Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Results of our 'Favourite Scenes' Poll

As most of you voted, you will know that we made a poll for the favourite scenes from Becoming Jane (scroll down to see the options on the left hand bar). The scenes were split into: ‘Jane and Tom’ and ‘Other’ favourite scenes.
The poll closed yesterday and so we can reveal the rather predictable results.

Jane and Tom scenes



With 54% of the votes, the Ballroom scene was voted favourite. I don’t think that anyone can forget the passion and emotion evoked from that dance. And the music…..so perfect. To watch it again, don’t forget to see the Husbands and Lovers clip.







With 42% of the votes (a close second place) was the scene where Tom and Jane meet in the woods after Jane has just learned of Tom’s engagement to Mary Paul. The way her brother George protects her and that kiss! I love this scene!








The kiss by the pond at Lady Gresham’s manor captured 38% of the votes. It is their first kiss and the way she asks if she did it well because she wanted to do it well just once….I think that is enough to melt anyone’s heart.








I have to mention the forth place just because I think that it is my favourite scene. 30% of votes chose the Library scene with the witty banter and introduction of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding to Jane (to be disputed by some Janeites!).






Other favourite scenes

It is quite clear what the favourite scene is for this section; with 41% of the votes, the scene where Jane and Wisley have that discussion after the elopement. I think that this highlights how many of the viewers really liked Wisley and was perhaps disappointed that something did not happen between him and Jane. I liked him but I have to agree with Jane’s father, he was somewhat of a booby in comparison to Tom!





The other scene to get many votes (25%) was when we see Jane walking down the beach with her sister Cassandra at her Brother Edward’s residence in Kent. I love all of the scenes with Jane and Cassandra and I think that this one in particular is very special.







Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter


To bring us back down to planet earth after the last post, I thought that I would write a short piece about a book that I read when I was in Ghana. A friend recommended it to me because of my obvious love of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice.
If you want a book which is so light-hearted and easy-reading that it allows you to escape from the pressures of everyday life, then this is the book for you.

I think it appeals to every woman alive because come on every woman wants their own Mr Darcy.
The book is called ‘Me and Mr Darcy’ and is about an American bookshop owner named Emily, (a very quaint bookshop, like in the film ‘You’ve Got Mail’- does anyone know what I mean? I have always wanted to own a similar bookshop!), who is in her early thirties and single and who gets the offer to go to Mexico with her somewhat crazy friend to drink and party for New Year. She does not want to go and instead prefers to spend time alone with her favourite Jane Austen novel and her slippers (sound familiar? It does to me!). She, rather impulsively, decides to be adventurous and book a place on a guided tour through Jane Austen country instead.

When she arrives the entire tour consists of people over the age of 65, much to her dismay. There is one man her age who is a journalist and who she instantly hates for his arrogance and male pride. On the first day of the tour they visit Chawton to see where Jane lived in the last years of her life. When separated from the rest of the group, Emily stumbles across the real Mr Darcy. From that moment on, the rest of the week becomes quite an experience for Emily, something she will not forget.

As you can see from the premise, it is not serious at all and at times is rather silly but I really liked it. It does refer to the story of Pride and Prejudice a little too closely but sometimes I think it is important to read a book that allows you to swoon in the clouds. I really would recommend it; it is funny and the story telling is great and you just want to carry on reading, captured in the fantasy.
Pic: Taken from www.amazon.co.uk

Monday, 29 October 2007

Information from the Lefroy family themselves!

Team Jane are very, very excited by a recent development in the last few days.
Edward Lefroy, a descendent of Tom Lefroy made contact with us! Edward owns a surf school in Cornwall, UK and has just won The Surfer’s Path Magazine’s ‘Best Surf Travel Company’ award. He located this website through a search and wanted to let us know of his willingness to help us in our quest for information about the Lefroy family.

In Edward’s own words:
Thomas Lefroy was my great great great great grandfather - I am descended from his fifth child Jeffry (all descendents from the first four children that had issue are now dead) and indeed my grandfather (JAP Lefroy, who you mention, now deceased), father and brother are both called Jeffry. I grew up Carrigglas Manor, which sadly my parents had to sell two years ago.”


We asked him a few questions that we were longing to know the answers to and between himself and his father (Jeffry Lefroy), we can report……….

- The books from the library at Carrigglas were not sold or auctioned. Tom Lefroy’s books and belongings are in safe storage until a new library can be built at the new Lefroy residence. We were so excited to find out that among the belongings is a photograph of Jane Christmas Lefroy (Tom’s daughter)!

- One of our main questions was related to the Cadell letter. See this post for more information. It is speculated that a Thomas Lefroy (either our Tom or Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy; his nephew) attended the Cadell book publisher’s sale in London (circa 1840) and bought the rejection letter that George Austen (Jane’s father) had sent to them in the hope of getting the first draft of Pride and Prejudice published. We wanted to know which Tom bought the letter, hoping that it was Tom Lefroy senior. T this time, this is one of those mysteries that will take longer to solve! We will get there but at the moment it will remain family lore.

- We have learned that there was a shooting accident at Carrigglas involving a young Australian relative of Tom’s. The Australian background links to Tom funding the emigration of his nephews, Gerald and Anthony. One of these nephews married Mary Bruce, the first white woman to be born in Australia…interesting piece of trivia! It was one of their children who came back and had this fatal accident at Carrigglas. We have learned from Jeffry Lefroy that this young Australian is buried in the tomb of Colonel Anthony Peter Lefroy (Tom Lefroy’s father) at St Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick, Ireland. The unfortunate news is that when they opened the tomb, the body of Col. Anthony Lefroy was missing. The body snatchers, linked to Barrington’s Hospital, were probably responsible for this. Jeffry informed us that the body snatchers used to access them whilst the cement was still wet so that it was less obvious and they did not leave a trace.

We are so excited by this latest information and the fact that the living Lefroy family are interested in our findings and respect our research.

Thank you so much to Edward and Jeffry Lefroy from all of us.

Pic: Sent to us by Edward Lefroy. Taken from the front page of The Sunday Times Ireland. The picture is of the back of Carrigglas Manor and features Edward's wife, himself and his mother.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Just Jane: A Novel of Jane Austen’s Life

Relentless interest and research on Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy produced many things this year: Becoming Jane the movie and many BJ-related sites (including this one). Also, an interesting novel on Jane and Tom published on last Sept 1, 2007.

Just Jane: A Novel of Jane Austen’s Life is written by Nancy Moser, and now available at Amazon.com. I’ve ordered it, interested in the excerpt and the premise, although the writing and diction are not Regencial/Georgian. Hence, some of you (wink to a dear friend) might be put off by these 21st century lines:

“Beautiful,” he whispered as his shoulder skimmed mine.

“Rascal,” was my reply next pass.

“Determined.” He offered a wink.

“Ambitious.”

And we can guess to which couple those lines belonged.

Just Jane also reminds me of Parson Austen’s Daughter by Helen Ashton (1968). A novel based on historical facts… but beware that the conversations were unlikely to take place verbatim, except if they were quotes from Jane’s letters (and other letters, for that matter).

In any case, I’m all excitement! Have ordered it from Amazon, and counting on any miracles, one of the Busy Bees of Team Jane will be here to give a short review later.

Pic: Cover to Just Jane from Bethany House


Friday, 26 October 2007

Miss Terrified of Love

Many many thanks to Maria from Sweden for translating this article, originally written by Petter Karlsson; petter.karlsson@expressen.se. The article is found here. Herewith I also invite more of you to send me more articles… while we wait for Team Jane to compose some very interesting news.

Miss Terrified of Love

At the age of 26 she accepted a proposal from a wealthy youngster. But she changed her mind the very next day. Jane Austen loved love – and was terribly scared of it.

“…he has but one fault, which time will, I trust, entirely remove — it is that his morning coat is a great deal too light.”. Typically Jane Austen. In her whole life she wrote about heated love meetings, passion and sex in secrecy, but she probably only experienced one real relationship. And then… Yes, then she couldn’t help herself but to in a letter to a friend express an irritation over the boyfriend’s too light dressing gown. Maybe she was even afraid of her favourite subejct love? There is much that indicates that.

It feels like Jane Austen wrote the life she wanted to live. Privately, on the other hand, she remained a rather anxious spinster who only dared show her products to the closest family and never really let any man into her life. The only exception was a proposal from a six years younger “big and awkward” man named Harry Bigg-Wither which she first accepted – only to withdraw the answer the next day. And then he with the morning coat, a certain Tom Lefroy that is, later Chief Justice of Ireland, who she had a short fling with as a 20 year old. Reverend George Austen’s oldest daughter was brought up to clear-sight and a fierce irony that was not too common for women in 18th century’s England.

