The Beefsteak Club: male dining clubs in the 18th & 19th centuries

[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.

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Finding Happiness, Austen Style, with Emma, our favorite matchmaker

Does the following sound familiar to you?

You’ve found the perfect certain someone for your friend, neighbor, colleague, or other unsuspecting acquaintance. There’s just one small problem: Said friend has told you that no way, no how is he/she interested in that perfect certain someone. And yet, you know better–just as you always do. Just as Emma, the eponymous heroine of Austen’s novel, always did.


Hold on a minute. Did Jane Austen write two versions of Emma? Or could it be that you, like Emma, are turning into the queen of know-it-all? Heaven forbid. After all, look what happened to Emma. She very nearly totally screwed up her life. But never fear. We’ve got a little game for you to play. It’s called “Emma, Reformed Matchmaker.” All you need to do is follow the rules:
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Finding Happiness, Austen Style: Party with Bride and Prejudice

The days are getting shorter. Winter is coming. A dragon has been turned. But are we sad? No. Because we have the cure, and now so do you.

It’s called Bride and Prejudice, the life-affirming, Bollywood-meets-Hollywood tribute to Pride and Prejudice. 

Not only is it a clever, spirited, heart-opening adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but there are also two other very important reasons for you to watch:

1. Nathan Riggs from Grey’s Anatomy. That’s right, Martin Henderson plays Darcy. 

2. Naveen Andrews from Lost. He plays the Bingley role. 

Need I say more? I needn’t but I will: There’s the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai in the Elizabeth role; Ellaria Sand, that is, Indira Varma, in the Caroline Bingley role; and the most hilarious portrayal of Mr. Collins (by Nitin Ganatra) since David Bamber’s brilliant work in the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle P&P.

Just watch the trailer and see if you can resist. Come on, grumpypants—I dare you.

Austen in August: Join the fun.

It’s not too late to join the party. The yearly Austen in August event, hosted by The Book Rat, is in full swing, and you are invited. If you’re a Janeite, this is the place to be. 

There are giveaways,read-alongs, Austenesque book discoveries, and more–including roundtable discussions on the best cringeworthy moments in Austen and imagining what the best Austen TV mashups might be.  In other words, it’s not only a chance to celebrate the works of the timeless author, it’s also a chance to fall over laughing. Which we take every opportunity to do.

So what are you waiting for? Here’s your dance card.

10 Years of Bringing Jane Austen’s World To You

Have you ever been to The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England? It is a must for the dedicated Austen fan. The following is a piece about the Centre’s gift shop by Matthew Coniam of The Jane Austen Centre. It is reprinted here with their kind permission.

As well as the bicentenary of Jane’s death, 2017 marks another anniversary on the Austen calendar, albeit of a more modest nature. Because it was ten years ago that the Jane Austen Gift Shop first began sending products to Jane’s fans the world over.

In those days it was a much more humble affair. (more…)

Austen: Keeping it real for 200 years

On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, what better way is there to honor this extraordinary author than to give thanks for what she has left us? For me, her work is a timeless guide to living life in the no-BS zone, wrapped in an infinitely re-readable set of six novels. 

If I could assign a motto, a credo to the the Austen canon, I would say it could be summed up in this one line from Pride and Prejudice: “Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence.” The fact that Mr. Darcy delivers this line while in the midst of a serious marriage-proposal fail makes it even more resonant: Darcy may be honest, but the brutality of his honesty indicates that he’s hiding behind his angry pride. He’s yet to unmask that part of his own disguise, but being an Austen hero, we know that he will.

That’s the genius of Austen, who calls out her characters on their disguises and their dishonesty. Which leads them to their moment of revelation, their grand character arc, and their ultimate reward–love and happiness.

via GIPHY

Along the way, Austen makes us laugh, which makes the hard truths easier to bear. And thus we can begin to see ourselves in it all. 

That’s Austen: keeping us real and calling us out. She’s been doing it for 200 years. And that’s no small feat for someone who lived in a society in which polite demurrals, refusals, and denials were a socially mandated matter of form. 

Here are 10 gems of Austen wisdom to help you reach your own character arc.

1. A real friend is the one with the guts to tell you the ugly truth. 

In Emma, Mr. Knightley was the only person with the courage to tell Emma that her treatment of Mrs. Bates was cruel. Emma was shocked and chastened. And set about making amends. Which also put her on the road to realizing that Knightley’s bossiness was maybe just a little bit attractive; no scratch that, super hot.
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The Mirror of Graces: the Final Blush of Accomplishment

“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word [accomplished]; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”
Pride and Prejudice

The following is an excerpt from  The Mirror of the Graces, by a Lady of Distinction, 1811, reprinted here with kind permission from The Jane Austen Centre.

Title page of The Mirror of the Graces; British Library

When so much has been said of the body and its accoutrements, I cannot but subjoin a few words on the intelligence which animates the frame, and of the organ which imparts its meaning. 

Connected speech is granted to mankind alone. Parrots may prate and monkeys chatter, but it is only to the reasonable being that power of combining ideas, expressing their import, and uttering, in audible sounds, all its various gradations, the language of sense and judgment, of love and resentment is awarded as a gift, that gives us a proud and undeniable superiority above all the rest of the creation.

To employ this faculty well and gracefully, is one grand object of education. The mere organ itself, as to sound, is like a musical instrument, to be modulated with elegance, or struck with the disorderly nerve of coarsene vulgarity.
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