Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 185

When in doubt of what to chose for a quote to post I always turn to Sense and Sensibility for inspiration. The relationship between Elinor and Marianne has always been a fascinating connection for me. I dont have any brothers or sisters so I suppose it always led me to wonder what it would have been like to have a sister.

Anyway I have chosen a quote from the part in the novel when Marianne has found out about Elinor's love and near-heartbreak for Edward.

From chapter 37:

"How long has this been known to you, Elinor? has he written to you?"
"I have known it these four months. When Lucy first came to Barton Park last November, she told me in confidence of her engagement."
At these words, Marianne's eyes expressed the astonishment which her lips could not utter. After a pause of wonder, she exclaimed -
"Four months! - Have you known of this four months?"
Elinor confirmed it.
"What! while attending me in all my misery, has this been on your heart? and I have reproached you for being happy!"
"It was not fit that you should then know how much I was the reverse."

Elinor makes a habit of concealing her feelings and no one knows what she is really feeling, not even her closest confidants. As Marianne was showing her devastation over losing Willoughby, Elinor was helping her feel better and tending to her every need. This important conversation marks a turning point in the story when finally both sisters have confided in each other and their problems begin to slowly get better.

Have you ever had to be the strong one in a relationship, listening to anothers sorrow whilst you are crying inside?
Or perhaps you have confided your emotions with a close friend or family member without really having any idea of what they are going through themselves?

I think that we may all have been either Marianne or Elinor at some point.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Jane Austen music on radio!

Lily Miceli of 'InBetween The Music' has a radio show on a community frequency off of a WPR/NPR station in Wisconsin. Her shows are an hour with a theme that includes music,history and a bit of trivia.

One of her first shows was done on the music of Jane Austen. You can hear that show and others on her website. The show is listed near the bottom. Please go to

Thanks Lily for the info. Ladies and Gents, enjoy!

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 184

I never cease to be amazed "how things never change." Every time that I think we have made some progress and things are "new" or "better" I find something in Jane's writings that describe things or people in her day that are the same as in today's world. Here is a for instance from her brother's periodical "The Loiterer" number 22:

My Readers can have no idea of the multifarious Amusement, which a Course of Reading of this kind will afford. They will find the utile, the dulce, the Turpe, all blended together into a curious Medley. In a corner of the same Paper, which contains the strenuous exertions of the Supporters of the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, of Sir Joseph Andrews, Dr. Hawes, and the Humane Society, for the comfort and preservation of mankind — the diabolical Assassin of the human species in Embrio, to the eternal disgrace of the Police of Great Britain, is permitted to hold out an infamous temptation to the basest of Murders: At the same time professing, that the strictest delicacy, honour, and secrecy, will upon every occasion be observed.

This issue is basically about advertisements in the newspapers. What astonished me was the inclusion of 'abortions' - as we call it today. I had no idea that such things were going on way back then. Sigh, the things I learn by studying all things Austen! You may read the entire issue HERE.

Linda the Librarian

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Tom Lefroy Quote Week 16

For this weekend, I choose a quote from the Memoir of Chief Justice Lefroy which reminds me of simple but important things: family and union (marriage, I guess)(p. 134). The letter was to his wife (Mary Paul), dated 5th June 1841. In the beginning, he talked about the parliamentary vote that happened recently, but later he talked of this:
“… We have the greatest of earthly treasures in the bond of family love and union with which we are blessed, and this not as a gift of earth but sent down from heaven. As soon as I can I shall rejoice to spread my wings and to flee away to dear home.
I think Linda would love this quote. You always see Tom as a family man, don’t you, dear Linda? As for me, I’m doing overseas Skype with my significant other and also enjoy the fresh scent of my newly mopped home.
Enjoy the rest of your weekends, my dear friends.
Pic: Thomas Kinkade’s ‘Village Lighthouse’ (I LOVE his artworks!)

Friday, 10 February 2012

Jane Austen the Unseen Portrait - an alternative theory ...

We made a post a month ago (view here) which proposed that the new portrait found and owned by Dr Paula Bryne is actually Jane Austen.

