Sorry about the lack of reportage. I really should have known that it would be difficult to do. There was free wifi in the lobby of the hotel, but when I wanted to post was late at night when I was in bed in my jammies, so that didn’t really work out, and the in-room wifi fees were, I felt, exorbitant. That being said, George the Eee PC and I got along very well and I was glad I took him along! He hardly took up any room, after all. I’ll do my best now to wrap up Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Friday started with a country dancing lesson, at which we learned several dances that we would be dancing at the ball on Saturday night, including everyone’s favorite, Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot. Even if you’re not a P&P95 fan, it’s really a fun (and complicated!) dance. Maybe it’s fun because it’s so complicated–you really feel accomplished if you can dance it! Afterwards some of us were complaining that it was hot and we were sweaty, and someone else said, “Horses sweat, men perspire, women merely glow.” I said, “Then I’m glowing like a horse!” Good exercise!
I cleaned up a little and went to the first poster session, which was in the same room as the Regency Emporium. Did a bit *cough* of shopping. Then I met some friends for lunch in the hotel restaurant, as some other lunch plans had been canceled at the last minute, and we squeed over each other’s purchases. After lunch, we returned to the Regency Emporium and bought more stuff. 🙂 My big score was a Jane Austen watch!
The AGM officially opened with the first plenary session, a panel discussion including Inger Sigrun Brodey, Gillian Dow, Paula Marantz Cohen, and Peter Graham. They talked about Jane Austen’s legacy in their own work. My favorite bit was Gillian talking about an early French translation of Sense and Sensibility from about 1815. The translator decided it needed some fixing up. (Sound familiar?) Marianne became “Maria” (a more English-sounding name). Willoughby’s wife was killed in a carriage accident, and he wrote to Elinor and asked if “Maria” would marry him. Elinor read the letter to “Maria” and Brandon, whereupon “Maria” threw herself upon Brandon and said, “There’s only one man for me!” There was much “ewwwww”-ing in the audience. And they said Lost in Austen was so clever and original!
For the first breakout session, I went to a presentation by Carol Pippen and Nancy Magnuson of Goucher College about Alberta and Henry Burke and their amazing collection of Austeniana, which they bequeathed to the Goucher College Library. I have a continuing fascination with the collection, so it was great to learn more about Mrs. Burke as well as her husband Henry, who was one of the founders of JASNA.
For the second breakout session, I chose Edith Lank’s presentation on her Jane Austen collection, with a special look at her first edition of Lord Brabourne’s edition of Jane Austen’s letters. Edith is immensely entertaining at any time, but when I spoke at the iJane conference in Rochester earlier this year and mentioned the Brabourne edition, Edith told me afterwards that her first edition copy had once belonged to Anna Austen Lefroy’s daughter Louisa (I think I got that right) who added copious notes, family trees, information, and just plain gossip. For instance, she came right out and said that Warren Hastings fathered Eliza Hancock!
It was at this breakout that I held the Jane Austen autograph, which was part of Edith’s collection AND SHE PASSED IT AROUND THE ROOM. Bless her. It was cut off a letter by Frank Austen and given to someone–not the Americans from this article, at least not as far as I can tell from the letter included with the autograph. But there it was–“Yours affectionately, J. Austen” and the date. It was a pretty special moment, as you might imagine.
I then checked out a program about the ballet of “Beautifull Cassandra” that I blogged about a while back. Juliet McMaster talked about the genesis of her children’s illustrated version of the story, and Joanne Forman, the composer, spoke of her process of creating the music. A flautist and a harpist performed the music, which was sweet and whimsical and suited the piece very well as the piece was read and photos from the Taos Youth Ballet performance along with Juliet’s illustrations projected.
Off to dinner–my friend (and AGM roommate) Lorna, Allison T., and I decided to try for deep-dish pizza that night, and we found out that two of our Eastern PA friends were going to Gino’s East, so I invited us along (wasn’t that nice of me?). Pizza and salad–pretty much my favorite meal. The pizza was good and did take a long time to bake!
We were a little late getting back, but still caught most of the evening presentation with Stephanie Barron, Carrie Bebris, Jennifer S. Hunter, and Steve Martin discussing mysteries and Jane Austen, and how there are mysteries in just about all of her novels.
And then off to bed to rest up for the longest, busiest day of the AGM!