Tuesday 30 July 2013


Emma and the Problem of Advice

Guest Post by Rebecca H. Jamison

In Jane Austen’s Emma, Harriet Smith would’ve been much better off if she’d listened to her heart. Instead, she listened to Emma and had to suffer the rejection of two different men before marrying Robert Martin, the man who asked her in the first place. Emma is certainly the worst advice-giver in the book, but she isn’t the only one. Mr. Woodhouse, Mrs. Weston, and Mr. Knightley all offer up plenty of opinions during the progress of the novel.

Mr. Woodhouse turns people off with his constant stream of health advice. He cautions against eating wedding cake and any other sort of tasty food. For the most part, the characters ignore the old man. But, on one occasion, his son-in-law loses patience when Mr. Woodhouse tells the young father not to listen to his own doctor. Mr. Woodhouse may think he’s helping people, but his words sometimes alienate him from those around him.

Wednesday 24 July 2013


Thanks Emily for taking the time to answer my questions and agreeing to talk Jane Austen with me. This is my first curiosity:  when and how did you come to write a Jane Austen sequel?

Mr Darcy’s Guide to Courtship is more of a prequel: it is set shortly before the events of Pride and Prejudice, and imagines the advice that Darcy might have given Bingley on how to attract a suitable lady before he is let loose on Hertfordshire’s female population.

As an historian, my recent research has focused on the real seduction manuals – often just collections of what we’d now call ‘chat up lines’ – that were in circulation in and around Jane Austen’s lifetime. Many of them are really entertaining, and I wanted to bring them back into public view somehow. Austen’s books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and it only seemed right to reveal how men really went about winning a lady’s affections through the medium of Regency England’s most eligible bachelor himself!

Sunday 21 July 2013


 (by guest blogger Marcela De Vivo) 

Access to any kind of music during the Regency era was largely dependent on the abilities of amatuer musicians in a given household to play it on their own. There was no television or recording devices, and live music was generally limited to the cities and streets, where performers were easy to find, and the sounds of music were fairly commonplace. 

 However, in a household like the one Jane Austen grew up in, learning music was looked upon as a highly valuable and important aspect of life, thus every member of a family was expected to develop their skill with a particular instrument. In Austen’s case, the pianoforte was the most popular option.

 So, if Austen had an iPod during that time, she would have undoubtedly had music that was played by herself and her family members recorded and kept on one of her favorite playlists. Scotch and Irish Aires were popular during her time, as well as folk music and a variety of classical composers, many of which we would recognize today.   

Thursday 18 July 2013


In February of 1813 Miss Jane Austen wrote a letter to her sister Cassandra. Pride & Prejudice had just been published and Miss Austen took the time to express her thoughts on the novel. On the whole she was pleased, although she did not care for her mother's audible presentation of the novel to their friends. Near the beginning of the letter Jane stated that the work was a little too bright and needed shade, perhaps a mention of Napoleon.

 It has now been 200 years since this wonderful novel has been printed and the letters of Miss Austen bring a sense of reality to her work and her character. She was not wholly pleased, but then again, are any of us ever satisfied with our work. A novel, which had taken the better part of two decades to get into print, was found to still contain an editing mistake, and while the reviews were favorable, Miss Austen had sold the copyright to a Mr. Egerton and signed away her rights for future financial gain. While Miss Austen may not have greatly profited from her novel, she did achieve a much more sought after goal. She is now known the world over and will continue to influence men and women in a positive way; Miss Austen achieved immortality. Whether Jane wanted this immortality we may not know, but it is hers and I wish to thank her for her influence.

Monday 15 July 2013


If I were a man, I'd ask him for advice in courtship, wouldn't you?  But since I am a woman, I'm  terribly curious to know what he would suggest to another man and what he really thinks about us.  Fitzwilliam Darcy has been so many women's dream man for 200 years now and he must know one or two secrets to  succeed with them.

