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Sunday, January 30

Jane Austen Throwdown: Mrs. Ferrars' Parenting Style

Mrs. Ferrars, Jean Marsh
While aware that almost all of Jane Austen's parents have their character flaws, I have chosen one parent who has been on my mind lately: Mrs Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility. Which child was the most negatively affected by her lack of parenting skills, whether by personality or economic circumstance or choice of mate?

Which sibling was most affected by Mrs. Ferrar's motherly style?

Fanny, Claire Skinner
Mrs. Fanny Dashwood

As snobbish as her mother, Mrs. Dashwood thinks only of her own consequence and comfort. She convinces her husband to disregard his promise to his dying father of making sure his step family is financially secure, and is manipulative and cruel in her actions towards the Dashwood women after Mr. Dashwood's death. Fanny echoes her mother's sentiments about Edward's choices in life, and favors Robert,  Meanspirited, self-absorbed, and myopic about her own fortune, this bitter nut did not fall far from the matriarchal tree.

Edward, Dan Stevens
Edward Ferrars

As eldest son, Edward is commanded to do his mother's bidding. He felt that had he been given some employment and something useful to do in his earlier years, his 18-year-old self would not have had the time to pursue his romantic inclinations towards Lucy Steele, and that he would have soon gotten over his tendre towards this most unsuitable woman. He is disinherited by his mother when she learns about his engagement to Lucy, and must make his own way in the world on a barely livable income, watching his brother reap the financial rewards that were his by right. Imagine what good deeds Edward and his thrifty Elinor might have accomplished had his mother approved of his marriage to a more worthy woman than Lucy ( which she failed to see) and provided him with a larger income.

Robert, Leo Bill
Robert Ferrars

Robert, an effete snob if ever there was one, is as mean-spirited as his sister. Although he is recipient of his brother's fortune, he lack of empathy for Edward's situation. He also lacks his sister Fanny's instinct for self-preservation, and makes the mistake of marrying Lucy Steele. After sitting in his mother's proverbial doghouse for a while, he and Lucy are welcomed back with open arms and her full support. But Lucy is as calculating and manipulative as ever and makes his life hell, so that soon all the couple does is quarrel. In Robert's case, beware what you wish for.

Which sibling was most affected by Mrs. Ferrars' motherly style?
Fanny Dashwood
Edward Ferrars
Robert Ferrars free polls

Saturday, January 29

The Real Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle) Needs a Facelift

Sad to say, Sunday night PBS will air the last installment of Downton Abbey. Many of us will be left waiting for the second series to air. Meanwhile, we have another 90 minutes to look forward to.
The library in Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)

Suppose the Earl of Grantham had not married his American heiress with her pot of money? How might his beautiful estate have fared with his diminished resources? The Earl of Carnarvon, owner of Highclere Castle, is facing just such a dilemma these days. While the library and entrance hall are still stunning, many rooms are crumbling and in a state of disrepair. While publicity from the filming of Downton Abbey has helped increase visitors to his house, the costs of maintenance are enormous.
The Crawley daughters exit the drawing room.
Damage to one of the bedrooms

Read more about the current situation here: Can Highclere Castle Be Saved?
Also: Highclere Castle is Not for Sale

Jane Austen's World: Bampton, Location of the Town in Downton Abbey and The Jane Austen Connection to Downton Abbey and Egypt

Friday, January 28

Friday Follow: Indecisive and Irreverent

This fabulous post from Indecisive and Irreverent shows how a Regency bib front dress is made. Who knew that so many variations could be made from one design. A detailed discussion of patterns is included, as well as links to patterns for purchase. Click on link to read the post.
Bib dress

Tuesday, January 25

Downton Abbey: Lady Sybil and Her Harem Pants

The chauffeurm Branson (Allan Leech) admires Sybil's new frock

Jessica Brown-Findlay as Lady Sybil
Inquiring Readers:

During the Twitter party as the group watched Episode Three of Downton Abbey, Evangeline from Edwardian Promenade noted that the harem pants worn by Lady Sybil were made by Paul Poiret.

Who was he, I wondered? Reader, Patty, from Brandy Parfums, answered my question and alerted me to this wiki:

The harem pants in Downton Abbey in Episode Three were a copy of Paul Poiret.

