Wednesday, May 25, 2011

JASNA Annual General Meeting in Fort Worth

I will be attending the Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting in Fort Worth from October 14-16. This is my first AGM, so I'm really excited. Here are the plenary speakers:

Joan Ray - Author of Jane Austen for Dummies
“Sense and Sensibility as Austen’s Problem Novel”
Friday October 14

Andrew Davies - Screenwriter of many Austen film adaptations
“Mr. Darcy’s Wet Shirt and Other Embarrassments: Some Pleasure and Pitfalls in Austen Adaptations”
Saturday October 15

Deirdre Le Faye - Author of Jane Austen, The World of Her Novels
David Selwyn - Austen scholar and Chairman of the Jane Austen Society
“Dynamic Duos: David and Deirdre & Sense and Sensibility”
Sunday October 16

In addition, I will be signing books on Sunday morning along with Austen Authors, Abigail Reynolds, Diana Birchall, and C. Allyn Pierson. Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose will be signing copies of her new book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, a short-story collection, along with Carrie Bebris at a nearby Barnes and Noble.

Registration is now open, and since enrollment has been set at 600, if you are attending, you might want to get a move on it as 305 people have already signed up.

I hope that lots of my readers, friends, fans, etc. will be going. Let's do lunch. :) Mary

JASNA AGM Link for registration and more information

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rare Jane Austen manuscript to go on sale

The Watsons
This really is a must read article from the Manchester Guardian's on-line site. It not only talks about the sale of a partial manuscript of Austen's work, The Watsons, but the road it traveled to get there.

An incredibly rare handwritten manuscript of an unfinished novel by Jane Austen – the only one that is still in private hands – is to appear at auction in London... The Watsons manuscript shows how Austen's other manuscripts must have looked. It also shines an interesting light on how she worked. Austen took a piece of paper, cut it in two and then folded over each half to make eight-page booklets. Then she would write, small neat handwriting leaving little room for corrections – of which there are many. "You can really see the mind at work with all the corrections and revisions," said Heaton.

The Watsons is a fragment, and it became even more fragmented upon leaving the author's hands. It is a glimpse into what can happen to even a highly-valued manuscript by those who know how to care for such things. I shall say no more. Very, very interesting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Treaty of Amiens - Yes, you do care.

The first kiss in ten years - between
Britain and France
 On May 18, 1803, the United Kingdom revoked the Treaty of Amiens that had temporarily ended hostilities between the French Republic and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. Who cares, you ask? If you are a reader of Jane Austen Fan Fiction, then you care, and I shall explain.

The treaty was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and the Marquis Cornwallis as a Definitive Treaty of Peace. Unfortunately, the “definitive treaty of peace” lasted a little more than a year. Those fourteen months provided the only period of peace between the two nations between 1793 and 1815, and that is what makes this treaty so important.

With all that fighting going on in Europe, our favorite Austen characters are all cooped up in Britain with few places to go, except Ireland (too poor) and Scandinavia (too cold.). But with the Treaty of Amiens, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Tilney have an opportunity to visit the Continent without fear of harm or internment. Using this window of opportunity, in my novels, I have been able to provide Darcy with the Grand Tour experience, albeit an abbreviated one, that would have been an important coming-of-age event for someone of Darcy’s rank.
Grand Tour - Late 18th Century

Once the treaty was revoked, Darcy would have had to scoot back to England rather quickly or risk internment in France as an enemy alien. This happened to several prominent Britons, including Fanny Burney’s husband, General Alexandre D'Arblay, an artillery officer who had been adjutant-general to Marquis de Lafayette, who should have known better, and Lord Elgin (he of the Elgin Marbles), who should have guessed.

So to answer your question: Why should we care about the Treaty of Amiens? Without this break in the action, Darcy would never have gone to Paris or traveled across France on his way to the Italian Peninsula, and “a man of sense and education, who has lived in the world” should not be denied those experiences.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Very Own Limerick

Thanks to Tony Grant, I have my own limerick:

There was a great writer called Mary
Who's stories are sometimes most scary
She likes Mr Darcy
All stuck up and arsy
That Austenesque scriber called Mary

I must publish my friend Mary's response to Tony's efforts:

"I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of limericks in driving away friendship" Lizzy said.

"I have been used to consider limericks as the FOOD of friendship," said Darcy.

"Of a fine, stout, healthy friendship it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good limerick will starve it entirely away."

Fortunately, Tony and I have a fine, stout friendship. :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day Past and Present - A Repeat Performance

This post previously appeared on this blog.

Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen, and celebrations involving a Maypole (see picture at left). Much of this tradition derives from the pagan Anglo-Saxon customs held in May, then known as the Month of Three Milkings. Before the English Civil War, the working peasantry took part in morris dances (see picture below), especially at Whitsun (aka, Pentecost). In 1600, the Shakespearean actor William Kempe, morris danced from London to Norwich, an event chronicled in his Nine Days Wonder. The all work and no play Puritan government of Oliver Cromwell suppressed Whitsun Ales or anything else that would cause people to smile. With the restoration of Charles II, a man who knew the value of keeping his people happy since unhappy people had cut off his father's head, the springtime festivals were restored. In particular, Whitsun Ales came to be celebrated on Whitsunday as the date coincided with the birthday of Charles II.