Category Archives: Jane Austen

March Madness, Jane Austen Style… Finis

Much like MARCH (the month) our little experiment in the madness of brackets has come to an end. The reader’s have voted and we have the winners!

Austen March Madness both sides6As  you can see the Colonel and Lizzie came in first in their respective categories.  Hat’s off to Miss Elizabeth, who garnered all the votes from the ladies final bracket. Brandon had some competition from Knightley, but he was the winner by a large, manly margin.

Brandon and LizzieThis March Madness, Jane Austen Style Bracket has always been a purely academic exercise. Austen never intended for characters from different books to get together.  But I couldn’t sleep last night, and as the hours began to trickle away and dawn refused to come I started to think about this impossible (dark) mash-up.

What if…

Marianne never recovers from her fever? Despite Elinor and Col. Brandon’s best attentions she dies at Cleveland?

David Morrisey played Brandon in 2008.

David Morrisey played Brandon in 2008.

  • Edward still becomes Rector at Delaford .
  • Lucy still marries his brother, leaving him to…
  • finally proclaim his love for Elinor.
Robert Swann played Brandon in 1981

Robert Swann played Brandon in 1981

They marry and the Colonel generously sets up Mrs. Dashwood and Margaret in a house closer to town and the newlyweds so the remaining family members can live in closer proximity. This leaves Barton cottage empty.

Richard Owens played Brandon in 1971

Richard Owens played Brandon in 1971

Which is good… because what if…

Kiera Knightly played Lizzie in 2005.

Kiera Knightly played Lizzie in 2005.

Lydia runs off with Wickham a week earlier than she did in the novel. Jane’s panicked letter to Elizabeth arrives at the Inn at Lampton BEFORE Lizzie and the Gardiners  have a chance to tour Pemberly.

Elizabeth Garvey played Lizzie in 1980.

Elizabeth Garvey played Lizzie in 1980.

She doesn’t see Darcy’s beautiful house, or, more importantly his altered behavior (or — as in the BBC version — his wet shirt.)  Darcy and Elizabeth’s friendship and romance doesn’t have a chance to kindle. And she and the Gardiners leave immediately for Longbourn. (Darcy doesn’t learn of the ‘elopement’ for weeks when the details have become grist for the rumor mill. By then it is too late for him to find the lovers.)

Greer Garson played Elizabeth in 1940.

Greer Garson played Elizabeth in 1940.

Mr. Bennet goes looking for Lydia and Wickham, which results in one of these possibilities…

  1.  He finds them, and as Mrs. Bennet sagely predicted, he duels with the rascal and dies.
  2.  He can’t find them and his frequent trips away from his man cave to London, Gretna Green and points north prove too strenuous for him. He dies of a heart attack.

This leaves Mrs. Bennet and the remaining girls in a very undesirable position.

  • Their reputation is ruined. (THANKS LYDIA!)
  • They must leave the Longbourn.
  • And they have very little money to live on.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 2005's Bride and Prejudice.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 2005’s Bride and Prejudice.

Of course the Gardiners take them in, but that proves a VERY temporary fix. (Can you imagine putting up with Mrs. Bennet’s flutterings?)   Mr. Gardiner uses his business connections to put out feelers for a reasonably priced home in the county, far enough away from town that their reputation might be over looked.

He finds a 3 bedroom cottage near Barton Village. It is a little less roomy than Longbourn, but the cottage would have much comfort and much elegance about it. The Bennets move in in the Spring.

Lizzie, who is fond of long walks, finds herself trespassing on the grounds of Delaford…




This blog post has been interrupted by the hostile take over by Pemberly Digital.

Because, really… everybody KNOWS Mr. Darcy should have won.

Daniel Vincent Gordh  and Ashley Clements  played Darcy and Lizzie in the Emmy Award Winning Lizzie Bennet Diaries  in 2013/14.

Daniel Vincent Gordh and Ashley Clements played Darcy and Lizzie in the Emmy Award Winning Lizzie Bennet Diaries in 2013/14.





March Madness: Jane Austen Style– round seven, THE FINALS

Jane ball

So here we are… at the incredibly exciting March Madness, Jane Austen style FINALS! Thanks to some heavy voting last round league favorites Lizzie, Emma and Anne pulled through to advance to the next game. Congratulations, ladies.


This round will be different from the previous rounds in that you must pick your favorite character from three very qualified candidates for both sides!

Once those votes are tabulated (at around 6:00 on Wednesday night EST) we’ll know who our dream team is, and the bracket will be complete. (And you will no longer have to put up with my amazing photoshopping skills.)

Austen March Madness both sides6


Who will win among the ladies? Will it be…

How about the men? Are you going to vote for…

  • Brandon from Sense and Sensibility
  • Knightly from Emma
  • Benwick from Persuasion
Men's Finals

I’m really NOT trying to load the odds in favor of the good Col. I tried to pay homage to alternate casts here. (Although there is only ONE Brandon.)   YOU are invited to try and  find a good pic of Benwick!

Will we have an Emma sweep? Stay tuned… and don’t forget to vote!


March Madness: Jane Austen Style– round six, Ladies Semi-Final

MAJOR, MAJOR UPSET on the last round of picks!!!! Brandon won the first bracket and that means… DARCY got benched! (He doesn’t look too happy about it either!)

Darcy Duke bench

(My apologies to Marshall Plumlee of Duke who donated his body for this picture. It’s all in the name of Literature.)


However, it doesn’t do to dwell on unpleasantries, we all knew that would be a VERY tough head to head competition, did we not?

Now on to the LADIES Semi!


Austen March Madness both sides5


Who will win between:

  • Elinor and Lizzie (I know there are some very strong Elinor fans in this group, so… if you don’t want a total P&P diss… you better vote!)
  • Fanny and Emma (Double for Fanny)
  • Catherine and Anne (Triple for Anne)

Get your votes in by 6:00 on Sunday. These ladies are counting on you!


The BBC ladies request the pleasure of you to vote.


March Madness: Jane Austen Style, round four — Ladies Sweet Dozen

Jane Scoreboard

As suspected there was some serious court action over who would rank as top male player for each Austen book. There was much debating and deal making. But here, dear readers, is the tally for the last round…

Austen March Madness both sides


I know you are as surprised as I am that the last slot reads “Benwick” and not my beloved “Wentworth” but much lobbying was made for the fact that Benwick is persuasively kind and tragically romantic through out the book, while Fredrick only comes around at the final buzzer.   I can’t argue with Austen’s dramatic telling of the tale, and the payoff is always a delight, but I bow to Maggie on this one.

Jane ball

And now on to super exciting Ladies Sweet Dozen. (Maybe that should be Darling Dozen?) Anyway, same deal… choose your top female character for each book.  Deadline for picks for this round: Tuesday at 6pm EST.


Now, I suspect some of you:

  • are busy so maybe you haven’t had a chance to send in your picks.
  • might be confused about how to fill out a bracket. (HINT:  just send me a comment with your choices.)
  • are annoyed that I’m matching Austen with Basketball in such a jovial way.

But I’ve noticed a bit of lackluster participation on your part.  And I wanted to let you know that it isn’t too late to get in on the fun. Unlike other brackets that are set in stone  before the whistle is blown for the first game of March Madness, our bracket is evolving and you are welcome to join at any time. So if you don’t want something like the great Benwick/Wentworth fiasco of 2015 to happen again I strongly urge you send  me  your picks.

Cheers, Rita

Austen Jersey

I’m also running out of ideas for Basketball related images that I can make Austen-y. So let me know if you have any suggestions. [I picked 13 because Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813.]


Da Da Da Da Da I’m Lovin’ It — What makes a classic love story

[Image copyrighted: ]

[Image copyrighted: ]

Holy cow it’s Valentine’s Day! Put aside the snow shovel. Say no to the champagne and roses. X-nay on the chocolate-ay. Lets talk “Love”…STORIES.

Just in time for this years fondness feast Book has come up with its comprehensive list of  “The Best Love Stories of All Time (As Voted For By Our Customers)” [Book].  It is similar to one that Fly High by LearnOnLine put out in 2o12.

As I cradle my hot cup of tea on this cold and snow bound winter morning and contemplate this blog post, I realize that I could produce a score of comparable list, but I wont. I’ll just relish in the fact that my girl Jane  is so well represented here and make a note of the books I need to put on my Kindle. Here’s my combined chart of the Book  Depository and LearnOnLine lists — there was a lot of duplication. (you’re going to have to click on it to read it, sorry).

I guess a romantic lead doesn't have to actually be ALIVE at the end of a story, but for me its always a plus. I'm just happy no Vampires or Shades of Gray made the list.

I guess a romantic lead doesn’t have to actually be ALIVE at the end of a story, but for me its always a plus. I’m just happy no Vampires or Shades of Gray made the list.

It seems to me there are an awful lot of dysfunctional relationships and dead people are  on here. You can thank the Sisters Bronte for that, but they aren’t the only ones. Do we really need death or dysfunction for something to be romantic? I think not.

Do we need friction to make good fiction? Yes! And there’s plenty of that in P&P, North and South, The Princess Bride. But, does it have to tip the scale to melodrama and angst that Jane Eyre and Great Expectations does. Must it, further,  jump over the (heath)cliff into despair as  in Wuthering Heights?

Why does everyone assume that if I love Jane Austen that I'll love Charlotte Bronte too?

Why does everyone assume that if I love Jane Austen that I’ll love Charlotte Bronte too? Bronte didn’t like Austen. I think I can return the favor.

I try to like the Brontes, but whenever I read them (or watch a movie based on one of their works) I find myself wishing for Austen. I LOVE Austen. I never wish I was some where else when I’m with her. Strangely, I really like Elizabeth Gaskell, the author of North and South, Cranford, Ruth, and Wives and Daughters (and lots more). Gaskell was friends with Charlotte Bronte and her biggest advocate. [You can read her biography of Charlotte HERE.] But I find her (Gaskell’s) prose much easier to read.

And I’m not saying a romantic story can’t be sad or end in the death of 1/2 the couple. I think John Green did a lovely job with Hazel Grace and Gus’ love story. And I was glad to see The Fault in Our Stars made the reader’s list.  It just doesn’t have to be overwrought. Neither of those teens would put up with it.

Anyway I’m wondering what would make  YOUR top five romantic novels. (Feel free to cheat and lump all of an author’s love stories into one  pick — like ALL of Shakespeare’s love stories.)

In the mean time I’ll just leave you with this and hope that you’ll consider being my literary valentine…


Pop-Up Bookstores

The Bargain Book Warehouse in Harford Mall

The Bargain Book Warehouse in Harford Mall

Once upon a time there was a mall. It was a fine mall. Not too big. Not too small. The mall was just right. It had a place to buy food…and a place to buy Yankee Candles…and a place to buy clothing and fancy soap and shoes and cards for every holiday. But the mall didn’t have a book store. So the mall was sad.

Then one day some one put up portable shelving in an empty store. They opened long  sturdy tables. They hung vinyl banners announcing “Cookbooks” and “Children’s” and “Mystery.” Then they filled the shelves and the tables with discounted books and the Bargain Book Warehouse pop-up store was born.

There is no fancy neon sign above the entrance, just a simple fold up easel to tell folks that books reside inside. BARGAIN BOOKS.

As a writer I have a bit of a problem with the concept of Bargain Books. When the prices are slashed surely that means that the poor author is the one getting the shaft.

But as my mom (my companion, and my reason for being in the mall) eased into her second quarter-hour in the Hallmark Store I excused myself and slipped into the B.B.W. to “look.”

Frankly, I didn’t expect much. Usually these places are such a jumble of  cast-off you can’t find anything specific on your “to read” list. It’s best to approach with a “browse only” policy. Trying to find an individual author or title will only lead to tears.

So I headed over to the ART table. Low and behold they had some Graphic Design books. Some pretty decent Graphic Design books. I actually had my choice of books on Logo Design. Cool.

I brought my selection up the humble check out counter (another wooden table). The cash register shared space with more books and JOURNALS!

Jackpot! I picked up a  selection of lined and unlined journals. Things were looking up.

Then I went just a little too far. Thinking I might be able to pick up a few books for the upcoming JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) meeting I asked the guy behind the cash register this question: “Could you point me towards your Jane Austen, please?”

He looked back at me, thinking hard. “Um?”  Thinking harder. “Do you know what kind of books she wrote?”

“Yes I do.” I answered, closing my mouth with a tight smile before he rest of my sentence — “and, as you work in a BOOKSTORE, you should know what kinds of books she wrote too” — came spilling out. I smiled. “She wrote novels in the Regency Period.”  Nothing. “About 200 years ago.”

“She wrote History?” He nodded to a vinyl banner with the letters HISTORY on it.


“No she didn’t write History, she wrote romantic fiction.”

“Oh, Romances.” He looked the other way at a banner emblazoned with a loopy typeface.


“No. She wrote Pride and Prejudice.” I tried again.

His face shifted with slow recognition. “Oh, yeah. I saw that movie.” GAR!  “Yeah all that old stuff is over there.”

I handed him my Journals and Graphic Design books. “That’s OK. If you don’t recognize her name you probably don’t carry her books.”

I smiled and handed over my money.

He smiled and handed me my receipt.

So, Pop-Up Bookstore guy I apologize for going all Jane-Austen-snobby on you.

My bad, I shouldn’t have broken the  golden rule about asking for a specific author.

I wont make the same mistake again.

English: "Protested that he never read no...

English: “Protested that he never read novels” – Mr. Collins claims that he never reads novels. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. London: George Allen, 1894, page 87. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the Ball is Over…

Just a few pics from the Regency Harvest Ball benefit at Hopkins Homewood House Museum last night.

The Museum , which is open for tours from 11-3:30 Tuesday through Fridays, and from Noon to 3:30 on Weekends, is located on the Hopkins campus at 3400 N Charles Street in Baltimore.  It was built in 1801 by Charles Carroll, Jr. (largely with funds from his father) and cost roughly 4 times the original estimate. But it was worth every penny. This is a gem of a Federal building and it is beautifully kept.

The ball took place at the beautiful Homewood . [Image couratesy:]

The ball took place in and behind the beautiful Homewood . [Image courtesy:]

I spent most of the evening in the master bedroom  — a lovely room with a four-poster bed and 19″ ceiling — in my role of the girl’s “governess” I took on the added duties of “helping” the guest primp for the festivities. I offered the gentlemen gloves. If they happened not to have come in proper neck attire — shocking! — I offered them a cravat and helped them tie it in period fashion. For the ladies I had fans. [Click here to read my blog on fans] I gave them a quick tutorial on how to open the fan and how to attract a gentleman (or repel a cad).

Besides meeting the guests I very much enjoyed interacting with the “family” as portrayed by members of the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.  Like a good “governess” I helped out where necessary and started my evening by fixing hair and altering costumes at the Factory’s home at St. Mary’s Community Center in Hampden.

Lorraine Imwold  and Shaina Higgins look  out over grounds of Homewood House.

Lorraine Imwold and Shaina Higgins look out over grounds of Homewood House.

Tegan Williams, Brendan Kennedy and Shaina Higgins get into character.

Tegan Williams, Brendan Kennedy and Shaina Higgins get into character.

Ian Blackwell Rogers  and Katharine Vary

Ian Blackwell Rogers and Katharine Vary prepare to go up to the entrance and greet guest.

Chris Ryder portrayed the Butler.

Chris Ryder portrayed the Butler.


As the guest finished up their $250 a plate dinner (proceeds benefited the Museum) The Chorégraphie Antique ensemble performed period dances.


Dancers from Chorégraphie Antique which meets at Goucher performed for the guests. (As a humble governess I kept to my place — well in the back of the assembly. But I still enjoyed the festivities.)

It was quite fun to step back into the Regency / Federal period for the evening. The only question in my mind is… now that we know how wonderful everyone looks in their Regency finery… when will the Factory tackle a Jane Austen drama/comedy? (PLEASE!!!)

Yours, most humbly,

The governess…


Please note, I was going to authenticity, not glamor.

OHG (Obstinate Headstrong Girl)

I know this will be kind of a shocker for some of you… but I’m a big Jane Austen fan. And one of my favorite moments from her most popular book, Pride and Prejudice, is when Lady Catherine calls Elizabeth an “Obstinate headstrong girl.”

I suspect Jane was bit on the OHG side herself. (She’d have to be to remain single for her art until she well past her prime. Oh, she had offers, thank you very much. But in the end it was the romance of word on paper that won her heart.)

So today I’m dedicating ritaLOVEStoWRITE to the phrase and to the women, like Jane, who live(d) by it.


[Image courtesy:]

Art work by Yardia [available on]

Art work by Yardia [available on]

Handmade note cards from Turtle Dove [available on]

Handmade note cards from Turtle Dove [available on]

Travel mug available on Cafe Press.

Travel mug available on Cafe Press.

Another sketch for sale by Yardia on

Another sketch for sale by Yardia on

Cover of "Pride and Prejudice (Graphic No...

Cover of Pride and Prejudice (Graphic Novel)

Lady Catherine confronts Elizabeth about Darcy...

Lady Catherine confronts Elizabeth about Darcy, on the title page of the first illustrated edition. This is the other of the first two illustrations of the novel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Knitting with Jane Austen

Making Stockings

I love when  two  worlds collide.

So when I had the chance to organize a Jane Austen Knit Day with the good folks at Black Sheep Yarn Shop I jumped at  it.




What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday Afternoon!

In preparation for the day I did a little research into who would be knitting during the regency period. Which of Austen’s heroine’s would pick up a set of needles I wondered.

Lizzie, we know, picked up a little needle work  while stuck in the drawing-room at Neitherfield Park. Could she have been knitting? I can see her whipping up a scarf or stockings much more readily than I can see Caroline or Mrs. Hurst doing so.

lady knitting lace

Ladies who enjoyed a certain income would pay for their knit wear, so if Emma ever picked up a pair of needles it was for her enjoyment, or for charity. She never had to learn a Kitchener stitch or how to turn a heal. THAT is something I think Harriet could have taught HER.

Fanny Price on the other hand probably had a little knitting basket to keep her hands busy — when she wasn’t running errands  for  Aunt Norris or Aunt Bertram that is.

Elinor and Marianne might not have needed to knit at the beginning of Sense and Sensibility but you can bet their disposable income for knitwear was slashed (along with everything else) once they moved to Barton Cottage.

Catherine Moreland’s first knitting project might have been nappies  for her flock of younger brothers and sisters .

I suspect that Sir Walter would frown upon something as useful as knitting and would discourage his daughters from taking it up, but there are plenty of characters (Mrs. Smith comes to mind) in Persuasion who are sure to have knitted and purled their way through a garment or two.

Knitting with double pointed needles while watching a baby.

Knitting with double pointed needles while watching a baby.

The poor, both men and women, would have kept their fingers flying to keep the rich ladies in Austen’s world warm and fashionable. At the time of her death a poor family could make between 12 and 20 pounds annually just by knitting.

Knitting was an all age activity, and was done by both men and women.

Knitting was an all age activity, and was done by both men and women.

Today knitters can relive the Regency period through patterns found in such publications as Jane Austen Knits.


24/11/11 (Photo credit: fifikins)


You can even make yourself a pair of mittens emblazoned with Jane’s silhouette.

Chawton Mittens

Chawton Mittens (Photo credit: The Bees)


How divine.

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