Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Jane Austen by Cassandra Chouinard

Jane Austen by Cassandra Chouinard

“By-the-bye, as I must leave off being young, I find many douceurs in being a sort of chaperon, for I am put on the sofa near the fire, and can drink as much wine as I like.” – Letter from Jane Austen to Cassandra, November 6, 1813

Dearest Jane, may you be enjoying a warm fire, good wine, and the collective love of your readers worldwide on this day.

There’s lots of cool stuff going on all over the Internets today to celebrate Herself’s birthday. We’ve been retweeting like crazy!

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath has declared December 16 Jane Austen Day. (Every day around AustenBlog World Headquarters is Jane Austen Day, but it’s nice to make it official.) They are also offering a discount today in the gift shop.

The Jane Austen Society of North America has published the latest edition of Persuasions On-line, as it does every December 16.

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mansfield Park, Sarah Emsley has been hosting a year-long series of posts about the novel written by Janeite scholars, authors, bloggers, and fans on her blog, and this week she’s putting up a new post each day.

Austen in Boston has collected Herself’s birthday greetings and fun from around Facebook.

Quirk Books is hosting a big giveaway in honor of Jane Austen’s Day–win a copy Jane Austen Cover to Cover, The Jane Austen Handbook, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters! C’mon, you can’t beat that combination.

There’s still time to get in on the giveaway of two copies of JAC2C on Robin Kall’s site (and check out the podcast interview with the Editrix!)

And we think we overhear Thorin and Jane having a little convo… ;-) Happy Jane Austen Day, Gentle Readers!

What Would Elinor Do?


Sense and Sensibility IllustratedWe were delighted to have the Jane Austen Bicentenary Library edition of Sense and Sensibility featured this month by the Jane Austen Centre at Bath’s online magazine!

And since we had to make another bracelet (we had made our own on a whim) to photograph for the tutorial, we have a giveaway to celebrate this special issue: the bracelet we made in the tutorial, along with a copy of the Jane Austen Bicentenary Library edition of S&S: ebook or paperback–your choice. To enter the contest, leave a comment below, with a valid e-mail address in the e-mail address field (only the Editrix will be able to see it, and we need it to contact you should you win to find out where to send your prize). The bracelet is about seven inches long; if you need a bigger or smaller bracelet, we can remake it if you win, so don’t let that keep you from entering the giveaway. ETA: Please post your entry by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Saturday, April 28! In other words, right before midnight, which is technically Sunday, April 29.

ETA: The ebook is available from your favorite ebook store (try searching on “Margaret C. Sullivan” or “Cassandra Chouinard” to find this particular edition) or directly from Girlebooks or Smashwords.

The paperback is available from Librifiles, the hard-copy publishing arm of Girlebooks. See the link for a 20% off code if you buy from Librifiles, and there is a link there to Amazon. It’s also available from B&N.

Thanks as always to Laura Boyle, editor of the JA Centre’s magazine, for featuring the book. It is always fun to have the opportunity to think about Jane Austen’s novels and to write about thinking about Jane Austen’s novels, if that makes sense!

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!


Jane Austen by Cassandra Chouinard

Jane Austen by Cassandra Chouinard

Steventon: December 17, 1775.

DEAR SISTER,–You have doubtless been for some time in expectation of hearing from Hampshire, and perhaps wondered a little we were in our old age grown such bad reckoners, but so it was, for Cassy certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago; however, last night the time came, and without a great deal of warning, everything was soon happily over. We have now another girl, a present plaything for her sister Cassy, and a future companion. She is to be Jenny, and seems to me as if she would be as like Harry as Cassy is to Neddy. Your sister, thank God, is pure well after it.

That is an excerpt from the letter the Rev. George Austen wrote to his sister-in-law on the occasion of Jane Austen’s birth. It is a day we all, as Jane Austen fans, have occasion to celebrate, and there is a lot of celebration going on around the Internets. Last year, we had some fun speculating what we might give Jane Austen for her birthday. We’re sure Jane took good care of those gloves, and doesn’t need a new pair, though we might tat her some pretty earrings. But this year we think we would give Jane a year free of speculation about her personal life. No more media campaigns about what caused her death, with whom she had romances, what she realllllllly looked like; just a year in which people read and enjoyed her books and did not set out to make a show with them. Just read the books; have fun with them, but celebrate the books, and their author, without all this unseemly speculation. We know this is just wishful thinking; there is too much at stake for some people in making a show with our Jane; but that is our wish for her on this day, and certainly in the coming year.

JASNA Wisconsin Region 2012 CalendarIn honor of Jane Austen’s birthday, we are giving away some goodies to our Gentle Readers. First, we have a copy of the JASNA Wisconsin Region’s lovely 2012 calendar, courtesy of the Region, to give away to one Janeite in the U.S. or Canada. The calendar contains incidents occurring in the novels and in Jane’s life for specific dates and is decorated with quotations from the novels and full-color images from the 1898 Brock-illustrated editions of the novels. If you are not fortunate enough to win the calendar, but would like to have a copy, you may purchase a calendar from the region.

