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I read in the media today that, with the forthcoming release of two new films inspired by Bronte novels, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, that this was the year of the Brontes and Jane Austen ought to move over for her time in the limelight was over. Indeed? Well, someone should have told museum curators that, because I can report that yet another exhibition that concentrates on fashion in Jane Austen’s era has been commissioned and it opened yesterday at Fairfax House Museum in York. It will run until the 31st December.
Entitled Revolutionary Fashion, the clothes on show,some from the famed Olive Matthews Collection at the Chertsey Museum, demonstrate how fashion changed dramatically for both sexes during this era. For women, wide hooped skirts were no longer an option (save for court dress) and the slender columnar silhouette with a high waist became the order of the day. For men change was equally dramatic, with the adoption of simple, well-tailored clothes, in predominantly dark colours, a departure from the embroidered silks of all colours worn during the first three-quarters of the 18th century.
Go here to read a description of the exhibition on the museum’s most excellent blog. I do like the fact that the clothes are not only on show in the museum’s exhibition space,but are also to be seen in context, on display within its beautiful rooms. The cost of the exhibition is included in the normal admission price.
I may be able to see it: sadly, on my day in York a couple of weeks ago the museum was closed, and this exhibit had not yet opened. But in the meantime here is a link to a six-minute long video of a tour of the the exhibition ,produced by the Yorkshire Post newspaper, which I know will only partially satisfy you, but I afraid it is the best I can do at the moment.
I do hope you enjoy it, and I think you might agree with me that the time is not yet ripe for Jane Austen to move out of the limelight, no indeed.
This week we have a varied and interesting group of illustrations to consider. The first, above, from Chapter 38, illustrates Nancy Steele’s conversation with Elinor Dashwood in Kensington Gardens after all has been discovered. And of course, all was discovered due to her attempt to tell Fanny Dashwood all about Lucy and Edward:
“I am monstrous glad of it. Good gracious! I have had such a time of it! I never saw Lucy in such a rage in my life. She vowed at first she would never trim me up a new bonnet, nor do anything else for me again, so long as she lived; but now she is quite come to, and we are as good friends as ever. Look, she made me this bow to my hat, and put in the feather last night. There now, you are going to laugh at me too. But why should not I wear pink ribbons? I do not care if it is the Doctor’s favourite colour. I am sure, for my part, I should never have known he did like it better than any other colour, if he had not happened to say so. My cousins have been so plaguing me! I declare sometimes I do not know which way to look before them.”
I confess that, to me, the choice of subject is odd: why, amongst all this drama -Lucy raging,Nancy being cowed, possibly, – did Thompson decide to show Lucy placidly trimming a bonnet for Nancy? It’s a pretty picture, but an odd choice, in my humble opinion.
The next is far more apt: it shows Nancy Steele’s prefered information gathering technique: listening at doors.
“No indeed! not us. La! Miss Dashwood, do you think people make love when anybody else is by? Oh! for shame? — To be sure you must know better than that.” (Laughing affectedly.) — “No, no; they were shut up in the drawing-room together, and all I heard was only by listening at the door.”
Upright Elinor is appalled by her behaviour, but we are amused. I think this illustration -again a comic incident in the plot- suits Mr Thompson’s style. He is far happier showing the comic and not the tragic,as ew have discovered. This week’s illustrations certianly reflect that discovery.
The next picture is perfect: it illustrates the moment when Mrs Jennings and Elinor finally begin to understand each other, at a point in their friendship where neither is ready to take offense. Mrs Jennings has assumed that all the comings and goings with Colonel Brandon are indications that he wants to marry Elinor, and is courting her, not that he is kindly giving the impoverished Edward Ferrars the living at Delaford. Elinor has to correct her. The result is “considerable amusement” .
“My dear ma’am,” said Elinor, “what can you be thinking of? — Why, Colonel Brandon’s only object is to be of use to Mr. Ferrars.”
