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This year, remarkable for many events- the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics amongst them- has another major cultural celebration:  the 350th Anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. This book-written all those years ago- is still the official liturgy of the Church of England.  And while its anniversary has been marked in certain circles with some gusto, it has not achieved, in my very humble opinion, anything like the publicity or public acclaim that last year’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible accrued. Which to me is astonishing for, like the King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare, to paraphrase Henry Crawford and Edmund Bertram, we all get to know phrases from the Book of Common Prayer, without really knowing how:

But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an Englishman’s constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct. No man of any brain can open at a good part of one of his plays without falling into the flow of his meaning immediately.”

“No doubt one is familiar with Shakespeare in a degree,” said Edmund, “from one’s earliest years. His celebrated passages are quoted by everybody; they are in half the books we open, and we all talk Shakespeare, use his similes, and describe with his descriptions; but this is totally distinct from giving his sense as you gave it. To know him in bits and scraps is common enough; to know him pretty thoroughly is, perhaps, not uncommon; but to read him well aloud is no everyday talent

Mansfield Park Chapter 34,

Of course the way mine and previous generations, including Jane Austen’s, got to know these phrases by heart was though repetition: the 1662 Prayer Book, with slight alterations, was the liturgy with which I grew up and heard at every service in my youth, as did Jane Austen. I was married  and my children were baptised using the beautiful services contained within it. I try to attend services using the Prayer Book, but these days it is getting harder and harder to do so for the rituals contained in Common Worship has replaced it in many, many parish churches and cathedrals. What a pity to lose such a link with the past. And doubly a pity, for we are all, I am sure, very familiar with the following phrases, all culled from its pages, even though some may not be aware it is the source of these phrases we can hear almost every day:

Speak now or forever hold your peace….To love, cherish and to obey…Till Death us do part…Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest…In the midst of life we are in death…Renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world…

I could continue,but will restrain myself, much to your relief, no doubt :)  As it is now the 350th anniversary of this book,  which undoubtedly influenced Jane Austen, and to which she made direct references in her works, I thought I would  post a small series about it. Today, I want to look at a brief history of this very influential book, then my next posting will be about Jane Austen’s use of it.

Thomas Cramner, Archbishop of Canterbury who edited the first Prayer Book of the Anglican Church

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, who edited the first Anglican Prayer Book

The Prayer Book was originally complied by Thomas Cranmer in the 16th century. It was published in 1549 during the reign of King Edward VI, and as such it was a product of the English Reformation, following the break with Rome by Henry VIII. The 1549 book  was vitally important as it was the first prayer book written in English to contain all the forms of service for daily and Sunday worship and to do so within a single volume.

This first Prayer Book included services for morning prayer, evening prayer, the Litany, and Holy Communion. The book also  included  other occasional services in full: the orders for baptism, confirmation, marriage, ‘prayers to be said with the sick‘ and a funeral service. It set out in full detail the Epistle and Gospel readings for the Sunday Communion Service. The Old Testament and New Testament readings for daily prayer were also specified  as were the set Psalms.  Canticles, mostly biblical,  were also provided to be sung between the readings. The services in this prayer book were important in the development of the Church for they emphasised the people’s participation in the eucharist, and required that the Bible was to be read from cover to cover. Fast days were retained but saints’ days were not.

The 1549 book was rapidly succeeded by a  revision in 1552 which was again edited by Thomas Cranmer, then Archbishop of Canterbury.  This book  never came into use however because, on the death of Edward VI in 1553, his half-sister Mary I restored Roman Catholic worship to all English churches. On her death in 1558, her protestant half-sister, Elizabeth became Queen and a compromise version- which was  largely the 1552 prayer book with a few amendments from the 1549 edition- was published in 1559.

In 1604, under the reign of James I, there was a minor revision of the Prayer Book, but  the terrible events of  the English Civil War proved disastrous for its continued use.  In 1645 it was abolished for use and the Long Parliament decreed that anyone found to be still using it was to be found guilty of a criminal offence.

