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

Monday, 14 December 2015

Irish Author Writes 'Pride and Prejudice' Sequel

I was delighted when I stumbled upon the Jane Austen society of Ireland, not only a community of like-minded individuals, but in my locality to boot! 
My admiration of Jane Austen goes back a very long way, in truth ‘I cannot fix on the spot, or the hour, or the look or the words that laid the foundation’.  I love all of her work, but my absolute favourite novel is Pride and Prejudice. 
Every time I turned the last page of that timeless classic I was plagued with curiosity about what might have become of my favourite characters. Eventually I determined to create my own continuation of Elizabeth and Darcy's story, purely for my own pleasure. In my naivety I thought such an undertaking was an original idea: I had never heard of fan fiction, or canon, and I knew nothing of the plethora of sequels and variations that are readily available. 
When I began my story my foremost consideration was that I would remain as faithful to the spirit of the original as possible. No fantastical adventures, no explicit sexual encounters, and absolutely no twenty-first century morals or convictions. The language and phrases should be as authentic as possible, and the characters would behave, well, in character.
My original intention was to merely pen a description of Elizabeth and Darcy’s blissfully happy marriage in about 2000 words, but to my chagrin other characters would keep intruding. At last I realised I had several unanticipated sub plots: somehow, I don’t quite know how, my little story had become a full blown novel!
I titled my story Fidelity & Affection and once completed to my satisfaction I put it aside, occasionally reading it and rewriting it as the fancy took me. Eventually, with the encouragement of my family and no expectations whatever I entered it into a national novel writing competition in association with the RTE guide, and to my astonishment it was short-listed into the final five.  The judges were very enthusiastic and complimentary about my story, which encouraged me to self-publish on Amazon, where I have achieved some modest success.
If you are looking for a heartfelt continuation of Pride and Prejudice written in an authentic style by an amateur, though very passionate Jane Austen fan, Fidelity and Affection might just be the sequel for you. 
Yve Turner

Happy Birthday Jane - 240 Years Old!

Jane Austen was born 240 years ago on December 16th 1775. One of her biographers, Claire Tomalin wrote:
"The winter of 1775 was a hard one. On Nov 11th the naturalist Gilbert White saw that the trees around his Hampshire village of Selborne had lost almost all their leaves. Fifteen miles away in Steventon, the rector's wife was expecting the birth of her seventh child from day to day as the last leaves fell. She was thirty-six and had been married for eleven years. The November days went by and the rains set in, keeping Mrs. Austen's four boys indoors;by the end of the month it was dark in the house at three in the afternoon, and dinner had to be eaten very promptly if they were to do without candles. Still no baby appeared. December came, bringing an epidemic of colds and feverish complaints.

There was a sharp frost, putting ice on the ponds, enough for the boys to go sliding; then on the 16th Gilbert White noted, 'Fog,sun,sweet day.'" This was the day of Jane Austen's birth- a month later than George and Cassandra Austen had expected the baby's arrival.

"The child came in the evening, without much warning. There was no need for a doctor;it was rare to call one for something as routine as childbirth, and the nearest, in Basingstoke, was seven miles away over bad roads. In any case 'everything was soon happily over.' The Austens were pleased to have a second daughter, 'a present plaything for her sister Cassy and a future companion.'

When the children were allowed into their mother's room, they saw that the new baby had a round face, fat cheeks and bright dark eyes. It was agreed that she looked most like her brother Henry, who had been the longest and finest of all the babies so far, so it is safe to assume that Jane was also long and large. Mrs. Austen fed her daughter at the breast, and as she would not dream of going outside the house for at least a month after the birth, the baby enjoyed undivided attention in the first-floor bedroom."
"On April 5th 1776 after a harsh, dark morning, the sun came out. Little Jane was well wrapped in shawls, her mother put on her pelisse and an extra shawl or two for herself, and the Austen family processed up the lane to the church for Jane's formal, public christening." (Jane had been christened at home by her father immediately after her birth.)?
Eileen Collins