“Lord bless you, my dear! — Sure you do not mean to persuade me that the Colonel only marries you for the sake of giving ten guineas to Mr. Ferrars!” The deception could not continue after this; and an explanation immediately took place, by which both gained considerable amusement for the moment, without any material loss of happiness to either, for Mrs. Jennings only exchanged one form of delight for another, and still without forfeiting her expectation of the first.
A darkly comic moment also succeeds: this illustrates the moment Elinor received a very backhanded compliment from John Dashwood. He imports to her the rather insulting news that Mrs Ferrars would have been far less vexed had Edward marry Elinor and not become engaged to Lucy. How charming are this section of the Ferrars family.
“Of one thing, my dear sister,” kindly taking her hand, and speaking in an awful whisper — “I may assure you: and I will do it, because I know it must gratify you. I have good reason to think — indeed I have it from the best authority, or I should not repeat it, for otherwise it would be very wrong to say anything about it — but I have it from the very best authority — not that I ever precisely heard Mrs. Ferrars say it herself but her daughter did , and I have it from her — That, in short, whatever objections there might be against a certain — a certain connection — you understand me — it would have been far preferable to her, it would not have given her half the vexation that this does. I was exceedingly pleased to hear that Mrs. Ferrars considered it in that light — a very gratifying circumstance, you know, to us all. ‘It would have been beyond comparison,’ she said, ‘the least evil of the two, and she would be glad to compound now for nothing worse.’ But, however, all that is quite out of the question — not to be thought of or mentioned; as to any attachment, you know — it never could be — all that is gone by. But I thought I would just tell you of this, because I knew how much it must please you. Not that you have any reason to regret, my dear Elinor. There is no doubt of your doing exceedingly well — quite as well, or better, perhaps, all things considered. Has Colonel Brandon been with you lately?
Elinor’s expression says it all…..and the sycophantic nature of John Dashwod is also revealed in his stance. The sting on the tail being that he and the Dashwoods are attempting to be pleasant to Elinor now they think that she might be on the point of marrying the well-to-do Colonel Bradnon. Disgusting toads.
The next illustration is again a puzzling one: in the midst of the passage from Chapter 42 about Marianne Dashwood torturing herself by walking about the grounds of Cleveland to catch a glimpse of Willoughby’s home, Thompson decided to ignore the drama and draw a sweet picture of Charlotte Palmer showing her baby to her housekeeper. All technically fine but ignoring the main drama at this point in the story is a baffling decision to me. I think it does show that Thompson was far more comfortable dealing with pleasant or comic scenes. And of course Jane Austen’s stories can be thought to contain only those,but , as we know, they offer far more to the careful reader than that. And in this case not even the careful reader, as the main part of the text is concerned very much with Marianne Dashwood and her sufferings, self inflicted or otherwise:
Marianne entered the house with an heart swelling with emotion from the consciousness of being only eighty miles from Barton, and not thirty from Combe Magna; and before she had been five minutes within its walls, while the others were busily helping Charlotte shew her child to the housekeeper, she quitted it again, stealing away through the winding shrubberies, now just beginning to be in beauty, to gain a distant eminence; where, from its Grecian temple, her eye, wandering over a wide tract of country to the south-east, could fondly rest on the farthest ridge of hills in the horizon, and fancy that from their summits Combe Magna might be seen.
The last picture is, I suppose, justified in the text. Charlotte Palmer is, of course, a hopeless mistress of her home, finding everything too amusing for rational thought, and on her return from London she listens to her gardener’s Lamentations Upon Blights – for we gardeners always have lamentations, but especially about blights-with much amusement and very little comprehension.
She returned just in time to join the others as they quitted the house, on an excursion through its more immediate premises; and the rest of the morning was easily whiled away, in lounging round the kitchen garden, examining the bloom upon its walls, and listening to the gardener’s lamentations upon blights, — in dawdling through the green-house, where the loss of her favourite plants, unwarily exposed, and nipped by the lingering frost, raised the laughter of Charlotte, — and in visiting her poultry-yard, where in the disappointed hopes of her dairy-maid, by hens forsaking their nests, or being stolen by a fox, or in the rapid decease of a promising young brood, she found fresh sources of merriment.
