Jane Austen The Secret Radical

Book review by Frances Duncan

I read several reviews of Jane Austen The Secret Radical before reading the book itself. Reviewers Abigail Bok and John Mullan agree that there isn’t much new. This is amusing as Mullan’s What Matters In Jane Austen* has even less original material. I agree with him that Edward Ferrars and Catherine Moreland’s behaviour is unlikely to have Freudian undertones. But those who view Austen’s novels as romances may be surprised (“Jane’s novels aren’t romantic. But it’s become increasingly difficult for readers to see this.” p. 31); readers who know about Austen herself won’t be.  Continue reading “Jane Austen The Secret Radical”

Symposium: Have you got your ticket yet?

We wanted to do something special to mark 200 years since Jane Austen’s death and to bring together members from across the country. As I mentioned previously the symposium is different to our normal meetings; there’s a lot more people, logistics and cost involved.

I’ve worked really hard to give you the symposium you wanted* and I do hope that it can go ahead. Please buy your ticket before Saturday (25 March) to make sure we have the numbers to hold the meeting.

There is always a rush to buy tickets a couple of days before the meeting but ticket sales for the symposium will close a week before on 1 April.

*based off your responses to our survey (cost, location, topics and speakers)

Regular posts
I will be posting each week leading up to the symposium.
Next post: meet our venue

Get your ticket now!

Symposium: What are we going to be doing?

Jane Austen Symposium: The Good, The Bad and The Undressed
Saturday, 8 April

9:30 Registration
10:00 First Impressions – Sarah Laing
11:00 Morning tea
11:15 ‘I am now going to murder my sister’: Villains and villainy in Austen – David Norton
12:30 Regency Lunch
13:30 Card games / National Library visit – Anthony Tedeschi
15:00 Afternoon tea
15:15 Apparatus of Happiness: Clothing & Jane Austen – Leimomi Oakes
16:15 Etiquette quiz*
(stay around for more cards and grab a drink)
Please note this is subject to change
*There’s a copy of Folly is Not Always Folly up for grabs and lots of Whittakers chocolate! 


Regular posts
I will be posting each week leading up to the symposium.
Next post: have you got your ticket yet?

Get your ticket now!

Symposium: Who’s going to be speaking?

Sarah Laing

Sarah is an author and Wellingtonian. While our other speakers are academics you confessed to wanting someone a little bit famous. Enter Sarah Laing an, award winning New Zealand author, who has recently been interviewed everywhere about her new book Mansfield and Me.


David Norton
David is a crowd favourite and regularly at our meetings contributing to discussions. His talk last year on hidden relationships in Emma had members begging to have him back. We’ve asked him to talk about the bad boys of Austen, during that discussion he also confessed to having once been a cowboy!

Read more about David

Leimomi Oakes
Historian, dressmaker, lecturer. Leimomi is also known as The Dreamsstress. Not only does she create historical clothing she uses methods and material as close to those available at the time as possible.
Read our interview with Leimomi
Anthony Tedeschi
Anthony’s last talk was such a hit we weren’t able to let everyone in! There were a lot of requests to see the Austen first editions again so Anthony is bringing them out especially for his talk at the symposium – he won’t necessarily be talking about them but you’ll be able to have a good look and ask any questions.
Read our interview with Anthony

Regular posts

I will be posting each week leading up to the symposium.
Next post: timetable of talks

Get your ticket now!

Symposium: Why are the tickets cheaper?

Reserve tickets – $50
We created the reserve ticket so you can secure your place at the conference but pay the full cost later.
Many people are waiting till closer to the time to buy tickets (for money reasons or social commitments). We don’t want you to miss out!. Our last meeting doubled capacity and still had to turn people away.
We can’t increase capacity for the symposium and because of logistics if you don’t buy your tickets before 25 March we will have to cancel.