As Wiki says -

"In 1909, he was so famous that H. H. Asquith invited him to show his designs at 10 Downing Street.[1] The cheapest garment at the exhibition was 30 guineas, double the annual salary of a scullery maid"

Poiret worked for Worth who made more conservative dresses so he left to be more "Oriental" among other trends. Not in most write ups about him is he revolutionized women's undergarments. He got rid of corsets that are so bitterly complained about in Downton Abbey. That was also part of his shocking style.
Lady Sybil has fun with fashion

Peggy Guggenheim championed him and that led to many customers who then shunned Worth. It was fine to be a tall elegant THIN women for Poiret but it didn't work if you were heavy - then the Worth style was better. So the reason today we go for thin in fashion may be traced back to Poiret and Guggenheim."
The harem pants shocked the family, but this did not detract from Sybil's joy.
Be that as it may, Jessica Brown-Findlay has become my favorite sister. She rocked that outfit. Wouldn't you agree?

The family's reaction to Sybil's pants was priceless. Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, and Dan Stevens.
Watch Downton Abbey online through February 22, 2011.

Monday, January 24

Jane Austen Has Visited Brideshead

Reading Brideshead Revisted, who did I find? Miss Austen, of course! In chapter two, third volume, the character Anthony Blanche gives examples of what is more English above all to the protagonist,
Charles Ryder:
“The next thing I saw was your very handsome volume – “Village and Provincial Architecture”, was is it called? Quite a tome, my dear, and what did I find? Charm again. “Not quite my cup of tea,” I thought; “this is too English.” I have the fancy for rather spicy things, you know, not for the shade of the cedar tree, the cucumber sandwich, the silver cream-jug, the English girl dressed whatever English girls do wear for tennis – not that, not Jane Austen, not M-m-miss M-m-mitford.
Phoebe Nicholls as Cordelia Flyte, Brideshead Revisited, 1981
Brideshead Revisited, is a wonderful book by Evelyn Waugh, and if you have the opportunity watch the 1981 series with Jeremy Irons in the role of Charles Ryder, Anthony Andrews as Sebastian Flyte, and Laurence Olivier (Mr. Darcy, 1940) as Lord Marchmain, you have watched an unforgettable mini-series.  In the role of lovely Cordelia Flyte is the actress Phoebe Nicholls, playing the role of lovely Cordelia Flyte. More than a decade later, she portrayed Elizabeth Elliot in Persuasion (1995).
Phoebe Nicholls as Cordelia Flyte and Elizabeth Elliot.
More information:
Posted by Raquel Sallberry, Jane Austen em Português

Sunday, January 23

Jane Austen Throwdown

We are in the throes of winter. During the Regency period, people moved around on the snow in sleds/sleighs, horse-drawn sleighs, or on skates. Which activity would you prefer?
Skating Lovers, 1800, After Adam Buck
 A. d'Arnaud, The Sleigh. 1776. Image @Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide

Horse-drawn sleigh. Image @Super Stock

Winter Activity
Sledding sleigh
Horse-drawn sleigh free polls

Saturday, January 22

Twitter Chat About Downton Abbey on Sunday Night

The third episode of Downton Abbey will be aired by PBS Masterpiece Classic at 9 PM on Sunday. You can join in a twitter discussion as the episode airs by using PBS's TweetGrid, which will automatically add the hashtag, #DowntonPBS.

Sybil and her new dress
The discussion will begin from 9 PM EST through 10:30 PM PT. Others who might join in at various times are the following Twitterers:
(This week neither Vic Sanborn of Jane Austen’s World nor Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose will be able to join in.)
If you want to read previous Downton Abbey tweets go to Twitter and go to the hashtag: #DowntonPBS
Links to articles about the series:

Jane Austen's World: 

Friday, January 21

Friday Follow: Historical Sewing Blog

Historical Sewing Blog provides detailed and fascinating insights and instructions on making costumes through the ages. But there's more to this blog than meets the obvious. Click here to find images of the Milan exhibition of Napoleon: The Empire of Fashion with beautiful photographs of Regency gowns. Learn about winter muffs in this link, and view an 1830's image of a variety of bonnets with feathers and bows.This post, Dreaming of a 1798-1802 Ensemble includes links to fashion books and patterns.

When you visit this website, you'll probably stay for a while, for it provides so much more information than first meets the eye. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20

Write Like Jane Austen Contest

So Bad! So funny!

Can you write like Jane Austen? Or emulate her? Why not try? Your efforts might result in a text so terrible that it is funny!