And that ends what I think will be the penultimate post in this series. Next week, the final tranche.
Only very recently a rather beautiful exhibit closed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. A friend visited it and was able to confirm that this small exhibit ( not one of their blockbusters, you understand, but one of the many small exhibitions they run, year on year) was tiny but very sumptuous. Sadly ( Oh! How sadly!)I couldn’t make it to New York to see it myself, but was pleased to note that the Museum, in association with Yale Publishing have produced a small but beautiful book/catalogue of the exhibit, and that is what I am reviewing here.
Pastel portraits are wonderful things. I have for a long time loved this portrait in pastels of George III as a young man commissioned from jean Etienne Liotard by George’s mother, the Dowager Princess of Wales. This is still in the Royal Collection, and is simply a breathtaking piece of work:
And this sumptuous portrait of Horace Walpole by Rosalba Carriera, below, executed while he was on his Grand Tour was a highlight for me of the recent Walpole exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
During the 18th century, technological advances ment that for a short time, fashionable Europe became enamoured of these portraits. As Marjorie Shelly writes in the book:
The innovations that spurred the rising popularity of pastel were products of the Enlightenment, an era that held great respect for the manufacturing trades and crafts and had faith in the practical application of science and the arts to advance commerce and industry…In the spirit of fostering progress and the commercial advantages resulting from it, makers of crayons, paper and fixatives experimented with increasingly softer pastels, more tenacious supports and invisible nondarkening coatings…Practical infomration poured forth as well from encyclopaedias, dictionaries, journals and manuals on the artisanal aspects of pastel..the appeal of pastel was also one of economics and convenience. For artists crayon portraiture was a lucrative business that could compete in the same market place as oil painting. George Vertue, the engraver whose notebooks were the basis for Horace Walpole’s”Anecdotes of Panting in England”observed, for most practitioners pastels were “much easier in the execution than Oil colours” as the costs were lower and the handling more rapid.
And of course one of the most appealing aspects of pastel portraiture, as I do hope you can see by close examination of the portraits reproduced here ( if you click on them they will enlarge for you), was that these paintings in dry colour were able, better than any other medium, to portray their subjects skin and its texture. They could convey an idea of its bloom, that most desirable aspect of a person and especially a woman’s beauty, which defined her appeal to the 18th century eye.
As we know from Persuasion and the story of Anne Elliot and the early loss of her bloom, losing that sheen of youth from her skin had a devastating effect on her appeal and reflected her extreme depression:
A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance; but, not with a few months ended Anne’s share of suffering from it. Her attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every enjoyment of youth; and an early loss of bloom and spirits had been their lasting effect.
That devastating moment when she realised Wentworth thought her altered beyond recognition, is hard to bear, for both Anne and we readers:
“Altered beyond his knowledge!” Anne fully submitted, in silent, deep mortification. Doubtless it was so, and she could take no revenge, for he was not altered, or not for the worse. She had already acknowledged it to herself, and she could not think differently, let him think of her as he would. No: the years which had destroyed her youth and bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in no respect lessening his personal advantages. She had seen the same Frederick Wentworth.
Luckily, happiness, the sea air at Lyme and escaping the confines of Kellynch brings back her bloom ( and not, do note is any of this due to the effects of applying Gowlands Lotion!) and with it, Wentworth’s admiration:
When they came to the steps leading upwards from the beach, a gentleman, at the same moment preparing to come down, politely drew back, and stopped to give them way. They ascended and passed him; and as they passed, Anne’s face caught his eye, and he looked at her with a degree of earnest admiration which she could not be insensible of. She was looking remarkably well; her very regular, very pretty features, having the bloom and freshness of youth restored by the fine wind which had been blowing on her complexion, and by the animations of eye which it had also produced. It was evident that the gentleman (completely a gentleman in manner) admired her exceedingly. Captain Wentworth looked round at her instantly in a way which shewed his noticing of it. He gave her a momentary glance, a glance of brightness, which seemed to say, “That man is struck with you, and even I, at this moment, see something like Anne Elliot again.”
