“There’s no one to touch Jane when you’re in a tight place.”


In honor of Veterans Day and Armistice Day, a link to the text of Rudyard Kipling’s story “The Janeites,” about a group of British World War I soldiers who loved Jane Austen. Thanks to all the men and women of the armed services of the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia, and all our allies for their service. And thanks to Alert Janeite DeeDee for posting a link on Facebook and making us think of it!

‘Well, as pore Macklin said, it’s a very select Society, an’ you’ve got to be a Janeite in your ’eart, or you won’t have any success. An’ yet he made me a Janeite! I read all her six books now for pleasure ’tween times in the shop; an’ it brings it all back—down to the smell of the glue-paint on the screens. You take it from me, Brethren, there’s no one to touch Jane when you’re in a tight place. Gawd bless ’er, whoever she was.’

Edited because the U.S. is not the only country commemorating this day.

Your Sunday Austen Meditation



Today’s lesson is for all those with candy and costume hangovers. Spooky is fun, but then the next day comes, and we’re back to real life! From Northanger Abbey, Volume II, Chapter V (20):

He smiled, and said, “You have formed a very favourable idea of the abbey.”

“To be sure, I have. Is not it a fine old place, just like what one reads about?”

“And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such as ‘what one reads about’ may produce? — Have you a stout heart? — Nerves fit for sliding pannels and tapestry?”

“Oh! yes — I do not think I should be easily frightened, because there would be so many people in the house — and besides, it has never been uninhabited and left deserted for years, and then the family come back to it unawares, without giving any notice, as generally happens.”

“No, certainly. — We shall not have to explore our way into a hall dimly lighted by the expiring embers of a wood fire — nor be obliged to spread our beds on the floor of a room without windows, doors, or furniture. But you must be aware that when a young lady is (by whatever means) introduced into a dwelling of this kind, she is always lodged apart from the rest of the family. While they snugly repair to their own end of the house, she is formally conducted by Dorothy, the ancient housekeeper, up a different staircase, and along many gloomy passages, into an apartment never used since some cousin or kin died in it about twenty years before. Can you stand such a ceremony as this? Will not your mind misgive you when you find yourself in this gloomy chamber — too lofty and extensive for you, with only the feeble rays of a single lamp to take in its size — its walls hung with tapestry exhibiting figures as large as life, and the bed, of dark green stuff or purple velvet, presenting even a funereal appearance? Will not your heart sink within you?”

“Oh! but this will not happen to me, I am sure.”

“How fearfully will you examine the furniture of your apartment! — And what will you discern? — Not tables, toilettes, wardrobes, or drawers, but on one side perhaps the remains of a broken lute, on the other a ponderous chest which no efforts can open, and over the fire-place the portrait of some handsome warrior, whose features will so incomprehensibly strike you, that you will not be able to withdraw your eyes from it. Dorothy, meanwhile, no less struck by your appearance, gazes on you in great agitation, and drops a few unintelligible hints. To raise your spirits, moreover, she gives you reason to suppose that the part of the abbey you inhabit is undoubtedly haunted, and informs you that you will not have a single domestic within call. With this parting cordial she curtseys off — you listen to the sound of her receding footsteps as long as the last echo can reach you — and when, with fainting spirits, you attempt to fasten your door, you discover, with increased alarm, that it has no lock.”

“Oh! Mr. Tilney, how frightful! — This is just like a book! — But it cannot really happen to me. I am sure your housekeeper is not really Dorothy. — Well, what then?”

“Nothing further to alarm perhaps may occur the first night. After surmounting your unconquerable horror of the bed, you will retire to rest, and get a few hours’ unquiet slumber. But on the second, or at farthest the third night after your arrival, you will probably have a violent storm. Peals of thunder so loud as to seem to shake the edifice to its foundation will roll round the neighbouring mountains — and during the frightful gusts of wind which accompany it, you will probably think you discern (for your lamp is not extinguished) one part of the hanging more violently agitated than the rest. Unable of course to repress your curiosity in so favourable a moment for indulging it, you will instantly arise, and throwing your dressing-gown around you, proceed to examine this mystery. After a very short search, you will discover a division in the tapestry so artfully constructed as to defy the minutest inspection, and on opening it, a door will immediately appear — which door, being only secured by massy bars and a padlock, you will, after a few efforts, succeed in opening — and, with your lamp in your hand, will pass through it into a small vaulted room.”

“No, indeed; I should be too much frightened to do any such thing.”

nabrockwc18“What! not when Dorothy has given you to understand that there is a secret subterraneous communication between your apartment and the chapel of St. Anthony, scarcely two miles off — Could you shrink from so simple an adventure? No, no, you will proceed into this small vaulted room, and through this into several others, without perceiving anything very remarkable in either. In one perhaps there may be a dagger, in another a few drops of blood, and in a third the remains of some instrument of torture; but there being nothing in all this out of the common way, and your lamp being nearly exhausted, you will return towards your own apartment. In repassing through the small vaulted room, however, your eyes will be attracted towards a large, old-fashioned cabinet of ebony and gold, which, though narrowly examining the furniture before, you had passed unnoticed. Impelled by an irresistible presentiment, you will eagerly advance to it, unlock its folding doors, and search into every drawer; — but for some time without discovering anything of importance — perhaps nothing but a considerable hoard of diamonds. At last, however, by touching a secret spring, an inner compartment will open — a roll of paper appears: you seize it — it contains many sheets of manuscript — you hasten with the precious treasure into your own chamber, but scarcely have you been able to decipher ‘Oh! thou — whomsoever thou mayst be, into whose hands these memoirs of the wretched Matilda may fall’ — when your lamp suddenly expires in the socket, and leaves you in total darkness.”