This is the idea behind the contest launched by Patrice Hannon, Carrie Bebris and Gregory Bergman in Bad Austen . The best of the worst texts will be compiled and published in the Fall 2011 by Adams Media .

You can read the texts already available and vote which is the best. Oops... I mean, the "worst"! Click on this link to vote.

Posted by Raquel Sallaberry, Jane Austen em Português

Tuesday, January 18

Book Giveaway in Celebration of Sense and Sensibility's 200 Year Anniversary

From the desk of Maria Grazia: October 2011 will mark the bicentenary of the publication of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. This is why My Jane Austen Book Club wants to dedicate a special space to the celebration and discussion of Austen's first achievement as a published writer. I have invited some expert Janeites to contribute to the discussion and they have kindly and generously accepted.

Katherine at November's Autumn and Gaskell Blog contributed the cute button on the right. Each month one of them will deal with a theme, a character, a topic somehow linked to Sense and Sensibility. The discussion will be open to you all with your comments, questions and suggestions. There will be a monthly giveaway and you will have the chance to win a book or DVD connected to our celebration. Here's the schedule of our virtual meetings. Take note:

1. January: Jennifer Becton, Marriage and money in Sense and Sensibility

2. February: Alexa Adams, Sense and Sensibility on screen

3. March C. Allyn Pierson, Inheritance laws and their consequences in Sense & Sensibility

4. April: Beth Pattillo, Lost in Sense and Sensibility

5. May: Jane Odiwe, Willoughby: a rogue on trial

6. June: Deb @JASNA Vermont Secrets in Sense and Sensibility

7. July: Laurie Viera Rigler, Interview with Lucy Steele

8. August: Regina Jeffers, Settling for the Compromise Marriage

9. September: Lynn Shepherd, The origins of S&S: Richardson, Jane Austen, Elinore & Marianne

10. October: Meredith @Austenesque Reviews, Sense and Sensibility fanfiction

11. November:  Vic @Jane Austen's World,  Minor characters in Sense and Sensibility

12. December: Laurel Ann @Austenprose,  Marianne Dashwood: A passion for dead Leaves and other Sensibilities

JANUARY GIVEAWAY - Now closed. The winner is Nonna Beach.

If you comment on this post or/and on upcoming Jennifer Becton's post about marriage and money in Sense and Sensibility, you'll be entered in the giveaway of The Three Weissmans of Westport by Cathleen Shine. This novel, published by Picador, is a new modern re-telling of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

Monday, January 17

Mr. Darcy Wins a Golden Globe

Colin Firth looking sartorially resplendent at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards
His Royal Firthness won a much-earned Golden Globe for his spectacular performance in The King's Speech. If you are a fan of good films and great acting, this movie is a must-see. I actually paid twice (unheard of, really) to see Colin Firth in one of the best roles in his life (it is hard to choose between this role and A Single Man.)
Colin's tribute to his wife Livia was touching
The evening was tarnished for me almost at the start, however, since Geoffrey Rush did not win for his role as Lionel Logue. Giving the Golden Globe to Colin Firth only was like giving one bookend as a gift. You need two bookends, everyone knows that, and The King's Speech REQUIRED Geoffrey Rush's remarkable portayal of the speech therapist for the story to work. Geoffrey'r role was ESSENTIAL. His performance equalled Colin's - they were like bookends - each needing each other, and bouncing off each other for the story to make sense.

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue
So how could the Golden Globes have passed Geoffrey over? I am all puzzlement.

Below, Colin speaks about seeing Jennifer Ehle, his costar in Pride and Prejudice at about 3:17 in the video clip below (which is rather boring, actually, except for his comment about her and about Geoffrey Rush afterwards).

Sunday, January 16

Regency/Edwardian Fashion Throwdown

Gentle readers: As you might have noticed, I have had Downton Abbey on my mind. If you haven't watched the series, do tune in tonight on PBS and watch the second installment. If you have fallen behind, you can watch the first episode online at this link. The sets and fashions of this mini-series are simply and outrageously gorgeous.

Your decision this week is rather simple: to decide which period fashions you like best. Edwardian, such as shown in Dowton Abbey, or Regency, as in the recently aired Emma, or both. You decide.

Downtown Abbey Costumes

Emma 2009 costumes

Regency-Edwardian Fashion Throwdown
Edwardian, as in Downton Abbey
Regency, as in Emma
Both. I love costume dramas, period. free polls

Saturday, January 15

Downton Abbey, Episode Two: Twitter Party and Blog Round-Up

The second episode of Downton Abbey will be aired by PBS Masterpiece Classic at 9 PM on Sunday. PBS will be hosting a second Twitter party in honor of the event, and yours truly will be there once again as an unofficial host! @janeaustenworld.

Start of the hunt, Downton Abey
The event will begin from 9 PM EST through 10:30 PM PT. Including Vic, the other bloggers who will be hosting are:
If you plan on joining, make sure to tag.your posts with the hashtag #DowntonPBS or use PBS's TweetGrid, which will automatically add the hashtag.
If you want to read our tweets go to Twitter and type: #DowntonPBS

Friday, January 14

Friday Follow: The Graphics Fairy

Dancing the minuet

Find romantic banners, backgrounds, buttons and images by Karen on The Graphics Fairy, such as children dancing the minuet, a fashion plate of Regency dresses and couple on a bench that were drawn much later than the era depicted, and decorative Victorian scissors. You can even request a graphic of your own Thursday Request Day.
Fashion plate with Regency dresses

Couple on Bench
Decorative Victorian scissor

Thursday, January 13

Daria and Jane: Write Where it Hurts

Gentle Readers: This clip comes from Season 2, Episode 13 "Write Where It Hurts" of MTV's Daria.

Some fun lines from the clip:

First: Quinn and Daria talk
Daria: Mr. Lane's temperament, outlook, indeed his very manners are such as to arouse bemusement rather than endearment in the object of his attention.
Quinn: Huh?
Daria: He's flaky.

Second: The talk continues
Daria: Dear sister, I would hope that whoever does become Lady Lane does so out of regard for Mr. Lane, and not for his estate.
Quinn: What about his car?
Daria: Hmm.

Daria and Quinn
Third: Men approach on horseback

Quinn: And pray, upon this dewy morning, what errand is it that finds you guys abroad?

Quinn's Admirer 1: Miss Quinn, may I get you a bracing spot of tea?
Quinn's Admirer 2: Do you need a powder, to cure the vapors?
Quinn's Admirer 3: I'll tune your pianoforte!

Daria: Oh, Quinn, your suitors are so numerous because you are so fair and good!
Quinn: Oh, sister! Your wit and judgment ensure that you will not only marry well but wisely.

Contributed by Raquel Salleberry, Jane Austen em Português

Wednesday, January 12

Jane Austen's Tiny Writing Desk in Miniature

Do you think that the table where Jane used to write, in Chawton Cottage, was too small? Then you must see this lovely set made by Grace White.
Jane Austen's writing table in miniature. Image @Grace White
When I asked for permission to publish this image she told me that she custom made the table. (She works primarily in 1:12 scale (1 inch = 1 foot), and occasionally other miniature scales.) Grace,who is from Greensboro, N.C., talks about her miniatures on her blog, Nid D'abeille.
I was commissioned to make replicas of the Chawton Cottage table and chair where Jane Austen did much of her writing. It was a very enjoyable endeavor! I hope the owner will be pleased when she receives them. I think I can say they're some of the finest things I've made.
The front legs of the chair and the turned pedestal of the table were adapted from existing miniature turned pieces, but everything else I made from scratch.
Grace's miniatures are for sale in her Etsy shop, The Honeybee.

A gift for a friend: Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Image @Grace White
Posted by Raquel Sallaberry, Jane Austen em Português

Monday, January 10

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth 16 Years Later

Geoffrey Rush, Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in The King's Speech
Have you ever wondered how Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth would look after fifteen years of marriage? Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice 1995) shared only a few moments together on screen in The King's Speech (she played Myrtle Logue, Geoffrey Rush's wife), but my heart rejoiced. My question was finally answered: How well would this couple fare in the looks department several decades on? Very well, as you can see.

