The latest on history's strong women, from Jane Austen to roller derby.

Dear Jane-friends:

Hope April has been good to you. Today’s quote in The Daily Jane Austen is one of my favorites—when Caroline Bingley declares there is no enjoyment like reading, in between her ridiculous yawns. I’m feeling energized today. No yawning!

I’ve decided to migrate my old author newsletter from TinyLetter to Substack, which is why you’re hearing from me this way. I hope you’ll be willing to make this shift with me and stay along for the ride. There’s so much to read, write, and anticipate in 2021.

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. I do groan every time I see someone declare we’re in another “Roaring ‘20s.” Let’s hope not. (Look up 1929, people!) Let’s make this go differently. I’d love to hear what you’re reading, writing, thinking—and looking forward to—in the coming months and year.


Why call this newsletter “Counterpoise”? On Substack, writers seem to name their newsletters something other than “Devoney’s Author Newsletter,” so I guess I’m just trying to fit in? Hahaha. But more seriously, it’s a word that just works in communities that I love, from Austenland, to the (roller) derbyverse, to the places where histories of strong women are told.

Austen uses the word in Northanger Abbey (1818), after heroine Catherine Morland, who’s reeling from a social slight, is feeling unsettled. When Catherine gets an invitation, her spirits pick up, with “such a counterpoise of good as might console her for almost anything.” I’m all for that sort of consolation, even if that doesn’t go as she’d hoped either.

One consolation over here is a new book that’s just arrived: Why She Wrote, graphic, dramatized non-fiction, by the fab co-hosts of the Bonnets at Dawn podcast, Lauren Burke and Hannah Chapman.


Counterpoise is a word that speaks to me now, at such an unsettling time. I’m also thinking about balance and force because I’ve recently returned, after a year’s hiatus, to banked-track roller derby practices—masked, yes, but actually skating with other people. It’s a counterpoise of good that’s consoling me, even if my coach recently shouted at me, all through practice, “Really commit, Devoney!” I guess she could tell I was tentative? Hey, I’m 54, and I’m trying.


A lot of incredible digital events are coming up in the world of Jane Austen and Janeites. I’m grateful to be a part of them, and I hope I’ll see you at some of them. There’s a full list (with links) below, but I most hope that I’ll see you at Virtual JaneCon, May 1-2, 2021, on YouTube and at the remaining events in the Race and the Regency lecture series at Jane Austen & Co on Zoom. (I’m speaking on May 18th, with a talk on “Slavery, Anti-Slavery, and the Austen Family.”)


Have you been following the Jane in the news this week, about the Jane Austen Museum’s (absolutely not-shocking-but-somehow-shocking?) statement that it’s going to, as Jezebel put it, try to tell accurate history in its displays about Austen, colonialism, and slavery? If you want to see the tabloids freaking out (and misunderstanding a lot—UGH), that’s here and here. There’s so much more research needed on these subjects. I appreciate Fanny-Price-like truth-tellers over the sweep-it-under-the-carpet emulators of Mrs. Elton.


If I haven’t delighted you long enough with this installment, then allow me to say that I’m still eager to get the new Great Courses on Jane Austen (24 30-minute lessons on all things Austen) in front of the eyes and ears of anyone who might welcome them? The lessons are available on DVD, streaming, and Audible. (It’s also possible that you could get access to them through your local public library, via Hoopla, Kanopy, or RBDigital.) Let me know what you think, if you check them out?

Until next time, your humble and obedient servant,


Tuesday, April 27th, at 6 p.m. MT: The Making of Jane Austen Book Discussion at Mining Books (University of Texas-El Paso). (Free on Zoom.)

Saturday, May 1st, at noon PT: “Women Novelists Who Hustle” at Devoney Looser’s channel, part of Virtual Jane Con on YouTube (Free. Full program here.)

Tuesday, May 18th at 5 p.m. ET: “Slavery, Anti-Slavery, & The Austen Family” part of Race and the Regency, from Jane Austen & Co. (Free, registration required.)

15-17 October 2021: Plenary speaker at "Jane Austen and the Arts," Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting, Chicago, IL. (Registration required.)

P.S. If you like to follow and review things, the links below include places where you could offer up an atta-girl or a shout-out. It would be much appreciated, and I do like to return favors where I can. Let me know how I might help you get the word out on something you’re passionate about?


Rate/review The Great Courses: Jane Austen on Amazon/Audible or at the GC. Rate/review The Daily Jane Austen on Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub.
Rate/review The Making of Jane Austen on Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub.


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