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!
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.]
I 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.
Persuasion, Jane Austen’s last completed novel before her death in 1817 at age forty-one, is full of the Royal Navy. She had two brothers who served their entire careers helping Britain rule the seas during the Napoleonic Wars and into the mid-nineteenth century. Molland’s Circulating Library, your great online resource for Janeites, has an unabridged text of Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers, by J. H. Hubback and Edith C. Hubback (1906) which is an excellent biographical account of Jane Austen’s brothers Francis and Charles’s naval service. It is very interesting reading for those who want to know more about the Austen family and their influence on Jane’s writing of Persuasion.
There are twenty-two short stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It from a wide range of genres; two of which have “a fine naval fervor.” Here is a description of them:
“The Chase,” by Carrie Bebris
An Age of Sail adventure tale featuring Jane Austen’s brother Francis William Austen (who eventually rose to the Royal Navy’s highest position, Admiral of the Fleet) as the daring 26-year-old commander of the HMS Petterel sloop. It depicts the true events of the March 1800 action off Marseilles that earned him promotion to post-captain. There just might be more of Francis Austen in Persuasion’s Captain Wentworth than you ever imagined!
“Heard of You,” by Margaret C. Sullivan
In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, we are told that Admiral and Mrs. Croft married a shockingly short time after their first meeting, but that they had heard a great deal about each other before they met. How could they have known each other so well? In the midst of war, an unlikely Cupid brings together one of Austen’s best married couples in a story inspired both by Persuasion and by Captain Frederick Marryat’s novel Peter Simple.
Thanks again Mags for your wonderful story. I was happy to see so many semicolons in it! It made me long to read another C. S. Forester novel, and I hope that readers come to know the Royal Navy and Jane Austen characters better from it.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com, a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966
Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by November 6, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on November 7. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!