Georgians Revealed: Exhibition opening at the British Library

October 24, 2013 at 10:35 AM (General News, History)

I don’t wish to be all braggy, but I’m so excited about NOT missing yet another interesting and potentially exciting exhibition in London! I shall be there sometime in early February, which means I shall be able to report to you on the loveliness, I’m hoping, of this new exhibition opening at the British Library in November –

Georgians Revealed

Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain

I.R. and G. Cruikshank. 'Tom & Jerry at a Coffee Shop near the Olympic' Pierce Egan, Life in London. London, 1823 (British Library. 838.i.2)

I.R. and G. Cruikshank. ‘Tom & Jerry at a Coffee Shop near the Olympic’
Pierce Egan, Life in London. London, 1823 (British Library. 838.i.2)


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Susannah Fullerton is coming to town

October 24, 2013 at 10:30 AM (Jane Austen in the News, Perth Chapter Meeting Details)

As you know, our JASA President, Susannah Fullerton will be in town next weekend entertaining and regaling us with tales of Pemberley and P&P, currently celebrating their 200th birthday. This little article appeared in a local newspaper. If you were not convinced as to how great an afternoon with Susannah can be by my last post, you may want to see if this article can convince you.


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JASA Perth – Time to Meet Again

October 8, 2013 at 6:15 AM (Jane Austen Books, Perth Chapter Meeting Details) (, , , , )

Greetings and Salutations my Fellow Janeites,

Can you believe it’s almost time for us to meet again? Time is marching on far too quickly for someone who has a thesis due in December!

Our next meeting on Saturday 2 November 2013, same time, same place, is something of a Special Event as the President of Australia’s Jane Austen Society is coming to see us! Yes, the one and only Susannah Fullerton will be coming to chat with us about her new book Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece.


This year Jane Austen’s most poplar novel turns 200. Susannah Fullerton, author of Jane Austen and Crime and A Dance with Jane Austen, will tell the story of how Pride and Prejudice came to be published, what sort of first reception it received and what various famous admirers have had to say about it. She will discuss the charms of its heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, and the sexiness of its hero, Mr Darcy, and talk about the wonderful range of comic characters within the novel. Susannah will also tell the tale of the first translations of “Pride and Prejudice”‘, discuss the extraordinary range of covers and illustrations which have decorated copies over 200 years, and will talk about the amazing number of sequels and prequels and adaptations, the merchandise and the tourism connected with the novel.

Places are limited at our usual venue, so it is imperative that you book your place with our Meeting Coordinator Extraordinaire, Helen – or 0430 133 368 – and put aside the $5 meeting fee, payable to Helen on the day. Helen will also provide “same time, same place” details for those of you who will be attending for the first time.

Susannah is a wonderful speaker/presenter, which you will know if you have been fortunate enough to see her during previous visits to Perth, or if you have read any or all of her fabulous books.

Hopefully we shall see some new faces amongst us regulars. In the mean time, Happy Austening!

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Meet the Adkins

September 9, 2013 at 5:44 PM (Jane Austen Books) (, , )

For those of you who may be travelling to the UK in the next couple of months, you may be interested to know that husband and wife writing duo, Lesley and Roy Adkins will be attending a few literary festivals to chat about their book Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England. I haven’t read it myself yet; it’s on the post-thesis reading list. The blurb below has been copied directly from the latest newsletter from the Society of Antiquaries of London, of which both Lesley and Roy are Fellows.


Fellows Roy and Lesley Adkins have been enjoying very positive reviews of their latest book, Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England: how our ancestors lived two centuries ago, not least thanks to the Bank of England’s announcement that Jane Austen will feature on £10 notes from 2016 — something that no author can ever predict but that is very useful in keeping alive interest in Jane Austen and no doubt helping to drive the book to the number one slot in the Huffington Post’s list of ten essential Jane Austen books. Several Fellows say they have greatly enjoyed going to hear Roy and Lesley speak at literary festivals and chatting to them afterwards. If you want to catch them over the autumn, they are appearing at the Theatre Royal, Bath, 12 noon, on 20 September; at the Henley Literary Festival, Town Hall, 1pm, on 5 October; at the Appledore Book Festival, St Mary’s Hall, 2pm, on 6 October; at the Ilkley Literature Festival, St Margaret’s Hall, 7.30pm, on 10 October; at ‘Off the Shelf’ at Sheffield’s Central United Reformed Church, 7.30pm, on 23 October; and at the Bridport Literary Festival, Bull Hotel, 1 pm, on 13 November. Further details are on their website.


