilogy into a five-parter (is there a name for that?)  

And Martin also killed off the one character I felt close to, whose name happened to be Ned.  Sometime towards the end of January 2006 – I remember the moment – I flung Martin’s Book Three across the room, stood up, and said “I’m going to write a book I’d want to read.”  The result was The Perfect Visit, central male character by name of Ned Marston. 

I should add, in case I appear delusional, that I am in no doubt Mr. Martin’s formula has a much broader appeal than mine. 

Are there any nuggets of gold here for budding writers?  I don’t know.  All I can say is that once I started, my characters took over large parts of my life.  They woke me up in the middle of the night with their dialogues; I started walking to work with bits of paper in my pockets so I could write down what they were doing and more of what they had to say.  And I would scribble, or clatter away on the computer most mornings, until I thought I’d done them some kind of justice.  Then I’d work at my business until the characters interrupted all over again.  The original typescript of The Perfect Visit went on, and on. . . . 

JAIV:  I love this story of your inspiration! [I have always thought a really good blog post would be to question people about the one book they most remember throwing across the room!]  I have not read the “Fire and Ice” books but do admit to being quite absorbed with the Game of Thrones on HBO, and like you, stunned at the outcome of Book I – indeed the only character I liked as well [being Sean Bean helps too!] 

You mention above other books revolving around The Perfect Visit. Can you tell us more about these? A sequel to this tale, or another time-travel book to another time? And if so where would you next most like to go? 

SB: Oh yes, there are a couple of sequels, one close to finished, and a kind of “part-prequel” set in 1823 in which Vanessa discovers the “truth” behind a lost episode in Jane Austen’s life.  There’s even, for better or worse, a half-written (maybe “half-baked” would be a better term) prequel about Ned Marston’s adventures in classical Greece. 

JAIV:  Can’t wait! 

And finally, in your answer to my question on London  – because it was so convoluted and actually contained four questions, so no guilt please for missing it! –  I asked what is your favorite London haunt, other than perhaps the British Library? 

SB:  I confess I love the London Library more than the British.  It’s climbing around in the stacks that does it, and all the books you find that way that you’d otherwise never known existed.

London Library - Geograph.uk

London Library label – wikipedia

But you asked my favorite London haunt, and I have to confess a hopelessly bourgeois affection for the Wolseley restaurant on Piccadilly.  I take myself there for breakfast whenever I can, all alone, reveling in perfectly-cooked bacon and eggs, and the best pastries in the universe.  People-watching there brings me as close as I can get to the way I think Vanessa must have felt at Molland’s Tea-Rooms in Bath.

The Wolseley, London

JAIV:  You make me want to go back to 1833! Just for a cup of tea!

Thank you Stuart for answering all my questions – you have been a gentleman and a scholar and I appreciate it!

Readers, please ask any question you might have for Stuart or leave a comment on either this post or the Part I post, and you will be entered into the random drawing for a copy of The Perfect Visit. Please do so by 11:59 pm, April 15, 2012. The winner will be announced on Monday April 16, 2012 – all are welcome to particpate, i.e. worldwide eligibility.

*******************

Stuart Bennett was an auctioneer at Christie’s inLondon 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. He currently lives and works near Boston, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

  The Perfect Visit, by Stuart Bennett
Longbourn Press, 2011
ISBN: 9780615542706

For more information:

C. E. Brock. illustration for Persuasion, image from Molland’s

Copyright @2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,674 other followers

%d bloggers like this: