Jane Austen Quotes Delivered to Your Smartphone


jane_austenThe Jane Austen Centre at Bath has created the Jane Austen Daily Quote App, a free smartphone app. You can set it to deliver a free daily quote from one of Jane Austen’s novels to your smartphone. This is a delightful idea and we are all for it.

The app also includes articles from the Centre’s online magazine and information about the Centre, as well as a link to its gift store.

Deborah Yaffe pointed out that not everyone has a smartphone. (HOW DO YOU PEOPLE SURVIVE?!?) It occurs to us that we can be better about providing Jane Austen quotation-related services to the non-smartphone-owning Janeite public. Things that make you go hmmm…. ;-)

To get the app, go to your app store and search for “The Jane Austen Daily Quote App.” It’s currently available for Android and iOS.

Jane Austen’s House Museum raising funds to buy Cassandra Austen letter


Cassandra AustenIf you haven’t yet heard, Jane Austen’s House Museum is raising funds to purchase a letter written by Cassandra Austen to Fanny Knight a couple of weeks after Jane Austen’s death. The letter is currently on loan to the museum and on display there. They have from May to July to raise £10,000. They have already raised money for the purchase via the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures  scheme, but need to raise the additional money from individual givers.

The letter was written on July 29, 1817. Cassandra is responding to a letter from Fanny.

Nothing of the sort could have been more gratifying to me than the manner in which you write of her, and if the dear angel is conscious of what passes here, and is not above all earthly feelings, she may perhaps receive pleasure in being so mourned.

Cassandra is past her first grief and making arrangements for the disposition of Jane’s things, including a lock of her hair; she inquires whether Fanny wants it set in a ring or a brooch. Being the executrix of Jane’s will, these are necessary actions, but one can imagine the heartbreak–and healing–that accompanied them.

You can read the whole letter at Molland’s. The letter (dated July 29) is about two-thirds of the way down the page.

You can donate through the campaign’s Just Giving page, or send a check directly to the Museum. Do try to send something–even just a small amount. Lots of people giving small amounts adds up to a big amount. Let’s do this, and bring the letter home.

Jane Austen Centre at Bath Unveils Wax Figure of Jane Austen


It’s probably safe to say that all Janeites have had at least one moment of curiosity about what Jane Austen looked like. We don’t have much to go on–a dashed-off, incomplete, badly faded watercolor by Cassandra Austen is the only authenticated image of Jane Austen’s face, which has both frustrated Austen fans as well as inspiring them to create something better.

Today, the Jane Austen Centre at Bath unveiled a wax figure of Jane Austen, created by sculptor Mark Richards (the BBC has a shorter piece with a video interview of the sculptor), inspired by Melissa Dring’s forensic painting of Austen, done several years ago also for the Jane Austen Centre. The painting has received a mixed reception from Janeites, and we are not terribly fond of it, but we like this wax figure rather better. In fact, we like it quite a bit. Continue reading

Jane Austen’s House Museum Raising Funds to Buy Her Ring (UPDATED 2x with information about ONLINE donating)


The campaign is over and won!

UPDATE about online donation: Alert Janeite Cinthia sent along the news that the Museum is now accepting online donations at http://www.justgiving.com/jamt/Donate. The donation amounts appear to be in your local currency (for me, it appeared in US Dollars) so if you want to check how much the Museum will actually get, use a currency converter. (Google “currency converter” and one will pop up at the top of the page.)

YES! Jane Austen’s House Museum has announced a fundraiser to raise money to purchase Jane Austen’s turquoise ring from Kelly Clarkson (see our previous post and the lively discussion that followed). We will contact the Museum and try to get more information. Let’s do this, Janeites!

UPDATE: We heard from Louise West, the director of the museum. She sent us a donation form. She said for international contributors, it will be better to use a credit card; with a check, they will lose money because of the exchange rate. For UK contributors, we imagine a cheque will be the best way to donate. Please download, print, and post your contribution–do not send a credit card number by email!

Also, if they do not receive enough money to purchase the ring, they will keep your donation for the operation of the museum, unless you let them know differently. (Seriously, just let them keep it. The Museum does great work and is a wonderful place to visit.)

Louise also sent the following statement about this fundraising effort:

We do want to stress that we are not wanting to buy the ring because we don’t approve of Kelly Clarkson’s ownership. Indeed we are very encouraged that someone who is young and very popular wants to own the ring; it says a lot about Jane Austen’s reputation among young people. We are trying to buy it now because we wish to keep the ring at Jane Austen’s home as we feel this is the most appropriate place. We tried to raise money before the auction but didn’t have enough time. Hopefully we now have.

Everyone please donate! Don’t forget to use airmail postage if necessary. Take the time to go to your local post office and make sure you have the right amount of postage. Let’s do this!

Press release after the jump: Continue reading

Sketching Stoneleigh


Stoneleigh Abbey, a historic great house once owned by Jane Austen’s cousins, will be featured in an art contest designed to draw attention to the house.

Founded by Cistercian monks in the 12th century, the abbey was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1536 and bought by the first Lord Leigh, then Lord Mayor of London.

King Charles I stayed at the abbey in 1642 when the gates of Coventry were closed to him and the baroque West Wing was built between 1720 and 1726 by the third Lord Leigh, who commissioned Warwick architect Francis Smith after seeing Italian villas on a grand tour of Europe.

In 1806, the house passed to the Rev Thomas Leigh, a relative of Jane Austen, who is believed to have based descriptions in Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park on the house and its grounds.

