HAPPY BIRTHDAY JANE AUSTEN!

Jane Austen December 16, 1775 – June 18, 1817

By Victoria Hinshaw

My dearest Jane,

Here I am in the snowy midwest of the United States (that country born just after you), 242 years after your birth, expressing my thanks to you for all your talents and achievements.  I can only hope that somehow you are aware of the esteem in which you are held by millions of people.  Are you surprised that your novels are still adored 200 years after their publication? And that you are celebrated as one of English Literature’s most famous authors?

Jane Austen, sketch by sister Cassandra

How do you account for the fact that many of us call ourselves Janeites? That we gather yearly in several countries to discuss your work, from the earliest of juvenilia to the final letters, prayers and poems you wrote just before your demise? That we scour your words, the accounts of relatives and friends, the objects you touched, your travels, your acquaintances, and every scrap we can uncover that might relate to your life? That universities devote entire courses of you? And that your work has provided the backbone for a whole industry of films, television series, sequels, continuations, contemporary interpretations, and scholarly treatises?

Jane Austen, as revised 1871

I wonder how you would like to visit Chawton Cottage and see how it has become a shrine to you and your books?  Or Chawton House, where the mansion has been restored to its late 18th century appearance and is now a library of women’s writings before 1900? I would not recommend that you travel the streets of London to see the blue plaques on the buildings where you stayed with Henry — it’s far too dangerous unless you have a blue badge guide and skillful driver.  Of a car, not a chaise.

Would you believe that among the most popular reasons that people visit Stoneleigh Abbey, Netley Abbey, The Vyne or the Wheatsheaf Inn is that you were there?  Or that one of the highlights of my life was to eat an apple in the garden of Chawton House when the gardener told me it was from a tree which you probably knew and from which you sampled the fruit.  I wasn’t alone either.

And were you lingering high in the lofts of Winchester Cathedral when JASNA held a service dedicated to your memory, and that was only one of many so held in that great place? I hope you died in the knowledge that your family loved you and that someday you would be commemorated worldwide.

Perhaps some of us have overdone things a bit and owe you an apology. Zombies, vampires, sea monsters, as well as highly fantasized so-called bio-pics have played fast and loose with the facts of your stories and your life. But through it all, we know, if we love Jane Austen (and we do!), all we have to do is pick up a copy of one of your books and immerse ourselves once more.

Most of all, I want to express my gratitude for the brilliant way you have enriched my life and that of many of my friends.  You are one of a kind, Jane Austen, and we are so lucky to have “known” you.  Thank you, Jane.

Yrs very affecly,
V. Hinshaw

A TOUR GUIDE IN ENGLAND: DAY 2 – PART 2

After watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Diane and I 
skirted St. James’s Park and noted all the glorious gardens in full bloom, above and below. 
Crossing the Mall, we then walked up the path that runs along Green Park up to Piccadilly, but instead we turned in at Milkmaid’s Passage as short cut through to St. James’s Street. 
I wanted to introduce Diane to Boulestin, a favourite restaurant of Victoria’s and 
mine in St. James’s Street. In fact, I like it so well that I’ve included it on the itineraries for several upcoming tours as a dinner venue. 
The restuarant is a revival of Marcel Boulestin’s pre-war venue in Covent Garden and has achieved the perfect blend of modern chic, French flair and historic touches. Click here to read about the original restaurant, the most expensive in London, and about chef Marcel Boulestin. 
In the photo above, you can see the outdoor seating area which is in Pickering Place, which is also adjacent to Berry Brothers and which was also the site of the last public duel in England. 
Diane and I each had a bowl of homemade soup and shared a cheese plate afterwards. Delicious!
Afterwards, we detoured through Jermyn Street in order to pay a visit to an old and dear friend. 
Then it was on to meet another old friend, antique dealer Mark Sullivan, 
whose shop is in Cecil Court. 
After pouring Diane and I a glass of wine each, it was at least a half hour of catch up before we got to the business at hand – Artie-facts, the true reason for our visit. As usual, Mark had found me another Wellington for my collection, and what a corker!
As you can see, he’s right at home now and fits beautifully into the collection. 
We decided to end the afternoon seeing even more of our pals, so Diane and I headed over to the Regency section at the National Portrait Gallery.
Part Three Coming Soon!

JANE AUSTEN'S REGENCY WORLD MAGAZINE: AN INTERVIEW WITH CHIEF GURU TIM BULLAMORE

Victoria here, catching up with the owner/publisher/editor of JARW.

Jan-Feb 2016 issue out now!

The magazine’s website is here. To Subscribe, click here.

Tim Bullamore, the publisher of Jane Austen’s Regency World, is a charming friend and entrepreneur in journalism.  I had the good fortune to interview him at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting held recently in Louisville, Kentucky.

Tim’s recent Telegraph obituary of composer/conductor Pierre Boulez is here.
 Nov. Dec. 2015 issue
Tim must have to consult his calendar every day to see where he has to be, for his schedule sounds amazingly complicated to a person like me who just sits in front of a computer most of the day.  He is a busy journalist, spending several days a week in London as the copy editor for the London Times.  He write obituaries for the Daily Telegraph about classical musicians. And, in addition to various teaching assignments, he is the editor and publisher of Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine, which comes out six times a year. And just to provide more variety, his wife holds a university teaching position in Scotland.
Are you surprised this is my favorite of all Tim’s excellent cover images?