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JASA Perth Meeting Time Again

August 31, 2013 at 2:15 PM (Perth Chapter Meeting Details) (, , )

Greetings All,

Next Saturday 7 September, same time, same place, is gathering time again! I bet that went quick for those of you who actually remember to attend, unlike moi!

This gathering will be led by Peta and Tracy, who will be sharing their thoughts on the 3 film/telly adaptations of Sense and Sensibility. If you, like me, have forgotten it’s meeting time again and, looking at your diary, realise you have no time to finish a complete re-read of the books and couldn’t bear watching the 3 adaptations because they just don’t do the book justice, be assured that if you manage a re-read of chapters 1 and 2, this will be enough.

Image  Image  Image

If you haven’t been along to one of our gatherings yet and feel that you might like to join with us next week, please feel free. Email our Meeting Coordinator Extraordinaire, Helen at to find out what the ‘same time, same place’ details are.

In the mean time, fingers crossed I actually remember to come along myself, especially as it’s been a loooong while and I am relocating to London in January, not that the thesis is finished yet, no, still not finished, and happy Austen-ing to you all!

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10 Signs of Jane Austen Addiction

August 8, 2013 at 10:21 PM (General News, Jane Austen in the News) (, , )

My friend emailed a link to an article by The Huffington Post‘s Deborah Yaffe in which she poses 10 questions that will help you determine whether you are a Jane Austen addict.

As I have done all my chores at work and my shift is nearly over, which leaves me little time for thesising, I thought I would answer the questions to see if I need to address another addiction with my counsellor next week. I don’t know what you think, but I would say that my addiction is on the healthy side. My admiration for the great lady, who will adorn England’s new 10 quid note, much to the dismay of many misogynistic old farts, does not interfere with the daily functioning of my life, which I think is the primary sign that one’s addiction has gone to the dark side.


Anyways… Here be my responses to the 10 signs of Jane Austen Addiction, so I leave you to judge for yourselves. Do feel free to send through your own responses either in the comments field or send us a link to your own blog!


10. Do you give Jane Austen board books as baby presents.

I haven’t done this, but I have given Ashley a little quid copy of Jane’s ‘History of England’ in which she vilifies Elizabeth I, the one issue on which we don’t agree.


9. You skipped lunch to watch Episode 98 of ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries‘.

I haven’t heard of this. I don’t think I want to. Sounds dreadful!

8. You compare people you know to Jane Austen characters.

I have certainly done this on occasion. I’ve met LOTS of Lady Catherine’s. Unfortunately, I have only ever encountered one Captain Wentworth and he was already someone else’s Captain Wentworth.

7. You bought an Empire-waist ball gown, even though it’s not your look.

I don’t waste money on clothes, particularly items that are not my look. I just collect pictures of other women looking lovely in theirs.

6. Someone gave you a Jane Austen Action Figure.

Oh no! I so want one, but I haven’t liked any of the figures. The faces have looked weird on the ones I have seen. And besides, they don’t make a Captain Wentworth one. I would definitely get a Captain Wentworth one!

5. The Republic of Pemberley is your home page.

Not my home page, but I visit regularly and have purchased t-shirts from them, which turned out couldn’t fit over my ‘girls’. American Jane Austen Addicts must have small bosoms. My niece has them now. She too will become a Jane Austen Addict once I’ve finished with her.


4. You have mixed feelings about Cassandra Austen.

I adore her, but I still can’t believe she burned so many of her sister’s letters. However, this, perhaps, makes her a good sister. Although, given that I still love Jane after reading the letters that are extant and not being too appalled by some of her pronouncements on her acquaintances, I can’t see what else she may have written that would destroy my affection for her entirely. Hmm? I think that means I have mixed feelings about Cassandra.

3. You cry when you visit Chawton.

I do get a little welled up. The first time I visited the Big House at Chawton, I did cry. I comforted myself with 2 slices of the best lemon drizzle cake I have ever tasted in my entire life and sitting in the garden concocting a research project that would gain me access to the lovely library there. After I have finished my thesis, of course.

2. You own all the books, but you’re still buying copies.

I am always on the look out for the perfect edition, although I think my 1990′s Folio Society box set will do me just fine. I did have to get Penguin pocket sized editions of Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice (my favourites) that could be popped into the coat pocket of my lovely M&S long black coat. When I replace this coat, which I need to as I have worn it to death, I will be taking one of these pocket editions to make sure that the new coat will also accommodate them.


