Jane Austen Addict, home of author Laurie Viera Rigler http://janeaustenaddict.com Laurie Viera Rigler, author of the "Jane Austen Addict" series and other time-bending tales Thu, 08 Nov 2018 02:18:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Cure for Writer’s Block http://janeaustenaddict.com/the-cure-for-writers-block/ http://janeaustenaddict.com/the-cure-for-writers-block/#respond Thu, 08 Nov 2018 02:10:01 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=5409 If any of my fellow [...]

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If any of my fellow storytellers deal with writer’s block from time to time, here’s some fun help. Fun help? That’s right.  See you in the playground. 

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

Photo by Sneha Chekuri on Unsplash

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How deep is your Austen love? Jane Austen fans discuss. http://janeaustenaddict.com/how-deep-is-your-austen-love-jane-austen-fans-discuss/ Mon, 27 Aug 2018 20:20:07 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=5392 Ever wondered what the difference [...]

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Ever wondered what the difference is between having read Jane Austen and being a full-on Janeite? Or where you are in the Jane Austen fan continuum? You might find your answer in this fun conversation. It’s all part of Austen in August, and if you’ve missed any of it; don’t worry, you can catch up at The Book Rat and join the party. There are lots of posts and still some giveaways going on.
Want to hear more about what Jane Austen fans have to say about their obsession with their favorite author? Check out our own signs of addiction, see what other readers have said about theirs, and you can even contribute your own!

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Self-Control and Discipline by Mary Brunton http://janeaustenaddict.com/self-control-and-discipline-by-mary-brunton/ Sun, 22 Jul 2018 20:57:17 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=5383 [reprinted here with the kind [...]

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[reprinted here with the kind permission of The Jane Austen Centre, celebrating Bath’s most famous resident and reporting the latest Austen-related news. ]

If Mary Brunton’s name rings any bells, you are most likely thinking of this quote from Jane Austen:

I am looking over Self Control again, & my opinion is confirmed of its’ being an excellently-meant, elegantly-written Work, without anything of Nature or Probability in it. I declare I do not know whether Laura’s passage down the American River, is not the most natural, possible, every-day thing she ever does.

The alleged lack of ‘Nature or Probability’ has since cast a long shadow on Brunton’s work:

in fact, it seems to have become the accepted critical opinion, so much so that Brunton tends to be accused of faults she did not even have. Before I read Self-Control (1811) and Discipline(1814), I therefore assumed the novels were over-the-top in a wildly sentimental, Gothic fashion. (Several academic texts and reference works I’ve since looked at operate under the same illusion, which is making me wonder whether most academics actually read the books they write about.) I really should have paid more attention to the titles – whoever would give a sentimental potboiler such a forbidding title as Self-Control?

What made the novel so unrealistic to her contemporaries was not a rollercoaster of a plot but its heroine, Laura Montreville, whom the Critical Review dubbed a ’saint in petticoats’ whose ’spiritual pride is insufferable, and her language nothing but Evangelical cant’. Brunton was an unapologetic Methodist, and many thought of her novels as (in the words of the Critical Review again) ’methodistical palavering‘. Not everyone agreed*, but religious ‘cant’ was far from fashionable at the time – as the author herself recognises when her thoughtless minor characters use the word ‘methodistical’ as an insult.

The charge of religious overkill is justified

– even more so in the case of Discipline – but I think looking at the works as Methodist propaganda does them as little justice as judging them for over-the-top sentimentality. What makes Brunton interesting is how she uses sentimental tropes and titillating plot-twists to her own moral ends, to the point of being accused of plagiarising her 18th-century predecessors in Self-Control. This kind of fiction can be dangerous, as demonstrated by a minor character – ‘Having no character of her own, Julia was always, as nearly as she was able, the heroine whom the last read novel inclined her to personate’ – but as it undoubtedly has a power, could not this power be harnessed to do good?

The plot of Self-Control is fairly simple, but very readable:

Laura Montreville is a beautiful and well-born, but poor, girl from the Scottish Highlands. (She is also as prim and proper as a room full of Carmelite nuns, but I think we can forgive her as she makes a joke of her ‘formality’ herself.) She is pursued by Colonel Hargrave, an attractive libertine whose intentions are no good; and not knowing any better, poor Laura falls in love. He offends her with an indecent proposal, realises his mistake, and makes her an offer of marriage – a pretty good offer, all things considered, but Laura declines, citing moral and religious incompatibility. She declares she will marry him at the end of two years, if he has in the meantime reformed his wicked ways and contemplated the Bible. (Unrealistic? You decide.) He says yes, but has no intention of waiting that long – and Laura suffers impoverishment, illness, and humiliating dependence, all the while tormented by Hargrave, who gradually morphs from an overwhelmingly passionate pest to an insensitive jerk, and finally to a downright villain.

Despite the heroine’s saintliness, Self-Control contains a fair amount of psychological realism.

