Visiting Jane Austen

You’ve read the books. You’ve read about the author. But still, you want more. If you travel to England there are three choice places that any Jane Austen fan needs to add to their list of experiences.

Jane Austen’s House Museum

The building that houses the museum was once Jane Austen’s home. Walk through the halls, see her writing desk, sit in the garden and peruse the well stock gift shop. During the last eight years of her life she wrote and edited some of our favorite works here. The building is located in Chawton, England and has a reasonably price entry fee ranging from four to seven pounds depending on the time of the year.

The website had event information and links to other Austen related websites worth checking out. If you can’t make it to England they have a short flash image tour you can watch online; not as impressive as being there in person but a beautiful sentiment.

Visit the Jane Austen’s House Museum online.

Winchester Cathedral

To say cathedrals from the 11th century are beautiful is an understatement. In many cases they are breath taking and one does not need to be from a religious background to enjoy their history. The Winchester Cathedral is located in Hampshire, England and is the resting place of Jane Austen. She is buried in the nave “close to familiar acquaintances”.

The website makes two small mentions of her. First, that there is a tomb where she lies; and second, that there is a special tour: “Jane Austen – Her Life and Times” which “offers visitors an intimate and often amusing insight into her life.” You will also find notable historical information about the church, other public tours and directions. Be sure to check out the photo gallery for amazing photos of this architectural beauty.

Visit Winchester Cathedral’s official website.

Jane Austen Center

She lived in Bath, England for five years and many of her novels mention or describe it. While she did not live in residence in this building, it seems most logical that there would be a center dedicated to her. The Center was “created with the guidance of local members of the Jane Austen Society and authorities”. The exhibition’s main focus is the five years that Austen spent here. The gift shop offers all the usual Jane Austen paraphernalia including period costumes (or patterns to make your own).

The website offers the latest tourist information (including tours), a monthly newsletter that can be read online or delivered by email, and a bit of historical information like famous people from Regency society.

Visit the Jane Austen Center online.

Have a look at these locations on the Google map:
View Jane Austen Architecture in a larger map

This piece was originally posted on 5/13/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Books About Jane Austen

Jane Austen lived only forty-one years and wrote only six books. Every year new fans succumb to the charms of her heroines like Miss Bennet and Miss Dashwood; and heroes like Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley.

There is a segment of admirers who go beyond the works of Jane Austen to yearning to learn more about the woman and her writing. What follows is a list of current books about Austen or her books (not her novels or off shoots). I tried to keep it to the books that are still in print. I hope you enjoy your journey into all things Austen.

40+ Books About Jane Austen

  1. So You Think You Know Jane Austen? (2010)
  2. 34 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen (2009)
  3. Jane Austen and Marriage (2009)
  4. Jane Austen: Writer of Fancy (2009)
  5. A Memoir of Jane Austen: Other Family Recollections (2008)
  6. The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Jane Austen (2008)
  7. In the Garden with Jane Austen(2008)
  8. The Little Book of Jane Austen(2008)
  9. Jane Austen: Her Golden Years (2008)
  10. Jane Austen: Brief Lives (2008)
  11. Jane Austen: Very Interesting People Series (2007)
  12. The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World (2007)
  13. 101 Things You Didn’t Know About Jane Austen (2007)
  14. The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (2007)
  15. Just Jane (2007)
  16. Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels (2006)
  17. Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City (2006)
  18. Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders (2006)
  19. A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family: 1700-2000 (2006)
  20. Jane Austen in Context (2006)
  21. Jane Austen Miscellany (2006)
  22. Searching for Jane Austen (2006)
  23. Jane Austen For Dummies (2006)
  24. Letters Of Jane Austen V1 (2006)
  25. Letters Of Jane Austen V2 (2006)
  26. Jane Austen’s Philosophy of the Virtues (2005)
  27. Jane Austen and the Navy (2005)
  28. Jane Austen: A Life (2005)
  29. Tea with Jane Austen (2004)
  30. Jane Austen: Critical Issues (2004)
  31. Jane Austen Dictionary (2003)
  32. The Wisdom of Jane Austen (2003)
  33. Jane Austen’s Art of Memory (2003)
  34. In the Steps of Jane Austen: Walking Tours of Austen’s England (2003)
  35. The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction (2001)
  36. Jane Austen and the Fiction of her Time (2001)
  37. Jane Austen and Mary Shelley and Their Sisters (2000)
  38. Jane Austen in Hollywood (2000)
  39. Jane Austen: A Life (1999)
  40. A Jane Austen Encyclopedia (1998)
  41. Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel (1990)
  42. Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (1988)

Given that most of the books listed are fairly recent, it is awe inspiring to think how many books have been printed about Austen and her books since her death. We can’t stop reading about her and we can’t stop talking about her.