The portraits produced did have some important drawbacks. They could not be permanently displayed, for constant exposure to light ruined them, and they had to be protected from the elements, dust and enquiring fingers by a sheet of glass. They could not be moved much either as vibration caused the pastel particles to detach from the paper surface, thus ruining the whole effect. These drawbacks meant that the fashion for pastel portraits began to wane during the 1770s.
By the late 1790s watercolour and conte crayon were being promoted by the art and philosophical societies and pastel had become “a style now quite unfashionable” Not until the 1870s would the medium be reintroduced in its full glory by the Impressionists.
However, some unfashionable souls still commissioned pastel portraits, and the catalogue includes quite a few from the dates 1790-1810. This portrait of the sculptor Antonio Canova ( 1790) by Hugh Douglas Hamilton is a fine example,
And this delightful work by John Russell of Mrs Robert Shurlock and her daughter Ann, dating from 1801, reminds me forcibly of Isabella Knightley and Little Bella.
This fascinating but small book is illustrated with 50 full colour pictures of the pastels in the exhibition, and among the artists whose work is inluded are not only Liotard and Carriera but also such luminaries as John Singleton Copley, Chardin, and Elizabeth Louise Vigee le Brun. The text provides a very full description of the manufacturing process of pastels, the history of teh craze for these crayons , how the crayons were used and applied. Each illustration has catalogue notes of some detail(enough even to satisfy me) The book is available at a very reasonable price(see here from the publisher’s website). I can throughly recommend it, and hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.
…borrowing freely from the Muriel Spark novel ( one of my favourites too, by the way) is the official title given by the BBC to Amanda Vickery’s forthcoming documentary on Jane Austen, which will be aired sometime in December.
The BBC’s press office has released this plug for it, which gives an indication of the tone and content:
To mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first novel, Sense And Sensibility, Professor Amanda Vickery, one of the leading chroniclers of Georgian England, explores the ebb and flow of Austen’s popularity and the hold her fiction has on people today.
In this 60-minute programme, Vickery considers what it is about Austen’s plots and characters that continue to delight, amuse, console and provoke. Her fans insist her current popularity is due to the timelessness of the fictional world Austen created, but for Vickery the question is: why have her novels gone in and out of fashion? What interests Amanda is how different periods and generations have looked for their own reflection in the characters and plots of the novels. She wants to work out what that says about them, as well as about Austen.
Interviewing a variety of literary scholars, film directors and costumed devotees who attend the Austen conventions, Vickery also views the Sotherby’s sale of an incredibly rare, handwritten manuscript of an unfinished Austen novel.
The Prime Of Miss Jane Austen is part of Books On The BBC 2011.
As you know, Amanda is currently dashing all around the country filming this production, and will be attending the Jane Austen festival in Bath in September to observe and film some of the proceedings. Not in costume though,as she has made VERY clear on Twitter ;) I do think the production sounds intriguing, and I am very much looking forward to watching it. It is high time that we Thinking Austen Women( and Gentlemen) had something interesting to watch on television ;)
As soon as I get anymore news I will, of course, let you know. And yes, The Jolly Girls Outing for this year is now officially over, and a marvellous time was had by all, thank you all for your good wishes. Also the exhausting process of getting one’s dear daughter into University has been achieved. *Heaves great sigh of relief* Normal service will, therefore, now resume ;)
I’ve just heard from the Divine Sarah Helsby Hughes of Heritage Opera, who is a most entrancing Miss Crawford in their production of Mansfield Park, that they will be perfroming the opera -with lyrics by Alasdair Middleton and music by Jonathon Dove – on Monday 15th August – this Monday- at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, North London. Tickets are available from the theatre’s box office now.
