Deborah Yaffe

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By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 21 2015 01:00PM

One of the many pleasures of researching Among the Janeites was the chance it gave me to meet fellow Austen fans from across the country and, during the trip to England that I recount in Chapter 2, those from overseas.


So I read with interest this item, which made the UK news earlier this month, reporting the retirement of Karen Rudd, the property manager of Mompesson House in Salisbury. Readers of ATJ will remember that Rudd welcomed our JASNA group to this beautiful eighteenth-century house, which stood in for Mrs. Jennings’ London home in the 1995 film of Sense and Sensibility.


Rudd was a delightfully forthright hostess, telling funny stories about the shooting of the film and, when I interviewed her, speaking perceptively about Austen’s appeal. ”People don’t realize what an ardent feminist she was,” Rudd told me. “She railed against the whole ridiculous nonsense of primogeniture. And that’s what she’s writing about. It’s not nibbling a biscuit with a cup of tea with other ladies whilst talking about the weather.”


Plus Rudd has a thing for Mr. Knightley, and who among us can disagree with that?


Rudd is stepping down after twenty-five years on the job. I hope her retirement brings her many opportunities to reread Emma. Perhaps with a cup of tea and a biscuit at her elbow.


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