Sunday, January 9

Downton Abbey Poll: First Episode of this PBS Masterpiece Classic

The Earl (Hugh Bonneville) and Countess (Elizabeth McGovern) of Grantham

Downton Abbey Poll: 1st Episode
I loved it
I liked it
It was ok
I didn't like it
Hated it
Didn't see it free polls

Join the Downton Abbey PBS Masterpiece Classic Twitter Party on Sundays in January

The first episode of Downton Abbey will be aired by PBS Masterpiece Classic at 9 PM tonight. At the same time, PBS will be hosting a Twitter party, and yours truly intends to be there as an unofficial host! @janeaustenworld.
Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey
The event will begin from 9 PM EST through 10:30 PM PT. Including Vic, the other bloggers who will be hosting are:

If you plan on joining, make sure to tag.your posts with the hashtag #DowntonPBS and then visit the TweetGrid.
Remember to use the hashtag: #DowntonPBS

Saturday, January 8

Jane Austen Twitter Project

Would you like to be part of a new Jane Austen story? Do you have a twitter account? Click on this link to find out how you can participate in this innovative project! In part, the introduction says:

We plan to run a storytelling session one day every week for about three months next year. Each week’s chapter will be posted online and on on Sunday. You don’t have to be a published writer to join in — you just have to love your Jane!
So what happens next? Throughout January, we’ll be inviting you to come up with the basic set-up for a new Austen story. We’d like you to use characters from the original books (so we all know who they are), though you can mix and match them from different novels as much as you like. You can also include up to two new characters of your own, as long as you tell us a bit about them.

We’ve included our own sample story ... Just email your outline to before January 20 to take part, and we’ll then run a poll in which we’ll be inviting people to vote for the story idea they like best. If your story idea wins you’ll get to kick it off when we go live!

Friday, January 7

Friday Follow: A Lord Byron Blog

Raving About the Regency and Lord Byron is a new blog devoted to the Life, Times and "Scribblings" of the Poet Lord George Gordon Byron...."
Lady Byron's wedding pelisse 1815. Image @Tracy Bylo Hitchings
Tracy, the blog's creator says: I am finally on with my Regency inspired and Lord Byron blog!! I have also posted a slideshow of the actual Wedding Dress and Pelisse worn by Lady Byron in 1815...

This new blog is worth a follow!

Wednesday, January 5

Austen Inspired Reading & Viewing Challenges for 2011

Happy New Year fellow Janeites and book bloggers! With the New Year comes resolutions, and for book bloggers that means claiming and declaring your reading challenges for the year.

2011 is a celebratory year for Jane Austen and her legion of fans as it marks the bicentenary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811. To honor my favorite author and inspire readership, Austenprose is hosting two reading challenges and promoting another sponsored by the ladies at Historical Tapestry blog. They all dovetail nicely into each other, so we can all be multitasking readers this year. You can find the details to each challenge at these links. It is really quite simple, and as easy as reading or viewing 1 to 4 books or movies.
As a professional bookseller and Janeite, I am quite excited about the bicentenary. There is sure to be a spotlight on Jane Austen this year in the media because of the anniversary of Sense and Sensibility. I hope that the reading challenges will inspire and connect the online Jane Austen and book blogging communities, promote reading, and honor a great author.

Tuesday, January 4

A New Year's Gift: Matthew MacFadyen Reads a Passage from Pride and Prejudice

Matthew Macfadyen reads "that most extraordinary part" of Pride and Prejudice, which includes subtitles. (from Carte Noir). (Just in case you get lost in your dreams ...  "In vain I have struggled!"  )

Happy New Year, gentle readers of Jane Austen Today!

Posted by Raquel Sallaberry, Jane Austen em Portugues

Winner of the Book Giveaway: Dangerous To Know

And the winner of Tasha Alexander's Dangerous to Know is ... Ruth, from Book Talk and More. Please email your mailing address to me at janeaustensworld -at- gee-mail*.*com. Some of my favorite answers to the question tell us which mystery about Jane Austen's life you'd like to solve are: 

  • I would love to know what Jane's plans were for "The Watsons"
  • I would like to know more about Jane's relationship with her elder sister, Cassandra
  • I'd like to know Jane in her later years, particularly during the decline of her health. How did she keep going?

  • I would love to know more about her quiet life in general. I still secretly hope that one day someone in England will find some missing letter or whatever written by Jane.
  • To know what Jane Austen had in mind for both The Watsons and Sanditon would really be interesting to me.
  • I would like to know where she got her tenacity and boldness for such free thought and to become a writer. I guess what her family life was like to form the person of Jane Austen.

Mostly, readers wanted to know about her "true love" and more about her true relationship with Tom Lefroy.

Thank you all for participating!

Monday, January 3

Jane Austen meets Taio Cruz

Gentle readers, Katie Smith made this video for her sister. She passed it on for you to enjoy as well! Thanks, Katie. Nicely done.