A year ago, I confidently predicted a 2020 filled with the usual array of Austen events: “Teas, balls, fairs, festivals, conferences, discussions, lectures, and walking tours celebrating Austen and the Regency.” If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the universe does not smile upon confident predictions. As it happens, 2020 marked the eightieth anniversary of the founding of the UK’s Jane Austen Society, which inaugurated institutionalized Janeite fandom, and in many ways, th
Fifty-ninth in an occasional series of excerpts from Jane Austen's letters. When Jane Austen sat down to write a letter to her sister, Cassandra, exactly 222 years ago today, she wasted no time on preliminaries before communicating a momentous bit of family news. “Frank is made,” Jane began her letter (#16 in Deirdre Le Faye’s standard edition of Austen’s correspondence). “He was yesterday raised to the Rank of Commander, & appointed to the Petterel Sloop, now at Gibraltar.—A
On March 2, I reported the happy news that a theatrical adaptation of Emma – written by Kate Hamill, the actor/playwright whose madcap versions of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice have been widely produced – would premiere in April at Minneapolis’ venerable Guthrie Theater. Well, you can guess how that turned out. But all is not lost for fans of Hamill’s Austen: A costumed reading of this new Emma – online, of course -- will take place over the next two weekends.
The opening credits of Modern Persuasion, which began streaming Friday on a small screen near you, scroll through a litany of actors, producers, screenwriters, directors. . . and yet one name is strangely absent. That would be the name of Jane Austen, on whose last completed novel this pallid, charm-free update is based. And yet Modern Persuasion actually hews closer to Austen’s plot and characters than do many other alleged Austen spinoffs. (I’m looking at you, Pride, Prejud
Despite the strangeness of this year, some eternal verities remain. Snowflakes. Evergreens. Misquoting Jane Austen.
A few highlights of the season:
* “Here’s 15 percent off to celebrate our new friendship,” the bookstore chain Books-A-Million exulted in the subject line -- punctuated with a party-popper emoji! – of an email it sent me following a recent order.
“Chapter 1: A Brand New Friendship,” the message continued. (Get it? Bookstore chain? Chapter 1?) And then the kic
How radical was Jane Austen? It's a topic of continuing debate: She’s been embraced as an icon of both traditional family values and subversive feminism, and it’s anyone’s guess what she would have called herself if she’d had access to our political vocabulary. Apparently, however, she’s radical enough for the Radical Tea Towel company. Until a few weeks ago, I was unaware of the existence of the Radical Tea Towel company, a family-owned business launched nearly a decade ago
Many Janeites lack an intimate familiarity with the geography of class in Regency England; we – by which I mean I – can’t tell our Edward Streets from our Portman Squares. Luckily, however, Jane Austen makes such distinctions instantly legible to even her least-informed reader: If the wealthy Mrs. Jennings lives near Portman Square, while Georgiana Darcy’s disreputable ex-governess lets lodgings in Edward Street, it’s not hard to deduce which is the more upscale location. Tha
Few of Jane Austen’s heroines are economically secure, so it’s ironic that her modern-day brand has become inextricably associated with wealth: lavish balls, ginormous country houses, elaborate gowns. (I blame the movies, whose location choices so often exaggerate the characters’ social standing.) The latest example of Austen luxury branding is Henry’s Townhouse, a new boutique hotel in London’s chichi Marylebone neighborhood that occupies a building on Upper Berkeley Street
It’s a tough year for traditional Christmas celebrations. The eight maids are a-milking in masks. The ten lords are a-leaping six feet apart. All those swans, partridges, and turtledoves seem like a recipe for deafening background noise during Zoom meetings. And piping pipers? Probably a bad idea, in light of that super-spreader choir rehearsal back in March.
Luckily, Jane Austen’s House in Hampshire, England, has come up with an alternative to the customary twelve days of C