Frontispiece of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer

Frontispiece of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer

After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660( Hurrah!), the restrictions on the use of the Prayer Book were removed. Charles II initiated another major revision to the Prayer Book, and convened the Savoy Conference in 1661. The purpose of the conference was to decide the manner and content of the liturgy for the 17th century Anglican church. The Revised Book of Common Prayer which resulted was made legal by the Act of Uniformity  of 1662 ,which ordered  the exclusive use of the new Prayer Book,  in all places of worship, from St. Bartholomew’s Day (that is, the 24th August) 1662 onwards,

before which all ministers must publicly declare their assent to it on pain of deprivation…

And since that date, 350 years ago almost to the day,  that edition-with minor amendments- has remained the official Prayer Book of the Church of England, and of most other Churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion. It has been extremely influential:  Christian denominations other than the Anglican Church have adopted and adapted its services and prayers for their own use. For example, traditional Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian prayer books have all borrowed from it. The wording of the Prayer Book marriage and burial rites have been adopted by other denominations and, as we have seen above,  phrases from the book have seeped  into the everyday English language. This all explains why Jane Austen knew the book intimately…and next time we shall discuss how she used it in her writings.

Chatsworth House and the Emperor Fountain ©Austenonly

Chatsworth House and the Emperor Fountain ©Austenonly

It has been a pleasure to visit country houses this Diamond Jubilee Year, for most  I have visited have celebrated the Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by creating displays of their own Coronation memorabilia. I visited Chatsworth some weeks ago for my annual treat, and yes, as expected, their displays were the best I saw this season. Chatsworth is, as you are no doubt aware, the Derbyshire home of the Duke of Devonshire, whose family name is Cavendish. And of course, Chatsworth is one of the places Elizabeth Bennet visited with the Gardiners  in Pride and Prejudice, and some would contend that it was the model for “Pemberley ( not me,however!) and so it holds a special interest for Janeites .

The West and South façades of the house have now been stunningly restored, and it was simply breathtaking to see it glinting- with all the newly re-gilded windows and stone ornaments on the roof- in the summer sunshine, and to enjoy the refreshing (and very welcome!) spray from the fountains.

The Emperor Fountain ©Austenonly

The Emperor Fountain ©Austenonly

In addition to having a display of the clothes worn by the 10th Duchess, the 11th Duke and Duchess and their son,who is now the 12th Duke, at the 1953 Coronation, Chatsworth also put on show the carriage that the 11th Duke  his Duchess and their heir used to travel to Westminster Abbey.  Their State Chariot, plus liveried footmencoachman and a phantom horse were on display, to great effect, in the wonderfully large Painted Hall. You might remember this room from the “Pemberley ” scenes in Joe Wright’s production of Pride and Prejudice of 2005, which I discussed some time ago, here.

The Chariot in the Painted Hall ©Austenonly

The Chariot in the Painted Hall ©Austenonly

This is the view of the Chariot display from the top of the stairs seen in the phonograph, above. It is testament to its great size that  having a carriage and “horse” set out in the Hall did not make it feel at all crowded.

The view down onto the Chariot from the stairs in the Painted Hall

The view down onto the Chariot from the stairs in the Painted Hall

As, quite unexpectedly, we seem to have been covering the theme of Jane Austen, Livery and Heraldry this year, I thought you might like to see photographs of this display, as they help to reinforce and explain various points that we have discussed before.

The Devonshire State Chariot ©Austenonly

The Devonshire State Chariot ©Austenonly

Though this Chariot may have been made slightly later than our period, (it came into the Cavendish family upon the marriage of the  8th Duke to the Duchess of Manchester in 1892) you can see, by comparing it to William Felton’s engraving of a Neat Town Chariot, below

"A Neat Town Chariot" from Felton's "Treatise on Carriages etc." (1797)

“A Neat Town Chariot” from my copy of Felton’s “Treatise on Carriages etc.” (1797)

and his engraving of an Elegant Chariot

An "Elegant Chariot" from Felton's "Treatise on Carriages etc." (1797)

An “Elegant Chariot” from my copy of Felton’s “Treatise on Carriages etc.” (1797)

that this version would have been very familiar to Jane Austen. The Devonshire State Chariot is, as we have now come to expect, decorated with many details which would make the identity of its owners easy for those “in the know” to recognise.