(I said psychological, all right? The bizarre finale involving canoes and waterfalls does not count. I still don’t know what Brunton was thinking when she thought it was a good idea to… ah, well. No spoilers!) Reacting against a long tradition of sentimental romances, Brunton strips away Laura’s romantic illusions, though at the same time acknowledging their power; Laura isn’t duped through her own stupidity or moral failure, and she later finds it quite realistically difficult to fall out of love with Hargrave, even when she realises he’s not worth it. Brunton is also shrewd enough to realise that you will not convert anyone if you strip away every attractive illusion and leave nothing but resignation and self-denial in their place. Laura is thus rewarded with a new, improved lover – and when I say ‘improved’, I mean ‘a bit priggish perhaps, but adorable in a geeky sort of way’.

Plot-wise, Discipline is a different animal altogether:

narrated as the heroine’s spiritual autobiography, it is one part a novel of education (spoilt girl learns to be… er, less spoilt), and two parts a female Pilgrim’s Progress, with only a pinch of romance on top. Ellen Percy is a young, beautiful heiress – infuriatingly selfish and thoughtless, and because of her pride prone to mistreat the worthiest people, i.e. Miss Mortimer, her deceased mother’s suitably saintly Methodist friend, and Mr Maitland, an equally moral Methodist Highlander who falls in love with her against his better judgment. (There must be something in the Highland water to contribute to moral uprightness and high religious principles, or else the Scots are simply a superior race.) After much fashionable frivolity in London, treacherous friends, and one near-seduction, Ellen suddenly finds herself friendless and penniless: her father has gone bankrupt and committed suicide. Miss Mortimer takes her under her wing; but she too is poor and mortally ill, and cannot help her for long. Ellen then gets a job as a governess, but despite her best efforts she is unable to resist the downward spiral in which her pride and selfishness are brutally knocked out of her.

Both novels are studies of the truly religious frame of mind, and often very timely

– Discipline refers to the anti-slavery movement, the sabbath-breaking controversy, and the concept of the deserving poor, for example, all of them pressing questions of the religious revival. More interesting to a modern reader is the intense self-examination that drives both novels: both Laura and the post-reformation Ellen constantly question their own motives, and though my description has doubtless rendered the novels unappetising to many, the overall effect is not of ‘A Guide to Being a Good Christian and Obeying Patriarchal Rules’, but of ‘How and When to Trust Your Own Judgment, Even If You’re a Feeble Female and Everybody Else Is Telling You You’re Wrong’. Strangely (or not?), by trusting the Providence above all Laura and Ellen learn to trust themselves, and prove very capable indeed. The novels might as well be called Self-Help. The concept of ’self-help’ may have some less pleasant connotations, but Brunton’s version differs little from Wollstonecraft’s idea of a rational, self-sufficient woman. Ellen is humbled but not degraded by working for a living; Laura too works hard and is elated to sell a few paintings of her own to support her ailing father. Ellen begins to improve her mind by studying chemistry; Laura studies mathematics. In a very powerful chapter, Ellen survives incarceration in a lunatic asylum; and Laura… well, she does the canoe thing. On top of this God is described in maternal terms, the heroines’ main spiritual advisors are female, and the novel itself comes across as a particularly feminine form of education – a form that Austen would later perfect; in spite of her disparaging remarks, she was probably more influenced by Brunton than she would have cared to admit.

Final Verdict: I think both novels are well worth reading

– there’s a lot more to them than I can possibly write about in this post – but unless you have a special interest in early feminist ideas, or at least some patience for Christian proselytising, you will probably feel (like the Critical Review writer) that you’re ‘combating a disposition to nausea’ and tempted to ‘throw the book into the fire’. So be prepared. Discipline has a more interesting structure, but Self-Control works better as an entertaining novel, and can more easily be read as such.

The Monthly Review had this to say about Self-Control:

Whether Laura’s ‘self-control’ be perfectly natural is mere matter of opinion; and the decision depends, in a great measure, on the disposition of the reader: but it is a pardonable fault if a character, which is offered as a model, transcends those for whose emulation it is intended; and we would recommend this pleasing novel to all young people, particularly to those who are obliged to live with persons of bad temper, since they will find, in the scenes which it pourtrays, some admirable lessons of cheerful endurance.

As good a reason to read a novel as any, don’t you think?

The full text of Mrs. Brunton’s work can be found online at Labrocca.com: Self-ControlDiscipline, and Emmaline and the Memoir. A more detailed biography may be found at the Chawton House Library.

Hardcover: 506 pages
Publisher: Unknown (Jun 2008)
ISBN-10: 0548942773
RRP: £35.95

Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: Adamant Media Corporation (30 Nov 2005)
ISBN-10: 1402174829
ISBN-13: 978-1402174827
RRP: £11.99

Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Unknown (Jun 2008)
ISBN-10: 143683449X
ISBN-13: 978-1436834490
RRP: £19.95

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Austen Superpowers: Self-Awareness + True Love http://janeaustenaddict.com/austen-superpowers-self-awareness-true-love/ Wed, 18 Jul 2018 23:48:08 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=5363 In a Jane Austen novel, a heroine can only earn happiness by acting on the greatest Austen power of all: unflinching self-awareness.