This piece was initially posted on 6/6/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Jane Austen Basics

Beloved for almost two hundred years, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the afterlife of this classic novelist. New editions of her literary works are being released every year gaining new fans and delighting die-hards.

Portrait of Novelist Jane AustenJane Austen was born December 16, 1775 in Hampshire, England. She was born into an educated family with some grounding in society because her father was a priest. She grew up in a household of seven siblings (George, Edward, Henry, Cassandra, and Frank) all of whom were encouraged to develop a hardiness for reading. Her childhood was divided between the rectory and boarding school. Like most women of her time writing was encouraged in the form of journaling and letters but she took it one step further and began to write stories in her early teens as gifts for family members. With their encouragement she began her profession as a writer creating novels filled with deception, love, acceptance, and of course wit.

Jane Austen published four novels in her lifetime. Two were published after her death by her brother. The novels include: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey (1817), and Persuasion (1817). Her novels were published anonymously. All of her novels have been developed into screenplays for television and some for movies. The most loved tends to be Pride and Prejudice both in print and on the screen.

Jane Austen died at the age of forty-one (July 18, 1817) from what is now surmised to be Addison’s disease. Her sister Cassandra was by her side. Jane had never married. Her body is interred at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire, England.

During Jane Austen’s life she witnessed some success from her novels but she never could have imagined the longevity and eventual cult following that exists today. She is readily studied by scholars in colleges and universities while the general public continues to scrumptiously devour her Regency works.

Test your knowledge of Jane Austen.

This piece was initially published 4/29/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Emma and Knightley Review

If you didn’t know Jane Austen wrote a sequel to Emma, that’s because she didn’t. This sequel was written by Rachel Billington. The story opens a year after Emma’s marriage to Mr. Knightley with the couple still living at Hartfield with Mr. Woodhouse

The review for Emma and Knightley by Rachel Billington was originally written 2/2/2009 for Literary Fiction, BellaOnline. The full review of Emma and Knightley can now be read at Squid Lit.

Lost in Austen Review

Amanda Price is an ardent Jane Austen fan. She is bored with her job during the day and frustrated with her boyfriend Michael at night. In between she “patches” herself up with Jane Austen. One evening she is home alone enjoying yet again the…

The review for Lost in Austen was originally written 12/30/2008 for Literary Fiction, BellaOnline. The full review of Lost in Austen can now be read at Squid Lit.

15 Women Authors Who Have Improved Fiction

Have you been making use of your library card? Here is a small selection of notable women writers who have improved fiction. If you haven’t already read some of their work you should make it a point to add them to your reading list before the year is finished. You’ll be glad you did. This listing is in alphabetical order:

Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) is best known for her novel Little Women which is part of a series dealing with the March Sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Later novels in the series include: Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys. She published over twenty novels, most of which we never hear about.

Jane Austen (1775 -1817), unlike Alcott, is well known for all six of her novels, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey. But it’s Pride and Prejudice that has had the most impact. Where would we all be without Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy?

Charlotte Bronte (1816 -1855) is best known for her novel Jane Eyre. Bronte made plain, strong, beautiful and loveable. She had two other published novels: Shirley, and Villette.

Emily Bronte (1818 -1848), who was not to be overshadowed by her older sister Charlotte, published only one novel Wuthering Heights but she is often referred to as the bigger talent. It would be wonderful to see the magnitude of her talent had she not died so young.

Pearl Buck (1892 -1973) was a prolific writer, producing over thirty novels, numerous works of non-fiction and short stories. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as the Pulitzer Prize for her 1931 novel, The Good Earth.