This is a marvellus opportunity for those of you in the South to go and see this very enjoyable and intelligent version of Jane Austen’s most complex novel. Do go if you possibly can- you will not regret it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I’m away on my Annual Jolly Girls Meet Up for the next few days, and I’ll be visiting, among other places, here for teas and sundaes:
and here for literary combativeness:
and here for gracious living and Gainsborough portraits, not to mention the Georgian Kitchens:
and, hopefully, will also be seeing this:
I’ll be updating my progress on Twitter so if you want to keep up with all Jolly Girls Doings and upddates, then why not follow me on Twitter ? You can follow me by pressing the Alice in Wonderland-like Follow Me button under the Twitter feed to the left of this page, or by visiting my Twitter page, here.
Till next week!
For those of us who were charmed by her TV performance in If Walls Could Talk which was broadcast on BBC4 earlier in the year, there is good news: Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator of the Royal Historical Palaces, has been filming a series of three programmes about The Prince Regent and his era again for BBC4, to be broadcast later in the year.
This is how she describes it on her blog:
Let me fill you in on this Regency project – it’s in three parts, for brilliant BBC4 once again (yes, the brainy channel). The Prince Regent officially became ‘acting king’ in 1811, two hundred years ago, and the series is probably going to be called Elegance and Decadence (two lovely words which seem to sum up his nine-years reign as Regent before he properly became King George IV in 1820). When all is edited I think we’ll have an hour on the corpulent Prince of Whales himself, beginning of course at our beautiful Kew Palace where he grew up, great events and great artists (Lawrence and Turner) and the Battle of Waterloo. Episode Two is planned to be about architecture, Brighton Pavilion, Windsor Castle, the property market and the middle classes, and there’s a bit of my all-time favourite Regency person Jane Austen. We finish with an hour of sedition, violent protest, the Peterloo Massacre, industrialisation, royal divorce and dissent. Fun, huh?
Over the past few months, while filming the series, she has been dandying about with Ian Kelly, author of a really good biography of Beau Brummel, The Ultimate Dandy, delving into the correspondence of Lady Caroline Lamb, flying in hot air balloons over Bath (how horrifying!) and dancing with tons( excuse the pun) of Regency dancers.
I’m so looking forward to this series, because, as you all know, Jane Austen is my all time favourite Regency person too. I will, of course, keep you informed of broadcasting times and other developments ;)
Let us resume our series looking in depth at Hugh Thompson’s illustrations for the Macmillan edition of Sense and Sensibility. We are nearing the end of this series and then will continue looking at other illustrated editions of Sense and Sensibility, in order to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its first publication. Do remember that all the illustrations can be enlarged simply by clicking on them, in order to examine the detail.
Our first illustration this week is from Chapter 36, and shows the point when poor Elinor is introduced to Robert Ferrars by her half brother, John Dashwood, and Elinor recognises him to be the dandy who was ordering a fancy toothpick holder at Greys, the jewellers in Sackville Street. This gave her her first opportunity to compare Edward with his younger brother. The comparisons she drew were not very flattering to Mr Robert:
Mr. Dashwood introduced him to her as Mr. Robert Ferrars.
He addressed her with easy civility, and twisted his head into a bow which assured her as plainly as words could have done, that he was exactly the coxcomb she had heard him described to be by Lucy. Happy had it been for her if her regard for Edward had depended less on his own merit, than on the merit of his nearest relations! For then his brothers bow must have given the finishing stroke to what the ill-humour of his mother and sister would have begun. But while she wondered at the difference of the two young men, she did not find that the emptiness and conceit of the one, put her at all out of charity with the modesty and worth of the other. Why they were different, Robert explained to her himself in the course of a quarter of an hour’s conversation; for, talking of his brother, and lamenting the extreme gaucherie which he really believed kept him from mixing in proper society, he candidly and generously attributed it much less to any natural deficiency, than to the misfortune of a private education; while he himself, though probably without any particular, any material superiority by nature, merely from the advantage of a public school, was as well fitted to mix in the world as any other man.