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Can self-importance, meddling, and delusion be considered superpowers?

Hardly. And yet, the self-congratulating and clueless titular heroine of Jane Austen’s Emma rises above being the character that Austen thought that no one but herself would like. In the course of the story, Emma has a series of aha! moments about herself. More important, she acts on that self-awareness. 

via GIPHYAlicia Silverstone in Clueless, a brilliant adaptation of Emma.

In a Jane Austen novel, a lady can only earn her cape by acknowledging that are are huge cracks in what she once thought was the truth.

Once she tears down that wall of delusion and replaces it with wisdom, the heroine-in-training develops more self-awareness, more self-empowerment, and more capability to create happiness than she ever had before.  That is what Emma does. For that is what Austen superpowers are all about. 

Emma’s Austen superpower #1: Acknowledging one’s cruelty and choosing kindness instead.

Emma realizes–with the tough-love help of her dear friend Mr Knightley–that she really was unconscionably cruel to the babbling Miss Bates at the Box Hill picnic. For Emma, Knightley’s confrontation is a painful moment of self-awareness. But instead of retreating in angry pride or mortification, Emma attempts to make amends. Not that she intends to say the words to Miss Bates, ‘I treated you like dog poo and I’m really sorry’; this is, after all, a society in which pretty much everyone operates on coded behavior and subtext. Nevertheless Emma does pay a visit to Miss Bates, humbled, penitent, and works hard to restore herself as a friend. 

via GIPHY And we couldn’t agree more. Jonny Lee Miller is Mr. Knightley to Romola Garai’s Emma in another fine adaptation.

Emma’s Austen superpower #2: Acknowledging one’s vanity as a weakness to be conquered.

Emma is shocked to learn that Frank Churchill, the man who has been openly flirting with her, is actually secretly engaged to a woman he had fake-gossiped about with Emma. What’s more shocking, however, is Emma’s realization of how her own vanity made her the perfect target for Frank’s duplicity. Emma realizes that Frank’s public admiration of her had flattered her vanity. And that flattery had rendered her blind. Though she is miffed at Frank for toying with her feelings when he was in reality engaged to another, Emma takes responsibility for her own vanity and weakness. She is especially pained when she realizes that her public flaunting of being the supposed object of Frank’s affections caused Frank’s fiancée a great deal of pain. She is also humbled and grateful for her lucky escape–imagine how much more painful her newfound self-awareness would have been if she really had fallen in love with such a man. 

Emma’s Austen superpower #3: Acknowledging one’s blindness to the fact that what you want has been right in front of you all the time.

Emma has been raised to think well of herself, but she takes it much farther than the typical indulged child. Emma is, in a sense, the queen of her little village of Highbury, with all but a few deemed to be her inferior subjects. One of the few neighbors whom she considers to be her equal is her old friend Mr. Knightley, who is her brother-in-law and, though sixteen years her senior, still a relatively young man. And yet Emma has never seen Mr. Knightley as anything but a friend, has never considered marriage to him or any man a possibility, except perhaps to Frank Churchill, and that because of a childhood fancy. That is, until the sneaking awareness of her dawning feelings for Mr. Knightley begin to niggle at the back of her brain after Emma’s former governess Mrs. Weston decides that Mr. Knightley is in love with another young woman in Highbury. But Emma’s true feelings for Mr. Knightley hit her full force when yet another young lady, Emma’s friend and protegée Harriet Smith, announces that not only is she herself n love with Mr. Knightley, but she also believes he returns her affections. 

via GIPHY Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma in another excellent adaptation.

It is then that “it darted through her, with the speed of an arrow, that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!” That revelation, however is anything but glorious, for what if Mr. Knightley is indeed in love with Harriet? Even if he isn’t, how could a man who scolded her for being cruel to Miss Bates ever think such a woman worthy of his love?

In Jane Austen, self-awareness + right action leads to true love.

For the seasoned Austen fan, it comes as no surprise that Emma’s awakening takes her to to a perfect happily ever after. In the world of Austen stories, true love is the reward for unflinching self-examination and consequent action to bring the world back into balance. Yes, we Austen fans know what happens next. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to read and re-read Emma till the book covers falls off. Or stream the movies in between readings. Or ever get bored watching it all unfold. 

via GIPHYGwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam in Emma

Because we could all do with a long hard look in the mirror sometimes. And if Emma can do it, surely we can, too? Maybe all those readings and re-readings and screenings of Emma are getting us ready for our own aha moments. One can only hope. Or better still, observe. And act. 

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The Beefsteak Club: male dining clubs in the 18th & 19th centuries http://janeaustenaddict.com/the-beefsteak-club-male-dining-clubs-in-the-18th-19th-centuries/ Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:09:30 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=5073 [by Laura Boyle and reprinted here [...]

The post The Beefsteak Club: male dining clubs in the 18th & 19th centuries appeared first on Jane Austen Addict, home of author Laurie Viera Rigler.