1. Your DVD of “Pride and Prejudice” skips automatically to the wet-shirt scene.

It doesn’t skip automatically to it, but I know exactly at what point my iTunes downloaded version needs to be forwarded to so I can enjoy it again and again. I am also rather eager to get back to the UK so I can visit the 12-foot wet-shirted Colin statue in Hyde Park! And I know exactly which scene to skip to on my copy of the 1995 version of Persuasion to hear Anne/Captain Wentworth read the most romantic letter ever written, before I turn it off in a sobbing wave of envy to fling myself onto my bed and weep for the romance that I don’t have in my life.


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Jane Austen: Worth Banking On?

June 27, 2013 at 6:39 PM (Jane Austen in the News)

Greetings All. Our former Meeting Coordinator, Jo has tweeted me news of the great debate currently going on in the Mother Country about who should adorn the new 10 quid note. The Women’s Room has been discussing via Twitter (@TheWomensRoomUK – possible female candidates. Some gentlemen have been appalled by the thought of having some sheila adorning the currency. Downright horrified they have been, my friend, Mary has reported to me. Well, you know chaps, you have had the monopoly on the currency for some time and you can’t go about claiming that the Queen has been on it for 60 years because she is the monarch and, while absolutely fabulous, does not count when it comes to this particular debate.

While you know I am a fan of the great Jane Austen and am an Arts person by temperament, I have been following the science and political candidates put forward by @TheWomensRoomUK followers with great interest and have come to the conclusion that one of the great, unheralded science ladies should become the face of the new 10 quid note. My reasoning is that a good proportion of the literate world are already quite familiar with Jane Austen and the other great female writers, but some of the science ladies being put forward, well, I had no idea who they were and after Googling some of them, thought that they achievements should be known about and maybe getting their mugshot on a bank note would be a good way to start.


That’s my two-cents worth. I leave you here with the link Jo tweeted me.

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A new tome on Jane

June 3, 2013 at 10:54 AM (Jane Austen Books) (, , )

Greetings to you all on this, in Western Australia at least, public holiday Monday. I have just received the latest newsletter from The Society of Antiquaries of London in which a new book by Fellows Roy and Lesley Adkin is reviewed. Below I have copied it for your consideration, just in case you were in the mood for some Jane Austen-related book purchasing.


From: SALON, issue 299, 3 June 2013


Jane Austen wrote novels that are full of gentle humour, playing with people’s ideas of class and propriety. In her own time, the subtleties and nuances of her text would have been understood and enjoyed, but, as time has gone on, we have gradually lost a sense of what her finely tuned words and situations tell us about her characters. Riding to the rescue come our Fellows Roy and Lesley Adkins, whose very readable new book provides a compendium of background information about Jane Austen’s England so that when she writes, for example, about the clothing worn by her characters, or the duties and income of a parish rector, we have a much clearer idea of the weight of meaning that lies behind her apparently artless words.

As with their other recent best sellers, Jack Tar and Trafalgar, what makes this book so valuable and readable is the extensive use made by the authors of contemporary letters, diaries, newspaper reports, advertisements, concert programmes and more. The irritatingly wrong-headed generalisations and unsupported assertions that fill so many popular histories are replaced here by the precision of quotations that tell the story better than any paraphrase, in the language, spelling and punctuation of the time: the art of the Adkins is to read very widely, choose their quotations very well, and set them in a well-thought-out structure that here addresses such themes as marriage, class and ‘breeding’, childhood, fashion, church services, superstitions, wealth, work, leisure, transport, medicine and health and death.

As we approach the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s own death (18 July 1817), there will be hundreds of books, no doubt, clamouring for attention, but few will be as genuinely informative as this one, sending you back to read Jane Austen’s novels with the ability to see so much more of what literary critics like to call her ‘sub text’.

Roy and Lesley Adkins will be giving talks at various festivals and events throughout the summer, including the Cheltenham Science Festival, on 7 June 2013, a book launch talk in the Museum of Somerset at Taunton on 19 June 2013, in the Great Hall, where Jane Austen’s aunt was tried for shoplifting! (tickets are £8 each, available from the Museum of Somerset), at the Telegraph ‘Ways With Words’ Festival at Dartington, Devon, on 12 July 2013, and at the West Meon Festival of Books, in the heart of Jane Austen country, on 13 July 2013. You can see details of other festival appearances on the Adkins’s website and sign up for their informative and entertaining Occasional Newsletter, issues of which are almost a book chapter in themselves on diverse historical and archaeological subjects.

Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England: how our ancestors lived two centuries ago, by Roy and Lesley Adkins; ISBN 9781408703960, Little Brown, 2013

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Smithfield Markets and Prince Henry’s Room under threat

May 13, 2013 at 11:47 AM (General News, History)

I have just received the latest e-newsletter from the Society of Antiquaries of London and am dismayed to read of the losses to our cultural heritage that are being threatened by so-called progress. I am doing a cut and paste job directly from the e-newsletter here and I do hope those of you in the UK can spread the word and get active in your defence of the Smithfield Markets and Prince Henry’s Room.


Smithfield Markets under threat

“As many Salon readers are surely aware, SAVE Britain’s Heritage thought it had achieved an important victory when consent to demolish the General Market, Fish Market and Red House at London’s Smithfield Market was turned down after a planning inquiry in 2008. Communities Secretary Hazel Blears stated at the time that these buildings made a significant contribution to the character and appearance of Farringdon and the surrounding area. Our Fellow Adam Wilkinson, who led the four-year ‘don’t butcher Smithfield’ campaign for SAVE, looked forward to these characterful buildings playing a central role in a Covent Garden-style revival of Smithfield. Imagine SAVE’s distress then when the new plans that emerged for the site in October 2012 proved to be just as potentially destructive of the existing structures as the rejected plans.


The new plans involve what Clem Cecil of SAVE calls a ‘scoop-out job’; that is to say, retaining the three facades that line the edges of the site, but demolishing all the buildings behind (shown in red above) to create what the architects describe as ‘low-rise pavilions’ to accommodate new office space.

Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright says the new scheme (see above) ‘will leave only a flimsy skin of heritage, a picturesque skirt of Victoriana around the base of yet another slab of generic commercial development’.

SAVE has put out an appeal to everyone who cares about these buildings and wants to see them preserved to write ‘a strong note of objection to the Corporation of London, addressed to planning officer Gemma Delves, quoting planning application numbers 13/00150/FULEIA, 13/00155/LBC and 13/00156/CAC’.

The main grounds for objection are that the proposal entails the loss of a major landmark building, including its splendid market halls and roofs; will cause substantial harm to the Smithfield conservation area and surrounding conservation areas, as well as to the adjacent Grade II* listed Meat Market and Grade II listed Poultry Market; that important views will be lost, including those from the Holborn Viaduct; that the buildings have never been market tested (as recommended by the Planning Inspector’s Report following the Public Inquiry in 2008) to estbalish that they are needed; that there is an alternative conservation-led scheme for the site backed up by a viable business plan; that there is no convincing justification for demolition (the National Planning Framework paragraph 132 says that ‘Heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require convincing justification); and that the condition of the buildings, which have been deliberately neglected, is not a justification for demolition (‘Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of or damage to a heritage asset the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision’: National Planning Framework paragraph 132).

Our Fellow Marcus Binney, President of SAVE, says that in his view ‘this will be the worst mutilation of Victorian buildings in thirty years’. For further information and images, see SAVE’s website and its Facebook page.

Prince Henry’s Room


Our Fellows Paula Henderson and Claire Gapper write to say that: ‘The small half-timber gateway to Inner Temple at 17 Fleet Street is a remarkable survival of the Great Fire of 1666. The room on the first floor is known as Prince Henry’s Room because of the Prince of Wales feathers and the initials “P H” featured in its exceptionally fine plasterwork ceiling. The building certainly dates to the early years of the seventeenth century. In 1969 the care of Prince Henry’s Room was transferred from the Greater London Council to the Corporation of London, which opened it to the public. An exhibition on Samuel Pepys was installed; Pepys was born not far away and spent many happy hours “drinking and singing” in the room, when it was known as the Fountain Tavern.

‘In December 2012, the Corporation’s Culture Heritage and Libraries Committee declared the room “surplus” and transferred its care to its Property Investment Group, which is actively seeking a tenant. In recent correspondence to us they wrote that the room is no longer available for cultural purposes and that they do not have the financial resources to facilitate visits. Surely whatever rent they could get for this small room could not possibly be as important as the good will that is engendered by making it accessible to those who wish to see an all-too-rare relic of early Stuart life amidst a sea of commercial development.

