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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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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Happy Birthday ‘Pride and Prejudice’

December 28, 2012 at 10:26 AM (Jane Austen in the News)

Greetings and Salutations to you all. I do hope you had a lovely Christmas and that 2013 starts off jolly well for you.

I just spotted a little tweet this morning, the contents of which I thought I would share with you. 2013 is going to be an important year for Janeites as it marks the 200th Anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, which means we have a jolly good excuse to have little parties, celebrations and, maybe, head on over to England to celebrate in the country of our favourite author’s birth!

This little link here will give you an idea of some of the exciting things going on in the Mother Country to mark the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Mr Darcy.

I am hoping I’ll get my blasted thesis finished so I can get over there in June and start celebrating myself.

In the mean time, happy holidays and happy reading!

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Jane Austen in the News

August 22, 2012 at 5:07 AM (Jane Austen in the News)

Greetings again. I am doing anything rather than working on the thesis this morning. (It’s taken nearly 7 years because…)

I thought I would pop a few Jane from the News items here for you. I should have been at our last meeting to present some of these in person, however, I am sure Tracey covered my procrastinating butt quite well!

A couple of items are a little old now, but I have, as per the last post, been meaning to post them for a while, so better late than never!

Pride and Prejudice Tours Brochure – This one isn’t so much news as information for any of you lucky enough to be planning a trip to the Mother Country. If you have been fortunate enough to do one of these tours already, maybe you would like to send through your thoughts and pics to me and I can post them here for other members.

For those of you on Facebook, you might like to follow the Chawton House Library, if you’re not already. A few items from their page for your edification.

Heritage Open Day: The Gentleman Farmer

Saturday 8th September 2012 from 10:00am, until 4:00pm
Experience Chawton House Library in a new light as we bring you face-to-face with the ‘Gentleman Farmer’. Discover the charity’s newly-restored eighteenth-century barn, complete with contemporary implements; walk the lime avenue; experience the Shire horses working on the estate, and speak to the woodsman. Children’s activities will be available, plus an exhibition in the house.
The ground floor of the House will be open, including a display of Edward’s newly-conserved silk suit. Refreshments will be available and the gardens will be open to visitors.

Evening Lecture: Professor Philip Olleson – ‘the World Of Susan Burney’

Wednesday 19th September 2012 from 6:30pm, until 8:30pm
To mark the publication by Ashgate of The Journals and Letters of Susan Burney: Music and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century England, Chawton House Library invites you to an evening devoted to Susan Burney. Philip Olleson, Emeritus Professor of Historical Musicology at the University of Nottingham, and the editor of the volume, will introduce Susan with an account of her life and times, accompanied by a selection of readings from the journals by Karin Fernald, a speaker, actor and writer who is well known for her programmes of readings based on the life and works of literary figures.
A collection of new photographs of Chawton House Library are available to view – Chawton House Library Beautiful new photographs of Chawton House by Winchester-based photographer, Joe Low.
They have also updated their website and it’s all new and flash with lots of interesting things to tantalise the little grey cells! If you haven’t surfed in their direction for a while, now might be a good time.
From the newspapers we have a range of things to delight and horrify. If any of you are following the Perth Janeites Facebook Page, I have just posted a link to the article from The Guardian in which it was revealed that Pride and Prejudice is about to the Fifty Shades of Grey treatment! Horror! It’s bad enough it was zombified, now it’s going X-rated! Let’s leave something to the imagination. 
Did you see the story about a ring that apparently belonged to Jane going for a tidy sum in a recent auction?
And did you catch this post on The Jane Austen Centre‘s website about Jane’s final days in Winchester?
This news is from last year, but I just came across it the other day and I was intrigued and horrified at the same time. Murder? Really? Read for yourself and see what you think. A novelist with a book to sell looking for publicity at any cost?
As for this particular item; perish the thought! I can’t believe she’d be in synch with this group of Conservatives! Maybe in her own time. Shuddering at the thought.
Well, I really should get on with doing some writing of my own. Nothing controversial or horrific in what I’m doing. Well, some of the tales I encounter are pretty horrific, but other than some grammatical horrors, I think I’m fairly horror-free in my thesis.
Hope you are all well and Happy Jane Austening to you!