[by Laura Boyle and reprinted here with the kind permission of The Jane Austen Centre, celebrating Bath’s most famous resident and reporting the latest Austen-related news. ]

The Beefsteak Club is the name or nickname of several 18th and 19th-century male dining clubs that celebrated the beefsteak as a symbol of patriotic and often Whig  (liberal) concepts of liberty and prosperity.

The location of the current Beefsteak Club.
The location of the current Beefsteak Club.

The first beefsteak club was founded about 1705 in London by the actor Richard Estcourt and others in the arts and politics. This club flourished for less than a decade. The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks was established in 1735 by another performer, John Rich, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, where he was then manager, and George Lambert, his scenic artist, with two dozen members of the theatre and arts community (Samuel Johnson joined in 1780). The society became much celebrated, and new members included royalty, statesmen and great soldiers: in 1785, the Prince of Wales joined.

1793 press report – "Club" and "Society" are used interchangeably.
1793 press report – “Club” and “Society” are used interchangeably.

At the weekly meetings, the members wore a blue coat and buff waistcoat with brass buttons bearing a gridiron motif and the words “Beef and liberty”. The steaks and baked potatoes were accompanied by port or porter. After dinner, the evening was given up to noisy revelry. The club met almost continuously until 1867. Sir Henry Irving continued its tradition in the late nineteenth century.

The first known beefsteak club (the Beef-Stake Club, Beef-Steak Clubb or Honourable Beef-Steak Club) seems to have been that founded in about 1705 in London.

It was started by some seceders from the Whiggish Kit-Cat Club, “desirous of proving substantial beef was as prolific a food for an English wit as pies and custards for a Kit-cat beau.” The actor Richard Estcourt was its “providore” or president and its most popular member. William Chetwood in A General History of the Stage is the much quoted source that the “chief Wits and great men of the nation” were members of this club. This was the first beefsteak club known to have used a gridiron as its badge. In 1708, Dr. William King dedicated his poem “Art of Cookery” to “the Honourable Beef Steak Club”. His poem includes the couplet:

He that of Honour, Wit and Mirth partakes,
May be a fit Companion o’er Beef-steaks.

The club originally met at the Imperial Phiz public house in Old Jewry in the City of London, but finding that venue not private enough, it ceased to meet there, and by 1709 it was not known “whether they have healed the breach and returned into the Kit-Cat community [or] … remove from place to place to prevent discovery.” Joseph Addison referred to the club in The Spectator in 1711 as still functioning. The historian Colin J. Horne suggests that the club may have come to an end with the death of Estcourt in 1712. There was also a “Rump-Steak or Liberty Club” (also called “The Patriots Club”) of London, which was in existence in 1733–34, whose members were “eager in opposition to Sir Robert Walpole”.

Badge of the Sublime Society: a gridiron and the motto "Beef and Liberty".
Badge of the Sublime Society: a gridiron and the motto “Beef and Liberty”.

The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks was established in 1735 by John Rich at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, of which he was then manager.

One version of its origin has it that the Earl of Peterborough, supping one night with Rich in his private room, was so delighted with the steak Rich grilled him that he suggested a repetition of the meal the next week. Another version is that George Lambert, the scene-painter at the theatre, was often too busy to leave the theatre and “contented himself with a beefsteak broiled upon the fire in the painting-room.” His visitors so enjoyed sharing this dish that they set up the Sublime Society. William and Robert Chambers, writing in 1869, favour the second version, noting that Peterborough was not one of the original members. A third version, favoured by the historian of the society, Walter Arnold, is that the society was formed out of the regular dinners shared at the theatre by Rich and Lambert, consisting of hot steak dressed by Rich, accompanied by “a bottle of old port from the tavern hard by.” Whatever the details of its genesis, Rich and Lambert are listed as the first two of the society’s twenty-four founding members. Women were not admitted. From the outset, the society strove to avoid the term “club”, but the shorter “Beefsteak Club” was soon used by many as an informal alternative.

steak and onions copy
Mr. Darcy’s Favourite Beef-Steak” from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends.

The early core of the society was made up of actors, artists, writers and musicians, among them William Hogarth (a founder-member), David Garrick (possibly), John Wilkes (elected 1754), Samuel Johnson (1780), and John Philip Kemble (1805). The society soon became much celebrated and these men of the arts were joined by noblemen, royalty, statesmen and great soldiers: in 1785, the Prince of Wales joined, and later his brothers the Dukes of Clarence and Sussex became members.

Meetings were held every Saturday between November and June. All members were required to wear the society’s uniform – a blue coat and buff waistcoat with brass buttons. The buttons bore a gridiron motif and the words “Beef and liberty”. The steaks were served on hot pewter plates, with onions and baked potatoes, and were accompanied by port or porter. The only second course offered was toasted cheese. After dinner, the tablecloth was removed, the cook collected the money, and the rest of the evening was given up to noisy revelry.

The Dining Room of the club, from it's Lyceaum days.
The Dining Room of the club, from it’s Lyceum days.