To call her feminist is both right and wrong. Jane Austen never impelled any outspoken thesis. She never protested against that it was the four sons of the family that got the expensive education. (Two became clergymen, two naval officers.) Steady she stood anchored with both boots in a world that was about as liberal as Margaret Thatcher’s politics. Sat right. Curtseyed right. Spoke right. Wrote right. But only just almost. Jane Austen had the ability to look straight through all fancy cravats, graceful phrases and stale conventions. Maybe that is why she still touches us today. The18th century England is not totally unlike the 21st century Sweden. What went on in the finer lounges was sort of a Big-Brother-Soap. Between The Beautiful People a cockfight went on where the most important things were fame and a cool fa├žade. Shallowness meant everything. Profoundness, nothing.

Jane Austen became both a blind follower and revolutionary. She was both fascinated by that world and mocked it. Not everybody appreciated her loving social scourge. Always so sarcastic Mark Twain wrote: “… any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.

Pride and Prejudice. 1797 (published 1813)

Mrs. Bennet at Longbourn in the south of England is struggling to get her five daughters married. The beautiful Elizabeth is enchanted by a young officer, but is at the same time drawn to the proud and arrogant Mr. Darcy.

Trivia

The modern best seller Bridget Jones’s Diary is thought to be a wink to Pride and Prejudice. The male hero is in both cases named Mr. Darcy. When the novels last became film and BBC-series the male leading role is in both cases played by Colin Firth.

Facts about Jane Austen

Lived between: 1775-1817. Died probably of those day’s common illness tuberculosis, or possibly – as her biographer Carol Shields wants to uphold – in breast cancer.

Family: Unmarried.

Residence: Moved around in southern England, Oxford, amongst others Reading, Bath and Southampton. The Chawton cottage is now a museum.

Personality: Witty, ironic, well-read, outspoken, ambitious.

Preferred topics: marriage and love in England’s upper class during the 18th century.

Novels by choice (publishing year): Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816), Northanger Abbey (1818), Persuasion (1818)

Pic: Cover to 'Pride & Prejudice', Wordsworth edition


Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Short biography of Reverend George Austen

Hello All.

Due to the busyness of our everyday lives, we have not made a post for a while. We have not gone anywhere though and are still very dedicated to Jane and Tom and their story.

Kari has been busy though on her exciting travels to Amsterdam. We will report of her adventure shortly. Now though, I thought it was important to continue with information about Jane and what was very central to her life; her family. This short article is about her father.




The Austen background is somewhat interesting. A very enterprising young woman called Elizabeth Weller (George Austen’s grandmother) married wealthy John Austen in 1695 and started their family which led to seven children in nine years. In 1704 John Austen died young, leaving his wife with the seven young children and numerous debts. The family of John Austen did not honour their promises to help financially but Elizabeth was determined to educate her children (six were sons). She worked as a housekeeper in a schoolhouse in Sevenoaks and her payment was her son’s education. They consequently all gained solid education’s to enter the world of work and she also managed to organize a strong marriage for her daughter so Elizabeth could settle knowing that she had done her best for her children.


Elizabeth’s son William (George’s father, Jane’s grandfather) became a surgeon and married Rebecca Walter in 1727 in Kent. They had four children; the first girl died young, the second girl was named Philadelphia, the first son was George (Jane’s father) and the third girl named Leonora. Rebecca died giving birth to Leonora and William died shortly after in 1738. The children were now orphans so were separated and sent to live with various family members. George, now 7 (born in 1731) went to live with his father’s only sister, Aunt Elizabeth, and her husband in Tonbridge.


George attended the Tunbridge School and later studied at St John’s College at the University of Oxford with a fellowship. He won a scholarship in 1751 to study divinity. By the age of 24 he was back in Tonbridge working as a teacher before he was invited to become assistant chaplain back in Oxford. Here he met Cassandra Leigh and three years later, married her in April 1764 in Bath. In the meantime he had been offered the livings of Deane and Steventon. George was given one living by his uncle Francis who paid for his education and another by his distant cousin, Thomas Knight of Godmersham (who would later adopt his son Edward).


The young married couple began at the Deane parsonage but later, after repair was complete, settled at Steventon rectory to begin their family. Over the next fourteen years they had six sons and two daughters. To financially support this large family, Reverend Austen opened a boarding school for the local boys belonging to the parish.





It is clear that George Austen promoted happiness within his family; there were regular sessions of family reading, games and music. He obviously recognized Jane’s potential when he sent a letter in November 1797 to the publishing firm Caddell and Davies with the view to making an arrangement to publish Pride and Prejudice. The letter was rejected but this act shows a faith in his daughter’s talent and potential as a female author.