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In the News: Archaeologists Unearth Steventon Rectory

December 16, 2011 at 9:36 PM (Jane Austen in the News)

The following is from an article on the BBC News website.


16 December 2011 Last updated at 09:01 GMT

Remains of Jane Austen’s Steventon home unearthed

Archaeologists in Hampshire have uncovered signs of the house where Jane Austen spent more than half of her life.

The Austen family lived in the rectory in Steventon, near Basingstoke, from 1775 to 1801, where the writer began three of her novels.

Contemporary drawings of Steventon rectory

Contemporary drawings showed different views of the Austens’ house

The house was demolished early in the 19th Century soon after Austen and her family moved to Bath.

Volunteers involved in the dig hope to gain an insight into life in the house.

Debbie Charlton, of archaeologists Archaeo Briton, who led the dig, said: “Our main focus for the project is putting together the puzzle of what Jane’s first home was like.”

Although the original shape of the building was recorded on a local map in the early 1800s, it was not to scale and the few drawings made by different artists appear contradictory.

Archaeological dig in Steventon
The excavation was undertaken by a team of volunteers

Austen’s social life while she lived at Steventon is said to have provided her with material for her novels.

While at Steventon, she started to pen the drafts that became Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.

They were later completed when the family returned to Hampshire to live in the village of Chawton, near Winchester.

The house there is now a museum and tourist attraction.

Maureen Stiller, of the Jane Austen Society, said: “Experience went into writing her novels, so obviously the people she met and things she did must have fed into her work. This is where it all started.

“I hope the Austen devotees are going to be excited – it gives us a bit more insight into the proportions of the rectory and hopefully a bit of the social life.”

Portrait of Jane Austen by British painter Ozias Humphry
Jane Austen lived at Steventon from 1775 to 1801

Having completed the archaeological excavations, the project volunteers will collate the finds for display at the Willis Museum at Basingstoke next year.

Ms Charlton said: “It’s been fantastic and a wonderful opportunity. It’s been a joy – every day has brought some excitement.”

The work was carried out with a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation.

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Jane Austen in the news again. Well, in the UK’s ‘Daily Mail’.

December 5, 2011 at 6:38 PM (Jane Austen in the News)

I hope my Fellow Janeites are getting into the festive spirit now that the Silly Season is upon us. Apologies to my Fellow Perth Janeites that I will not be with you this weekend for our gathering as I am off to Melbourne tomorrow. However, before I hop on the plane, I wanted to share this article with you, which was tweeted to followers of Chawton House (@ChawtonHouse) 46 minutes ago. The following is the article copied from the UK’s Daily Mail website.


Is this what Jane Austen really looked like? Newly discovered sketch could be lost portrait of 19th century novelist

Last updated at 2:06 AM on 5th December 2011

Read more:

The author of a forthcoming biography on Jane Austen believes she has unearthed a previously undiscovered portrait of the novelist.

Dr Paula Byrne was midway through her new book when her husband surprised her with a portrait of a female writer bought at auction, according to the Christmas Radio Times.

She spotted the long, straight ‘Austen nose’ seen in images of the writer’s father and brothers, and enlisted the help of a team of experts and the BBC to test her as yet unproven thesis that the woman is the famous author, who died in 1817 aged 41.

New look: Paula Byrne is convinced that the woman in this sketch is one of Britain’s best-loved authors. Her find is the subject of a new BBC2 documentary, Jane Austen: The Unseen Portrait?, to be broadcast on Boxing Day in the UK.

The only known images with proven provenance of the author of Sense And Sensibility, Pride And Prejudice and Emma to date are an 1810 sketch by Austen’s sister Cassandra – in which the writer is said to look a little cross – and an ‘idealised’ portrait used as the frontispiece to the Austen memoir written by her nephew in 1870.