We chatted in the busy emporium at the Louisville AGM where Tim manned a table covered with back issues and subscription forms. He told me how his friends were running the Jane Austen Centre in Bath a few years ago. They confided that their magazine, then part of the Centre’s program, was becoming difficult for them to manage. Being a lifelong admirer of Jane Austen, Tim looked into the financial aspects of running the operation and bought it.  In the eight years of his leadership, the magazine has excelled in providing interesting and entertaining articles about all aspects of the English Regency and new insights into our favorite author.  Not to forget the colorful illustrations — and news of JA-related events.  He is proud of the quality of the printing and binding as well, indeed every aspect of the magazine’s production.

The Sept. Oct. 2015 issue, with a cover caricature from James Gillray in 1801:
 using science to treat disease; Article by Penelope Friday.
The content of the magazine ranges among academic and historical subjects, Jane Austen’s life and times, the mania for Regency dancing, Jane Austen in popular culture, including fan fiction, thus appealing to a variety of audiences.
Tim gets a few moments of relaxation in between interviews and courting prospective subscribers.
He spends about a day and a half each week on JARW, working with a small sales staff and editorial consultants. including the renowned Maggie Lane who has written many articles and books on myriad Jane Austen topics.  Time says that as a niche produce JARW has reasonable advertising rates, providing about 20% of income. The rest relies upon subscriptions.

Tim has attended Jane Austen Society events in England, Australia, around Europe, and across the U.S. and Canada.  His first JASNA AGM was in Chicago where he was delighted to receive a warm and enthusiastic welcome from North American Austen fans. He has spoken at several events, including a talk on obituaries in the time of Austen, and a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek “Defense of Mr. Wickham,” (in Minneapolis, 2013) which to his surprise, several listeners took quite seriously. I found it hilarious, casting Mr. Wickham as the victim of Georgiana Darcy’s unsuccessful seductions.
Tim summed up his description of the magazine with an ‘elevator’ pitch: “It has everything you need to know about Jane Austen, the Georgian period and Regency times, full of news, views, and information, an indispensable guide.” 
Who could say it better than that?  Thanks for an engaging chat, Tim.  I look forward to another year of reading pleasure.

Pride & Prejudice Anniversary Merchandise

Commemorative stamps issued by the Royal Mail will be available starting February 21st.

Pride and Prejudice anniversary Journal and Mug from BBC America.

Pride and Prejudice T-shirt, BBC America

T-shirt – I’m not single, I’m just waiting for Mr. Darcy

Pemberley Christmas ornament

iPhone 5 case

iPhone 4 case

Tall, Dark and Darcy tote

Darcy quote vinyl wall decal

Elizabeth and Darcy bookends/shelf pillows

Set of 3 Pride and Prejudice votive candles

Handcut paper silhouettes

Jane Austen Silhouette

Book purse

Valentine Cards

Jane Austen reproduction ring

Jane Austen gypsum plaster bust

Jane Austen in London

Jane Austen arrived at her brother Henry’s new London residence in Hans Place on August 22, 1814.  Henry had moved from his previous house in Henrietta Street near Covent Garden to this recently developed area off Sloane Street.

The house now occupying the spot at #23 Hans Place is a Victorian reconstruction, very unlike the house in which Austen stayed.  Below, the blue plaque on the house, commemorating her stay on the premises.

Around the crescent from #23 Hans Place there is a Regency-era house which is probably what Henry’s house looked like in 1814.  Of course, any vehicle that might have been in the road in those days would not have resembled the one here.

The neighborhood around Hans Place was relatively new, developed just off Sloane Street as part of the Cadogan estate and opened out onto uninhabited fields to the west.  The Hans in the name honors to Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), president of the Royal Society and benefactor of the British Museum, for whom Sloane Square is named.

The general neighborhood has been much in the news lately because the Ecuadoran Embassy is located nearby, the place Julian Assange sought asylum.

A quick check of property values in the area shows that these tall Victorian houses, now mostly institutions or condominiums, are extremely pricey. 

Jane Austen described Henry’s house in a letter to Cassandra dated Tuesday 23-Wednesday 24 August, 1814. After sharing a few details of her journey to London, she wrote:  “It is a delightful place—more than answers my expectation. Having got rid of my unreasonable ideas, I find more space and comfort in the rooms than I had supposed and the Garden is quite a Love. I am in the front Attic, which is the Bedchamber to be preferred.  Henry wants you to see it all…”

From Ackermann’s Repository, April 1814

In early September, Jane Austen wrote from London to Martha Lloyd, who was staying in Pulteney Street, Bath.  She shares her impressions of London fashions: “I am amused by the present style of female dress; — the coloured petticoats with braces over the white Spencers and enormous Bonnets upon the full Stretch are quite entertaining…”

From Ackermann’s Repository, 1814

Miss Austen went on to make observations on a recent art exhibit:  “I have seen West’s famous painting and prefer it to anything of the kind I ever saw before. I do not know that it is reckoned superior to his Healing in the Temple, but it has gratified me much more and indeed is the first representation of our Saviour which ever at all contented me. ‘His Rejection by the Elders’, is the subject.–I want to have You and Cassandra see it.”

Benjamin West, Christ Rejected, 1814,
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Jane Austen wrote further of  her brother’s house (his wife, Eliza de Feuillide Austen had died in April 1813): “I am extremely pleased with this new House of Henry’s, it is everything that could be wished for him and I have only to hope he will continue to like it as well as he does now, and not be looking out for anything better.–He is in very comfortable health; — he has not been so well, he says for a twelvemonth.”

Henry Austen was his sister’s favorite brother, for his talents and charm.  He had several careers, first at Oxford, then in the military, and in various business ventures.  His bank failed in 1816 and he went into the church, as curate in the Chawton parish and later as rector in Steventon.  Henry assisted Jane in her publishing ventures, making deals for the sa
le and repurchase of her books.  He oversaw posthumous publication of   Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

Today: Garden in Hans Place, London