The body language is quite fascinating in this picture: John Dashwood is portrayed as extremely proud and sensible of the great compliment he is paying to Elinor by introducing the “fabulous family favourite”, Robert to her. Robert is hardly making a “scrape” , the insolent fool that he is, and Elinor is very glad to be hiding behind her fan….
Note that this illustration was used as the page facing the frontispiece of my edition, and is therefore edged in red ink, unlike the other illustrations, in order to fit in with the design of those two pages.
Our next illustration is from Chapter 37, and shows the moment Mrs Jennings is made aware, by Mr Donovan, Mrs Palmer’s surgeon that Mrs Fanny Dashwood was ill due to shock brought on by her discovery Lucy and Edward’s secret engagement:
So then it all came out; and the long and the short of the matter, by all I can learn, seems to be [this]: — Mr. Edward Ferrars, the very young man I used to joke with you about (but, however, as it turns out, I am monstrous glad there never was any thing in it), Mr. Edward Ferrars, it seems, has been engaged above this twelvemonth to my cousin Lucy! — There’s for you, my dear! — And not a creature knowing a syllable of the matter except Nancy! — Could you have believed such a thing possible? — There is no great wonder in their liking one another; but that matters should be brought so forward between them, and nobody suspect it!
What price patient confidentiality?!! How times have changed. I love Mrs Jennings stance in this illustration. She seems to have stopped in mid movement, hardly able to belive what Mr Donovan is telling her.
The next illustration, again from Chapter 37 continues this part of the story: it shows John Dashwood calling on Elinor and Marianne to tell them of Lucy’s perfidy:
“Your sister,” he continued, “has suffered dreadfully. Mrs. Ferrars too — in short, it has been a scene of such complicated distress; but I will hope that the storm may be weathered without our being, any of us, quite overcome. Poor Fanny! she was in hysterics all yesterday. But I would not alarm you too much. Donavan says there is nothing materially to be apprehended; her constitution is a good one, and her resolution equal to anything. She has borne it all, with the fortitude of an angel! She says she never shall think well of anybody again; and one cannot wonder at it, after being so deceived! — meeting with such ingratitude, where so much kindness had been shewn, so much confidence had been placed! It was quite out of the benevolence of her heart, that she had asked these young women to her house; merely because she thought they deserved some attention, were harmless, well-behaved girls, and would be pleasant companions; for otherwise we both wished very much to have invited you and Marianne to be with us, while your kind friend there was attending her daughter. And now to be so rewarded! ‘I wish with all my heart,’ says poor Fanny in her affectionate way, ‘that we had asked your sisters instead of them.'”
Here we have John Dashwood being so self important, and so very serious. Can you just see that in his stance? So indignant ! Taking Mrs Ferrars side in her stupid and crude attempts to force Edward’s hand with the prospect of an estate in Norfolk if he would renounce Lucy and marry Miss Moreton, then in the end preparing to disinherit Edward to the benefit of Robert, who was after all her favourite son:
“Well!” said Mrs. Jennings, “that is her revenge. Everybody has a way of their own. But I don’t think mine would be to make one son independent because another had plagued me.”
Our fourth and final illustration this week, again from Chapter 37, is of news related to us by John Dashwood:
“If he would only have done as well by himself,” said John Dashwood, “as all his friends were disposed to do by him, he might now have been in his proper situation, and would have wanted for nothing. But as it is, it must be out of anybody’s power to assist him. And there is one thing more preparing against him, which must be worse than all — his mother has determined, with a very natural kind of spirit, to settle thatestate upon Robert immediately, which might have been Edward’s on proper conditions. I left her this morning with her lawyer, talking over the business.”