The society met at Covent Garden until the fire of 1808, when it moved first to the Bedford Coffee House, and thence the following year to the Old Lyceum Theatre. On the burning of the Lyceum in 1830, “The Steaks” met again in the Bedford Coffee House until 1838, when the Lyceum reopened, and a large room there was allotted to the club. These meetings were held till the society ceased to exist in 1867.

Its decline in its last twenty or so years was due to changing fashion: many of its members were no longer free on Saturdays, being either engaged in events in London’s social season or else away from London at weekends, something much encouraged by the opening of railways. The customary time for dinner had also changed. The society moved its dinner time from 4.00 p.m. in 1808, to 6.00 p.m. in 1833 and to 7.00 p.m. in 1861, and finally to 8.00 p.m. in 1866, but the change inconvenienced the members who preferred the old timing and did not attract new members. Moreover, in Victorian England, its Georgian heartiness and ritual, and old-fashioned uniform, no longer appealed. By 1867 the society had only eighteen members, and the average attendance at dinners had dwindled to two. The club was wound up in 1867, and its assets were auctioned at Christie’s, raising a little over £600.

Thomas Sheridan founded a “Beefsteak Club” in Dublin at the Theatre Royal in 1749, and of this Peg Woffington was president. According to William and Robert Chambers, writing in 1869, “it could hardly be called a club at all, seeing all expenses were defrayed by Manager Sheridan, who likewise invited the guests – generally peers and members of parliament. … Such weekly meetings were common to all theatres, it being a custom for the principal performers to dine together every Saturday and invite ‘authors and other geniuses’ to partake of their hospitality.”

The Liberty Beef Steak Club sought to show solidarity with the radical John Wilkes MP and met at Appleby’s Tavern in Parliament Street, London for an unknown duration after Wilkes’s return from exile in France in 1768.

The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks was re-formed in 1966 and has met continually since then.

Several nineteenth century members have lineal descendants among today’s membership, who wear the original blue and buff uniform (of a Regency character) and buttons and adhere to the 1735 constitution whenever practicable. This revival started to meet at the Irish Club, Eaton Square, in 1966, then at the Beefsteak Club, Irving Street, and today meets in a private room at the Boisdale Club and Restaurant in Belgravia/Victoria and, annually, at White’s Club in St James’s, where it is able to dine at the early society’s nineteenth century table and where it also keeps the early society’s original “President’s Chair”, which Queen Elizabeth II gave to the current society in 1969. Although other of the society’s relics (such as the original Grid Iron, Sword of State, Halberts and early members’ chairs, rings, glasses, documents, etc.) have passed down to members of the current society from ancestors in the original society, the current society “leaves such items in safety, keeping less fragile replicas and proxy items for its normal meetings in Central London”. Other early customs of the original society, such as the singing and composition of songs, are also encouraged by the current society.

The Beefsteak Club that today has premises at 9 Irving Street, London, was established in 1876.

When it was founded as a successor to the Sublime Society, its members hoped to rent the society’s dining room at the Lyceum. As that room was not available, the club held its first meeting, on 11 March 1876, in rooms above the Folly Theatre in King William IV Street. Two features of the club were, and are, that all members and guests sit together at a single long table, and that by tradition the club steward and the waiters are all addressed as “Charles”.

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Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours With Anne Elliot http://janeaustenaddict.com/austen-superpowers-finding-yours-with-anne-elliot/ Mon, 19 Mar 2018 01:43:51 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=5020 Lizzy Bennet may be the one with all the flash and sparkle, but one should never underestimate one of Austen's more reserved heroines, Anne Elliot of Persuasion. At first glance, Anne may not seem to fit the typical ideal of a cape-wearing, save-the-day superhero, but let's take a closer look at Miss Anne and her Austen superpowers.

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Anne Elliot: A quiet force to be reckoned with.

Lizzy Bennet may be the one with all the flash and sparkle, but one should never underestimate one of Austen’s more reserved heroines, Anne Elliot of Persuasion.

Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth and Amanda Root as Anne Elliot in “Persuasion,” directed by Roger Michell

At first glance, Anne may not seem to fit the typical ideal of a cape-wearing, save-the-day superhero, but let’s take a closer look at Miss Anne:

Austen Superpower 1: Grace under Fire.

Who had the presence of mind that no one else had when Louisa Musgrove fell from the Cobb at Lyme?

That’s right; Anne Elliot did. Everyone else was wailing and flailing while she was the voice of calm and reason in the midst of the emergency. She was the one who gave Captain Wentworth calm and rational directions as to how to help Louisa.

Austen Superpower 2: Trusting Observation and Instinct.

Who realized that Captain Wentworth was in love with her–despite his eight years of silence after she broke his heart, despite his ignoring her while happily being the Musgrove girls’ object of worship, and despite everyone else being ready to marry him off to Louisa Musgrove?

You got it; Anne Elliot. Though not by any stretch of the imagination conceited or vain, and despite having been brought up to think of herself as beneath the notice of everyone in her family (aside, that is, from Lady Russell and Anne’s own dear, departed mother ), this gentle soul’s keen gaze penetrated to Captain Wentworth’s very soul. She knew–knew, I say!–that he cared for her again. 

