A bit of hangover from the Morgan Library exhibit

Standard

Now the Morgan Library’s Austen exhibit is sadly over; and we know that some Janeites flew across the country to see it, and we have to say they were rewarded for their pains. Alert Janeite Sarah sent us a link to an article in the New York Times about museum curators that included a bit about the curator of the Austen exhibit, Clara Drummond*.

Going from being a teacher to curator isn’t as great a leap as it seems. “Teaching is about engaging students by telling a good story and that’s what a good curator does, too,” said Clara Drummond, 32, who was the co-curator of “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy,” which ran through Sunday at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan.

One of Ms. Drummond’s biggest challenges when faced with presenting Austen, her world and her letters was figuring out how to best engage the audience. “It could be deadly boring,” Ms. Drummond admitted. But because she saw Austen’s letters as “little puzzles” she put a lot of them in frames on the walls because, as she explained, “in glass cases you feel distanced from them.” She also paired the letters with satirical prints by artists like James Gillray and drawings by William Blake and was involved in the production of a 16-minute film with personalities like Fran Lebowitz, Cornell West and Colm Toibin talking about Austen.

“We need to reach beyond the museum walls,” she said.

We think she did a lovely job of presenting the letters and manuscripts and also of placing them in context. (And we think she is the Clara who commented on this post on AustenBlog!) Who else made it to the exhibition?

*Doesn’t that sound like the perfect name for an Austen heroine? (And a thousand points that don’t mean anything to the first commenter who can tell us of a character named Drummond in JA’s novels.)

New Jane Austen exhibit at Winchester Cathedral this year

Standard

Winchester Cathedral, Jane Austen’s final resting place, will have an exhibition on her life and work from 10 April through 20 September 2010. From the press release:

The exhibition, which will document Jane’s home and social life, will be supported by a mix of permanent and rolling exhibits borrowed from collections around the world. From 10 April until 20 September items from Winchester Cathedral’s and Winchester College’s archives will be on display. Some of these items have rarely, if ever, been displayed publicly before and include her burial register, first editions and fragments of Jane’s own writing.

Guided tours, specific exhibitions and talks will take visitors through her life and works to mark her legacy and set the stage for Jane’s bicentenary. Stand out events are:

  • 1 May: Special Evensong to mark Jane Austen’s life, and place in the Cathedral’s history
  • 16-18 July: Jane Austen Weekend (including Regency Dinner) which coincides with the Jane Austen Society AGM
  • 5-6 August: Outside theatre production of Pride and Prejudice
  • Extended tours which take visitors beyond the Cathedral to see Jane’s final home just beyond the Cathedral Inner Close.

For those in the UK, or just visiting, this looks like something you must check out!

Report on “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy” at the Morgan Library

Standard

We paid a visit to the Morgan Library last weekend to see the current exhibition, “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy.” To say that it is Janeite heaven is not as hyperbolic as one might think. The artifacts on display were things we had heard of, or only seen in facsimile: The backwards letter! The letter with the lace drawing! The letter from James Stanier Clarke (who had really sloppy handwriting, by the bye)! The Plan of a Novel! The letter from Cassandra to Fanny Knight after Jane’s death (yes, we cried a little)!

Short version: if you call yourself a Janeite and are anywhere in the vicinity of New York or can get there by March 14, go. Just go. You will not be sorry.

When one enters the exhibit room, there is almost a feeling of: is this it? This one little room with a few things hung about and in cases is what we were so excited about? Just this one not-very-large room? But oh, the riches within. By the time we were through it, we felt gorged on good things. We took lots of notes (so many that we think we made the security guards nervous) and have much to report. Continue reading

Austen Letters Exhibition at the Morgan Library

Standard

There’s lots of good stuff around about the new exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York City, A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy, which opened last week, and we’ll have all of it eventually, but particularly wanted to share this short film produced by the Morgan as an enticement.

We’re guessing they’re not going to let us plebes handle the merchandise quite so freely. ;-) (GLOVES! WHY ISN’T SHE WEARING GLOVES! AAAAAAAARGH!) And doesn’t the Lady Susan manuscript make a lovely little stack? The size of the pages reminds us of our facsimile ms. copy of The History of England. *squeeeee*

The exhibition runs through March 14, 2010, so you still have time to make plans to see it. We are looking forward to seeing it at some point! Maybe more than once!

