Interviews

An Interview With Pamela Aidan-Part I

There are only about 10 tickets remaining for our upcoming Jane Austen Spring Tea on 28 April, featuring author Pamela Aidan speaking on “Creating The Regency World,” so please purchase yours today if you want to make sure you are in attendance! You can do so HERE. We are delighted Pamela agreed to do an interview with us and happy to share Part I with you today! Part II will be up next Monday, 22 April, the last day to purchase tickets (provided they don’t sell out before).

We gathered questions from people on our social media channels and added them to a list of our own. Our questions are in italics and Pamela’s responses are in bold for easy reading. Thank you, Pamela!

-What’s your favorite Jane Austen novel? Who are our favorite characters? Favorite character you love to hate? Favorite location in JA’s novels?

Pride & Prejudice/ Darcy and Elizabeth/ Wickham / Pemberley

Which characters would you invite for dinner?

    Darcy – We’d talk over whether I got anything right in the Trilogy and then what his life with Elizabeth was like.

-If you could have a meal with Jane Austen, which one would it be? What would you have?

    After all the Austen movies I’ve seen, it looks like Regency era breakfasts are fantastic! Slices of those delicious looking hams and beef roasts and sweet rolls.

How did you become a Jane Austen fan? 

    Decided to read the “classics” in 10th grade. There was a series that published twenty or more of them and the first one was Austen. I’d loved Georgette Heyer and was astonished to discover where her novels came from.

-Do you have a favorite out of the novels you have written?

    The second and third are both contenders. The second because it is all my own ideas and the third because of some wonderful scenes that where so much fun to flesh out.

From TallFleur on Instagram: How do you balance what is lore of the times (modern beliefs of the Regency era) vs. what actually occurred? Where do you draw the line in appeasing readers who may mistakenly or rightfully call out one or the other in a review?

    As far as I remember, all the events in the Trilogy and Master Darcy were either ones that actually occurred or were plausible given the cultural currents during the time period. The possible exception might be the amount of “cant” or slang I employed in the speech of some characters.

How did your years as a librarian influence your writing? 

    The influence of years of librarianship was more in the publishing of my novels than the writing of them. Knowing the difficulty and time involved in bringing a book to publication, I looked for an alternative. It so happened that print-on-demand had burst on the scene several years before and here, also, my years of librarianship helped my husband and I to research and produce a product that stood well in comparison to those published by the big publishing houses.

Check back next Monday, 22 April, for the second half of the interview, including Pamela’s answer to whether she plans to write more novels!

Fun, Giveaway

2019 Jane Austen Spring Giveaway

Happy Spring! 🌼🌷🌸 We have decided to do another spring giveaway!!

This year we have decided to take a page from “Northanger Abbey” and make the prize a little mystery, but don’t worry: you don’t have to listen to John or Isabella Thorpe!

Visit the link below and have a look at all the ways to enter! The winner will be announced April 9th or 10th!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0036c5682/

Uncategorized

Negus at a Ball

Cassandra Bates, our treasurer, has shared another wonderful recipe from the past for Negus.  Whether you can attend the dance this Saturday March 9 or not, this seems like a most intriguing recipe to try at a ball or at home.  Let us know if you try to make it and how it turns out.

“There were more Dancers than the Room could conveniently hold, which is enough to constitute a good Ball at any time.”

Letter to Cassandra, January 9, 1799

Even though in the Inland Northwest, Spring seems far away, but it will be here soon and that will bring flowers, new plant growth, green grass, and warmth. In Jane Austen’s time springtime was also the most active time for the London Season, which meant Balls! Food at Regency Balls ranged from simple fare to elegant dinner settings. Since it is still cold here in the Inland Northwest, here is a recipe for Negus. Negus is a mulled wine of sorts invented by Col. Francis Negus in the early 18th century. During Jane Austen’s time it was a popular beverage at Balls, however it slowly lost favor and became a popular children’s drink (not recommended).

To Make Negus:

“To every pint of port wine, allow 1 quart of boiling water, 1/4lb. of sugar, 1 lemon, grated nutmeg to taste.

