Jane Austen's 236th Birthday December 16, 2011

On Saturday, December 10, the Wisconsin region of JASNA celebrated Jane Austen’s birthday with a gala luncheon. 

Marylee Richmond and Susan Flaherty at the registration table.
Suan and Diane Judd made individual souvenirs for all participants, a series of stunning silhouettes (as below).  What an acomplishment!

We dined on individual Beef Wellingtons or Quiches, followed by delicious desserts not to be believed. (Remember, desserts is stressed spelled backwards.) 

Below, Sara Bowen and Jane Glaser have a chat before the luncheon.

Above, our Chicago colleague, William Phillips, gave the annual toast to our favorite author’s birthday.
Below, Jeff Nigro, Regional Coordinator for the neighboring Chicago group,  as he presented his talk on “Austen and the Beauty of Place.”

Jane Austen did not write a great many long descriptions of locations in her fiction.  Sometimes, Nigro said, when characters spoke rhapsodically, their fawning images illustrated the superficial nature of the speaker, such as Mr. Collins talking of Rosings (Lady Catherine’s estate) or Mrs. Elton in Emma with her inflated images of Maple Grove.
Above, Chawton House and Church, by an unknown artist

Austen favors descriptions, such as that Edward gives in Sense & Sensibility, of a landscape that unites beauty and utility.  An excellent example would be the view of Wivenhoe Park by John Constable,  1816, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., below.

Among the best known of Austen’s landscape descriptions comes from Emma:    “It was a sweet view — sweet to the eye and the mind. English verdure, English culture, English comfort, seen under a sun bright, without being oppressive.” 

Nigro went on to compare such images from Austen to sets and locations used in various movie and television series based on the novels, sometimes finding the film version less than accurate.

Instead of trying to define a universal standard of beauty, he concluded, Austen raises queries about what constitutes true  beauty;  more than just a nice view, she finds perfection is based on a complex web of emotions that we bring to our personal images  — of home.  Thank you, Jeff, for your stimulating talk!

Above, Sue Zimmerman and Victoria Hinshaw

bsp;          Liz Cooper with Beverly Levin

The Wisconsin Region invites you to its website, here.
The renowned calendar prepared by Liz Philosophos Cooper and Kim Wilson has even more entries on the activities of Jane Austen, her family, and her characters to fill almost every day.  This year’s pictures are all on color, some of everyone’s favorites from the Brock Brothers. To order, contact Liz Cooper at
or click Merchandise on the website.

Below, a sample page (October 2012)

2 thoughts on “Jane Austen's 236th Birthday December 16, 2011”

  1. That Constable landscape is of Wivenhoe Park, home of the Rebows, landed Essex gentry, for many generations until the line died out.

    The Reluctant Guardian is loosely based on the romance between the cousins Mary Martin and Sir Isaac Rebow. I did a three-part article on their love letters in the early 1970s for the magazine of the Archives and Special Collections Department of Washington State University, The Record.

    Constable also was said to have painted a portrait of Mary Martin, but, if he did — and it would have been rare, a portrait by someone known for his landscape paintings — it has long since disappeared. The original of this painting of Wivenhoe (which I visited in 1972 on my first trip to England) is in Washington's National Gallery.

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