The quote of Jane Austen’s that I have on my mind these days is one from Emma: “Every body was either surprized or not suprized.” I feel like that about covers it for the first months of 2022, don’t you?
Are you enjoying Sanditon, Bridgerton, and The Courtship (formerly Pride and Prejudice: An Experience in Romance)? No plot spoilers here, because I am very, very behind in my television watching. Fortunately, it’s because I’ve had the pleasure of doing other Jane-fun-things. (One of those was talking to Netflix’s Tudum about the connections between Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown and Jane Austen.)
The month of March for me was about teaching, writing, and speaking, including one restorative in-person event (shout-out to new Jane-friends from the Tempe Stake Women of God Conference!), along with three lovely podcast guest-visits. First, I talked with Jane & Jesus, with Karen Swallow-Prior, about forgiveness and Lydia Bennet, and then to Tablet magazine’s Unorthodox podcast, where I not only got to talk Jane Austen and roller derby but serve as the show’s “Gentile of the Week.” Then, winding down Women’s History Month, I had a chance to talk about the other Jane—Jane Porter—with the Orlando Podcast.
Many of you already know I’m excitedly gearing up for the release of my new biography on Jane and Anna Maria Porter on September 6, 2022. If you’re willing to pre-order, I’d be so grateful! Or might you consider adding it to your want-to-read, if you’re on Goodreads? I can’t wait to tell you these sisters’ stunning stories.
The book just had a slight title change. It’s now Sister Novelists: The Trailblazing Porter Sisters, Who Paved the Way for Austen and the Brontës. I hope you like it? I also hope it’s going to get the book into the hands of readers who’ll care about these long-overlooked and once-celebrated sisters, whose lives, loves, and contributions to literature are absolutely moving and stunning. Here’s the revised cover!
And hey, do you like looking at and learning about Austen-era unpublished manuscripts? Because if you do, then I have an upcoming event for you. I’ll be talking about the Porter manuscripts at the New York Public Library’s Pforzheimer Collection, which I used to write Sister Novelists. That half-hour event—part of the “Doc Chat” series—is on Zoom this coming Thursday, 4/21, 3:30 p.m. EST. It’s free but does require registration. (It will also be available afterward on the NYPL’s video channel.)
What are you reading these days? I’m mostly reading student papers, and my undergraduate and master’s students are working on terrific Austen-y things. After that pleasure is behind me for the semester, I’m planning to read a new book by a former student. I served as an outside examiner for Dr. Ruth Wilson’s University of Sydney dissertation, completed at age 88. Her book, The Jane Austen Remedy. is just out. She wrote about it in the Guardian, in “Rereading Jane Austen has transformed my life, and at almost 90, I’ve never been happier.” I find Ruth’s story so inspiring and beautiful. I can’t wait to read the extended version. Let me know what you think, if you do, too?
Before I go back to grading papers (and prepping for that “Doc Chat” event), I want to show you a surprise gift I got this week—a bookmark from one of my impressive ASU undergraduate students, a jewelry designer. As she told me when she handed it to me, “I put the charms in the order the books were published.” Yes, she did! Perfect. She’s got an online shop through Instagram, is super talented, and one to watch . . .If you’re on Insta, do follow her.
And on that high note, I’ll sign off. I hope there are more high notes awaiting us all in the coming weeks and months. I’ll write again soon. In the meantime, if there’s something you want to see here, please let me know? And if there is someone who ought to be a part of our exchanges, ask them to join us. There will be either surprises or no surprises!
Your humble and obedient servant,
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