Side View of the Chariot, showing the Cavendish Arms on the Door Panel ©Austenonly

Side View of the Chariot, showing the Cavendish Arms on the Door Panel ©Austenonly

The door and side panels are decorated with the Cavendish coat of arms

The Cavendish Coat of Arms painted on the Door of the Chariot

The Cavendish Coat of Arms painted on the internal side  of the door of the Chariot

and with emblems associated with the family…

Close-Up of the Cavendish Coat of Arms ©Austenonly

Close-Up of the Cavendish Coat of Arms ©Austenonly

You can compare the painted example, above, to the example of the newly restored and painted stone version of the Cavendish Arms on the West Front of the House, below:

The newly restored and coloured Cavendish coat of arms on the West Front of Chatsworth House ©Austenonly

The newly restored and coloured Cavendish coat of arms on the West Front of Chatsworth House ©Austenonly

The side panels of the Chariot were decorated with the Ducal coronet, with its strawberry leaves, and with the Order of the Garter (and its chain), the highest order of chivalry that can be awarded by the monarch in England and Wales. All the Dukes of Devonshire, with the exception of the current Duke, have been recipients of this very important Order .

The Cavendish Arms on the Side Panel ©Austenonly

Detail of the Side Panel: the Garter Badge and Chain ©Austenonly

Around the roof of the Chariot, silver versions of the Cavendish emblem, the coiled snake, can be seen…

The Cavendish emblem of the Snake in silver, adorning the Chariot side Panels ©Austenonly

The Cavendish emblem of the Snake in silver, adorning the Chariot side panels ©Austenonly

The Hammercloth, which you can see below, and which covers the coachman’s seat, is a  very extravagant affair and is made up in the colours to be found in  the Devonshire family’s coat of arms, that is, their heraldic colours. I must admit that I prefer these  to Sir Walter Elliot’s colour scheme:

 ”He is rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he has been stationed there, I believe, several years.”

   ”Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”

Persuasion, Chapter 3

Here is William Felton’s  plate showing the different styles of Hammercloths from his Treatise on Carriages,etc (1797)

Examples of Hammercloths from Felton's Treatise of Carriages etc (1797)

Examples of Hammercloths from Felton’s Treatise of Carriages etc (1797)

As you can see, the Devonshire Hammercloth was also adorned with the Ducal coronet and with a version of the Cavendish arms,  in silver:

The Cavendish Coat of Arms( in silver) on the Hammercloth

The Cavendish Coat of Arms( in silver) on the Hammercloth

The family’s heraldic colours were also used in the sumptuous interior decoration of the Chariot.

The Interior of the Chariot ©Austenonly

The Interior of the Chariot ©Austenonly

You can clearly see that the status of the family is reinforced at every point: the representations of their arms, emblems and heraldic colours advertise to the world exactly who  are its exalted and rich owners:

The Upholstered Interior of the Chariot

The Upholstered Interior of the Chariot

The Leather-covered Folding Steps

The Leather-covered Folding Steps

The heraldic theme is even continued on the horse’s harness and reigns. Only one example was on show- on a ” horse” armature which reminded me of the animated horses in the National Theatre’s production of  War Horse!

The Harness, embellished with silver mounts ©Austenonly

The Harness, embellished with silver mounts ©Austenonly

Made of leather, the harness set is embellished with silver mounts, some which depict the Cavendish arms…

The Harness, embellished with silver ornament

The Harness, embellished with silver ornament

and some the Ducal Coronet:

Detail of the silver embellishments on the reigns and harness ©Austenonly

Detail of the silver embellishments on the reigns and harness ©Austenonly

You will recall that if a family were possessed of the right to bear arms, their servants-  the footmen and coachmen-, could, in Jane Austen’ era, wear uniforms made of colours dictated by the heraldic colours used in the family’s coat of arms:

A gentleman may wear garments of any colour his fancy may dictate, but he is not permitted such license with regard to the uniforms of his servants: the colours of these depend entirely on the tinctures upon his Escutcheon. In both, the dominant colour should be the same: the subsidiary colour of the livery ( or, as a tailor would call it, the trimmings- that is, the collar, cuffs lining and buttons) should be the colour of the principal Charge.

(The Handbook of Heraldry etc., (1869,  John Cussans, Page 314.)

Do note however, that these liveries were made, IMHO, at a later date than the mid 19th century, as the colour yellow- to represent gold( or more correctly, Or) was used, and that was not thought strictly correct at that time. The colour of the Coachman’s uniform of great-coat and tricorn hat,  was derived from the Cavendish family’s heraldic colours: the black hat decorated with silver thread, and his coat made to match the blue of the hammercloth

The Coachman's Uniform

The Coachman’s Uniform

The footmen’s livery again complied with the rules we have previously learnt: their bicorn hats were decorated with silver thread as were their jackets and waistcoats:

The Cavendish Footmen's Livery ©Austenonly

The Cavendish Footmen’s Livery ©Austenonly

The livery  jackets were yellow, but the cuffs, waistcoats and breeches were blue, again to comply with the rules regarding the use of heraldic colours . The silver buttons on the livery were also embossed with the Cavendish arms,not the crest:

Buttons should always be of the dominant metal in the Arms and charged with the master’s Badge- not his crest. The latter belongs exclusively  to the bearers of the Arms; servants have no right whatever to them. 

(Cussans, as above, page 316)

You might care to note that, because he had admired them on visit to Chatsworth, the 11th Duchess sent a set of these 18th century silver livery buttons to President John F. Kennedy as his inauguration gift .

The rear view of the Chariot ©Austenonly

The rear view of the Chariot ©Austenonly

This rear view shows the step where the footmen stood while they travelled with the family, and also gives a good view of the detail of the back of their liveries. Here is a slightly closer view:

View of the Footmen's Livery

View of the Footmen’s Livery

This is, I hope you will agree, a wonderful example of the use of coaches and liveries to make a statement, according to the heraldic rules and regulations.

If you would like to see the clothes worn by the 11th Duke and Duchess ( and their son) at the Coronation, then do go here to my Pinterest Page on the Coronation of Elizabeth II. I won’t continue it here because it has precious little to do with Jane Austen, but you might like to know that the robe worn at the Coronation by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire was thought originally to have been a set worn by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and they are  quite breath-taking and very beautiful.

The 11th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and their son, The Marquess of Hartington on the way to the Coronation in 1953 ©Austenonly

The 11th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and their son, The Marquess of Hartington on the way to the Coronation in 1953 ©Austenonly

I shall be writing more about Chatsworth next year…in my celebration of the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice and I do hope you will join me.

Chatsworth House from the south-east @Austenonly

Chatsworth House from the south-east @Austenonly

A few weeks ago I wrote that Chawton House Library were about to launch a new website. It is now live and ready for you to explore.

Chawton House Library’s New Website

Go here to see it in all its newly-minted glory. The online novels are there in full and there is a wonderful picture gallery to bring back memories or  to give those of you who have not been lucky enough to visit the Chawton home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward ( and yes, it was also ocassoinally occupied by Frank Austen and his family )some idea of how quietly spectacular it all is.

Eleanor Marsden, the Director of Development, has asked me to mention a very special project that the Library is currently working upon. They are  raising funds to restore a rather beautiful and intricate sampler in their collection, shown below.  It dates from 1830 and was stitched by Mary Pennington aged only 10 years, as Instructed by Mrs Stubbs:

The Chawton Sampler

As they write on the appeals page:

The Pennington sampler is an asset to the Library as we seek to contextualise the education of the period and C.18 women’s literature held here; its maker’s proficiency at age ten speaks volumes about how she filled her time, her accomplishments, tastes, and her interests.  The sampler also sits alongside portraits of other accomplished women of the period, and re-values work produced in the home by placing it alongside work produced professionally by writers and painters. 