Kate Chopin (1851 – 1904) wrote two novels and a few short story collections. Her most notable work is her novella, The Awakening, about one woman’s search for her sexual identity. A powerhouse of contention for a book produced in 1899. The book has since been revived.

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) is known for her poetics than for novels but she has contributed significantly to the world of writing especially for women writers.

Harper Lee (1926 – ) is best known for her novel on racial inequality in the South, To Kill a Mockingbird. She won a Pulitzer Prize for this novel in 1961. She has been reclusive since the early success of this novel but it is said she is still writing although she hasn’t published another book. Imagine the gems that will be found in her writing room.

Doris Lessing (1919 – ) won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007 for her body of work which includes The Golden Notebook and The Good Terrorist.

Margaret Mitchell (1900 – 1949) is probably one of the most quoted authors. But does she really “give a damn”? Gone with the Wind is also one of the highest selling novels in America. She wrote one other novel, Lost Laysen, published posthumously.

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963) was known mainly for her poetry (and her death) but she did write one novel, The Bell Jar which is said to be loosely reflective of her own mental illness.

Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851) made it cool for women to write about ethical science fiction when she created “The Modern Prometheus” or what we all know as Frankenstein.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 – 1896) wrote over ten novels but is best known for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, with its strong antislavery theme. She didn’t just write about it, she lived it. Her writing and actions was one of the first steps towards the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Alice Walker (1944 – ) created a stirring novel about an emotionally and physically abused black woman in the South. The Color Purple won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988. She has a number of other novels and short story collections, many that deal with the same issues.

Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) probably influenced us more with her non-fiction than her fiction; like her most notable essay Room of One’s Own but she also wrote eight novels including Mrs. Dalloway.

There are many women who have had a positive and forward moving effect on literature but this space is small so I’ve limited it to fifteen. If you think that someone absolutely should be mentioned then please share them in the comments.

This piece was originally posted on 7/29/2008 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Jane Austen Action Figure Review

Brief History: Archie McPhee is a retail store in Seattle, Washington that offers a wide variety of pop culture knickknacks for kids and adults. With over 10,000 products it is impossible to name them all, not to mention you probably wouldn’t believe me until you seen them for yourself. They have been in operation since 1983.

Product: Jane Austen Action Figure.

Description: This 5 1/4″ tall action figure is made of hard vinyl and comes with a mini Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice novel, a writing desk and a removable quill pen.

Packaging: The action figure comes securely packaged in a double layer of clear sturdy plastic with cardboard backing. The cardboard backing is printed with Jane Austen facts and quotes from her popular novels.

Price: Each figure sells for $8.95 US.

Shipping: McPhee delivers within the U.S. only. Reasonable charges begin at $4.95.

Comments: I came across this action figure last year and thought it would be a great “cute” gift for any Austen fan and have wanted one for some time but the item obviously didn’t warrant spending $30 plus to have it delivered to Canada. Some months passed and it was still in my mind so I finally asked a dear American friend to order two for me, have them delivered to her and then send them to me with some other things she was sending. I ordered two because one was for my bookshelf and the other was to be used as a prize in a writing group I belong to. Being the good friend that she is, she gifted them to me.

Satisfaction: Despite the round-about way I attained these action figures I’m glad I finally have them. These figures definitely do not fall under the “usable toy” category in which someone could actually play with them. Before I had the rigid packaging open I had broken the Pride and Prejudice book from Jane Austen’s hand. Once out I tried to remove the “removable quill” from her other hand and almost broke that to. I still haven’t taken it out. I haven’t tried to move the arms more than a few millimetres for fear of separating them from her body. Luckily, I didn’t plan on playing with her. I just wanted her for an inspirational ornament for my bookshelf and that function seems to be working out beautifully. My only wish is that the desk actually came with legs like some of the other action figure sets. At the moment it sits propped at her feet. If you’re a Jane Austen fan I don’t think your book collection is complete until you have this action figure standing guard over her works. Just don’t let the kids play with it.

The Jane Austen Action Figure can be found at the Archie McPhee website.

Austen Blog

“One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” ~Jane Austen (Emma)

Are you a Janeite? Someone who can’t get enough of British novelist Jane Austen and her life works? If your admiration goes beyond the occasional misty thought of re-reading Pride and Prejudice then chances are you are a Janeite.