Getting Local With Jane: Summer Vacation Edition

Standard

Welcome to Getting Local With Jane, our weekly (most of the time) post listing upcoming local events of interest to Jane Austen fans. If your town’s not on the list, stay tuned; you never know when Jane will come to your home town!

There’s not much going on right now, probably because a lot of people will be away on summer holidays, but there’s one current play and a really great upcoming exhibition.

July 31-August 16, 2009, Portland, Oregon: The Quintessence Language and Imagination Theatre presents Pride and Prejudice. OregonLive.com has a review. Tickets are $16-20 and are available online. Thanks to Alert Janeites Kerri and Lisa for the links.

November 6, 2009-March 14, 2010, New York City: We’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth mentioning again, and no doubt we will mention it many more times before it arrives! The Morgan Library & Museum will have an exhibition of its collection of Austen manuscripts and letters.

The Morgan’s collection of Austen’s manuscripts and letters is the largest of any institution in the world and includes the darkly satiric Lady Susan, the only surviving complete manuscript of any of Austen’s novels. The exhibition also includes first and early illustrated editions of Austen’s novels as well as contemporary drawings and prints depicting people, places, and events of biographical significance. In addition to the literary influences that inspired and informed Austen’s works will be responses by later writers as diverse as Auden, Kipling, Nabokov, Scott, Yeats, and Woolf. A specially commissioned film of interviews with contemporary authors and actors commenting on Austen’s work and influence will also be shown in the gallery.

This is a rare and great opportunity for Janeites, and if you’ll be in the NYC area or can get there, plan to check it out (we most likely will). Thanks to Alert Janeites Anita and Lisa for passing on the link.

Getting Local With Jane: Wicked Cool Edition

Standard

Welcome to Getting Local With Jane, our weekly roundup of local events of interest to Jane Austen fans. Even if your hometown isn’t listed this week, keep checking back–you never know when you’ll get lucky.

June 12-28, 2009, Alabaster, Alabama: South City Theatre presents Pride and Prejudice. The Shelby County Reporter has an article about the show. Tickets are $12-15 and can be reserved by phone or online.

June 17-26, New York City: Monetizing Emma is onstage at 440 Studios (we blogged about it previously). Tickets are $18 and are available online.

July 15, 2009, Oakham, Rutland: Heartbreak Productions’ presents Emma at Oakham Castle. Tickets are £5-9 and are available online.

November 2-7, 2009, Birmingham, UK: The Birmingham Repertory Theatre presents Pride and Prejudice. Tickets are £12-32 and are available online.

November 6, 2009 through March 14, 2010, New York City: The Morgan Library is putting together a special exhibition of its Jane Austen holdings, which includes letters and the manuscript of Lady Susan.

The exhibition also includes first and early illustrated editions of Austen’s novels as well as contemporary drawings and prints depicting people, places, and events of biographical significance. In addition to the literary influences that inspired and informed Austen’s works will be responses by later writers as diverse as Auden, Kipling, Nabokov, Scott, Yeats, and Woolf. A specially commissioned film of interviews with contemporary authors commenting on Austen’s work and influence will also be shown in the gallery.

Two words: OH WOW. Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link. (And Alert Janeite A. Marie wanted to add that the Morgan also has an upcoming exhibition on William Blake, who probably was NOT an influence on Jane Austen but of which she was possibly aware.)

A Jane Austen Christmas in Delaware

Standard

WHYY’s Delaware Tonight did a segment on the Historic Odessa Foundation’s annual Christmas Holiday Tour, this year featuring the theme of “A Jane Austen Christmas” (PDF). (Scroll all the way to the bottom to “Experience Delaware” to launch the clip.)

The Editrix spoke at Odessa last week on Christmas traditions in Jane Austen’s time and can attest to the lovely and very painstaking recreation of a Jane Austen Christmas in the historic houses. They have brought in items from Winterthur Museum and Goucher College’s fantastic Alberta Burke collection, including several rare and valuable early editions of Jane Austen’s novels. The decorations and exhibits are painstakingly done and quite beautiful (there is even faux food that had us looking twice) and really give the feeling of what it must have been like to arrive at a country house for a Christmas visit in Jane Austen’s time. If you’re in the area, we highly recommend this lovely exhibit.