Friday, December 30, 2011

"Austenworld" News: Year-End Roundup

It's been a busy year in "Austenworld" (the universe of JA-related happenings), and another busy year is coming up! Here's a general roundup of recent news:
  • First, JASNA's annual present to its members for JA's birthday--the new issue of the electronic journal Persuasions On-Line--is available here. It includes all three of the presentations from the panel "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Sense and Sensibility" (see our Oct. 24 post on the Fort Worth AGM), as well as a short piece by Rochester's David Meisel titled "Seeing Stars for Jane's Birthday." Dave was our speaker at JASNA Rochester's birthday lunch on Dec. 3, and his description and photos of three stars whose light began traveling to Earth in JA's birth year are fascinating!
  • Enough other "new publications" have come out in the last few months to keep even Persuasion's Lady Russell happy. These include the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, also mentioned in our Oct. 24 post on the Fort Worth AGM (and discussed at the JABC-CNY luncheon at the Colgate Inn on December 10); Lindsay Ashford's The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, likewise mentioned in the Oct. 24 post, a murder mystery in which JA herself is the victim; P. D. James's Death Comes to Pemberley, a murder mystery thrust upon the Darcy family on the eve of a ball; and Second Impressions, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice by "Ava Farmer" (see the Chawton House Library website for details, and for more information about the Library's excellent work in general).
  • On her enjoyable blog Jane Austen in Vermont, fellow RC Deb Barnum of JASNA Vermont has recently posted a YouTube link to a segment from a BBC2 program titled "The Many Lovers of Miss Jane Austen," shown in the UK on Dec. 23. (And Jane Austen in Vermont is well worth your attention in general--which is why we're posting this indirect link instead of linking directly to YouTube.) This segment was shot at the Fort Worth AGM and gives some sense of the atmosphere there, although your RC personally wishes that the BBC had paid more attention to our love of JA and less to the commercialization of her!
  • As we look ahead to 2012, there's an upcoming JASNA event outside NY State but within a day's drive of Syracuse that may intrigue you: the Eastern Pennsylvania Region's "Jane Austen Day" on April 28, to be held at the Society Hill Sheraton in Philadelphia (setting of the 2009 AGM). The topic will be "Elizabeth Bennet: Delightful Creature," and more details are available here. Registration for this will open on Feb. 8, so make your plans now if you're interested.
  • Closer to home, don't miss our upcoming JASNA Syracuse meeting on Saturday, Jan. 14, in the Sargent Room of the Liverpool Public Library. The topic will be "Food, Glorious Food!" Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the Official Spokescat of JASNA Syracuse, takes her responsibilities seriously and is already preparing for this meeting, as you can see. We'll give more details about this meeting in a post soon after New Year's.

  • And, finally, we're tremendously excited about this year's AGM, "Sex, Money and Power in JA's Fiction," to be held in New York City in October. (Details available to this point about this AGM in general can be accessed here.) Not only will Co-RC Lisa Brown be reprising her "Dressing the Miss Bennets" presentation (which was a great hit in the Big Apple in September when she presented it to JASNA New York Metro), but RC A. Marie Sprayberry will be giving a breakout session titled "Sex, Power, and Other People's Money: The Prince Regent and His Impact on JA's Life and Work." So we're excited both generally and personally!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

As all good Janeites know and are celebrating today, JA was born on December 16, 1775. At age 236, she's going stronger than ever!

There has been considerable brouhaha in the British press lately about yet another recently discovered "lost portrait" of JA. (This article in The Guardian is representative.) Your Regional Coordinators, however, remain unconvinced that Dr. Paula Byrne's merely dating a portrait to 1815 and finding "Miss Jane Austin" written on the back of it constitute proof of its authenticity. They also wonder what St. Margaret's, Westminster, is doing in the background; why the lady in the portrait is wearing more jewelry than JA probably owned altogether; and so forth. Answers may or may not be forthcoming on Dr. Byrne's upcoming BBC2 special about the portrait--if we ever get to see it at all on this side of the pond, of course.

Your RCs would also agree with the sentiment several other Austen bloggers have expressed on this auspicious day--namely, that what JA looked like is a lot less important than what she wrote. Nevertheless, in casting about for an illustration for this post, we came across a very helpful collection of images on the Jane Austen Society of Australia website ( These include Cassandra Austen's two portraits (the unfinished sketch of JA's face, and the portrait of JA seated with her back to the viewer) and almost all other images except for Dr. Byrne's recent discovery. Of these, the 2002 painting by Tom Clifford is actually quite pleasing and deserves to be better known, we think. It shows JA reading in the garden at her beloved Chawton home. Here it is:

And we leave you with the epigraph from Rudyard Kipling's story "The Janeites," which has become the traditional JA birthday toast in many JASNA regions:

Jane lies in Winchester--blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made!
And while the stones of Winchester, or Milsom Street, remain,
Glory, love, and honour unto England's Jane!