Put the wine into a jug and rub some lumps of sugar (equal to 1/4lb.) on the lemon rind until all the yellow part of the skin is absorbed, then squeeze the juice, and strain it. Add the sugar and lemon-juice to the port wine, with the grated nutmeg; pour it over the boiling water, cover the jug and, when the beverage has cooled a little, it will be fit for use.”

From Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861

Negus is mentioned in Mansfield Park, in Jane Austen’s inimitable description of Fanny leaving the ball where she danced with Henry Crawford (pictured below at the beginning of the dance in a Brock illustration):

Shortly afterwards, Sir Thomas was again interfering a little with her inclination by advising her to go immediately to bed.  “Advise” was his word, but it was the advice of absolute power, and she had only to rise and, with Mr. Crawford’s very cordial adieus, pass quietly away; stopping at the entrance door, like the Lady of Branxholm Hall, “one moment and no more,” to view the happy scene, and take a last look at the five or six determined couple, who were still hard at work–and then, creeping slowly up the principle staircase, pursued by the ceaseless country-dance, feverish with hopes and fears, soup and negus, sore-footed and fatigued, restless and agitated, yet feeling, in spite of every thing, that a ball was indeed delightful” (280-81, Oxford Edition).

mpbrockwc17 full view

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

The Joy of Reading Lady Susan

There is something truly breath-taking about reading Jane Austen’s novel-in-letters “Lady Susan”.  Most scholars believe that she wrote it before she turned twenty.  In the Oxford Edition of the Minor Works, Brian Southam hypothesizes that it was written between 1793-94 (MW, 243).  Because it is a novel in letters, we get to see how characters portray themselves to different letter recipients and then how they are perceived by others who write letters.  So the main dynamic of point-of-view is between Lady Susan and her sister-in-law Mrs. Vernon.  According to Juliet McMaster in Jane Austen, Young Author, “‘Lady Susan’ features a totally self-seeking female protagonist whose considerable power lies in her freedom from moral scruple” (12).  The language of the letters and the variations on perspective are a pleasure to read.

You can see the dueling perspectives of Lady Susan and Mrs. Vernon in the following quotations.  First, Lady Susan being candid with her confidante:

“There is exquisite pleasure in subduing an insolent spirit, in making a person pre-determined to dislike, acknowledge one’s superiority.” “Lady Susan”, Jane Austen Letter 7, Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson (about Mr. De Courcy) Minor Works, 254

Next, Mrs. Catherine Vernon portraying her view of Lady Susan in a letter to her brother:

“[Lady Susan] is clever & agreable, has all that knowledge of the world which makes conversation easy, & talks very well, with a happy command of Language, which is too often used I beleive to make Black appear White.”
“Lady Susan”, Jane Austen  Letter 6, Mrs. Vernon to Mr. De Courcy, Minor Works, 251 (spelling and capitalization from MW)

The male characters are rarely given a voice in their own letters, with the exception of Reginald De Courcy, who has a few to Lady Susan and one to his father.  Juliet McMaster calls him “a bag of goods contested over by the women” (Jane Austen, Young Author, 12).  In a reversal of the reality of the time, the men are portrayed as dominated by the women (McMaster, 12).

“Lady Susan” is such a fun read.  If you have never read it, I encourage you do so.  You can download a free copy through Project Gutenberg:  http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/946

I think the quotation in the header of this article, “Facts are such horrid things,” is remarkably post-modern.  And I must close with another favorite quotation from the work, that shows that underneath it all, Lady Susan wants something else besides money:

ldysusanrichesonly

Fun, Uncategorized

Holiday Cooking

Our new treasurer, Cassandra Bates, enjoys Regency cooking.  Here is her blog post about black butter:

Shortly after Christmas, Jane Austen wrote her sister, Cassandra, about an evening party at her brother’s house in Southampton:

“The last hour, spent in yawning and shivering in a wide circle round the fire, was dull enough, but the tray had admirable success. The widgeon and the preserved ginger were as delicious as one could wish. But as to our black butter, do not decoy anybody to Southampton by such a lure, for it is all gone. The first pot was opened when Frank and Mary were here and proved not at all what it ought to be; it was neither solid nor entirely sweet, and on seeing it Eliza remembered that Miss Austen had said she did not think it had been boiled enough. It was made, you know, when we were absent. Such being the event of the first pot, I would not save the second, and we therefore ate it in unpretending privacy; and though not what it ought to be, part of it was very good.“ Jane Austen to Cassandra, December 27, 1808

The Black butter that Jane Austen referenced in her letter to Cassandra is not what one might think (a sauce of blackened butter), but rather a thick, dark conserve of fruit, often apples (much like American Apple Butter). The other is a French style “beurre noir” and is a sauce of brown butter (if it goes black it is ruined, why the name, who knows, French Culinary).

