While compiling a collection of my writing (some poems from a chapbook and three short stories), I felt a wave of optimism and inspiration. “What an eclectic piece of work this will be,” my muse declared.
However, as many writers know, these feelings of optimism are often interrupted with self-doubt.
“Who are you to write a collection of poems and short stories?” asked my anti-muse. “You’re just too small and insignificant to write something such as this.”
Fortunately (and timely), I stumbled upon an inspiring poem about the milkweed by the great American poet, Richard Wilbur:
Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field
Excerpt from Two Voices in a Meadow by Richard Wilbur
Seeds, like words, floating from our minds onto the page, and across the “amazon.”
I hope his poem inspires you as it has me. With that said…
Today, over at What Jane Austen Didn’t Tell Us, Meg Levin discusses what Austen meant by an “accomplished woman.”
One of the most interesting scenes in Pride and Prejudice is the three-way conversation among Elizabeth Bennet, Caroline Bingley and Mr. Darcy on the subject of accomplished women. Along with skill at needlework and various crafts, Miss Bingley declares that “a woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.” Darcy adds, “…and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
Miss Bingley‘s views were commonly held by upper class women who wanted to catch an eligible bachelor. But many of Jane Austen’s readers would have known that the proper education of women was a controversial subject at the turn of the nineteenth century.
With summer fast approaching (not fast enough for me), Meg Levin writes about bathing machines in Austen’s day.
When Jane Austen sends Lydia to Brighton she doesn’t tell us what the youngest Miss
Bennet does aside from enjoying Wickham’s attentions. No doubt she and the young wife of Colonel Forster enjoy the shops and hope for glimpses of the Prince Regent. Sea resorts such as Brighton and Weymouth had become popular, much like Bath in the previous century. Young Georgiana Darcy visits the fashionable Ramsgate by the sea. The attractions of a popular resort included shops, a theater, assembly rooms for dancing and the sea. It was believed that exposure to sea air and salt water improved your health — as Mrs. Bennet says, “A little sea-bathing would set me up for ever.” So it is quite likely that the two young ladies in Brighton would have tried immersion in the sea by using the bathing machines.
Today, over at What Jane Austen Didn’t Tell Us, Paul Wray discusses public schools in Jane Austen’s Time.
In our backstory for Mr. Wickham, we imagine that he attended Repton, a school in Derbyshire. We do not speculate about Mr. Wickham’s experience – good or bad – but we learned something of Repton during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when Wickham would have been a student there.
Once there was a little document who lived all alone in a WIP folder. After several years, the folder grew and housed several other little documents.
“One day I will become an ebook,” said the youngest document who was smart, brave, and fell within in a specific genre. “No!” shouted the others. “Stay here on the computer, where it is safe and warm, for it is ugly and mean out there in the world. People (readers) will judge you and rate you.”
But the young document persisted, replying, “Although I am safe and secure on the computer, I am not happy here. I must get out into the world and experience life…and constructive criticism.”
And so, the Master of the keyboard, acknowledging the little document’s frustration, turned it into an ebook.
“I’m alive!” shouted the ebook, who felt very much satisfied with the ultimate decision. “I’m being read. I’m finally being read.”
Be brave, dear writers, be brave.
Or at least let your document be brave for you.
Pride and Prejudice and Coffee (my doc-turned-ebook is now alive on amazon.
Today, over at What Jane Austen Didn’t Tell Us, we’re discussing the genius of Josiah Wedgwood and the special ground that both he and Jane Austen walked upon.
Jane Austen didn’t tell us what brand of china the Bennets used, but the Austens ate off Wedgwood plates. She refers to her family’s own Wedgwood collection in a letter to Cassandra in which she writes to her sister about “the pleasure of receiving, unpacking & approving our Wedgwood ware.”
Staffordshire’s soil, in the Midlands of west central England, offered miners rich deposits of clay unlike any other region in England. It was Nature herself who provided this rich clay for potters such as Josiah Wedgwood.
Today, over at What Jane Austen Didn’t Tell Us, Gene Gill discusses conduct books — such as Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women — that were popular popular in Austen’s time.
Conduct books that defined what society believed were acceptable and desirable behaviors for young women were enormously popular in the 18th century. The majority of such manuals were written by men to help fathers and husbands in the instruction of their daughters and wives. Continue reading…