Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Jane's Journey to Winchester

On Saturday 24 May Jane and Cassandra set off on the sixteen-mile journey to Winchester, in James's carriage,sent over from Steventon for the purpose,and attended by Henry and their nephew William Knight;it distressed Jane to see them 'riding in rain almost all the way.' Mrs Heathcote had arranged accommodation for them near the Close,at Mrs David's small house,No 8 College Street,where they occupied rooms on the first floor. 'Our lodgings are very comfortable.We have a neat little Drawg.room with a Bow-window overlooking Dr Gabell's Garden' Jane told James-Edward in her letter to him of 27 May. She wrote in a resolutely optimistic tone and with her usual note of wry humour
'I will not boast of my handwriting;neither that nor my face have yet recovered their proper beauty, but in other respects I am gaining strength very fast'
(Deirdre Le Faye:JANE AUSTEN A Family Record)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Jane's Austen's Will - On This Day 200 Years Ago

By March 1817 Jane Austen was unable to continue writing "The Brothers", later renamed "Sanditon", as she was quite unwell. On  April 27th, probably aware of the serious nature of her illness, Jane Austen wrote her will at her home in Chawton. The beneficiary of almost everything Jane had was her dear sister Cassandra. She specified a payment of £50 to her brother Henry who had helped so much in getting her books published, and another £50 to Henry's French housekeeper Madame Bigeon who had lost all her savings when Henry's bank failed. Allowing for the payment  of funeral expenses and the two legacies mentioned, everything else she possessed was willed by Jane to her beloved sister Cassandra.It is estimated that this amounted to just under £800.
As Jane's will had not been witnessed two of her friends had to sign sworn statements that they recognised Jane's handwriting as they had known her for many years.
Thankfully the legacy of her wonderful writing has been left to all of us her readers.

Less than three months after writing her will Jane Austen died in Winchester at the early age of 41.
Eileen Collins

Friday, 16 December 2016

Happy Birthday Jane

Jane Austen was born on Saturday night December 16th 1775. “At 36, Mrs. Austen had carried her baby a month past the expected time. To save the baby from cold wet weather Rev. George Austen postponed Jane’s reception at church until April 5th 1776, but baptised her privately at home on Dec 17th. Jane was probably nursed at home before she was sent to a cottager’s wife. After weaning and when living with a ‘good woman at Deane’ Jane would wear loose and light clothing and have access to fresh air and exercise. She was trained to love the out-of-doors and by April, when ready for a bonnet and petticoats, she was a fine little person.
Her father wrote in the family bible:
“Jane Austen. Born 16 Dec 1775. Privately baptised 17 Dec 1775. Recd. Into the Church 5 April 1776.
Sponsors Rev. Mr. Cooke, Rector of Bookham Surrey; Mrs. Jane Austen of Sevenoaks Kent, Father’s Uncle’s Wife;
Mrs. Musgrave of Chinnor Oxon.”

Sunday, 2 October 2016

John Mullan Comes to Dublin


The Jane Austen Society of Ireland is very happy to announce that the stupendously entertaining John Mullan, English Professor, and author, critic and all round Austen expert, is coming to The Law Society, Dublin for an afternoon lecture and book signing.  John is a regular at Jane Austen Society gatherings around the globe, and at literary festivals all over the UK. At last we have enticed him to visit us. So mark Saturday 26 November in tour diary - this event is not to be missed!

Click image below to see just what lies in store for us.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Emma and Knightley's Irish Wedding

Earlier in the year, one of our members, an English teacher in Waterford, re-enacted Emma's wedding to Mr Knightley with her 5th Year pupils. Here is an account of that very special day.

On Wednesday the 3 February 2016 I (playing) Robert Martin attended the wedding of Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley. To begin the celebrations we viewed the film " Emma " in the theatre. It was a very enjoyable and humorous film and I thought it a lovely way to spend the morning.
When the film was over we proceeded upstairs to the dining room where we enjoyed a tasty luncheon of vegetable soup and chicken and salad sandwiches. The food was delightful. While we digested our food, we made a toast to Emma and George with champagne ( elderflower cordial and sparkling water). Then we heard some quite funny speeches from the bride, groom and guests. Miss Bates was not short of things to say when it came to her turn to make a speech.  Some tension was evident between Emma and Jane Fairfax but everything else ran rather smoothly. After the speeches, Emma and George cut their magnificent wedding cake. It was both a beautiful looking and tasting cake which I truly enjoyed. Mr. Woodhouse, as expected, fussed about the cake being too heavy and 'unwholesome' but we all managed to eat a piece without harm coming to anyone.