Dr Byrne, whose Austen biography, The Real Jane Austen, is being published by HarperCollins in 2013, believes the new portrait could transform the author’s image.

‘The memoir portrait has always rather annoyed me. It makes her look pretty and dim,’ she said.

‘It feeds this whole notion of “Aunt Jane”, the demure spinster who was very good at spillikins and enjoyed scribbling on the side, but was content with her life in the shadows.

‘Scholars know there was so much more to her and for me this new picture encapsulates – almost too perfectly – that other side.

‘She’s a professional woman presenting herself to the world with the tools of her trade. It’s the image of Jane Austen so many of us have been waiting for.’

Dr Byrne, whose previous work includes Jane Austen And The Theatre, and Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson, said she had a jolt of recognition as soon as she saw the image.

‘My immediate reaction was, “My God, it’s Jane Austen!”. It was the nose that did it,’ she added.

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Christmas Meeting of the JASA Perth Chapter

November 15, 2011 at 9:42 AM (Jane Austen in the News, Perth Chapter Meeting Details)

The time for the Christmas meeting of the Perth Chapter of the Jane Austen Society of Australia is fast approaching! We are scheduled to meet on Saturday 10th December at 2:30pm, the usual place.

I have been going through my copies of the Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine and in the process of doing so, I came across the following article, which I think might help to put you all in an Austen-y Christmas Mood for the meeting, so if you have the magazine do check out the article ‘An Austen Christmas’ by Sheryl Craig in the November/December 2009 edition.

And in the same issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World is a Christmas mystery by Carrie Bebris and starring everyone’s favourite Austen couple, The Darcys – ‘A Midwinter Night’s Dream: A Mr & Mrs Darcy Mystery’.

For those interested in joining the Perth Janeites for their Christmas meeting, please contact our Meeting Coordinator, Helen for further details at

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News from the UK’s ‘Guardian’ about Jane Austen’s death

November 15, 2011 at 9:01 AM (Jane Austen in the News)

A friend has just sent me a link to the article (copied below) from the UK’s The Guardian newspaper website. What do you think?


Jane Austen ‘died from arsenic poisoning’

Crime writer Lindsay Ashford bases claim on reading of author’s letters and claims murder cannot be ruled out



Almost 200 years after she died, Jane Austen‘s early death at the age of just 41 has been attributed to many things, from cancer to Addison’s disease. Now sleuthing from a crime novelist has uncovered a new possibility: arsenic poisoning.

Author Lindsay Ashford moved to Austen’s village of Chawton three years ago, and began writing her new crime novel in the library of the novelist’s brother Edward’s former home, Chawton House. She soon became engrossed in old volumes of Austen’s letters, and one morning spotted a sentence Austen wrote just a few months before she died: “I am considerably better now and am recovering my looks a little, which have been bad enough, black and white and every wrong colour.”

Having researched modern forensic techniques and poisons for her crime novels, Ashford immediately realised the symptoms could be ascribed to arsenic poisoning, which can cause “raindrop” pigmentation, where patches of skin go brown or black, and other areas go white.

Shortly afterwards she met the former president of the Jane Austen Society of North America, who told her that the lock of Austen’s hair on display at a nearby museum had been tested for arsenic by the now deceased American couple who bought it an auction in 1948, coming up positive.

Ashford says that chronic arsenic poisoning gives all the symptoms Austen wrote about in her letters, unlike other possibilities which have been put forward for her death, from Addison’s disease, to the cancer Hodgkin’s disease and the auto-immune disease lupus. Arsenic was also widely available at the time, handed out in the form of Fowler’s Solution as a treatment for everything from rheumatism – something Austen complained of in her letters – to syphilis.