Our object collections are fundamental to contextualising the literature – and vice versa – and with a number of C.18 miscellanies in the literary collection, the sampler by Mary Pennington is a beautiful and rare example of domestic work by a  young woman of the long eighteenth century. 

If you would like to help them with any donations to fund this project, then do go here to their fund raising page. You have to agree, this sampler is very fine, and would probably out do poor Charlotte Palmer’s effort -a landscape of silks -which was hung  in her old bedroom in Mrs. Jennings’ house in Town, as proof of her rather expensive, and, it is implied by Jane Austen, rather useless education:

It had formerly been Charlotte’s, and over the mantlepiece still hung a landscape in coloured silks of her performance, in proof of her having spent seven years at a great school in town to some effect.

Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 26.

You may be interested to note that a new adaptation of Mansfield Park is to tour English theatres in the autumn. It will premiere at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk,  on the  13th September. This is a highly appropriate venue as the theatre is the only surviving Regency theatre in England. It was built in 1819 by William Wilkins, who was also the architect of the National Gallery in London. It is a very rare survivor of the Georgian era and is one of only eight Grade I listed theatres in England. As usual in these cases, it is a very intimate theatre and seats only 350.

The Entrance to the Theatre ©Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

The Entrance to the Theatre ©Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

The National Trust is the current custodian of the theatre and from its re-opening after its restoration in 2007 until recently its artistic director was Colin Blumenau who, in a very inspired way during his tenure, reintroduced to the modern repertoire many Georgian plays with which Jane Austen would have been familiar. These plays- virtually unknown and unseen since the Victorian era- were staples of the 18th century  repertoire -but are rarely performed today. In particular he concentrated in reviving plays written by Suffolk’s famous theatrical daughter, Mrs Inchbald. His Restoring the Repertoire series has been wonderful to follow over the years. He is directing the new production of Mansfield Park

The adaptor is Tim Luscombe .You will no doubt be familiar with his other adaptations of Jane Austen’s works: Northanger Abbey

“Northanger Abbey” – adapted by Tim Luscombe

and Persuasion.

“Persuasion” adapted by Tim Luscombe

I was lucky enough to see Northanger Abbey  in York some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. His version of Persuasion I have only read, and I do wish I had had the chance to see it on stage. I am of course, going to see Mansfield Park for not only is it now, most probably, my second favourite of Jane Austen’s novels, but this is being performed in my “patch” as it were ;) I shall be reporting back to you , of course.

In addition to staging Mansfield Park, in a really intelligent display of joined-up-thinking, the cast will also be performing a reading of Lover’s Vows adapted by Mrs Inchbald from Kotzebue’s original play,  on the 24th September.  This is the “play within the novel” that was nearly the undoing of the young people at Mansfield, and which was carefully  chosen by Jane Austen for the way in which the plot of the play neatly amplified the secret desires of the performers. I’m hoping to see this too- I have my tickets- but it depends on my schedule on the day as to wherever I can actually attend. Fingers crossed.

If you would like to book tickets then go here for all the  details of the theatres where Mansfield park will be touring this autumn.

I thought you might appreciate listening to this small section of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programme which aired today. The programme has been discussing summer reading and today’s topic was feminist classics.

It is not a particularly deep discussion-the time restraints limits that- but the presenter, Jenny Murray and guests Katy Guest, Literary Editor of the Independent on Sunday and novelist Joanna Briscoe discuss whether Jane Austen can be considered as a feminist author.

If you would like to hear it, then go here. The radio player will begin at the Feminist Summer Reads Section, and I think I am correct in writing that it should be available for you to listen to, wherever you are in the world. I’d be very interested to hear your reactions to it.

Here  are the answers to the Mastermind quiz ( in bold type,  under their respective questions)  for those of you who attempted them, after reading my last post:

1. What was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be published ? It appeared in 1811 and was described as being “ by a Lady” ?