Below is a rather traditional Black Butter similar to the one in Jane Austen’s letter:

Take 4 pounds of full ripe apples, and peel and core them. Meanwhile put into a pan 2 pints of sweet cider, and boil until it reduces by half. Put the apples, chopped small, to the cider. Cook slowly stirring frequently, until the fruit is tender, as you can crush beneath the back of a spoon. Then work the apple through a sieve and return to the pan adding 1lb beaten (granulated) sugar and spices as following, 1 teaspoon clove well ground, 2 teaspoons cinnamon well ground, 1 saltspoon (about ¼ tsp) allspice well ground. Cook over low fire for about ¾ hour, stirring until mixture thickens and turns a rich brown. Pour the butter into small clean jars, and cover with clarified butter when cold. Seal and keep for three months before using. By this time the butter will have turned almost black and have a most delicious flavour. –  Maria Hubert von Staufer March 1995

 

Uncategorized

A Thousand Thanks

As I reflect on our Jane Austen Birthday Tea, there are so many people to thank. Thanks to the staff at the Roosevelt Inn for the great food and kind service.  Amy Lyons, co-Regional Coordinator, suggested the Roosevelt Inn and coordinated arrangements with them.  Jane Provinsal, our Social Media coordinator, made the lovely cinnamon Jane Austen ornaments/decorations (see the header image).  They smell heavenly.  So many people donated to the door prizes to raise money for our group.  There were basketball tickets; Regency dresses, reticules, and scarves; many books and games; embroidery; and grab bags.  We also had five theme baskets: Tea Time, Lavender Potpourri, Dress Up, Fun and Games, and Book Lover.  Thanks to Pamela Mogen, Cassandra Bates, Nancy Jo Tschida, Brenda Bye, Chuck Pierce, Sara Thompson, Debra Peck, Anne Hollum, Cindy Bell, Michele Larrow, and Yvette Tremblay-Kelly for donations.  We were able to raise over $150 for our group due to the generosity of the gift donors and those who purchased tickets to win the prizes.  (There are many pictures of the tea on the Photos of Past Events page).

A highlight of the tea was our reading of a short play Jane’s Dancers that we got through the script bank that JASNA has for the regions to use.  It was developed by the JASNA, Northern California Region.  Our readers/performers were highly entertaining and the words of Jane Austen about dancing were a fitting way to celebrate her coming birthday.  Thanks to Vickey Bolen, Van Brink, Brenda Bye, Debra Peck, Sara Thompson, and Nancy Jo Tschida for your wonderful rendition of the play.  See below for a few short snippets of the video.  Apologies for the poor stops and starts of the videos.

Thanks to everyone for a great tea.  I am thankful for all our members and everyone who has come to all our events this year!  We appreciate Sheryl DeShields who served as our treasurer for a year but had to resign.  Thanks to Cassandra Bates for agreeing to serve as our new Treasurer.  She was elected unanimously at the meeting portion of the tea.  Michele Larrow, Co-Regional Coordinator

  1. Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney

2. More Catherine and Henry

3. The Narrator from Northanger Abbey

4. Part of a scene from The Watsons

Uncategorized

Using Vintage Handkerchiefs to Decorate a Reticule

Using Vintage Handkerchiefs to Decorate a Reticule by Michele Larrow

I have several vintage handkerchiefs that have lovely lace on them.  I wanted to use a couple of them in making a reticule to go with my gown for the ball at the JASNA Annual General Meeting in September.  The gown is of a cranberry-color cotton and the over-dress is a blush-color dupioni silk.  I had one handkerchief that had roses embroidered on a corner and I thought that would be perfect for a reticule as a center applique.  I had another linen handkerchief with crocheted lace (cotton, I think) for a nice lace border decoration.  I planned to use the blush color silk for the body of the bag.