It shows the dreadful Mrs Ferrars in conversation with her attorney, cutting Edward out of the Ferrars family fortune, which she was well able to do, having been left her husbands estates and interests without any legal fetters:
As a lawyer myself I recognise the expression on the attorney’s face…how to do all Mrs Ferrars bidding and wonderful if he had really explained all to her, and that once it was given away legally she could not change her mind etc……
We have three more posts left in the series. I promise that I will post one each week over the next three weeks,and apologise that other matters have taken precedence recently.
Serena Wagner as Fanny Price was being filmed at Townley Hall, Burnley by Amanda Vickery’s production company for her forthcoming documentary for the BBC on Jane Austen which will air, most probalby, in December this year.
You can see the first page of chapter one of the first edition of Mansfield Park printed on the backcloth, the plain white chairs upholstered with the same fabric, and poor Miss Price in unbearable dispair.
The British Library has recently lauched a currently free to purchase application for iPad, entitled The Historical Collection.
Its remit is 19th century books, and the collection is divided into various categories including, the History of Britain and Ireland, the History of Travel, History of Asia, the History of Europe, the History of Colonial North America and one that directly concerns us, Novels of the 18th and 19th Century.
The books are reproduced digitally as a whole, along with sometimes sumptuous bindings, as in this example, The Story of Captain Cook’s Voyages Around the World
and also include illustrations if there are any, again here is one from Captain Cook’s Voyages:
Currently two Jane Austen novels are included; the 1870 edition of Emma, published by Richard Bentley:
And the 1896 edition of Sense and Sensibility, published by Macmillan, illustrated by Hugh Thompson.
We are of course nearing the end of our series on his illustrations for this novel, so this is of extra interest to us.
The collection is going to be enlarged over time, and there will probably be a fee payable for access to some titles, as this passage from the British Library’s website suggests:
Currently the app features over a thousand 19th century books, but it will provide access to more than 60,000 titles by later this summer when details on pricing for the service will be announced. The books, which are all in the Library’s collection and in the public domain, span numerous languages and subject areas including titles such as ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley and ‘The Adventures of Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens.
Currently the app. is free and available from the ITunes App Store. This is a very intriguing collection, and I admit Im finding it very readable. Some of the titles have been curated and set into context, which is very helpful. I wonder if they will add more illustrated versions of the early editions of Jane Austen’s works? Lets hope they do, as teh originals are ferociously expensive today.
Professor Amanda Vickery’s splendid BBC Radio 4 series, Voices from the Old Bailey is back, and is on excellent form.
The first programme in the new, second series of four programmes was first broadcast last Wednesday at 9 a.m., but can be accessed here to “listen again” via the BBC Website. This week’s episode concentrates on riots during the 18th century, and the section on the Gordon Riots, an uprising of terrible anti- Catholic violence put down with equal harshness by the army, and which occurred in London and the surrounding district in 1780, is absolutely riveting.
But does this have anything to do with Jane Austen, I hear you cry ? Most definitely, yes. In Northanger Abbey it is surely the folk memories of the Gordon Riots that cause Eleanor Tilney to be very easily alarmed upon misunderstanding an innocent remark made by Catherine Morland in Chapter 14:
Delighted with her progress, and fearful of wearying her with too much wisdom at once, Henry suffered the subject to decline, and by an easy transition from a piece of rocky fragment and the withered oak which he had placed near its summit, to oaks in general, to forests, the enclosure of them, waste lands, crown lands and government, he shortly found himself arrived at politics; and from politics, it was an easy step to silence. The general pause which succeeded his short disquisition on the state of the nation was put an end to by Catherine, who, in rather a solemn tone of voice, uttered these words, “I have heard that something very shocking indeed will soon come out in London.”
Miss Tilney, to whom this was chiefly addressed, was startled, and hastily replied, “Indeed! And of what nature?”
“That I do not know, nor who is the author. I have only heard that it is to be more horrible than anything we have met with yet.”
“Good heaven! Where could you hear of such a thing?”