She knew this not from any direct declaration of Captain Wentworth’s, but from the way he talked of the unsuitability of the engagement of his friend Benwick to Louisa, and of Benwick’s inconstancy to Benwick’s fiancee, who died only a short time before. 

Austen Superpower 3: The Courage to Act

Anne not only KNEW this, she acted upon it–granted, within the very limited means that a lady of her time was authorized to act, for as Anne herself said of the lot of females in general in the time of Jane Austen:

“We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us.”

How did she act upon it? She encouraged Captain Wentworth to stay at the concert when jealousy of his rival, Mr. Elliot, was driving him away. She wasn’t successful, but her encouragement may have given him something to think about.

She expressed her feelings about female constancy to Captain Wentworth’s dear friend Captain Harville. She did this not because she knew–which she did not–that Captain Wentworth could overhear her, nor did she do it because she imagined that Captain Harville might repeat her words to Captain Wentworth. No, she acted purely out of a wish to defend the integrity of women’s feelings that she so passionately believed in, and as a mark of her friendship with Captain Harville.



And that was enough to jolt Captain Wentworth out of his comfort zone and into declaring his own feelings. 

How can we cultivate our own inner Anne Elliot? 

When in doubt, read the book. And/or see the movie(s).

We can also contemplate the following passages to cultivate each of Anne Elliot’s Austen superpowers:

Grace under fire.

Check out Miss Anne in the aftermath of Louisa Musgrove’s fall from the Cobb. This is the girl you’d want by your side in any emergency. Here are some snippets of Anne taking charge while everyone around her falls apart, including Captain Wentworth, who holds the unconscious Louisa in his arms; Louisa’s sister Henrietta, who falls into a faint at the sight of her sister; and Louisa’s brother Charles Musgrove, whose wife Mary is in her usual hysterics. 

Anne not only suggests they fetch a surgeon, but makes sure that Captain Benwick, who knows the area, is the one to do it. As they wait for the surgeon: 

Anne, attending with all the strength and zeal, and thought, which instinct supplied, to Henrietta, still tried, at intervals, to suggest comfort to the others, tried to quiet Mary, to animate Charles, to assuage the feelings of Captain Wentworth. Both seemed to look to her for directions.

“Anne, Anne,” cried Charles, “What is to be done next? What, in heaven’s name, is to be done next?”

Captain Wentworth’s eyes were also turned towards her.

“Had not she better be carried to the inn? Yes, I am sure: carry her gently to the inn.”

“Yes, yes, to the inn,” repeated Captain Wentworth, comparatively collected, and eager to be doing something. “I will carry her myself. Musgrove, take care of the others.”

The courage to act.

When Captain Wentworth walked in alone to the concert in Bath, Anne had the courage to approach him and be friendly to him, despite the presence of her formidable father and sister, who had snubbed him previously. It doesn’t sound like much, but for a young single woman whose family had absolutely rejected him as a suitor eight years before and who  herself had been rejected in turn by that man when he returned from the war, Anne’s actions show tremendous courage and integrity: 

Anne was the nearest to him, and making yet a little advance, she instantly spoke. He was preparing only to bow and pass on, but her gentle “How do you do?” brought him out of the straight line to stand near her, and make enquiries in return, in spite of the formidable father and sister in the back ground. Their being in the back ground was a support to Anne; she knew nothing of their looks, and felt equal to everything which she believed right to be done.

Trusting observation and instinct. 

After Anne has a world-changing conversation with Captain Wentworth before a concert in Bath, in which he talks to her, for the first time, about the engagement of his friend Captain Benwick to Louisa Musgrove, she reviews it all in her head, and she doesn’t second-guess her observations at all:

His choice of subjects, his expressions, and still more his manner and look, had been such as she could see in only one light. His opinion of Louisa Musgrove’s inferiority, an opinion which he had seemed solicitous to give, his wonder at Captain Benwick, his feelings as to a first, strong attachment; sentences begun which he could not finish, his half averted eyes and more than half expressive glance, all, all declared that he had a heart returning to her at least; that anger, resentment, avoidance, were no more; and that they were succeeded, not merely by friendship and regard, but by the tenderness of the past. Yes, some share of the tenderness of the past. She could not contemplate the change as implying less. He must love her.

The same keenness of observation serves Anne well with respect to Captain Wentworth’s rival, Mr. Elliot:

Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished, but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurable. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.

Doesn’t it make you want to read Persuasion again? Or for the first time? Oh yes, you are in for a treat!

Read on, my dears, and may you be blessed with Austen superpowers! 

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Essential Oils for Writing and Living: “expression” by dharmaceuticals http://janeaustenaddict.com/essential-oils-for-writing-and-living-expression-by-dharmaceuticals/ Sat, 17 Mar 2018 21:23:59 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=5016 The magic of it is about freeing the voice to find the perfect mode of expression and fortifying the confidence to say what needs to be said—nothing more, and nothing less. It’s liberating and deeply satisfying.