In the spirit of our speculative birthday gift for Jane, another lucky reader will win a bookmark designed and tatted by the Editrix, inspired by the lace design that Jane drew in one of her letters.

Sense and Sensibility IllustratedWe also have four copies of the Jane Austen Bicentenary Library Edition of Sense and Sensibility, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard (the artist who drew the portrait of Jane Austen that decorates this post; her first name being the same as Jane’s sister means it really looks like her–hey, that’s as good speculation as any we’ve seen of late) and with annotations and some “extras” by the Editrix. We have two copies each of the paperback (signed by the Editrix) and the ebook (DRM-free and available in all platforms, and we can also send a signed postcard if the recipient likes) to give away.

There Must Be Murder - A Novella Sequel to Northanger AbbeyAND we also are giving away four copies of There Must Be Murder, our own production and a celebration of our affection for Jane’s novel Northanger Abbey and her delightful hero and heroine. This book is also delightfully illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard (we are particularly fond of her drawings of children and dogs). We also have two copies each of the paperback (signed by the author) and the ebook (we don’t have any cards, but we’re sure we can find something to sign if the recipient likes) to give away.

To be entered in the giveaway, respond to this post, leaving a valid e-mail address (no one but the Editrix will see it, and if you win, we will need it to contact you to find out where to send your prize). Please wish Jane Austen a happy birthday, and let us know what you will do today and in the coming year to celebrate Jane Austen and her work. Also please indicate if you would prefer paperback or ebooks, or if you just want to say Happy Birthday to Jane and do not wish to be entered in the giveaway at all. ETA: Probably should mention that you can enter until midnight U.S. Eastern time on December 20.

For our own part, we are kicking things off with an audiobook relisten to Mansfield Park, which our book group is reading together; in the coming year, we plan to be reading and writing (and blogging!) more about Jane Austen; in the nearer future, we are going to be tatting that bookmark. ;-)

Thanks to Liz Philosophos Cooper and JASNA’s Wisconsin Region for donating the calendar, and to Girlebooks for donating the ebooks for our giveaway.

Guest Post: A Fine Naval Fervor in Jane Austen Made Me Do It by Laurel Ann Nattress


AustenBlog is delighted to host Laurel Ann Nattress, proprietor of the fabulous Austenprose and editor of the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, for a little tidbit about the anthology. The Editrix had her share in the conversation, er, anthology, as you will read below. LA and I have known each other for a really long time–we were reminiscing how long at the JASNA AGM last week!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Hi Mags, thanks for graciously inviting me here today on AustenBlog during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. It is particularly gratifying to me since you were one of the first authors I reached out to contribute a short story and have been with me through the entire publication process. You have always been so incredibly supportive of me and my blog Austenprose, advising me on the technical geeky stuff, SEO, social media and all-around advice guru. I sincerely thank you. [Aww. –Ed.]

Captain Frederick MarryatI was really intrigued when you told me that your inspiration for your story would be from two sources: Captain Frederick Marryat’s novel Peter Simple and Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Honestly I was expecting the further exploits from The Very Secret Diary of Henry Tilney, so this was a jolting surprise! After you explained that Peter Simple was an Age of Sail novel written by an English Royal Navy officer, it all started to make sense. I knew that in addition to our shared passion for our “dear Jane” that you were a huge Captain Horatio Hornblower fan who had studied naval history and lore from the era. I was astonished that you were able to pull a plot element out of Peter Simple about sailors receiving family letters and selling them to their shipmates for entertainment and then make the leap to creating your story, “Heard of You,” about the early career of Austen’s Captain Wentworth and Admiral Croft. I remember reading the first draft and shaking my head in amazement at how you pulled it all together. I was truly touched by the story and I hope that readers will be too. Continue reading

All About Henry Tilney


We’re happy to participate in Austenesque Reviews’ Austenesque Extravaganza! Mr. Tilney still would be pleased to Explain It All, so if you have questions or seek advice, you may post them in comments–please see below. In the meantime, we stole this from Mr. Tilney’s e-mail account here is a bit of Mr. Tilney’s personal correspondence that we thought our Gentle Readers might find illuminating. –Ed.

FROM: htilney@woodston.net
TO: ftilney@12thltdragoons.mil.uk

My dear Frederick,

Really? Are you twelve years old? Do you still have a MySpace page? Oh, very well.


> FROM: ftilney@12thltdragoons.mil.uk
> TO: htilney@woodston.net, eleanor@viscountesses.co.uk, ctilney@woodston.net, most_charming@aristocracy.co.uk


> family,
> got one of these forward things from the fizzer and realized i know nothing about
> any of you. take a minute to fill it out and send back to me. anybody have the
> governor’s e-mail addy? or is he still going on with that “i’ll have no part of that
> electronic mail, quill pens and wafers were good enough for my generation”
> bollocks?

