Sunday, 27 April 2014

On this Day ~ Jane's Will be Done

On this day, April 27th, Jane Austen wrote her last will and testament. She was ill with what is now thought to have been Addison's disease, a rare hormonal disorder. Just days later, she moved to Winchester to be nearer to her doctor. She died on 18th July 1817 and was buried in the cathedral at Winchester.

Her total assets were valued at under £800 and she left everything, to her beloved sister Cassandra, with the exception of two bequests of £50. One was to her brother Henry, who had done so much to help Jane to get her books published. The other was to Henry's French housekeeper, Madame Bigeon, who had lost all her savings when Henry's bank, in which she had invested, failed.

Unfortunately, the will was not signed by witnesses. In order for it to be proved as hers, two friends had to swear in a written statement that they had known Jane Austen for years and recognised her handwriting.Her wonderful legacy of the written word has, thankfully, been made available to all of us to enjoy.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


Date: Sat May 17 / 6pm

  • Venue: Conference Hall (Dublin Castle)

“Jane Austen’s story and Joanna Trollope’s voice make the perfect marriage.”
Sophie Kinsella
“Baker not only creates a richly imagined story of her own but recasts Austen’s novel in a startlingly fresh light.”
The Guardian
Chairperson: Edel Coffey
In recent years Jane Austen’s work has inspired a host of new novels, from PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley to Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. But what are the pitfalls of adapting classics for the modern age? Should you expect your readers to know the originals, and what happens when you change the point of view?
Jo Baker certainly does: Longbourn reimagines the story of Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ point of view. Sarah is a housemaid at Longbourn House, where the servants are ruled with an iron fist by Mrs Hill, but the arrival of a new footman turns the Bennet household upside down.
Joanne Trollope is one of the UK’s best-loved and most successful authors. Her Sense & Sensibility is the first novel in the Austen Project: a publishing venture designed to bring Austen’s work to a new generation, and Trollope brings the story of the Dashwood sisters bang up to date, complete with drugs, depression and internet trolls. 
    Tickets €12 or €10 for Members of Jane Austen Society of Ireland (email us for concession code) Text and image above taken from the Dublin Writers' Week Website.  To book click here

Friday, 18 April 2014

Irish Jane Austen Fans Come Together in Dublin's Mansion House

Last night members of The Jane Austen Society of Ireland gathered together in Dublin's Mansion House, for our first, proper meeting (members only) to celebrate the publication of Jane Austen's third novel.  In a lecture entitled, 'Mansfield Park, After 200 Years', Trinity College professor, Darrly Jones, regaled us with insights and fascinating observations about the novel.

 He happily fielded questions from the audience afterwards, which revealed, once again, how au fait our members are with the works of Jane Austen. 

Actress Vanessa Hyde also took to the stage and performed a short extract from the play, 'Ladies of Jane', which received great reviews in its recent  run at The Cork
Theatre.  We were enchanted as 'Emma's' Mrs Elton was brought to life before our eyes.  

Each member introduced themselves to the rest of the group, revealing what it was that first made them fall under Austen's spell.  It was very enlightening to hear similar stories and recurring experiences, best summed up in one member's comment; 'Jane Austen never lets me down!' 

Afterwards, members retired to the beautiful Georgian surroundings of Buswell's Hotel, Molesworth Street, to continue the conversation,  meet fellow Austen fans and share their love of Regency literature.  

There was one controversial comment during the evening, however - much discussed in Buswell's - which was Professor Jones's claim that Mr Darcy does not exist!  The general consensus was that this was indeed an error, summed-up by our Society Secretary, Sinead who said, "Women are searching for men like Mr Darcy and men do not even know that he exists!" - and therein, my friends, lies the rub.  

Thanks is due to The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mr Oisin Quinn, who gave us use of the beautiful Oak Room, in this historic building.  As one astute member noted, one of the many mayoralty plaques on the wall was for the D'Arcy family, so it was no wonder that we felt so at home there as we did.  
Michelle Burrowes, JASI President.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Which Door Will it Be?

Source:  Here

Announcing a Jane Austen Society of Ireland lecture: 'Mansfield Park After 200 Years', to be given by Professor Darryl Jones, from Trinity College, Dublin.

This is an invite-only event, for members of the JASI, taking place this week, at a secret location in the heart of Georgian Dublin.

If you are a fan of our esteemed Jane, then there is no better time to join our Society and participate in our bespoke Austen events. To attend this wonderful evening's entertainment, you must join the Society in the next day or two. (Membership numbers must be quoted on entry).  Please note that seating is limited, so become a member now to avoid disappointment.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Lizzy Bennet's Diary ~ by Marcia Williams

This is a sweet little book, full of witty references to Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'.  As with every proper diary, it is crammed full of detailed observations and private comments about those around her.  As such, the book reads like a summary of Austen's novel, with additions relating to every day life - such as favourite fabrics and  ribbons; mementos and  souvenirs.  This works particularly well, because we experience so much of the novel from Elizabeth's point of view.  

However, there are times that the Lizzy in William's book says some things that Austen's Lizzy would never say, such as 'Although Charlotte does not like me to
mention it, she is already twenty-seven years old - nearly ten years my senior!'  Of course, the real Elizabeth Bennet would never say such a thing, and certainly would not refer to her dearest friend as an 'old maid' as Williams's Lizzy does.  I suppose that is the draw-back of condensing a long novel into such a concise format: much character development is omitted.  The brevity of the text is a little unsettling and at times the book is overly-simplistic, with Lizzy occasionally sounding too much like Lydia and Kitty - obsessing about ribbons and balls - than our beloved heroine.

There are over twenty letters in Austen's novel, and some of them feature here.  They are handwritten in beautiful fold out pages, and, as in the original text, they allow us to hear directly from the other characters in the novel, such as Mr Collins, Mrs Gardiner and Fitzwiliam Darcy. Some letters are copied verbatim from the mother text, while others are fabricated entirely from Williams's imagination.

We catch glimpses of Mr and Mrs Darcy, at home, at Christmas, preparing for dinner with Georgiana and the Gardiners.  Such delicious flights of fancy are what make this book worth having.

But let us not forget the wonderful illustrations that accompany the book - Marcia Williams is clearly an
illustrator first and a writer second.  They are full of detail and will draw you to the book again and again.  They may lead you to believe that the book is more suitable for a younger audience, but I think that readers who are very familiar with Austen's novel, probably older book-lovers, will get a great kick out of the many in-jokes and references.

That said, there is much to enjoy in this book, for readers of every age.  Well, how could it fail? It is inspired by the great Austen herself!
(c) Michelle Burrowes 

First published on  February 2014