Answer: Sense and Sensibility

2. In Pride and Prejudice, who married Mr. Collins after Elizabeth Bennet rejects his proposal?

Answer: Charlotte Lucas

3. In Emma, at the ball held by Mr. and Mrs. Weston, who turns down an invitation to dance with Harriet Smith with the excuse that he is ” an old married man and his dancing days are over” ?

Answer: Mr Elton

4.The final chapter of which novel opens with the line:

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can…?

Answer: Mansfield Park

5. Darcy writes to Elizabeth after she rejects his proposal of marriage. In the letter who does he say Wickham had tried to elope with?

Answer: Georgiana, his sister

6. In Northanger Abbey Catherine Morland spends two years from the age of 15 to 17 reading books that would supply her with useful quotations.What role is she said to have been in training for?

Answer: Heroine

7 .In Mansfield Park , what does Mary Crawford give to Fanny to wear at the ball Sir Thomas holds for her and he brother, William?

Answer: Gold Chain.( Note the official answer given by John Humphreys appeared to be “ gold necklace“. Ms. Winter, the contestant,  rightly answered “gold chain” and though her answer was accepted it was “corrected” by John Humphries to “Yes, gold necklace”. That may account, IMVHO, for her answering  the next question incorrectly)

8. In whose shop in London,where she is arranging for the sale of some of her mother’s jewels, does Elinor Dashwood unexpectedly meet her brother, John?

Answer: Grey’s ( of Sackville Street)

9. In Persuasion, what is the name of Sir Walter’s home in Somerset that he has to let to Admiral and Mrs Croft because he can no longer afford to live there?

Answer: Kellynch Hall

10. In Emma what position in the village of Highbury did Mrs Bates’ husband hold before his death?

Answer: Vicar. Note that the contestant answered “Rector” to this question,which, technically and for very good reasons, is not correct, but her answer was accepted.

11. The Militia regiment in Pride and Prejudice had their winter headquarters in which town near Longbourn which is also home to Mrs Bennet’s sister?

Answer: Meryton

12. When Sir Walter Elliot notices his daughter Anne’s improved looks he assumes she has been using a particular lotion which he also claims has “carried away Mrs Clay’s freckles”. What is the name of the lotion?

Answer: Gowland

13. To which of his daughters does Mr Bennet say, after she has performed a second song:

“That will do extremely well, child. You have delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time to exhibit” ?

Answer: Mary Bennet

14. In  Mansfield Park what is the title of the play the young people are planning to perform until Sir Thomas Bertram arrives home and puts a stop to it?

Answer: “Lover’s Vows”

15. In Northanger Abbey Catherine Morland is first introduced to Henry Tilney in the Lower Rooms in Bath by Mr King. What position did Mr King hold there?

Answer:  Master of Ceremonies

16. Emma’s good opinion of Frank Churchill is shaken when she finds out the reason for his sudden trip to London. What was it?

Answer: To get a haircut.

Ms Winter had a total of 15 correct answers (and no passes) at the end of round one. After the second round her total score was 24 points and she ended, sadly, in fourth place. That means, of course,  that she will not have the opportunity to go on further into the competition and we will not be able join her  in attempting any more questions on this subject during this particular season. But I hope you have enjoyed taking part :)

I thought the questions were fair ( but the answers, or the way they were given, might have been a little confusing; at least I know I would have been disconcerted by the “correction” given to the correct answer to question number 7!) And yes, I did get every one correct. As verified by my son who was very carefully watching my performance on Friday evening:  he is a strict adjudicator and would comment here if I misled you, have no doubt!  The programme is available to view for another four days on the BBC iPlayer, here if you would like to see it whole .

On Friday evening the new season of the BBC 2 quiz, Mastermind began.  As I’m sure you are aware, this is a competition where contestants-  sitting in a spotlight in the infamous black leather chair- answer questions in two rounds.