It is assumed that George Austen was a handsome man. One account of his appearance was offered by Jane’s niece, Anna Lefroy, who wrote, “I have always understood that he was considered extremely handsome, and it was a beauty which stood by him all his life. At the time when I have the most perfect recollection of him he must have been hard upon seventy, but his hair in its milk-whiteness might have belonged to a much older man. It was very beautiful, with short curls about the ears. His eyes were not large, but of a peculiar and bright hazel. My aunt Jane's were something like them, but none of the children had precisely the same excepting my uncle Henry.”



After a very happy marriage of 41 years, George Austen died on January 1st 1805 in Bath. On January 2nd, Jane wrote to her brother Frank about their father. She wrote: "We have lost an excellent Father. An illness of only eight and forty hours carried him off yesterday morning between ten and eleven. His tenderness as a father, who can do justice to?"

I think that this gives a clear impression to us as to what type of father George Austen was to his eight children.



Pics
1. George Austen from the painting port website
2. Silhouettes of George and Cassandra from the Pemberley Website
3. The immediate Austen family tree from The Jane Austen Society of Australia (which I hadnt spotted before but I love it!)
4. George Austen (played by James Cromwell) in Becoming Jane from Mirror newspaper article

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Team Jane regrouping!

Before regular readers (if any of you still have time to visit this currently-rather-dormant website) think that we have abandoned the cult of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy :-D let me assure you that we have just been extra busy with our real worlds... but our hearts remain here.

And now, I am very glad to report that Rachel and Michelle have returned to their respective countries, and after tying up loose ends there, will be contributing to some articles soon. Kari had a very successful mission in the Netherland, and I hope she has time to write 2-3 paragraphs of her adventure there, also her very exciting meeting with Veronica Nahmias, daughter of Nadia Radovici. Linda is still busy with her schedules, but she has coordinated some magnificent detective works, and Rachel (despite her tight schedules) has made productive phone calls that all will lead to the re-printing of Radovici's book. Fingers crossed... and let's keep the faith, so that hope remains and will turn to real actions.

As for me, despite of my schedules in Indonesia, I will still monitor our efforts with regards to Radovici's A Youthful Love. And herewith I encourage you all to bug your friends and sign our Radovici Petition. I cannot tell you enough how important it is to have as many signatures as we can have... but I believe, firmly believe, that our goal is nigh. And I believe that Nadia and Jane are helping us too, spiritually.

Pic: Two sisters dancing by Bovi, from Republic of Pemberley

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Lydia Bennet’s diary!

It is the truth universally acknowledged that Elizabeth was the most famous of the Bennet sisters. But apparently, her fame made one of her sisters restless. Lydia Bennet, the youngest sister with ‘high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence’ was about to write her own story and see if hers will beat Lizzy’s Pride & Prejudice!

Or at least, Lydia asked Jane Odiwe’s help to write her own story. As a writer, I understand what it means to have a character keep poking her/his head on my door, begging with puppy eyes to be written, dancing on my head until I grumpily open my laptop and write about her/him. Hence, I chuckled as I read Jane’s words as she started Lydia’s Story – a Jane Austen Sequel.

Lydia’s Story is a book I thought could not be written. Who, after all, could like a girl who is badly behaved, who has little regard for propriety and who is described as being vain, ignorant, idle and uncontrolled? I confess I was intrigued by her character and her story, though I resisted putting my ideas down on paper for some time. But Lydia refused to go away and so did the questions I wanted answering. Why and how did she and Mr. Wickham actually get together? We know they must have been thrown together in Brighton but I wanted to know the details, especially as it seemed they did not take much notice of one another in Meryton, or so I thought until I started to write the book!

Heheheh! Persistent Lydia! What can a lady like Jane Odiwe do then, but to write about her? And the good news is: the book will be available before Christmas! Yipppeee! Jane informed me that Lydia Bennet's Story starts just before she goes to Brighton (and then went wild with Wickham there). To promote her book, Jane also created a blog called Jane Austen Sequels, of which journal starts right at the beginning of Pride & Prejudice. The book tells her story with added journal entries alongside. Well, well… can’t wait to read the book! I might be busy by then, but Rachel will definitely be on board already, and can give a preview for us all.

Jane Odiwe also gave another excellent news: sixteen of her Jane Austen illustrations will used in a documentary feature on the DVD of the Jane Austen Book Club. Well, well, well, I have not watched JA Book Club yet, though I really want to. Kari said that the movie was splendid, and I’ve begged her to write a review for us about it. Will be grand to buy the DVD and find Jane’s sketches there as well!