I have received a detailed email from Chris Brindle who is related to the portrait painter and topographical recorder of the Hampshire scene, R.H.C. Ubsdell (1812-1887). I am going to present the information below.

The 'unseen' portrait is thought to have been created from life in London around 1816 by an artist of moderate abilities. Although it is acknowledged that Paula may be correct in her assumptions, given that the work of art is this old, there must leave some room for conjecture, so Chris would like to offer another possibility. The documentary made the point that the picture fits Anna Lefroy’s description exactly, so he believes it could be exactly that, a picture produced to the recollection of Anna, most probably in 1833.

Chris has actually seen Anna Lefroy’s diary and this places Anna at a house in the grounds of Oakley Hall (see 1st picture above) for a period from 1831 until 1833 and again for a period between 1840 and 1849.

As we know Anna Lefroy was the first child of eldest Austen son, James, by his first wife Anne Matthew. On her mother’s early death, when Anna was two she spent a lot of her early life at Steventon with Aunt Jane. Anna went on to marry Ben the youngest of the Leforys of Ashe. Ben did not take holy orders initially and it seems probable that Ben claimed he could make a living as an artist, and Anna claimed she would make a living as a writer like Aunt Jane. Jane had written her play 'Sir Charles Grandison' as an entertainment for Anna, they had talked about the characters of Pride & Prejudice as if they were real people, and on the brink of married life with Ben Lefroy, Anna embarked on her first attempt at writing 'Which is The Heroine' which was ultimately to be thrown on the fire in frustration sometime in the early 1820s. It is Jane's letters giving her comments on this attempt which tell us so much about Jane's own attitude to writing.

Anna’s house in the grounds of Oakley Hall was most probably the Garden Cottage of the present hotel, and it was here Chris believes that Anna finally plucked up the courage to become a writer like her Aunt Jane. Her short story 'Mary Hamilton' was published in the Literary Review of 1833, the same year Austen's novels came back into print in the Bentley Standard Editions. Anna had to vacate Oakley Hall on the death of its owner Wither Bramston in 1833, and Chris postulates that it had been Wither who had supported Anna in her writing to the displeasure of Wither’s wife Mary, sister of William Chute of the Vyne. William and his wife Eliza had strong connections with the Austens; James (Anna's husband) had hunted with the Vine Pack and Anna’s half brother James Edward Austen (Leigh) married Eliza’s niece.

Is it possible that Anna had an artist produce the image of Jane Austen from her recollections with a view to 1) making a link with Jane Austen, 2) justify women as professional writers, 3) illustrate the forthcoming Bentley editions, 4) reestablish favour with the family of William Chute?

Upon her return to her house in the grounds of Oakley Hall in 1840, Anna again found the ability to write. 'The Winter's Tale' was published in 1841 and 'Springtide' in 1842. Most importantly, it was here in 1845 that she wrote her continuation of Austen's last and unfinished novel Sanditon having received the manuscript following Cassandra’s death early that year. Her continuation was finally published in America in 1983. Finally in 1845 Anna found courage to be recorded as a writer, shown sitting at her writing desk in R.H.C. Ubsdell's tiny portrait miniature of her completed in the October of that year. This pose has remarkable similarities with the ‘unseen portrait of Jane’.

Chris Brindle believes that it was Ubsdell who produced the 1833 picture because he knew of Anna’s struggle as a writer. Ubsdell was known to have sketched Anna back in 1833 because he included her in his picture, “Sermon at St Lawrence” (see 2nd picture below). In this allegorical work Ubsdell uses the images of the famous people he has painted, to create a scene of people sitting round the smallest church in the country listening to a sermon by Samuel Wilberforce. Ubsdell portrays his patron Charles Richard Sumner Bishop of Winchester as a shepherd leaning on his shepherd’s crook, whilst Anna holds her hand on his as if seeking his guidance.

In his early years Ubsdell had an art gallery and studio at 135 High Street Portsmouth, England, opposite the theatre. He became very successful with the advent of photography and in 1859 moved to possibly the best house in Portsmouth, 1 Green Row. He became the local artist of choice for the rich and famous passing through Portsmouth. Portraits of Sir Francis Austen and Charles Austen are also probably by him. It is likely Ubsdell was selected for the retrospective Jane Austen picture in 1833 because in that year he had exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time.

