Miss Smith


For I’m sure I’ll just swoon any second now. That’s what we lady writers do. Sentimental-that’s what we are, apparently. No woman writer is ‘the literary match’ of a certain (and I use this term loosely) gentleman. For as we are not the head of a household, this comes across in our utterly feeble and inferior writings. Apparently, so obivious are our deficiencies, that within a paragraph or two of reading, Naipaul can tell whether or not it was written by a woman.

Are we doing something wrong? Should we make it more evident that we are lady writers?

How about those tampons, girls, am i right?

Miss Austen wrote that angry people are not always wise, but statements like the ones made my Naipaul make half of the population pretty angry. Although since we’re sooo sentimental, perhaps we should just get upset instead.

Maybe we should just go over into this corner and cry under our parasols because we are so totally eclipsed by his majesty and then talk about our feelings as we eat cake.
jane might not have been a Nobel Prize winner, but lets see whose books are still on the Classics shelves in 200 years time. The hearts and minds of the entire world, generation after generation for two centuries can only be captured by a truly superior writer.

My money’s on Miss Austen, but until the bet is settled, I’ll just get back to my tea party, shall I?

Wow, those bras ladies- they’re pretty crazy. What’s up with them?

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First of all, let us extend our sincere apologies for not posting for such a long time. Miss Wareham and I have been very busy studying. Mary Bennet would be proud. However, I have a spare moment of procrastinaction to tell you lovely janeites some staggering news.

The original manuscript for Jane Austen’s early, unfinished novel ‘The Watsons’ is going up for auction and is expected to fetch £200,000 -£300,000! (That’s about $485,000 for our friends across the pond.)

It’s the earliest surviving manuscript of Jane Austen and any janeite worth their salt would give the worth of Pemberley just to be in its presence. It’s famous for showing Miss Austen’s idiosyncratic use (or not) of grammar, devil-may-care spelling, and iconic tiny almost illegible yet stunning handwriting.

Imagine seeing, let alone owning, the thought process of Jane Austen tracked on a piece of paper; crossings out, ink blots, spills and stains next to notes in the margin and corrections…and ooh, I’m getting a little flustered. The luckiest highest bidder will be privy to a masterpiece in the making, as anyone who has ever read The Watsons will have been able to tell it was developing into something just as magificent as The Great Six.

As much as I would like to be that fortunate (in more than one sense of the word) highest bidder, £300,000 is more than I would like to pay for a house. On the moon. If all the janeites had a whip round, by my calculations we could buy it and share it for a penny each- there are so many of us worldwide.

One small flaw though. How would we decide who got to keep it? Many a parasol would be used for no good if THAT became an issue.

Keep reading- we promise more regular updates soon. Remember:
“Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience — or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.”

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This is a dated video indeed now, but we have much admired it for some time.  So without preamble or explanation, for it truly needs none, please take great pleasure in this short skit, a perfect April Fool’s, for none would expect the course this film takes to be true:-

Hope you enjoyed it- please see other amusing Jane Austen vids on our Moving Pictures > Videos page.

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I do not know about my fellow janeites but I am obsessed with seeking out gorgeous little hand made things on etsy to do with Divine Jane, so publisher Penguin’s latest venture with its Autumn 2011 collection ‘Penguin Threads’ is just a dream come true.
  This is a collection of the beautiful books with covers based on original hand-sewn designs.  Only three classics were chosen for the collection; Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty and Jane Austen’s Emma!
It is the first time that Emma will be published all by herself as a standalone edition.

It is one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen, and so skillfully and meticulously hand crafted that it’s unbelievable.  It’s so nice to see books like this- almost bespoke in their design, rather than everything becoming digital, which is exactly what I was lamenting in my last post.

Penguin commissioned artist Jillian Tamaki to design these covers.  What a spectacular job she did- they’re so cute!

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28 Mar 2011, by

Kindled Out

I am so sick of getting recommened e-readers, Kindles and iPads etc.