‘Along with other interested parties (including the Samuel Pepys Club, who paid for the restoration of the room and who have used it for recitals, readings and other events related to seventeenth-century London), we are hoping to convince the Corporation that this room should be made available to interested, scholarly groups at least on an occasional basis. If any Fellows have suggestions or would like to join our campaign, please let us know.’”

The copy in this post is taken directly from the e-newsletter of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Salon (issue 298, 13 May 2013) and has been shared by the author of this blog in the interest of saving the cultural heritage of the UK for the enjoyment and pleasure of future generations of Anglophiles like herself.

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Chawton House Library Catharine Macaulay Workshop

May 9, 2013 at 7:49 PM (Uncategorized) ()


Chawton House Library will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the publication of Catharine Macaulay‘s first volume of her History of England, with a one-day workshop, ‘A little sprig of laurel” Women writing history in the long eighteenth century’, on Thursday 26 September 2013.

The main speaker will be Professor Karen O’Brien from the University of Birmingham.

The library has issued a call for papers with abstracts of 250 words for papers of about 15 minutes. The papers can relate to Macaulay, her life and works, or any other female historians of the long eighteenth century.

Naturally, click over to the Chawton House Library website for more information about this workshop and other exciting events those of you lucky enough to live in, or soon to be visiting, the UK can enjoy.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of encountering Catharine Macaulay, let me introduce you.

Catharine Sawbridge was born in Kent on 2 April 1731. After the death of her mother, Catharine and her siblings were basically left to their own devices under their father’s less than watchful eye. Her formal education was somewhat lacking due to her father’s employment of a rather ignorant governess. In Mary Hays’ 1803 biography of Catharine, she describes Catharine’s education blossoming upon Catharine finding her way “into her father’s well-furnished library, [where] she became her own purveyor, and rioted in intellectual luxury”. Indeed, in the introduction to her first volume of History of England, Macaulay wrote,

“From my early youth I have read with delight those histories which exhibit Liberty in its most exalted state, the annals of the Roman and the Greek republics. Studies like these excite that natural love of Freedom which lies latent in the breast of every rational being.”

Her contemporary, Elizabeth Carter, member of the famous Bluestocking Circle, described Macaulay as being “more deeply learned than becomes a fine lady”, which is a rather disappointing attitude from her fellow Bluestocking.


Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo, by Richard Samuel, exhibited 1779. National Portrait Gallery London, NPG 4905.

Catharine married her first husband, the Scottish physician, George Macaulay in 1760. It was he who encouraged her in her historical enquiries and helped edit her first volume. Their marriage ended with his untimely death in 1766.

In 1778, her scandalous marriage at the age of 47 to William George, the 21-year old brother-in-law of her friend, Elizabeth Arnold saw her ridiculed by her contemporaries and in the popular periodicals.

However, her marriage appears to have been happy and in such a state, she completed the final volumes of her History of England and other works, and travelled to the United States with her husband where they met George Washington.


Macaulay by Robert Edge Pine, c. 1775. National Portrait Gallery London, NPG 5856.

I became quite enamoured of Catharine Macaulay when I was procrastinating through my Honours year. My dissertation, ‘Our Brains are as Fruitful as our Bodies’: Seventeenth-Century Women Defend their Ability and Desire for Learning, introduced me to many fabulous intelligent women, but it was Catharine who stayed with me. You have to love a woman who not only studies history, and manages to defeat the procrastination and actually write about it too, but who also was a bit of rebel in the romance stakes. Let’s face it, she seems to have had great taste in husbands. Her first encouraged her academic inclinations, which was a lot more than some of his contemporaries would have done. And she becomes England’s first infamous cougar when she married the man, I romantically assume, was her soul mate. They remained happily married until her death in 1791.

If you would like to learn more about Catharine Macaulay and other learned ladies as brilliant as her, although not quite like her, I thoroughly recommend Myra Reynolds’ The Learned Lady in England, 1650-1760. The fabulous Internet Archive have the entire volume in downloadable pdf form. You can also find three of Macaulay’s works there too, also free to download and enjoy. You have to register to download things, but it’s totally worth the few minutes it takes to do so.

Well, that’s enough from me. Time for me to get back to some procrastination over my own academic endeavour. If you are fortunate enough to attend the workshop at Chawton in September, do let us know. I would be happy to have you guest blog here about it. 

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