There could also be other Ubsdell pictures of the Austen family. The miniature painting of Sir Charles Austen (done surely in England in 1846 rather than Malta in 1850) at Chawton Cottage is remarkably similar in size, shape and style to the Anna Lefroy miniature, and the admiral in 'The Royal Navy No 2' aquatint in the National Maritime Museum based on an Ubsdell watercolour, bears a remarkable similarity to the Francis Austen portrait, plate 5 in Southam's 'Jane Austen & The Navy'.

What do you think? I have been reliably informed that he “unseen” picture of Jane Austen, owned by Paula Byrne, which featured in the recent documentary, is to go on exhibition at Chawton Cottage at Easter for a period of six months so any of you able to make a visit, I think it will be well worth it to make your own judgement.

Any comments welcome ...

If anyone would like to contact Chris Brindle for more information, his email address is He does have a key to who everyone is in the “Sermon at St Lawrence”, and a note of other picture references to the people involved. He also has information about the likely materials used for the portrait.

Pics: Sent to me by Chris Brindle

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 183

This weeks quote is in honour of Valentines Day which is fast approaching us, next Tuesday 14th February.

You know that we, here at the Becoming Jane blog, are always trying to find evidence of the true love between Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. We are romantic souls who believe...know... its true!

I have chosen a slightly different choice for this weeks quote as it is actually a quote within a quote. From chapter 9 of Emma when Mr Elton has just left 'the' letter with Harriet and Emma. Emma is convinced that the letter was intended for Harriet and she is speaking to encourage Harriet of his true affection for her:

"You and Mr Elton are by situation called together; you belong to one another by every equal match to the match at Randalls. There does seem to be a something in the air of Hartfield which gives love exactly the right direction, and it sends it into the very channel where it ought to flow.
The course of true love never did run smooth ---
A Hartfield edition of Shakespeare would have a long note on that passage."

The bolded line of the quote is actually from Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' but I feel it is poignant. It is interesting to me that when Jane was reading Shakespeare's play this line obviously came out from the page and stuck in her mind. Why I wonder?

Jane and Tom first met 18 years before Emma was written. Is it possible that she comforted herself with the thought that their love was indeed true but that true love is never as smoothly played out as we are led to believe from fairytales?

True love certainly does exist but sometimes life can get in the way and so although it is felt for a lifetime and never forgotten, only the lucky ones get to spend their whole life with their other half.

Have a wonderful Valentines Day everyone!

Gone Reading - update

In November of last year I made a quote about a wonderful organisation called Gone Reading,

They have Austen themed gifts, amongst others, and all profit goes to charity.

Gone Reading is based in the US with free shipping if the order is over a certain amount.

There is currently a 25% off coupon for the readers of our blog which expires 10 March.

Visit Gone Reading website

Simply add BECOMINGJANE25 into the checkout and your discount will be applied.

Happy shopping!

Pic: Taken from the website

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 182

A couple of weeks ago I got 'hooked' on the subject of LOVE in "Mansfield Park", so now I will continue there in Chapter 38 today:

Fanny’s immediate concerns, as far as they involved Mr. Crawford, made no part of their conversation. William knew what had passed, and from his heart lamented that his sister’s feelings should be so cold towards a man whom he must consider as the first of human characters; but he was of an age to be all for love, and therefore unable to blame; and knowing her wish on the subject, he would not distress her by the slightest allusion.

Fanny's brother, William was being kind though he 'mistakenly' thought Mr. Crawford worthy of his sister, he bowed to her wish for "love". What I have discovered is that my copy of "Mansfield Park" is filled with highlight markings. I stand amazed at all the wonderful knowledge of worldly life that Jane had in those days. I guess we are not as smart as we thought, and they are not as 'dumb' as we thought. Always willing to learn, I remain,

Yrs aff'ly,
Linda the Librarian

Pic: A cover of
Mansfield Park