> xo,
> freddy

> “Every lover is a soldier.” — Ovid

> Captain Frederick Tilney
> 12th Light Dragoons
> Northampton

NAME: The Rev. Henry Tilney, B.A. Hons. (Oxon)

LIVING ARRANGEMENT: A very comfortable country parsonage with my lovely wife, Catherine, my old housekeeper, my clerk, two or three terriers and a large Newfoundland puppy.

FAVORITE PASTIME: Reading horrid novels to Catherine of an evening, and comforting her when she pretends to be frightened. I rather suspect that is why she pretends to be frightened.

FAVORITE BOOK: The Midnight Bell. Catherine and I like to play Ninja and Heroine. . . perhaps that is a trifle personal.

THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD IS: Being booted and great coated and basking in feminine admiration.

THE WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD IS: Knowing one’s cravat is spoilt, and unable to do a thing about it.

FAVORITE SMELLS: Leather, the country after a hard rain, freshly washed muslin, Catherine’s perfume.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK WHEN YOU WAKE IN THE MORNING: Tea is Our Heavenly Father’s way of letting us know that He loves us and wants us to be happy.

FAVORITE FOODS: A grilled trout that I caught myself that very day; new vegetables in the spring; those little sandwiches they serve at supper in the Lower Rooms, for they remind me of my first meeting with Catherine.

CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA: I know if I say chocolate, the ladies will approve, and I always like the ladies to approve of me.

STORMS, COOL OR SCARY: Picturesque, certainly. “Cool” would depend on the weather pattern and time of year.

HORRID NOVELS, COOL OR SCARY: Scary, of course, or why bother?

FAVORITE DRINK: Tea on a cold day, or a robust port after a good dinner.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Everyone would be excellent to one another.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Have less knowledge of the human race, and therefore less cynicism. I am taking my cue from my delightful wife in that regard.


IS THE GLASS HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL: At least half-full; sometimes three-quarters full.

WHAT’S IN YOUR ANXIETY CLOSET: Bad adaptations thats make me look like a broody, condescending git.

WHAT’S YOUR LOFTIEST DREAM: Sermons on the Picturesque, by A Country Gentleman, published by John Murray, London.

WHAT’S YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE: My fangirls, particularly Miss Sullivan, realizing that I’m a fictional character. My life would not be nearly as much fun.

WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOU THAT YOU FEEL THEY DON’T: I have never lectured or condescended to my dearest Catherine—well, I have lectured her on the picturesque, but she does not seem to mind.

BOXERS OR BRIEFS: Not having engaged in the study of the law, I am afraid I can have little to do with briefs. However, back at Oxford I studied the Sweet Science and have been known to go a few rounds in the ring. Gentleman Jackson himself complimented my right hook. I suppose I must choose Boxers, then, though this seems a strange question to me.

WHO ELSE IN THE FAMILY WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FILL OUT THIS QUESTIONNAIRE: My darling wife, though I think I can guess most of her answers!

Gentle readers, it is your turn. We have been delegated by Mr. Tilney to solicit your questions. What would you like to know about him? Or would you like some advice for your own love life or life in general? Or is there something you would like to ask the Editrix? Post your questions in the comments! Each response counts as an entry in the Amazing Austenesque Giveaway, so comment early and often! And a bit of obligatory self-promotion: if you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy the Editrix’s book There Must Be Murder. Two copies of TMBM are up for grabs in the Amazing Austenesque Giveaway!

REVIEW: I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend by Cora Harrison


I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora HarrisonReview by Lisa Galek

When a teenage Jane Austen becomes gravely ill at boarding school, her sixteen-year-old cousin, Jenny Cooper, wanders out at midnight into the dangerous streets of Southampton in order to send word to the Austen family. There, she meets the handsome Captain Thomas Williams, who offers her his protection and guidance. When the two girls are taken from the school and Jenny goes to stay with the Austens, she believes she will never see Captain Williams again, but when their paths cross at a ball, Jenny worries that the captain has the power both to ruin her reputation and break her heart. Continue reading

REVIEW: Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany (update: and win a copy!)


Jane and the Damned by Janet MullanyReview by Allison T.

What kind of immortality would you choose: to be forever young, sexy, and beautiful and enjoy night after night of delightful orgies? Or to have your name on the binding of a book that may crumble away, unread?
That is the question posed in Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany. The book bears the catchy sub-title “It’s more than her wit that’s biting,” and this is true because Jane, disappointed that a publisher has once again turned down her novel of two sisters who live in the country, attends the Basingstoke Assembly, where she bitten and made a vampire by a rather Darcy-ish vamp. Continue reading