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I could write a book on all the uses I have for essential oils, and writing is a big one. Productivity, creativity, flow, and focus are just a few of the things I need in my writing life, and I have essential oil blends to help me with all of them. 

by Startup Stock Photos

Have you ever tried to write a scene or a post or a proposal and can’t figure which angle to approach it from, or you can’t find the right words or the right tone?

Have you ever wanted to email or text or talk about something—especially if it’s a difficult subject—and you can’t seem to get it out? Or you’re afraid you’ve said too much?

Have you ever felt that way in a social situation—worried that you don’t know how to make small talk or you’re coming off too reserved or you’ve revealed more to a total stranger than you should have done?

My answer would be yes, yes, and yes.

Here’s expression diffusing with my Muji diffuser on the file cabinet right next to my desk.

And then I met expression. Love at first scent. This blend of essential oils is always in my writer’s toolbox. It’s made a huge difference in my writing life, and in my life, period. In fact, it’s diffusing next to my desk as I write this.

The magic of it is in freeing the voice to find the perfect mode of expression and fortifying the confidence to say what needs to be said—nothing more, and nothing less. It’s liberating and deeply satisfying.

I diffuse expression so that it’s always enveloping my workspace in its beautiful scent. And when I need an extra boost, I put a drop or two at the base of my throat. Which also turns it into the most amazing perfume. I breathe it in. And let expression flow.

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For Writers http://janeaustenaddict.com/for-writers/ Sat, 10 Feb 2018 02:42:32 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=4751 Are you a writer, too? [...]

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Are you a writer, too? If so, you may find my posts on the writing life helpful.

Have you ever thought about finding an editor to help you through the process? I can relate. I wouldn’t be where I am without the guidance and encouragement of my own editor/writing coach.
Which is why I am passionate about the other thing I do besides writing novels, which is independent editing for authors.  Here’s some of the stuff I do: 

    • manuscript critiques
    • manuscript editing
    • assessing, editing, and/or writing book proposals
    • assessing, editing, and/or writing queries
    • assessing, editing, and/or writing synopses
    • teaching technique and offering tips for unblocking
    • supporting you every step of the way
    • and much more.

Visit my other site for more details, tips, and inspiration, and and feel free to get in touch and talk to me about your project.
Looking forward to it!

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Hannah Snell: The Famous “Woman In Men’s Cloaths” http://janeaustenaddict.com/hannah-snell-the-famous-woman-in-mens-cloaths/ Fri, 02 Feb 2018 19:28:35 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=4720 The amazing true story of an eighteenth-century woman who lived as a male British soldier.

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[by Laura Boyle and reprinted here with the kind permission of The Jane Austen Centre, celebrating Bath’s most famous resident and reporting the latest Austen-related news. ]

In his diary entry of May 21, 1778, Parson Woodforde (Diary of a Country Parson) notes a trip that he took to Weston in order to see a “Famous Woman in Men’s Cloaths”:


This curiousity was none other than Hannah Snell, subject of The Female Soldier; or The Surprising Life and Adventures of Hannah Snell, 1750. 

Born in Worcester, England on 23 April 1723, locals claim that she played a soldier even as a child. In 1740, Hannah moved to London and married James Summs on 6 January 1744.

In 1746, she gave birth to a daughter, Susannah, who died a year later. When her husband deserted her, she borrowed a male suit from her brother-in-law James Gray, assumed his name, and began to search for Summs. She later learned that her husband had been executed for murder. According to her account, she joined John Guise’s regiment, the 6th Regiment of Foot, in the army of the Duke of Cumberland against Bonnie Prince Charlie, and deserted when her sergeant gave her 500 lashes. However, the chronology of her life makes it very unlikely that she ever served in Guise’s regiment and this part of the story is likely to have been a fabrication. 

Hannah Snell, in the frontispiece to her life story, The Female Soldier; or The Surprising Life and Adventures of Hannah Snell.

Following the death of her daughter, she moved to Portsmouth and joined the Marines. She boarded the ship Swallow at Portsmouth on 23 October 1747. The ship sailed to Lisbon on 1 November. Her unit was about to invade Mauritius, but the attack was called off. Her unit then sailed to India.

In August 1748, her unit was sent to an expedition to capture the French colony of Pondicherry in India. Later, she also fought in the battle in Devicotta in June 1749. She was wounded eleven times to the legs and once to the groin. She either managed to treat her groin wound without revealing her sex or she may have used the services of a sympathetic Indian nurse.

In 1750, her unit returned to Britain and traveled from Portsmouth to London, where she revealed her sex to her shipmates on 2 June. She petitioned the Duke of Cumberland, the head of the army, for her pension. She also sold her story to London publisher Robert Walker who published her account, The Female Soldier, in two different editions. She also began to appear on stage in her uniform presenting military drills and singing songs. Three painters painted her portrait in her uniform and The Gentleman’s Magazine reported her claims. She was honorably discharged and the Royal Hospital, Chelsea officially recognized Snell’s military service in the November and granted her a pension in 1750 (increased in 1785), a rare thing in those days.

