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So, on the presumption that you  done all your duties for today and have  either  queued up at the Estate Office to  pay your rent to your landlord, or have settled with the agent that you are to take Netherfield after all, depending on your whim…..it’s time for a little catching up re Amanda Vickery’s doings.

Throughout the summer she has been entertaining us on Twitter with snippets of information of the filming of Behind Closed Doors for the BBC, which has now been completed (above is the clapper board which was given to Amanda by the film crew as a present at the end of filming).Those of us who follow her on Twitter have virtually followed her to Ditcheley Park, designed by James Gibbs in the 1720s, shown below….

(© Adam Middleton and The Ditchely Foundation)

…where a lot of the filming has taken place, and also at

less grand surroundings such as houses in Spitalfields, above, and

the  Almshouses at the Geffreye Museum;as Professor Vickery noted, it was neat but frugal.

We have also met some of the actors playing the real life characters in the book, and discovered that, for actresses playing period women’s roles, The Gentleman’s Daughter also written by Professor Vickery has become an essential part of their research,a handbook to explain the lives their characters would have led in the late 18th /early 19th century. I’m glad about this as for years I have described it as required reading for anyone who wants to know more about  the background to the female characters in Jane Austen’s works. It’s nice to know that professional actresses agree!

Professor Vickery and I have been jealously coveting some of the hats on display…….

Do look at this fabulous creation worn by “Lady Margaret Stanley” seen with Professor Vickery in modern garb, above……It’s been great fun keeping up with it all. So do join Professor Vickery on Twitter  for as the broadcasting date nears there will be more snippets of information being bandied about I’m sure. At the moment there is a  debate at the production company as to want to call the series; Behind Close Doors sounds fine to me but an official alternative suggestion has been put forward , The Georgians An Intimate History…I confess I’m not keen on that one. Why not let Professor Vickery have your thoughts on the subject via Twitter?  No dates as yet from Professor Vickery as to when the series is to be broadcast but I promise to let you know the moment I’m made aware of them.

On to publishing.

Yale, whose London office are shown above, in a photograph taken by Professor Vickery while filming Behind Closed Doors, -and I would like to thank her for permission to use all these images- have now issued a paperback edition of  Behind Closed Doors in the UK (the USA paperback edition is to follow soon I understand)

This is a bargain. If you were wary of buying the full price hardback book, then  please do buy this version. It is a great read as well as being very informative. My review  accessible here might persuade you if you are wavering.

Professor Vickery is also to give the 2010 Royal Historical Society/Gresham College Annual Lecture on 11th November at Gresham College in London, entitled, What Did Eighteenth Century Men Want?, which promises to be fascinating. It may be made available as a podcast, and if so I will of course alert you all. In the meantime, here is another of Professor Vickery’s talks and this is one which IS available as a podcast now: go here to download her talking about  the role of the home in the long 18th century. Her talk is entitled Out of the Closet: Love, Power and Houses in Eighteenth Century England. You will enjoy it I’m sure.

I’ll post again when details of the broadcasting times for Behind Closed Doors are available and I will also be  reporting back soon from the exhibition curated by Professor John Styles, Professor Vickery’s husband, entitled Threads of Feeling which will open soon at the Foundling Hospital Museum in London.

Yesterday, I had great fun at  Kelmarsh Hall’s second annual Country House Book Day.

Kelmarsh Hall, in Northamptonshire,  is a beautiful, small Georgian house,designed by Gibbs and Smith of Warwick, and has much in common stylistically and in size with its near neighbour Cottesbrooke Hall.

It is surrounded by parkland

a lake

the parish church

intimate gardens

and a walled kitchen garden in the process of being restored.

In addition to the fine surroundings yesterdays Book Day provided entertainment about houses and gardens with lectures being given by  leading garden writers and historians  to small but rapt audiences.

Amid these beautiful and fitting surroundings I went to listen to Amanda Vickery give her talk Out of the Closet: Love Power and Houses in the Eighteenth Century. It was as ever a virtuoso performance from Professor Vickery, author of the very interesting and rightly lauded book, BehindClosed Doors, and The Gentleman’s Daughter. She gave a talk full of riveting information and good humour. She told us about the universal need for a home,and what this need says  about us and about those who lived in the past ; how difficult it is to write about the home of the poor or even the middling sort for unlike the homes of the elite, few homes or artefacts from these classes survive into the 21st century; how responsibility for the different areas of a home were delegated between the sexes and how lack of a home was considered degrading for both spinsters and bachelors, those poor unmarried souls who had failed to achieve that most desirable  consumer object-a home of one’s own. She also discussed the concept of taste as defined in the 18th century and how this was viewed by the differing classes, ranging from the elite to the shopkeepers who supplied consumer goods to all classes. In all it was a marvellous bravura performance, totally enjoyable and very informative. If only all history lecturers were like this as my teenage daughter wistfully remarked  at the conclusion to Professor Vickery’s talk. Ah yes…if only….

 

If you go here you can downlad a podcast of a similar lecture Professor Vickery gave, the 2008 HarperCollins History lecture: I don’t think you need ITunes in order to play it, so I do hope many of you who cannot physically get to hear Professor Vickery talk will do this as it will give you a very good idea of her good humoured and intensely interesting style.

After the lecture I had the opportunity to take tea with Professor Vickery and amongst  other matters of important Austen-related gossip, she told me that she had been commissioned by the BBC to make a three-part television series based on Behind Closed Doors .I won’t give away details here but you can be assured that when  more information is available I will pass it on.

In all it was a wonderful day (and the English summer weather was kind for once!) and I am glad for this opportunity to share it with you.

I’ve just discovered a lovely podcast by Amanda Vickery on the subject of her latest celebrated book, Behind Closed Doors, and I thought I ought to share it with you.

If you go to Apple’s ITunes Store, search “Blackwell Online Podcasts”,  provided you have the ITunes  software on your computer, you can then download Podcast Number 54, which is a 12 minute talk  by Professor Vickery on the process of researching her book, and  on its contents-with a special section on the meaning of Georgian Wallpaper and an interesting comment on the colour green and Jane Austen !

And it is entirely free.

Enjoy!

UPDATE

Again available on  ITunes there is an Episode of the BBC History Magazine podcast series, which includes an interview with Professor Vickery on her recent BBC Radio 4 Series A History of Private Life. It was very wide ranging and engaging series,based on Behind Closed Doors but the series had a much wider scope in time.It begins 17 minutes into the podcast.

I will be attending Professor Vickery’s talk  at Kelmarsh Hall,Northamptonshire, on the 20th June,and I will be reporting back to you on that.

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