More excellent news: Kari is leaving to the Netherland tomorrow for her own stuffs… and to tie the loose ends of the Radovici mission (i.e. to reprint Radovici’s A Youthful Love). And unexpectedly, just a few days before her departure, we the Team Jane at the Becoming Jane Fansite were contacted by none other than Radovici’s daughter! Though I am very tempted to spoil more, I’m afraid I have to keep my mouth shut and wait for the good news from Kari and Veronica (Radovici’s daughter). Suffice to say that Veronica is very excited with our petition, and hopefully, fingers crossed, the petition will bear its fruits soon! Thanks so much for your helps and signatures, my dear friends, and let’s keep hoping for the best!

Pic 1: Lydia Bennet, by Jane Odiwe


Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Teaching Jane

I’m so glad to find this article, as it shows how ‘Becoming Jane’ is accepted at scholarly level, though not by all scholars, of course. Kudos to Prof. Miriam Wallace of the New College Florida for the new ‘Becoming Jane’ class, and to Jessica of Brandeton for the article. Though… ehm, Jane Austen was not a Victorian authoress…

Jane Austen's timeless sensibility Popular culture finds Victorian author's life gold mine of fantasy

By Jessica Klipa, jklipa@bradenton.com

It is a truth universally acknowledged that women, old or young, wed or unwed, are in want of the ideal romance.

Though an obvious revision of the opening lines to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," it's precisely the reason she has become all the rave in modern popular culture.

Enchanted by English culture during Austen's era and captivated by witty characters like Elizabeth Bennet, her fans around the world know no limits when it comes to immersing themselves in her work through all forms of media: blogs, books and movies.

Interest is stirring anew with the Oct. 5 release of a new movie, "The Jane Austen Book Club," based on a book by Karen Joy Fowler.

The movie centers on a group of men and women who meet to discuss Austen's works and begin believing their love lives resemble the plots in novels.

Given Austen's enduring popularity, New College professor Miriam Wallace decided to teach a class titled "Becoming Jane."

Though portrayed as sexy and attractive in modern films, Austen was known to have had only two men show interest in her, neither of whom she married, Wallace said.

"It's not enough for her to be a great writer. She has to be one of her romantic heroines. I don't think she was," she said.

Theaters showing films of her works in the past 10 years seem to have merely whet her fans' appetites for more of the same romantic fantasies.

In "Becoming Jane," starring Anne Hathaway, Austen was a portrayed as a young woman who experienced a passionate romance, yet went on to accomplish her dream of becoming an author.

Austen died in 1817 at age 41. Readers and fans tend to be emotionally drawn to an elegant, simple life from that time period.

"What we need from Jane Austen is a picture where the world is smaller and the rules of courtship are clearer," Wallace said.

But life then for women in England was actually more restrictive.

As a literary critic, Wallace said she takes joy in bringing everyone back to reality of a women's position in that time period.

New College student Sarah Southwick began reading Austen's novels in middle school and enjoyed watching "Becoming Jane," which she thought was "heart wrenching."

Southwick, though, said she believes the movie erroneously depicted heartbreak as the reason Austen wrote "Pride and Prejudice."

"I feel like anytime something gets converted into pop culture, it gets oversimplified a little bit, which I think is why this class is important and why I enjoy taking it," she said.

Student Madison Sharko said she believes even more interest in Austen's life and work is likely, but she said fans who do things like dress up in mobcaps the night of the premiere take it a little too far. It's likely that Austen herself would have a witty comment to add.

"It's not Harry Potter," she said. "It's Jane Austen."

Fans of Austen's work have risen to a new level of creativity in immersing themselves in her characters.

Aside from published spin-offs from Austen's work, including "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride & Prejudice Continues," "Mr. Darcy' s Diary" or "Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure," books on how to set up a dinner party or dress in English attire also are available.

Jody Mailer, the only male in the New College class, offers a fresh perspective simply because it's the first time he has read a novel by Austen.

So far, he hasn't determined what makes her work so popular, but he said he does believe that it can be enjoyed by either gender.

"Regardless of whether you are male or female, you can relate as a modern reader to her sarcastic wit," he said.

Jessica Klipa, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7906.

Pic 1: from UCSB website

Pic 2: Miriam Wallace, from the NCF website


Jane and Tom's wedding photo!


Well, a hypothetical photograph, that is, of Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) and Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) if ever they got married in the first place (aaahhh... happy thoughts!). Anyway, since the wedding never took place, but many of us would love to play 'what if', here's a very lovely wedding photograph of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy, modified from the US Becoming Jane poster by our dear graphic designer Kari. Thanks so much Kari, for giving me a great head start for the day, and may you all love the picture too!