Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, Jun 16 2016 01:00PM

Today’s edition of Jane Austen Craft Projects I Wish I Had Time For features a charming cross-stitch kit based on one of C.E. Brock’s 1895 illustrations of Pride and Prejudice. The picture – black-and-white in the original, but tastefully colored in for stitching purposes -- shows Darcy looking down his nose at Elizabeth and telling Bingley, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

C.E. Brock and his brother H.M. Brock are among the most famous illustrators of Austen, though I’ve always found their work a bit too pretty-pretty to suit my taste for a spikier Austen. The original of the cross-stitch picture can be seen here; Maggie Sullivan’s Molland's website compiles the Austen illustrations of both Brocks, along with e-texts of all the novels.

You will already have noticed that Yiota’s XStitch, the family-run business that markets this kit through Amazon, doesn’t know how to spell “Elizabeth,” as in Bennet. (This is especially unfortunate since its mailing address is on “Austen Road” – in, of all English counties, Jane Austen’s own Hampshire.)

But I’m in a kindly mood this week, so I will forgive them this trespass and return instead to imagining myself living a life that includes time for cross-stitch.

By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 3 2015 01:00PM

I was a dutiful, conscientious child who entirely lacked artistic ability. As such, I was rather a fan of the coloring book, which rewarded me for dutifully staying inside the lines drawn by someone else and conscientiously filling up every single white space.

So I’m delighted to announce that hard on the heels of the Jane Austen paper doll comes the Jane Austen coloring book – or, actually, the Pride and Prejudice coloring book. Curiously enough, four somewhat similar versions, three tied to P&P itself and one tied to a P&P fanfic sequel, have apparently been published in the last two months. (I’m still giggling over the description adopted by two of the creators: “Adult Coloring Book.” Relax: it’s not that kind of coloring book. . . )

Of these four – ahem – adult coloring books, two (here and here) feature the familiar pen-and-ink drawings of Austen’s Victorian/Edwardian illustrators, Hugh Thomson and C.E. Brock, and two (here and here) feature original art. (One of those includes scenes from P&P movies -- duly flagged, which I appreciate.)

Although many Janeites adore the Thomson and Brock illustrations, I’ve never been an enthusiast; I find their images a bit too pretty to capture the spiky Austen that I love. But I do still tend to stay inside the lines, both literally and metaphorically, so perhaps it’s time to break out my colored pencils and get back to filling in the white spaces.

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