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

Saturday, 23 January 2016

An Afternoon with Amanda Vickery


The Jane Austen Society of Ireland is delighted to announce that Professor Amanda Vickery is coming to talk to our members this spring, at The Law Society Dublin.   This intimate gathering, in beautiful Regency surroundings, will allow you to get up-close and personal, with a favourite BBC Four celebrity, whose knowledge of Georgian society and Jane Austen, is second to none.  Hear the talk, ask questions, have your books signed and share a cup of tea.  It promises to be most exciting Regency event of the year.
Saturday, 5 March 2016  at The Law Society Dublin, 3pm - 5pm  Tickets: €25
 This Event is Now SOLD OUT

Pride and Prejudice - Having a Ball

May 2013 Vickery co-presented Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball alongside Alistair Sooke. 

The Many Lovers of Jane Austen 

In this documentary, Amanda took a closer look at the various groups of people around the world who love  Jane.  

At Home with the Georgians

In November 2010 she presented At Home with the Georgians, a three-part television series produced for the BBC, based on her book Behind Closed Doors.

Watch Video
Tickets are limited in number and sold on a first come first served basis.  Remember to renew your membership annually to be first to hear of JASI events. From 01 Jan 2016 JASI membership/renewal is 15. This is an adult only event.  

About Amanda

Amanda Jane Vickery is an English historian, writer, radio and television presenter, and professor of early modern history at Queen Mary, University of London.  She has written widely on social history, literature, the history of romance and the home, politics, law and crime with an emphasis on women's studies and feminism.  In 1998 she published her first book The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England.  In 2009 Vickery's Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England was published. Her latest documentary, Suffragettes Forever! has proved hugely popular and timely, and can be viewed here.
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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Farewell Colonel Brandon

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of actor Alan Rickman a few days ago.  Your shocked, heartfelt comments on our Facebook Page said it all.  He was a wonderful actor and especially was taken to the hearts of Jane Austen fans around the world when he played Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee's adaptation of 'Sense and Sensibility'. We have loved him ever since.  He faithfully embodied the skin of a character who is much older than his beloved Marianne, but in the tactful hands of Alan Rickman, the difference in years simply drifted away.  Our thoughts are with his new bride (though they have been a couple these 50 years!) and his family and friends.  I am sure they will feel his loss even more keenly than we do.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Austen Gazette Winter 2015

To celebrate Austen's 240th birthday, we are sharing this winter's issue of The Austen Gazette with you. For the love of Jane.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Going to the Ball

In this Bicentenary year of the Battle of Waterloo there has been many military events to mark the occasion, luckily a member of the Jane Austen Society of Ireland also had the good sense to commemorate the social events of 1815 too. Eileen Morgan Brown (secretary of the Irish Byron Society and member of JASI) played hostess for the Duchess of Richmond's Ball in association with Meath County Council and Kells and District Tourism Forum. Held in the wonderful Georgian residence of Mr T. Fitzherbert, Rockfield House, Kells, it was fashioned like a country house ball held in the Regency era. As a member of the Irish Historical Costumers (IHC), I attended in full costume and my friends and I gave a regency dance demonstration accompanied by Jean Carr on Piano. We heard an extract from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by Byron and a wonderful oration by Dr. Gerald Morgan entitled “Wellington the man”. The ball was attended by both the British and French ambassadors. The “Red coats” were in attendance too but unlike the poor Duchess of Richmond who’s ball was ruined by the advance of Napoleon and the departure of most of her male guests, including Wellington, to fight at the battle of Waterloo the next day, we ate a hearty meal, drank wine and danced the night away.
Another social event associated with the commemorations of 1815 is the Ball held by Mrs Boehm’s on 21st June 1815 at the East India Club. In attendance was the Prince Regent and the Duke of York however the ball was cut short by the arrival of news of the victory over Napoleon. Mrs Boehm’s dinner party was ruined. Intrigued by this story Eileen who hosted the Duchess of Richmond Ball decided to host another ball - a masquerade ball to honor the unfortunate Mrs Boehm. The venue was the Arts Club in Fitzwilliam Street. My IHC friends and I were again called upon to give a regency dance demonstration, we had a another wonderful evening of music,
delicious food and lively conversation. Both occasions were so enjoyable and a great way to experience a little taste of regency living. The balls I attended had a much better outcome of course than those of the unfortunate Duchess of Richmond and Mrs Boehm, but I love that I got to bring history to life.

Read more HERE about The Duchess of Richmond and Mrs Boehm

By Sinead Ryan Coughlan