When I express my disdain for them- people say: ‘You like Jane Austen don’t you?  Look- I have all of her books here.  I got them for free!  On my [insert pointless gadget here]!’

What is the point of downloading them for free if you will never read her?  I suppose it may encourage some people to read Austen, merely because they got her novels for absolutely nothing and are too thrifty to go out and buy a book with molecular integrity, so some good may come of this fast growing practice.

However, janeites everywhere, I urge you to put down your slimline, shiny technowotsits and instead pick up the first Jane Austen you read.

You can hold it in your hands and know that the world over, for hundreds of years, millions of others have held a copy just like you; a shared yet anonymous experience which cannot fail to inspire thought.  You can rifle through the pages until you find your favourite part.  There’s a big crack in the spine where you can instantly flip to Darcy’s proposal or Wentworth’s letter.  The words are smudged a bit where you cried all over Bingley proposing to Jane.  There’s crumbs in almost every page of Northanger Abbey because you read it all in one afternoon over Christmas with a massive box of biscuits.  Your copy of Emma is now like a concertina because you dropped it in the bath.

These characterisitics are synonymous with a favourite author.  So when next someone is using one finger to flip indolently through the pages of a space age novel with giant print they don’t need but use because it makes them feel like they’re reading more, despair not, and feel the papery goodness of the battered volume in your hands.  They are your darling children and a testament to your enduring love for Jane Austen.

^This sums up the superiority of Real Books over e-books.^

Have you any specific characteristics of your own Austen novels?   We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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When I said I wanted you to lose weight...

Just a note to say that the final book in the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies trilogy: Dreadfully Ever After was realeased today.

The story starts after the marriage of zombie slaying Lizzy and Darcy, but ‘the honeymoon has barely begun’  when the Pemberley inhabitants are faced with yet another horde of unmentionables to behead.  However, Mr Darcy is infected by the dreadful affliciton which has turned Regency England into a horror film when bitten by a rampaging zombie.  Elizabeth, rather than beheading her husband immediately, decides to pursue the news of a miracle antidote being developed in London- chasing the last chance to save her true love.

Sounds good.  JaneiteJournal will have a review of this novel just as soon as one of us can purchase it.

For more info, or to buy, try

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Comic Relief is over as of Friday night but I have just recovered from staying up until one in the morning, so I’ll post about it now.  We loved Jennifer Saunders’  Downstairs Uptown Abbey and most importantly- Vivienne Westwood’s t-shirts.  I myself purchased a Queenie Blackadder shirt which I have had great pride in wearing but Ms Westwood…

Missed opportunity!  Jane would have looked MINT on a t-shirt.  She even acknowledges comic relief in Persuasion.  Sir Walter Elliot says that last time he saw Mary, she had red nose.

This was because he saw her on March 18th!

Hope everyone loved Red Nose Day and donated money.

If you haven’t already- please visit

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8 Mar 2011, by

Parasol Power

Happy International Women’s Day!

Have you been marching on bridges to show your sisterly solidarity?  I certainly hope so.

One of the ‘forerunners of feminism’ was the Divine Jane herself, and deserves a mention on this day.

Writing in a time where the only career open to women was marriage and motherhood, Jane had a narrow scope as far as feminism went, but despite decades of feminists criticising and condemning her books as old fashioned and very retrogressive for women’s rights, Jane Austen must have been one of the earliest feminists known to womankind.
Not only did she express views at the time that were ‘far to clever to have been written by a woman’, she wrote them under the pseudonym of ‘A.Lady’ and STILL manages to sell edition upon edition, unlike the Bronte ‘brothers’, who resorted to male pen names in order to get their books to sell.
It is understandable that Jane never published work under her own name, as this was a time when other female writers said they would ‘rather exhibit as a rope dancer’ than have everyone know they had literary integrity and an imagination, but despite this setback she started a revolution.