Queen Victoria stayed at the house, and the room in which she slept has been restored to its condition at the time she visited.

To which we can only add:

The Tilneys, they, by whom, above all, she desired to be favourably thought of, outstripped even her wishes in the flattering measures by which their intimacy was to be continued. She was to be their chosen visitor, she was to be for weeks under the same roof with the person whose society she mostly prized — and, in addition to all the rest, this roof was to be the roof of an abbey! — Her passion for ancient edifices was next in degree to her passion for Henry Tilney — and castles and abbeys made usually the charm of those reveries which his image did not fill. To see and explore either the ramparts and keep of the one, or the cloisters of the other, had been for many weeks a darling wish, though to be more than the visitor of an hour had seemed too nearly impossible for desire. And yet, this was to happen. With all the chances against her of house, hall, place, park, court, and cottage, Northanger turned up an abbey, and she was to be its inhabitant. Its long, damp passages, its narrow cells and ruined chapel, were to be within her daily reach, and she could not entirely subdue the hope of some traditional legends, some awful memorials of an injured and ill-fated nun.

It was wonderful that her friends should seem so little elated by the possession of such a home, that the consciousness of it should be so meekly borne. The power of early habit only could account for it. A distinction to which they had been born gave no pride. Their superiority of abode was no more to them than their superiority of person.

But back to the contest! Entrants will draw or paint either the house’s west wing or the gatehouse. The winning entries will be featured on postcards sold at the house. Entry is free; the contest closes September 29 and winners will be announced on October 10. We do hope that those who enter have enjoyed Tilney on the Picturesque.

They were viewing the country with the eyes of persons accustomed to drawing, and decided on its capability of being formed into pictures, with all the eagerness of real taste. Here Catherine was quite lost. She knew nothing of drawing — nothing of taste:– and she listened to them with an attention which brought her little profit, for they talked in phrases which conveyed scarcely any idea to her. The little which she could understand, however, appeared to contradict the very few notions she had entertained on the matter before. It seemed as if a good view were no longer to be taken from the top of an high hill, and that a clear blue sky was no longer a proof of a fine day.

Okay, we’re pretty quoted out now. Good luck to any of our Gentle Readers who enter the contest (and do let us know how you get on).

Tour Austen Country


Planning your summer vacation? Want to spend it geeking out over Jane Austen, both places important to her life and places that you’ve seen in movie adaptations? There are lots of upcoming tours from which you can choose.

JASNA’s annual tour is, as always, quite impressive. The tour not only includes the usual tourist spots, but allows you to visit private homes that are not normally open to tourists, such as Ibthorpe House (home of the Lloyd sisters) and Ashe House (Madame Lefroy’s home), and includes talks by Austen experts and family members. The tour this year has a Sense and Sensibility flavor, celebrating the bicentenary, and includes film locations as well as stops in the country in which the book is set. You must be a JASNA member to take the tour, but can join at the time you sign up for the tour.

SPG (Special Group Tours) has an upcoming Week with Jane Austen tour that includes both the usual biographical spots as well as movie locations at Lyme Park and Chatsworth. They also have tours around the Jane Austen Festival in Bath in the autumn and other literary tours that include some Austen sites.

PandP Tours has a large selection of upcoming tours, which are generally shorter (and thus can be combined with other sightseeing while you are in the UK) throughout the spring, summer and autumn.

We read these and wish we could win the lottery and take them all!

Linkapalooza: Mr. Darcy’s Pheromones Edition


And if that title doesn’t bring ’em running from their RSS feeds, we’ve really lost our touch.

Researchers have named a newly-identified mouse pheromone in the urine of male mice “Darcin” after you-know-who. The pheromone, a protein in the urine, attracts female mice to a particular male mouse.

The mice were presented with two urine scent marks, one male and one female, and the amount of time they spent near each was recorded. In some tests the mice could physically contact the scent mark, in other tests they received only airborne scent.

Hurst said, “Contact with darcin consistently doubled the time spent near a male’s scent. Touching darcin with the nose also made females learn that particular male’s odour, subsequently tripling the time spent near to the airborne scent of that individual male but showing no attraction to other males.”

That should make for some interesting fanfics. Thanks to the Alert Janeites who sent in this item: Laurel Ann, Sandra, and Carolyn.

Le Revolucion, he continues: Alert Janeite Peg sent a link to a lovely if profane rant by one Garland Grey, who has a few things to say about Austen monster mashups. We noted a while back that many of the monster mashups seem to be written by men, but not all of them; not anymore.

If the volcanoes are keeping you home this summer, do a little virtual travel with A Visit to Miss Austen’s House.

But none of this paraphernalia made the kind of impression on me I expected . . . Had I not read enough of the Austen canon? Was this just not a period of English history that came high on my list? Was it the damping effect of the signs for tourist set up almost as soon as you cross into Hampshire, telling tourists they’re “Welcome to Jane Austen Country”? Was it that the museum-like fixtures made the place seem less of a house where real people lived?

We felt the same way…it hit us at Steventon Church, actually. It’s just so OLD.

Oh, and this:

I see it mooted on some other blogs that “Brontë is the new Austen”—though they don’t mention which Brontë and apparently mean all of them put together.

Everyone knows when we say that we’re being ironic and stuff, right? Right. (And yes, it’s all three put together, because we are mocking the press which not only compresses the three Brontë sisters into one–really the two Brontë sisters, because no one ever seems to remember poor Anne–but considers them interchangeable with Jane Austen.)