dressbag

  1. My first step was to find some inspiration online for reticules. I found a great Pinterest page on “Regency Bags and Reticules”  https://www.pinterest.com/CeruleanHMC/regency-bags-and-reticules-1795-1830/  that had many wonderful period examples.  There was one bag especially that caught my eye from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston because it had roses, had a drawstring, and was made out of silk.  It was also about the size that mine ended up being.  Although it was painted instead of embroidery, it was good inspiration for me.

reticule MFA

Reticule MFA:  https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/bag-115924

 

  1. I started by creating the center applique of the roses. The cotton of the handkerchief was quite sheer, so I backed it with the cranberry color of my gown, using the sturdy cotton that was used for the lining.  I first pinned the handkerchief over the cotton backing measuring so that the embroidery would be centered.  After I pinned it and cut a rough oval bigger than I needed, I folded over the edges and basted the two fabrics together, making sure to keep the piece even and centered all around.  Next, I took the lace from another handkerchief and pinned it to the back around the edge of the oval, trying to get it as even as possible.  I basted the lace onto the oval applique, leaving some of the linen from the handkerchief to secure the layers on the back.  When I got to the lace on the corner of the handkerchief, I had to cut the linen close to the lace to get it to lay as straight as possible, but I was able to complete the full oval with two sides of the handkerchief.

centerapplique

  1. Once the applique was basted, I decided on the dimensions of the reticule based on the size of the center applique. I wanted to have about one and a half to two inches of the silk on the sides and bottom (which I made round to echo the oval applique) and I left more space at the top of the fabric for the drawstring.  I ended up with finished dimensions of about 8.5 inches by 12 inches, including the top border.  The pattern that I created for the silk was about 9.5 by 12 because the border at the top was a different color.  Once the silk was cut for the bag, I basted the oval applique on the right side of the fabric toward the bottom with even margins for sides and bottom.  After it was basted, I machine-stitched it twice right around the perimeter of the applique, through the layers of the applique and the linen that holds the lace border.

 

  1. On the other side of the silk fabric I basted the lace for the bottom of the bag on the right side of the fabric, pointing the lace toward the top of the bag and sewing along the linen border that was left from the handkerchief. I had to hand-sew two pieces of lace together to make a lace piece that was long enough because I had to cut out some stains from the lace border on the old handkerchief.   I made sure to tack down the lace at the sides so that it would not get caught in the side seams when the bag was stitched together (see drawing).  I basted the two bottoms sides together to be sure the lace was positioned correctly and then I sewed the sides and the bottom of the bag and turned it right side out.  The bottom lace is not perfectly aligned, but pretty close.

 

  1. I made a lining of the same sturdy cotton fabric that was used for the applique, using the same dimensions as for the bag. I sewed the sides of the lining, but left the bottom open for hand-sewing after the lining was sewn to the bag.  I also created a small band at the top of the bag of the fabric of my gown, which is a looser weave (as wide as the lining and about 3 inches long).  I sewed the sides of the border and attached it to the bag and the lining, pinning right sides together and matching side seams.  Once the lining was complete, I turned the bag right side out and then hand-sewed the bottom of the lining closed using a slip stitch.  I put the lining inside the bag and made the border even at the top. Next, I sewed two lines around the bag near the top border to create the pocket for the drawstrings, leaving about 5/8-3/4 inch for the drawstrings to move freely.  I opened the seams on the outside of the bag in the pocket for the drawstring.  The drawstrings were created by folding a one-inch wide ribbon in thirds and then sewing down the middle.  One drawstring came out on one side of the bag and the other on the other side, so that it is easy to cinch and open the bag.  I threaded the drawstrings through using a safety pin to push them through and it required a little maneuvering to get the drawstrings out on each side.  Once they were out I made them even and knotted the ends, hand sewing the end of the ribbon to keep it from unraveling.

reticule

  1. Once the bag was completed, I realized that I had to tack down the lace around the central applique because it flopped over the top when it was held upright. After doing that, the bag is ready to go.  The finished dimensions of the bag are 8.5 inches by 12 inches, the perfect size for my Emma and other necessities.bagEmmacrop.JPG