Hannah retired to Wapping and began to keep a pub named The Female Warrior (or The Widow in Masquerade, accounts disagree) but it did not last long. By the mid-1750s, she was living in Newbury in Berkshire. In 1759, she married Richard Eyles there, with whom she had two children. In 1772, she married Richard Habgood of Welford, also in Berkshire, and the two moved to the Midlands. In 1785, she was living with her son George Spence Eyles, a clerk, on Church Street, Stoke Newington.

In 1791 her mental condition suddenly worsened. She was admitted to Bethlem (Bedlam) Hospital on 20 August. She died on 8 February 1792.


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Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours with Lizzy Bennet http://janeaustenaddict.com/be-an-austen-superhero-elizabeth-bennet/ Tue, 30 Jan 2018 03:12:21 +0000 http://janeaustenaddict.com/?p=4565 We dream of them. We [...]

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We dream of them. We want to be them. We wish they were our best friend. Or our partner. And sometimes, we wish we could shake some sense into them.

They are Jane Austen’s heroines and heroes. Each of them has a flawed humanity, but each also has a unique and special quality—an Austen superpower, if you will.

Which is why they are so eminently relatable. Like them, we too are flawed. And like them, we have those same superpowers. They may be hidden away where we cannot see them, but they are there neverthless. All we have to do is believe.

How do we do that? By following the lead of Austen’s leading ladies and men, who dig down deep within themselves to access their own superpowers.

In this first of a series of posts, we turn to the heroine who is perhaps the most beloved of all: Elizabeth aka Lizzy Bennet of Pride and Prejudice.

via GIPHY 
What are Lizzy Bennet’s superpowers?

1. the ability to have a cheerful attitude and sometimes even laugh in the face of humiliation and disappointment.


2. the ability to recognize and admit that she has been as proud and judgmental as the person she condemned for those same qualities. 

Let’s discuss Superpower 1 first. This is a tricky one, because at first, Lizzie only actually affects cheer on the surface. We first see her trying it out at that assembly ball where she overhears Darcy saying she isn’t pretty enough to dance with.

Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she tells her friends about it as if it’s the most amusing bit of absurdity in the world. Which would be fabulous, if she were truly unruffled. But the fact is, Darcy’s rejection forms the basis of Lizzie’s longstanding dislike of him. And her longstanding prejudice against him.

She is a little more sincere in her cheerfulness after Wickham dumps her for the newly rich Miss King, approaching the situation with a philosophical attitude that “handsome young men must have something to live on, as well as the plain.”

Superpower 2, however, is straight-up legit. After hating Darcy for his prideful attitude and his ruining her beloved sister’s romantic prospects, Lizzie comes to realize that she had pretty much misjudged Darcy the whole time. And that she, in fact, was as proud as she had judged Darcy to be.


She was blind to Wickham’s true character because he flattered her vanity, while hating Darcy because he didn’t want to dance with her. Thus she had failed to see that Wickham was the true villain while Darcy was a good-hearted man of high moral principles. Who also happened to be a snob with less than stellar social skills.

Once she realized this, admitted it, and was humbled by it, she found the biggest superpower of all: true love. Because in Austen, super-honest self-examination always leads to lasting happiness. 

So how can we cultivate Lizzie’s superpowers? For starters, we can contemplate a a few pithy quotes from Pride and Prejudice and see what we can relate to:

Volume 1, Chapter 11, in which Lizzy’s talking to Mr Darcy about the possibility of her finding something in him to laugh at (saucy wench that she is):

“I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.”

Volume II, Chapter 25, in which Lizzy’s Aunt Gardiner is talking to Lizzy about Jane’s romantic disappointment:

“Poor Jane! I am sorry for her, because, with her disposition, she may not get over it immediately. It had better have happened to you, Lizzy; you would have laughed yourself out of it sooner.” 

Volume II, Chapter 36, after Lizzie reads Darcy’s letter and has a very rude awakening:

“How despicably have I acted!” she cried. — “I, who have prided myself on my discernment! — I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity, in useless or blameable distrust. — How humiliating is this discovery! — Yet, how just a humiliation! — Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. — Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.”


Volume III, Chapter 57, in which the whole laughing at people thing comes back to haunt Lizzy. Here’s Lizzy’s dad telling her of a rumor that she and Mr. Darcy are engaged, and how absurd he thinks that rumor is. Which Lizzy definitely does not find amusing:

“Mr. Darcy, who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish, and who probably never looked at you in his life!”

There’s a ton of Austen wisdom embedded in Lizzie’s metamorphosis. And with all that contemplation and self-examination we’re doing just by contemplating those quotes, we deserve a reward, don’t you think? Because we don’t need to settle for quotes alone. Why not treat ourselves right and read the whole book?

Oh, you haven’t read it yet? My goodness, are you in for a treat.

Ah, you’ve read it before? Well why not read it again? Come on, you know you want to as much as I do. No matter how many times I’ve read it.

Because in Jane Austen, there’s always something new to be revealed. Which is her superpower.


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