“Oh! No, no — do not say so. Well, go on.”

But Henry was too much amused by the interest he had raised to be able to carry it farther; he could no longer command solemnity either of subject or voice, and was obliged to entreat her to use her own fancy in the perusal of Matilda’s woes.

Here endeth the lesson. A belated Happy Halloween from the Editrix and Dorothy!

Emma in America Exhibition and Website at Goucher College Library


Margaret C. Sullivan:

I was really happy to attend the opening event for Goucher College Library’s Emma in America exhibition. And don’t forget to check out their new website, Emma in America!

Originally posted on This Delightful Habit of Journaling:

emma_in_americaI was thrilled to take a drive down to Baltimore recently for the opening reception for Goucher College Library’s Emma in America exhibit, celebrating 200 years of Jane Austen’s novel (which actually was published in late 2015, though the title page says 2016) as well as the 200th anniversary of the first publication of one of Austen’s novels in the U.S., also Emma, by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia. 

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The Philosophy of Jane Austen


This video from the School of Life YouTube channel presents an introduction to Jane Austen and her work from a philosophical point of view.

Team O’Toole!Darcy, Represent!

Darcy of Arabia. We're pretty sure we've read that fan fiction.

Darcy of Arabia. We’re pretty sure we’ve read that fan fiction.

We were amused by an article by Devoney Looser in The Independent in which she talks about the various adaptations of Pride and Prejudice over the years, and the various Mr. Darcys. Olivier vs. Rintoul vs. Firth vs. Macfadyen is old news, but Devoney mentions a planned 1974 big-screen adaptation that never got made, featuring Peter O’Toole (!!!) as Darcy and… no one in particular for Elizabeth. Now, had they been making the film ten years earlier, when O’Toole was fresh off Lawrence of Arabia, he would have been the Hottest Darcy Ever™ (sorry, Colin and Larry, but it’s true). In 1974? We don’t know. After one has played Mr. Chips, however brilliantly, can one believably play Mr. Darcy?

Watch your possessives there, luv


na_cover_vintageBecause we’re pretty sure any obsession with sex in Northanger Abbey wasn’t Jane Austen’s.

Also, if you’re going to talk about “Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey” (an idea we can get behind), don’t direct people to Hulu to watch it. Direct them to the book to read it.

Your Sunday Austen Meditation


church_of_austenologyWe were reminded recently that we all can use some inspiration from the pen of Herself. We have been meaning to resurrect the Sunday Austen Meditation feature on this blog, and will endeavor to post weekly. 

Today’s lesson comes from Emma, as we have been thinking a great deal about this novel lately, and also about Janeites enjoying modern technology. While many think that social media is a 21st-century phenomenon, the idea behind it–sharing thoughts with friends–is far from new. In the Editrix’s long-ago girlhood, we wrote in our friends’ autograph albums and school yearbooks, even as Harriet Smith collects charades in her album. From Volume I, Chapter IX (9):

Her views of improving her little friend’s mind, by a great deal of useful reading and conversation, had never yet led to more than a few first chapters, and the intention of going on to-morrow. It was much easier to chat than to study; much pleasanter to let her imagination range and work at Harriet’s fortune, than to be labouring to enlarge her comprehension or exercise it on sober facts; and the only literary pursuit which engaged Harriet at present, the only mental provision she was making for the evening of life, was the collecting and transcribing all the riddles of every sort that she could meet with, into a thin quarto of hot-pressed paper, made up by her friend, and ornamented with ciphers and trophies.

In this age of literature, such collections on a very grand scale are not uncommon. Miss Nash, head-teacher at Mrs. Goddard’s, had written out at least three hundred; and Harriet, who had taken the first hint of it from her, hoped, with Miss Woodhouse’s help, to get a great many more. Emma assisted with her invention, memory and taste; and as Harriet wrote a very pretty hand, it was likely to be an arrangement of the first order, in form as well as quantity.

Mr. Woodhouse was almost as much interested in the business as the girls, and tried very often to recollect something worth their putting in. “So many clever riddles as there used to be when he was young—he wondered he could not remember them! but he hoped he should in time.” And it always ended in “Kitty, a fair but frozen maid.”

His good friend Perry, too, whom he had spoken to on the subject, did not at present recollect any thing of the riddle kind; but he had desired Perry to be upon the watch, and as he went about so much, something, he thought, might come from that quarter.

So as you see, Gentle Readers, even in Jane Austen’s time, there was social media of a sort. Two hundred years ago, the excitement over an album of charades was similar to the excitement over the latest social media app. Once again we see the genius of Jane Austen, who tapped into the universal zeitgeist of humanity that never really changes. Here endeth the lesson.