Jane herself had a career, and was proud of it.  Elinor Dashwood confesses her envy of a man’s being able to earn a living in Sense and Sensibility.  It isn’t groundbreaking or feminist by today’s standards but I’m sure at the time people would not have liked a young woman to say that.  A woman knew her place.
Jane’s Girls must have caused controversy.  A part from the foolish Catherine Morland, who at least shows some ability to judge charachter, the heroines of The Great Six are strong, intelligent and in many cases very modern.  Elizabeth Bennet and Emma both declare they should never like to marry though they have different reasons for this opinion.  Fanny Price is principled and wise despite her young age and her belonging to ‘the weaker sex’ and even refuses and offer of marriage from Henry Crawford on these principles.  Elizabeth likewise turns down not one but two proposals as she does not need a husband or a man’s wealth to make her happy.  She is convinced that ‘nothing but the very deepest of love could induce her to marry’.

Jane herself was a modern woman.  Not only did she have a career, she lived in a male-free household during the most productive years of her life, suggesting that running around after brothers, neices and nephews had stilted her talents in past years.  She also dealt with her publisher alone on several occasions, not relying on her brother Henry’s help.  Jane knew that woman could take matters into their own hands- be they prettily be-gloved in lace or not.

So Girl-Power is the message from Jane- a message that resonated down the decades and inspired the young women who read her generation after generation to take matters into their own hands, so competently that now it is 100 years since International Women’s Day was founded.
It influenced doctors, politicians, soldiers, pilots, artists, musicians and writers.

‘Women can do anything’ was her message, although it was restricted and held back by the tight constraints of society.

It’s not Jane Austen, but I recently read feminist, progressive novel South Riding by Winifred Holtby and loved every word of it. I think Holtby heard Austen, just as I did and I hope Jane would have approved of the message it gave to the girls leaving school in the novel:

Go therefore and do that which is within you to do.  Take no heed of gestures that beckon you aside.  Ask of no man permission to perform.”

Happy International Women’s Day everyone! 

And pray remember Miss Austen when you’re next singing along to the Spice Girls.

Miss Smith, xxx

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Although this post is shamefully overdue, and the events I wish to relate arte not as fresh as daisies in my mind, I would still like to tell you of the charming little play we janeites three went to see the other week.

The production was Pride and Prejudice, by the Chapter House theatre Company, and although it was  very low budget with a limiting number of actors (meaning Kitty was non-existent) and a tiny set of just a few chairs and two windows, we all enjoyed it immensely.  We three, you see, are also rather low budget ourselves.  Not all of us have ten thousand a year.

I won’t bother with a review- everyone knows what P&P is about- but there were other things going on that we noticed.

Instead of trying to disguise the many set changes they had to do with their tiny array of props, they played it up, and had a disgruntled footman with a skew-whiff wig (who also played Wickham, incidentally) come on stage and cantankerously heave and kick furniture round the stage like it was the bane of his life.  That got a couple of laughs because he was just so miserable.  Who doesn’t like a miserable footman?

It wasn’t the actual funny parts of the play that got us giggling however, although there were a few instances where Miss Warburton nearly wet herself because Mr Darcy was unashamedly eyeing up one Miss Elizabeth Bennet.  But, once I get the giggles, I can’t stop, which meant that right from curtain up, I was shaking uncontrollably and attracting glares of contempt from fellow janeites.

Why?  Because the second Mr Darcy first appeared onstage at the Netherfield Ball, a very funny, very loud and very Northern woman on the top shelf  ‘murmured’  ‘he’s no Colin Firth is he?

Mr Darcy clearly heard her.  I’m sure it took some guts to carry on after everyone laughed more at a wisecrack from the audience than at his attempts to be comedically surly.