“After all my research I think it’s highly likely she was given a medicine containing arsenic. When you look at her list of symptoms and compare them to the list of arsenic symptoms, there is an amazing correlation,” Ashford told the Guardian. “I’m quite surprised no one has thought of it before, but I don’t think people realise quite how often arsenic was used as a medicine. [But] as a crime writer I’ve done a lot of research into arsenic, and I think it was just a bit of serendipity, that someone like me came to look at her letters with a very different eye to the eye most people cast on Jane Austen. It’s just luck I have this knowledge, which most Austen academics wouldn’t.”

Although Ashford thinks that, based on her symptoms and on the fact arsenic was so widespread, it is “highly likely” that Austen was suffering from arsenic poisoning after being prescribed it by a doctor for another disease, she explores the possibility that the novelist was murdered with arsenic in her new novel, The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen. “I don’t think murder is out of the question,” she said. “Having delved into her family background, there was a lot going on that has never been revealed and there could have been a motive for murder. In the early 19th century a lot of people were getting away with murder with arsenic as a weapon, because it wasn’t until the Marsh test was developed in 1836 that human remains could be analysed for the presence of arsenic.”

Professor Janet Todd, editor for the Cambridge edition of Jane Austen, said that murder was implausible. “I doubt very much she would have been poisoned intentionally. I think it’s very unlikely. But the possibility she had arsenic for rheumatism, say, is quite likely,” she said. “It’s certainly odd that she died quite so young. [But] in the absence of digging her up and finding out, which would not be appreciated, nobody knows what she died of.”

Although Ashford would be keen to see Austen’s bones disinterred for modern forensic analysis, she accepts this is unlikely to happen. “I can quite understand that people would be outraged by the idea,” she said.

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Publication of Sense and Sensibility ‘By A Lady’

October 21, 2011 at 12:42 AM (Jane Austen in the News)

The following is an short article by Richard Cavendish and which appeared in History Today magazine, volume 61, issue 10, 2011.



Title page of the first edition of Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’.

Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility was first published in London by Thomas Egerton on October 30th, 1811.

Jane Austen was 35 when her first published novel appeared and had less than six years left to live. The youngest of seven children of a Hampshire clergy-man, George Austen, she wrote stories and poems from her childhood on and read them aloud to her family, who enjoyed them, as well as plays that the family acted out. The anarchic, boisterous humour of some of the early work has been compared to Monty Python. According to her sister Cassandra, Jane had written the first version of a novel she called Elinor and Marianne by 1796 and she began First Impressions (later Pride and Prejudice) in October that year. Late in 1797 her father offered it to a London publisher, who sent it straight back by return post without bothering to read it. She drastically altered Elinor and Marianne in 1797-98.

In 1801 the Austens moved to Bath where Jane’s output fell off, whether because the move made her happy or unhappy is unclear. The family moved back to Hampshire in 1809 and settled in Chawton, near Alton, in the house which is now the Jane Austen’s House Museum. Revised once more in 1809-10, Elinor and Marianne came out at last in 1811 as Sense and Sensibility, ‘a novel in three volumes, By a Lady’, published in London by Thomas Egerton. The Lady in question was obliged to cover any losses, but in fact she cleared £140 from the first edition, equivalent to £9,000 or more today. To Cassandra she compared her feelings about seeing her work in print with those of a mother with a suckling child.

Miss Austen took care to conceal her identity. When she and her niece Anna saw a copy of the novel in the local circulating library Anna said, that with a title like that it must be rubbish. Her aunt looked amused, but made no comment. She let Anna into the secret later.

The novel made a good impression and Egerton published Pride and Prejudice in 1813 and Mansfield Park the following year. The later novels were published by John Murray. Word of the author’s identity spread through the literary and fashionable worlds and the Prince Regent, who was a fan, suggested she dedicate Emma to him, which she reluctantly did. Richard Brinsley Sheridan called Pride and Prejudice ‘one of the cleverest things he ever read’. Another admirer was Sir Walter Scott, who wrote after Jane Austen’s death in 1817:

The big wow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is beyond me.

The plaudits have very properly gone on raining down ever since.

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