Standard tickets – $195
They are a bit cheaper! We changed a setting on Eventbrite to absorb their fees. This brings the tickets back down to the advertised $195
The majority of you were happy to pay $199 for a full day conference (there were a few outliers who wanted to pay $500 for two days). Our costs are a little under this so we’re able to save you $4.

Regular posts
I will be posting each week leading up to the symposium.
Next post: Meet our speakers!

Get your ticket now!

Folly is Not Always Folly: Jane Austen & D’Arcy Wentworth

Jane Austen, a lively, headstrong and determined girl, lived a very full and exciting youth. In her thirties, she published four wonderful novels, but did not disclose her name. After she died, in 1817, her family destroyed most of her letters, and they steadfastly refused to discuss her life. One of her nieces wrote, a memoir of Miss Jane Austen has often been asked for, and strangers..have wondered that the family should have refused to supply the necessary materials.

Fifty-two years after her death, her nephew, Rev. James Edward Austen-Leigh, responded to growing public interest, with a Memoir of Jane Austen. He said very little about her youth, and he admitted the family had suppressed her early stories, describing them as, ridiculing the improbable events and exaggerated sentiments which she had met with in sundry silly romances. He stated that Jane’s life was, singularly barren: few changes and no great crisis ever broke the smooth current of its course; and declared he had no definite tale of love to relate.

Most, if not all of Jane Austen’s readers simply didn’t believe him.

Virginia Woolf wrote, I prefer to present her, not in the modest pose which her family determined for her, but rather, as she most frequently presented herself, as rebellious, satirical and wild.

After more than two hundred years, Jane & D’Arcy reveals the story of the enduring love of Jane Austen and D’Arcy Wentworth.

Over time, the Austen’s secrecy was reinforced by D’Arcy’s silence. A tall, handsome young Irish surgeon, after being tried, and found not guilty of highway robbery at the Old Bailey, he left England for New South Wales, on the other side of the world.

The day before he sailed, Jane’s brother, Henry, reflecting his family’s sentiments, applauded the world for getting rid of its superfluous inhabitants, all those who have too much cunning or too little money, shipped off with the very first cargo of Convicts to Botany Bay.

Despite time and distance, D’Arcy was to remain the fixed star in Jane’s firmament.

Folly is Not Always Folly is the first volume of Jane & D’Arcy, the second, Such Talent & Such Success, is to follow. They tell the long lost story of the romance and adventures of Jane Austen and D’Arcy Wentworth. You can purchase a copy here http://www.janeanddarcy.com

Book to be released 6 April


Anthony Tedeschi – Lover of books

We interview Anthony Tedeschi one of the speakers at the upcoming Symposium Jane Austen: The Good, The Bad and The Undressed.  Anthony previously hosted an over subscribed talk for us at the National Library. Those of you who missed out last time will get the see the first editions.

Do you have any Nicknames?
None, sorry!

Who is your favorite author and why?
Nearly impossible to pick just one as an outright favourite, but I’m currently rereading the works of Umberto Eco. ‘Impishly humorous and robustly intellectual’ to quote the Guardian. Who wouldn’t love that?

Are you a good boy or a bad boy?
Have to meet me to find out.

What makes you good or bad?
See above. I’m not giving the game away!

What are your Credentials?
I am presently employed as Curator Rare Books and Fine Printing at the Alexander Turnbull Library, part of the National Library of New Zealand. Prior to this appointment, I worked for the University of Melbourne, first as Deputy Curator of Special Collections and then Curator of Rare Books. Previous to that I spent six years as Rare Books Librarian in the Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library. I hold an MA in English Literature with Distinction from the University of Otago and an MLS degree from Indiana University with a specialisation in rare books and manuscripts librarianship. My research interests cover various aspects of book history, focusing primarily on pre-1801 British and Continental books, and I have published on such topics as provenance evidence, book collecting, late medieval manuscripts and early-printed books.

Anthony will be showing us some of the relevant books from the Alexander Turnbull Collection20160217_ATL_ICL_ATedeschi_009.jpg