Secondly, as soon as I managed to quash those giggles, I was attacked by anther wave of mirth when some random weirdo behind us kept bizarrely moaning!  Just going MMMMMmmmmmMMMmmm at odd intervals.  I could not fathom why; it wasn’t a moan of pain or of joy, just like the lowing of cattle or perhaps the high whine of a Dyson zipping round a carpet.  Weird.

Anyway, we couldn’t stop laughing at this, and when the interval blessedly came so we could discuss it whilst raiding our ‘I Heart Mr darcy’ bags fior clandestine snacks, I made an arse (pardon me Jane, would you rather I said fool?) of myself.

‘Why was that random freak in front of us moaningall the time? It was bliddy creepy.’

Miss Warburton’s eyes widened and she shook her head frantically.  ‘Not in front of us.’she hissed, head nodding towards the empty row.  ‘Behind.’

I turned hesitantly round and was glowered at by an odd man who was noisily slurping some ice cream.

He supplied us with more moans and noisy eating in Act 2, just to spite me I think.

Apart from the special effects the audience supplied, the play was ordinary but amusing- it stayed true to the book for the most part but missed out my absolute favourite line! (Arte the shades of pemberley to be thus polluted?)  Gutted.

The only bit we found really disconcerting was the very end- the double wedding.  Now this could have been done a la BBC, where we just see them leaving the church with music etc bla bla happy ending- scary frozen kiss BUT, although they decided to keep in that vein, they supplied the music themselves.

A strange gregorian chant emanated from the characters making us slightly uncomfortable, like we were eavesdropping on someone’s dream or awkward role-play.

Anywho, twas a fun evening out at the theatre, making us feel very cultured indeed.

If The Chapterhouse Theatre Company visit again, perhaps reprising Sense & Sensibility,  we would be happy to see it!

So, whilst Fanny Price looks on in horror, get involved in the theatricals and keep an eye out for Jane on the stage near you.  We’d love to hear about different plays and adaptations.

Happy austening.

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Happy St Valentine’s Day, internet savvy Janeites.  Although not one to celebrate the day myself due to my spinsterhood state, I do not deny others the pleasure of radiating smugness at people who are not in a state of domestic bliss- or at the very least, some form of ‘relationship.’
To celebrate this most exploited of days, we Janeites three decided to keep our posts about love.

I would like to share a thought on what first taught me to love Jane Austen- Pride & Prejudice.

My first love was Elizabeth Bennet.  As the pages of P&P drew me closer to the characters, I began not only to be enthralled by the language, plot and subtext- I found Elizabeth was my literary soulmate.

It’s a cliche, I know, that all girls relate to Lizzy Bennet and I don’t deny that there are probably women (or men, JaneiteJournal is not sexist, for all Miss Warburton’s posts would have you think we were drooling harpies) elsewhere in the world who feel a more profound, deeper apathy with Miss Bennet than I, but personally, nothing can compare to the connection I made with her on that fateful first reading.

Lizzy was everything I was and everything I wanted to be; she was not the prettiest, the best or the cleverest- not a paragon of virtue.  She was an attainable goal, a sister in feeling and in thought, and for all Mr Darcy captured my heart as well, my affection for him does not compare with that for his bride.

Although I often wish I was not so outspoken, headstrong or indeed obstinate, I still view Lizzy Bennet as the ultimate heroine; flawed and imperfect, but utterly accessible in every way.  I love her the best, even whilst striving to like sensible Elinor and steady Anne much more, and emmulate their respectability.  I loved these characters, but I do not connect with them in the same way.  They are a constant reminder of everything I should try to be, whereas Lizzy cheers  up and reassures.

Lizzy has gotten me through some tough times- without her I would not be the person I am today; I would not be as content, not knowing that there is a happy ending out there for the flawed, foolish girls of the world.

My spinsterhood state may account for the fact that my heart truly belongs to Pride and Prejudice, namely its heroine, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

And indeed I owe this ardent love to Jane.

Happy Valentine’s Day Miss Austen, and thank you.

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