Since the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in 1813, Mr Darcy has been the romantic hero par excellence, fancied by ladies of all ages all over the world. Who better than him could write a guide to the seduce the opposite sex?  
Now, in his Guide to Courtship,   he offers advice to make you successful in love but,  be warned, he wrote this book  before been mellowed by contact with Miss Elizabeth Bennet. So, please,  imagine the Darcy you met at Meriton Assembly, which means all pride and prejudice,  as the author of this little precious book.

Saturday 13 July 2013


Picture one Jacobean Entrance to Stoneleigh AbbeyJane Austen’s Visit To Her Ancestral Home and How It Inspired Her To Write By Jane Lark                                               Everyone knows Jane Austen had a family home at Chawton, few people know she was the descendent of an aristocratic family who had an amazing stately home called Stoneleigh Abbey, near Warwick. Jane’s mother had in fact married beneath her when she married a vicar and although she was happily married she regularly bragged about her aristocratic relations, and had brought Jane and her siblings up on tales of her ancestral family achievements. One of Jane’s ancestors had been the Lord Major of London in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It was a family joke that Jane’s mother had an aristocratic nose that she was very proud of. So can you imagine, after Jane had experienced the worst time of her life; through the period of her father’s illness and death, as her mother ran out of money, sending them firstly into cheap lodgings in Bath, and then to hit the height of humbleness and accept that they must live on the benefit of relations; how Jane felt to have an opportunity to visit the luxury of her ancestral home. It happened unexpectedly. 

Thursday 11 July 2013


I'm terribly bad at self - correction, especially when it comes to typos and spelling. This is why  I used Grammarly to grammar check this post.
If I am correcting and assessing my students' works or papers, I am almost impeccable, but if it is myself, my own writing  I have to check ... no way: I'm almost blind to my own mispelling. This is why I have been very happy when I discovered I shared this problem with my beloved Jane Austen!
Apparently Jane Austen was bad at spelling and grammar and got a lot of help from her editor, but the fact didn't prevent her from becoming a cult writer and one of English classic literature most beloved authors.

Tuesday 9 July 2013


The official trailer of Austenland has just been released (see below). I've also embedded a short clip from this long awaited for movie which has been out for some while.
Are you ready to have some fun in Austenland?
Unfortunately, Jerusha Hess's debut movie, produced by Stephanie Meyer,   will only hit selected theatres on August 16.
 How many of us will really manage to see it on big screen?
I doubt I will, for instance,  but I will keep my hopes high anyway and go on with my fingers crossed. No news of its release in Italy, yet! Actually, I've even received an invitation to participate to a preview screening in California but ... you know, that's really too distant (and expensive!)  a trip to just watch I movie. As much as you may wish to see it and love the genre, if you are a poor teacher like me, you can just kindly decline.

Saturday 6 July 2013


(from guest blogger Virginia Cunningham)

Jane Austen, the author of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey and Emma has become something of a symbol for old England to many people. The time Austen lived in was actually known as the Regency period or Regency era.

While much of what we consider to be part of traditional English culture was formed in this era, many of the customs and traditions of the time bear little resemblance to anything we might think of as traditionally English. Some food items, like the still-prepared roast beef and vegetables, were introduced during the Regency period, while others have long been forgotten. In fact, they might even be considered strange by today’s standards.

Jane Austen, who lived a relatively modest life, often would have prepared her own meals along with her family. To shed some light on this version of England that no longer exists, let’s take a look at some of the foods Austen and others would have eaten during that time.

Thursday 4 July 2013

Why Every Relationship is Like Elizabeth and Darcy’s

(by guest blogger Ken Meyers)  I have read and reread Pride and Prejudice. I just love it. I love it so much that I have also read many of the fan fiction based on the classic story, have seen all the film adaptations, and even checked out the YouTube videos about it. There is just something so compelling about the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I mean, by all rights in this modern era there should not be that same draw, but there is. I think the story still holds true because our modern relationships have not really changed that much from theirs. Although we might not be dating to find a rich mate who can take care of us, we still have the same misunderstandings and miscommunication snag up our relationship progression. Here are a few reasons why I think that every relationship is, in some ways, like the one between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy: