Dear Jane-friends, derby-friends, book-friends, and (I hope) *healthy* friends,
Has it been a few months or what? I'd be lying if I told you I felt like myself or even looked like myself most days. If you have how-to-get-through-this all figured out, then you are way ahead of me. I'm trying to go easier on myself and others, to be an engaged citizen, and to actively support those struggling. Meanwhile, my hair has gone 100 percent crone-tastic, and it's currently 110F (43C) degrees of hellfire around here. How are you? I'm writing with a few quick updates that might be of interest.
A CELEBRATION OF JANE AUSTEN WEBINAR 8/15
This Saturday, I'll be moderating a Zoom discussion with authors Natalie Jenner, Janice Hadlow, Rachel Cohen, and Lucy Worsley, a free virtual event presented by St. Martin's Press, Henry Holt & Co, and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. I know, right? Run mad but do not faint! There will be laughs. Register here. (If you can't make it live, I'm told there will be a video released afterward. Watch my social media or website, devoney.com, for updates.)
ROLLER DERBY IN A PANDEMIC
I've got a few roller derby media things coming up in the next few weeks, and I'll be sure to share those in all the places, if you might be nudged toward some derbyverse fun. I also had the chance to write a short essay about roller derby in a pandemic for Arizona State University's Global Sport Institute, in its online magazine, Global Sport Matters. Anytime I get to use the word "globule" in a sentence, I know I must be on fire! Or maybe it's just the heat?
SISTER NOVELISTS AND DEBTORS' PRISON
I'm still plugging away on Sister Novelists, the biography of Jane and Anna Maria Porter I'm completing for Bloomsbury for a fall 2021 release. I'm writing this week about early nineteenth-century debtors' prison. Here's an 1809 image of King's Bench Prison in London, which held 500-100 incarcerated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Its inhabitants could walk around within its walls and were given keys to their own rooms, but they were also charged rent. So some who were in prison for debt went into further debt in the prison. How does that make sense? It's really moving to research this now, at a time when so many in the U.S. are facing illness behind bars, or mounting debts, or eviction notices. This is a structural problem, not an individual failing. I'd like to think that we can do far better in 2020 than they did in 1809. Can't we?
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING FUN TO READ?
Here are a few fun things I've read, or reread, recently, new and old, to leave you with.
Patricia Matthew's "Look Before You Leap," a beautiful essay on race and portraiture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, from Lapham's Quarterly (November 2019). (Then follow Tricia on Twitter.)
Frances Dickey's ongoing "Reports from the Emily Hale Archive" at Princeton Library, which released the poet T. S. Eliot's loving letters to Hale, after they'd been under seal for 50 years. There are amazing things in them, as Frances is documenting. And then if you want to get really mad, read Eliot's letter, also released in 2020, with his beyond-the-grave, gaslighting PR move (January 2020).
And if you're looking for something really silly, here's a story on a German nudist chasing his laptop, as it was stolen by a wild boar last week in Berlin (8/7/20). This seems tailor-made for the Elizabeth-Bennet-esque lively, playful disposition that delights in anything ridiculous.
Your humble, obedient, and so-far-still-healthy servant,
P. S. And, as ever, the usual stuff, if you have a moment to lend a few keystrokes to get more Jane-inspired research and words out into the world.
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EVENTS PLANNED FOR THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE
15-17 October 2021: Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting, Chicago