Buy at Art.com
Portrait of Jane Austen

The Internet has done a lot for connecting Janeites from around the world so they can share information about their goddess; unfortunately with the internet it’s hard to sort out fact from fiction in some cases. In walks the Austin Blog created by Margaret Sullivan, author of The Jane Austen Handbook: a sensible guide to her world and an active member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). Because there is a vast amount of information to sift through she has four helpers, Julie, Tasha, Mary and Heather. All women come from various backgrounds and lifestyles. But they have joined together with one common goal.

They provide commentary, review, insight and perspective on all things Austen. From news pieces about upcoming films and theatre productions, to book reviews of Jane Austen’s books, new editions as well as old, from literary to romance. They read and discuss articles and other opinion pieces from newspapers and elsewhere online. They dish about the actors from the various movie incarnations, especially Colin Firth. And to really send Janeites into a tizzy they offer book giveaways and other swag. Any mentions what-so-ever in any form are fair game. Their blog tagline is, “She’s everywhere.” And one certainly gets that impression after visiting this blog which has something for the novice or experienced Janeite.

The blog is delivered from the perspective of one Janeite to another but with a journalist edge. A particularly informative post from August of this year referred to the latest movie Becoming Jane. To help put the movie in perspective they provided legitimate sources for information on Jane’s life and other writing to help fans of Jane Austen and of the movie determine real from creative license.

Austen Blog has a very simple layout and pale blue background both of which are easy on the eyes and make spending long periods of time catching up on Jane Austen tidbits more comfortable. The right hand sidebar has a number of links to the latest news on the web, other bloggers, and books all related to Jane Austen or her works including upcoming books, films, stage performances and other events.

Visit Austen Blog to get your dose of Jane Austen

Test your knowledge of Jane Austen with this short interactive quiz.

This piece was first posted 10/14/2007 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

GirlEbooks

I came across this cute little site yesterday with the tag line “free ebooks by the gals” and I was instantly enamored. The site was started and is run by Laura McDonald who says she’s “finally making use of her BA in English she got 10 years ago”. Her day job is as project manager for Dynabytes a website design company located in Menard, Texas. As the title and tagline suggests Girlebooks provides free e-books by women authors.

The E-books

If you don’t know what an e-book is, in a nut shell, it is an electronic version of a printed book. It comes in different formats so it can be viewed on your computer or a special e-book reading device.

There are currently twenty e-books (and growing) with well known women authors such as Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Helen Keller, Emily Bronte, and Virginia Woolf. The website’s goal is also to share other women writers who may have been overlooked but are equally talented and worth our reading time. The latest book selections include Little Women, Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch, Jacob’s Room, One of Ours, North and South, Persuasion and Anne of Green Gables.

There are four options for downloading the books so people of all technology levels can enjoy reading their selections. The options include plain text, adobe PDF, eReader PDF, and Microsoft Reader Lit. You can look at the book in plain text but it would be hard to read because it lacks formatting and would be a waste of time to format yourself. I personally prefer Adobe for reading on the computer and the Adobe Reader is free if you don’t already have it on your computer. The adobe files are nicely formatted and a good text size for reading. All books can be saved on your computer for future reading.

The Blog

Laura, with the help of Joyce McDonald and Lauren McDowell, blog about updates for the latest e-books added to the site, technical information, reviews of books not available in their offerings and any other news relating to the site and literary world. The good thing about blogs these days is that you can add them to your RSS feed to learn about the updates without visiting the site. They are currently open to having other contributors to the blog.

I really enjoyed my visit to Girlebooks and even made a small donation via their paypal link. The site is clean, esthetically pleasing (with just a little hint of pink to make it girly) and easy to surf. I’m positive you’ll enjoy your visit and most definitely find something to read.

Visit Girlebooks to read classic and contemporary books by women writers.

Originally posted 9/8/2007 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.

Darcy’s Story Review

Jane Austen’s (1775-1817) classic romance Pride and Prejudice has been a well loved tale since her death. Her writing has been reprinted, studied and immortalized in many films. It was written with its main character Elizabeth Bennet (and her family) as…

This review for Janet Aylmer’s book was first published 5/21/2007 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnine. The full review of Darcy’s Story can now be read at SquidLit.