Tuesday Open Thread: Play Ball! Edition


Welcome to another Tuesday Open Thread, where we spotlight some things that didn’t quite make the cut for a full post but that we thought our readers might find interesting.

  • Alert Janeites Sandra (card-carrying member of the Red Sox Nation) and Ken each sent us a link to an article at ESPN about the earliest written mention of “baseball.”

    Julian Pooley, the manager of the Surrey History Centre, said Thursday he has authenticated a reference to baseball in a diary by English lawyer William Bray dating back to 1755 — about 50 years before what was previously believed to have been the first known reference to what became the American pastime.

    [. . .]

    The Surrey History Centre said there is a reference to baseball that came earlier than Bray’s, but it appears in a fictional book by John Newberry called “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book.” Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey” also refers to baseball. It was written in 1798 but not published until 1817.

    And of course the mention is in the first chapter of NA

    Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books — or at least books of information — for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all.

    (Sandra said, “I bet it’s the first time Jane ever got a shout-out at ESPN.” Actually, we think F.O.J. Dwyane Wade might have got her in there at some point.)

  • Alert Janeite Dawn wrote to tell us that a local publication, North Bridge Magazine (Concord, Massachusetts), included an article called “ten small changes that can help you sell your home faster”. One tip was “Dress up tables and nightstands with magazines such as Architectural Digest and anything by Jane Austen.” In other words, class up the joint! 😉
  • Speaking of home matters, an article titled “Make Your Home Pay Its Way” suggests renting out properties for filming, as the owners of Higginsbrook House did for Becoming Jane and NA2007. Fo’ shizzle, Chatsworth’s practically run itself off Austen movies the past few years… 😉 (j/k!)

So what’s new in your patch of Janeiteville? (And feel free to pimp your own Jane Austen-related websites and links in these open threads…)