The first  round, which lasts two minutes, has questions based on their own choice of Specialist Subject,  they then answer questions in a slightly longer  -2.5 minutes- General Knowledge Round. The combined totals of successfully answered questions from the two rounds are added together and, in these early stages, the contestant with the highest score each week ( or in the event of a tie, the one with the least “passes”) goes through to the semi-finals…and ever onwards.

This week one of the four contestants was Rosalind Winter, a writer from Gloucester, shown on the programme, below. Her Specialist Subject was The Completed Novels of Jane Austen.

If you can access the BBC iPlayer here, you can play along while watching the programme, as I did yesterday.

But if you can’t access it,  I have  listed the questions, below, so you can all join in and play along. I’ll post the answers on Monday, and  I’ll tell you my score, verified by my vigilant son, in the post on Monday too ;)

So…Here are the questions that Rosalind Winter had to face (and do remember, you have only two minutes in which to answer them all!):

1. What was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be published ? It appeared in 1811 and was described as being “ by a Lady”?

2.I n Pride and Prejudice, who married Mr. Collins after Elizabeth Bennet rejects his proposal?

3. In Emma, at the ball held by Mr. and Mrs. Weston, who turns down an invitation to dance with Harriet Smith with the excuse that he is ” an old married man and his dancing days are over”?

4.The final chapter of which novel opens with the line:

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can…?

5. Darcy writes to Elizabeth after she rejects his proposal of marriage. In the letter who does he say Wickham had tried to elope with?

6. In Northanger Abbey Catherine Morland spends two years from the age of 15 to 17 reading books that would supply her with useful quotations.What role is she said to have been in training for?

7 .In Mansfield Park , what does Mary Crawford give to Fanny to wear at the ball Sir Thomas holds for her and he brother, William?

8. In whose shop in London,where she is arranging for the sale of some of her mother’s jewels, does Elinor Dashwood unexpectedly meet her brother, John?

9. In Persuasion, what is the name of Sir Walter’s home in Somerset that he has to let to Admiral and Mrs Croft because he can no longer afford to live there?

10. In Emma what position in the village of Highbury did Mrs Bates’ husband hold before his death?

11. The Militia regiment in Pride and Prejudice had their winter headquarters in which town near Longbourn which is also home to Mrs Bennet’s sister?

12. When Sir Walter Elliot notices his daughter Anne’s improved looks he assumes she has been using a particular lotion which he also claims has “carried away Mrs Clay’s freckles”. What is the name of the lotion?

13. To which of his daughters does Mr Bennet say, after she has performed a second song:

“That will do extremely well, child. You have delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time to exhibit” ?

14. In  Mansfield Park what is the title of the play the young people are planning to perform until Sir Thomas Bertram arrives home and puts a stop to it?

15 .In Northanger Abbey Catherine Morland is first introduced to Henry Tilney in the Lower Rooms in Bath by Mr King. What position did Mr King hold there?

16. Emma’s good opinion of Frank Churchill is shaken when she finds out the reason for his sudden trip to London. What was it?

Good luck!

Back from holiday, still mesmerised by the bonkers but brilliant Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, I thought you might all enjoy looking at these two films about Hugh Thomson. He, of course, illustrated all six of Jane Austen’s novels at the turn of the last century. He created the most beautiful edition of Pride and Prejudice, and my posts about his life and his work on Sense and Sensibility, which I wrote last year, still remain very popular with visitors to this site.

The first film is a short overview of Thomson’s life and works produced by Culture Northern Ireland, presented by Helen Perry:

The second is a longer and a very informative and detailed film on the life and works of Thomson, again presented and narrated by Helen Perry.  It concentrates on examining some of the 700 of  Thomson’s works which were recently  purchased for the Coleraine Museum with help for the Heritage Lottery fund.

If you go here you can also explore part of the Thomson archive for yourselves: 71 of his illustrations, book bindings and letters etc., are available to online visitors via the Coleraine Museum’s website. No Jane Austen illustrations are included as yet, but the exhibits are  interesting despite this, and I particularly admired the sumptuous  binding for Cranford by Mrs Gaskell.

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