We then sat and talked for a while and moved around the tables, socialising with all the guests.I sat at a table with my wife Harriet, and John and Isabella Knightley. Jane Fairfax, Frank Churchill, Emma Woodhouse, George Knightley, Harriet and I then had the pleasure of beginning the dancing for the evening. Everyone was on their best behaviour, displaying impeccable manners and their finest clothes. Mrs. Elton sought compliments on her outfit which looked like a lace curtain with a pearl dog collar around her neck.
Some prizes were by Mrs. Goddard (Ms. Fennelly), to people who were looking well, in their finest clothes, and I won a prize. I was wrapped in brown paper with string tying the ends.
It was a most delightful wedding. the bride and groom looked and behaved impeccably and there were no tears shed or sad faces to be seen. I truly enjoyed the day.
By Róisín Stephenson.

Lady Susan ~ By Jane Austen

As lovers of Jane Austen get ready for the release of the film adaptation of  'Lady Susan', I thought that it was time that I return once more to that short and often-times over-looked text.  'Love and Friendship' is the name of one of Austen's earliest stories, and funnily, and confusingly, enough the makers of this new adaptation have decided to call it after the short story, instead of the novella, 'Lady Susan', as it was titled by Austen herself.
That confusion aside, I wanted to write something about this little gem of a text.  If you enjoy reading Austen for her lively wit, brilliant irony and tongue in cheek humour, you must give this book a try: it is a very funny read.

It was written as an epistolary novel, like 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Pride and Prejudice', but unlike these later works, Austen did not return to 'Lady Susan' and restructure it.  So here, I believe, we get a glimpse, not only into a novelist's young mind, this was her first completed novel after all, but also Austen's true writing style.  It is as if this novella is some kind of first draft, from which she would later carve that inch of ornate ivory, as she once famously describe her writing. 
As for the novel itself, it is delicious in that the titular character, Lady Susan is shockingly selfish, manipulative, ruthless and, as Mrs Bennet might say, a woman who is only 'out for what she can get!'
She cares even less for her daughter's happiness than either Mrs Bennet or Lady Bertram, and is far too busy trying to catch her own wealthy husband than to bother with her daughter's needs.  She calls Frederica a 'stupid girl', and we are hardly surprised when the poor fatherless child runs away from school and seeks help from her relations, the Vernons.  However, it is because Lady Susan
is so wicked that she is so entertaining.  She has at least three lovers on the go, one of whom is married.  I found it quite shocking that Austen's central character was a scarlet woman, scandalous and unscrupulous and it makes me wonder if the Brontes ever read this novella.  They might have thought differently about Austen if they had.  Again and again we see how Lady Susan uses her beauty and sexuality to manipulate herself out of a sticky situation.  The plot builds up into a climax of duplicity, with a final crises that is described to us from an eye witness account, making the scene all the funnier. 
The confusing thing for me though, is whether I should or should not like Lady Susan.  I find her 
most entertaining, but I know that I ought not to. Surely she is a cross between Mary Crawford in 'Mansfield Park' and Caroline Bingley in 'Pride and Prejudice', so every feeling should revolt! But instead, I find myself hoping that Lady Susan will evade discovery and that her daughter keeps to her room!   Am I wrong dear Jane?  It is certainly an unsettling thing in an Austen novel not to know who is the heroine and who is the villain.  Of course, Lady Susan certainly is the villain, but is there such a thing as a goodie-badie in Jane Austen?  Maybe not before, but perhaps there is now. 
'Love and Friendship' is released in Irish cinemas on 27 May 2016.  With scenes shot on location in Dublin, it promises to be a real treat for Austen fans.  Miss it if you dare.

By Michelle Burrowes (Taken from www.mybookaffair.net)