“A particular friend of mine had an account of it in a letter from London yesterday. It is to be uncommonly dreadful. I shall expect murder and everything of the kind.”
Of course, Catherine is talking of nothing more serious than of the publication of one of her horrid books, but Eleanor Tilney, the better informed of the two and with an emotional interest in any potential public unrest that might have to be put down by her elder brother, who is serving in the Twelfth Light Dragoons, leaps to some serious conclusions. Henry Tilney has to set matters aright in a very Mr Bennet-ish fashion( and not in a manner of which I approve, to be brutally honest with you, despise me if you dare):
“My dear Eleanor, the riot is only in your own brain. The confusion there is scandalous. Miss Morland has been talking of nothing more dreadful than a new publication which is shortly to come out, in three duodecimo volumes, two hundred and seventy–six pages in each, with a frontispiece to the first, of two tombstones and a lantern — do you understand? And you, Miss Morland — my stupid sister has mistaken all your clearest expressions. You talked of expected horrors in London — and instead of instantly conceiving, as any rational creature would have done, that such words could relate only to a circulating library, she immediately pictured to herself a mob of three thousand men assembling in St. George’s Fields, the Bank attacked, the Tower threatened, the streets of London flowing with blood, a detachment of the Twelfth Light Dragoons (the hopes of the nation) called up from Northampton to quell the insurgents, and the gallant Captain Frederick Tilney, in the moment of charging at the head of his troop, knocked off his horse by a brickbat from an upper window. Forgive her stupidity. The fears of the sister have added to the weakness of the woman; but she is by no means a simpleton in general.”
This weeks programme features one of my favourite historians, Professor Peter King, whose books, Crime, Justice, and Discretion in England 1740-1820 and Crime and Law in England, 1750-1840 are two of my most favourite books on the subject. Go read them now if you possibly can. Completing the discussion panel are Dr. Katrina Navickas and Professor Tim Hitchcock, co-founder of the fabulous on-line archive, Old Bailey Online.
Amanda is currently filming for her BBC TV Special on Sense and Sensibility, which will air sometime in December. She recently sent me this picture of her being filmed examining The Watsons manuscript at Sotheby’s,which of course was recently sold for nearly £1 million. I thought you would like to see it, so here it is:
Sarah Helsby Hughes, the Artistic Director of Heritage Opera, and a most vivacious Miss Crawford in their production of Mansfield Park, which had its first performance on Saturday at Boughton House, Northamptonshire , has very kindly sent me these fabulous photographs of the cast. They were taken just before the performance on Saturday evening in the balmy sunshine of that wonderful night.
I thought you might like to share….All the photographs in this post are ©Heritage Opera and are reproduced here with their kind permission.(And do remember that you can enlarge all the photographs by clicking on them!)
Here we have Sarah as Miss Crawford, and Nicholas Sales as Henry Crawford, standing before the North Front of Boughton House, just about to bring their London fashions and morals to Mansfield and to throw all into utter confusion…..
Here are, from left to right, Eloise Routlegdge ( Maria Bertram), Serena Wagner ( Fanny Price) and Paloma Bruce (Julia Bertram).
From left to right we see Thomas Eaglen ( Edmund Bertram), Sarah Helsby Hughes (Mary Crawford), Eloise Routledge (Maria Bertram) and Darren Clarke ( Mr Rushworth).
The “Happy Couple”..Mr and Mrs Rushworth…..and finally, the whole ensemble….
From left to right, Henry Crawford ( Nicholas Sales), Julia Bertram (Paloma Bruce), Mary Crawford ( Sarah Helsby Hughes), Fanny Price (Serena Wagner), Sir Thomas ( John Rawnsley), Lady Bertram – sans Pug- (Nuala Willis), Mrs Norris ( Brigit Rohowska), Maria Bertram (Eloise Routledge) and Mr Rushworth (Darren Clarke).
And here is something to give you a little taste of the music, is a preview of the opera, a short film produced by Heritage Opera: