We were absolutely delighted that Claire Bellanti, President of the Jane Austen Society of North America, visited Halifax from her home in California, and presented two talks, that were open to the public.
The first was on Friday, September 30, 2016 @ at Dalhousie University’s Department of English Speakers’ Series, 6135 University Avenue, Room 1198. Claire presented a Power Point presentation on circulating libraries entitled, “You Can Buy a Parasol at Whitby’s: Circulating Libraries in Jane Austen’s Time”.
Her second talk was on Sunday, October 2 at the Halifax Central library, 5440 Spring Garden Road, Room #301 and its title is “Who is Jane Austen?”
The audience attending both lectures thoroughly enjoyed these two insightful talks from a warm and very witty presenter.
Sunday, August, 23 entitled The Importance of Having Lavender, at beautiful Morley Park, on the banks of the Avon River in Hantsport, where member Catherine Morley kindly offered her home. We began our lovely afternoon, with an invitation to a picnic; a riparian repast.
June 7 – A Tea to Honour Dr. Lilian Falk, long-time JASNA-Nova Scotia member and retired Professor at Saint Mary’s University, where she taught the origins of the English language in Nova Scotia and presented papers on the connections between Britain and Nova Scotia in art and literature. Since 1982, Lilian has graciously offered her home for our meetings and has contributed greatly to the Region. In keeping with her hospitality, she insisted we again meet at her home for tea and she was overwhelmed upon receiving letters of appreciation from JASNA Canada President, Elaine Bander and JASNA President, Claire Bellanti.
It was a delightful afternoon, spent in“…the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.”
The members of JASNA-Nova Scotia were very active in May, making up for events which had to be re-scheduled, due to the three snowstorms-a-week, which hit our fair Province from February to April. In addition to our camaraderie – when we finally were able to get together – we enjoyed beautifully set tea tables at each of our gatherings.
May 31 – A Talk by Deborah Knuth Klenck, JASNA member, professor of English at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, author of several essays in Persuasions and speaker at the Philadelphia AGM, was in Halifax and Sarah kindly provided her home as a venue for Deborah to present her talk on Reading Emma. Her presentation provided new perspectives on reading this novel and certainly elicited an enthusiastic and lively discussion amongst our group. A grand preface for the upcoming 200th celebration of the original publication of Emma.
May 24 – A Discussion of Paula Byrne’s biography The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, was held at Janice’s home in beautiful Mahone Bay, by the sea. A trip outside Halifax was a welcome excursion to see new sights, enjoy new society, while discussing the fascinating insights of this book. Many of the details of Ms. Byrne’s work were carefully reviewed – even the much-debated merits and authenticity of the “Byrne Portrait” of Jane Austen.
May 18 – A Victorian Afternoon Tea was served in The Lord Nelson Hotel’s Georgian Lounge, to commemorate Victoria Day and the celebration of the British monarchy. Although the focus was Victorian, several members of our group attended in Regency attire (as who can miss even one tea?)
May 3 – A Reticule-making workshop was graciously hosted by Anita at her home, where the members actually made a reticule from the cleverly designed kits of our seamstresses extraordinaire, Anita and Lou. Their expertise helped even the non-seamstresses amongst us to create beautiful reticules. As we spent the afternoon sewing and chatting, we thought of the Regency ladies and the many hours of work they spent toiling on behalf of their families and others in their communities. We were all most pleased with ourselves and our handiwork!
Sunday, December 7, 2014: The Region’s members gathered for an early celebratory birthday luncheon at The Lord Nelson Hotel’s Arms Restaurant, on December 7th , across from the beautiful Victorian Public Gardens. Our eloquent toastmaster, Hugh Kindred, offered a witty toast to “Our Jane”, and set the tone for a delightful review of the recent AGM sessions, by those members who had attended them in Montréal.
Three of our group, Darcy Johns, Anita Campbell and Lou Harrington, added to the occasion’s festive flair with their 18th century beautiful attire, which Hugh’s 21st century camera was able to portray. We look forward to a New Year full of thought-inspiring discussion, book reviews, and camaraderie, nestled by a cosy fireplace, with something warming to drink. Tea perhaps, or maybe something a wee bit stronger.
November 9: The region’s annual business meeting was held at
Anne’s home in the usually-sunny-hills-of-Armdale, and Afternoon Tea was served, with all the Royal Crown Derby fine bone china, silverware and tea edibles that may be accommodated on several finely dressed tea tables. The members discussed the excitement of the last month and sharing the knowledge and ideas gained from the AGM.
Friday to Sunday, October 10 – 12, A good number of our group travelled to Montréal to participate in the Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting in Montréal, titled “Mansfield Park in Montréal: Contexts, Conventions and Controversies”, to celebrate 200th anniversary of the original publication of Mansfield Park. Two of our members, Sheila Kindred and Sarah Emsley, were speakers and their topic, taken from the AGM web-page is below:
“After Mary Wodehouse’s infant son died, her friend Lady Sherbrooke, wife of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, suggested that they read Mansfield Park together. Sarah and Sheila will examine their story in the context of controversies about the ways in which readers turn to Jane Austen’s novels for comfort or consolation.”
October 7: The group gathered with great anticipation, at Sheila and Hugh’s home on the eve of the 2014 JASNA AGM in Montréal, to meet Patrick Stokes, a direct descendent of Jane Austen’s brother Charles, to discuss aspects of the Royal Navy in the 19th century. As Halifax is a naval town with a rich naval history, the members were delighted to hear Patrick’s insights about life on the high seas. As we are a group dedicated to appreciating the works of Jane Austen, Patrick was the perfect speaker, combining two areas of great interest at once.
Patrick Stokes, along with two of the region’s members, Sheila Johnson Kindred and Sarah Emsley, travelled to JASNA’s AGM in Montréal as speakers. Sheila and Sarah presented “Among the Proto-Janeites: Reading Mansfield Park for Consolation in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1815” and Patrick was a plenary speaker at the closing brunch with his talk on “Rears and Vices: The Georgian Royal Navy”.
May 4: – Our group was invited to member Catherine Morley’s beautiful home in the scenic Annapolis Valley, on the banks of the Avon River, to hear Sarah Emsley’s insightful and evocative talk on “Why Mansfield Park is a Tragedy,” and lead a discussion of the novel, especially its famous “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery” ending. Here is the link to Sarah’s presentation; http://sarahemsley.com/2014/01/17/mansfield-park-is-a-tragedy-not-a-comedy/
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mansfield’s Park’s initial publication, Sarah has issued an invitation to everyone to follow her weekly posts written by numerous authors. Here is your invitation to the party: http://sarahemsley.com/2014/04/09/your-invitation-to-mansfield-park/
Following our discussion, we had a delightful party with assorted tempting tea edibles and restorative tea in antique china cups.
April 1– We were delighted to participate in The Evenings @ Government House lecture series, with our talk on “Re-living the Regency Ball: The Enduring Fascination with Jane Austen and her World”. The event sold out and despite the day’s snowstorm, we had an almost maximum-capacity audience, and explored Jane’s enduring fame by taking our audience back 200 years to recreate the regency ball in an actual Regency-era ballroom; complete with the etiquette, rules, dress, food and the high social importance of these gatherings for the English gentry and upper classes. The ambience was fostered by the Playford Dancers in Regency dress performing three period dances with music, along with a PowerPoint presentation and hand-outs. A reception followed where our group had their picture taken with His Honour, Brigadier-General J.J. Grant, The Lieutenant- Governor of Nova Scotia, and Her Honour, Mrs. Grant. Several of the audience were so enthused, that they inquired if an actual Regency Ball could be held at Government House, as it had hosted so many formal dances in the past 200 years. There is a thought!
On May 18 and 19, 2014, Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, stayed at Government House, while on a brief visit to Nova Scotia.
Sunday, February 23: A Discussion of the Persuasions On-line, Vol. 34, No.1 articles, which is available each year on “our Jane’s” December 16th birthday, was generously hosted by Sheila and Hugh Kindred, at their home. Several of the members chose various topics and a spirited discussion ensued.
Sunday, January 26: Carole graciously held a viewing of Professor Amanda Vickery’s DVD At Home with the Georgians. It is based on her book of the same name and explores the fascinating concept that the Georgians developed the concept of home as more than shelter and protection; they developed the idea of taking pride in it and that its decor reflected the character and taste of the occupant.
In the final weeks of Summer, the Planning Committee met to organize JASNA-Nova Scotia’s Fall events and the very special visit to Halifax on October 25th – 27th, 2013, of JASNA Canada President, Ms. Elaine Bander, (of Dawson College, Montréal). On Friday, October 25th, she presented a talk on “Jane Austen’s Fanny Price and Lord Nelson: Rethinking the National Hero(ine)” at Dalhousie University’s Department of English, Room 1198, McCain Arts & Social Sciences Building, 6135 University Avenue, Halifax.
On her blog, one of our JASNA-Nova Scotia members, Sarah Emsley, recently interviewed Elaine and here is the link to that interview and an introduction to our JASNA Canada President: http://sarahemsley.com/2013/10/02/an-interview-with-elaine-bander/
Following the lecture, the Department of English provided a wine and cheese reception and our region’s members entertained Elaine at a dinner graciously hosted at Anita’s home in Dartmouth.On Saturday, October 26th, we took Elaine to lunch at The Wooden Monkey, as we wanted to provide some Maritime flair, by taking the ferry from Halifax over to Dartmouth which provided a commanding view of the Halifax waterfront. The lunch was designed for our group to chat informally and determine what plans she has for our region’s participation in the Canadian JASNA AGM in Montréal, in October 2014.
On Sunday, October 27th, we went with Elaine to lunch at Le Bistro, a French-inspired café in the Spring Garden Road area. Although the Maritime rain prevented the scheduled stroll around the historic Public Gardens and perusal of the shops, we thoroughly enjoyed the Parisian ambiance, repast, company and conversation.
Sunday, May 26 ~ A Talk on Afternoon Tea: Christina kindly hosted the group for a chat about the origins, history and protocols of the delightful ritual, Afternoon Tea, which is distinct from High Tea (and the two terms are often confused.) As Jane Austen loved tea and her novels are full of references to it, Kim Wilson’s book, Tea with Jane Austen, was also featured.
March 7: Members of our group attended an extremely well performed Literary Moot Court on Pride and Prejudice at the University of King’s College, Halifax. Each year, Dalhousie University’s Law Society selects a novel and and puts several of its characters on trial. To celebrate the 200th year since the publication of Pride and Prejudice, the Society decided to try a case brought by Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy against Mr. George Wickham, for defamation of character; so, the latter will be on the hot seat – not a bad place for him to be, actually!
According to the trial syllabus, “In order to succeed, the Plaintiff must prove that Mr. Wickham made public communications that lowered the esteem of ordinary members of the public”. Two lawyers on each side would try the case in front of a sitting judge of the Nova Scotia Provincial Court.
Although characters in costume paraded forth (our own Lou Harrington was a costume consultant) to take the stand and selections from the famous YouTube “Lizzie Bennet Diaries” were submitted as evidence, we knew our hero Mr. Darcy was in danger of losing his case when Mrs. Bennet was caught trying to bribe the Judge with cookies (in defence of her other son-in-law in the red coat) and the Judge himself, asked the perfidious Wickham for his autograph (for his children, of course)… oh dear!
Despite the less-than-stellar outcome, there were many incredibly funny, clever lines – which even Jane might have smiled at – that compensated for the Judge ruling in favour of the Defendant. The thorough enjoyment of those in attendance – of the characters and the abridged dialogue from this brilliant novel – may just encourage even more readers of this masterpiece, in this year of its celebration.
February 24: Sheila and Hugh Kindred extended a gracious invitation to their home for A Reading of Lady Susan, based on an edited format by Bob Moss, comprising 29 letters distributed among the four characters of Lady Susan; Catherine de Courcy; Reginald de Courcy; and Mrs Alicia Johnson. Nine members of our group participated in the reading of this witty, lesser-known work, and we all came away with greater insight and appreciation of the characters and dialogue.
Although it was a grey day, we enjoyed the delights of the “tea edibles” on Sheila’s lovely table, decorated with some early plants from her garden.
January 27 ~ A celebration of 200 years of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, was graciously hosted at Sarah’s home, complete with a bouquet of festive balloons, to mark this very special occasion. A record number of our group attended and we welcomed several new members as well, to discuss the novel Jane Austen referred to as “her own darling child”. Sarah encouraged everyone to share their favourite quotes, characters and scenes and invited an on-going discussion through her blog, with topics such as “How to Write an Intriguing First Chapter”; “How to Introduce Characters in a Novel”; “Can Characters Change?” and the most thought-provoking: “Why is Mr. Darcy So Attractive?” If you would like to join the discussion celebrating the masterpiece which is P&P, Sarah invites you to visit http://sarahemsley.com
A lovely tea table added to the camaraderie of the afternoon.
December 1, 2012 ~ Our usual luncheon celebration of Jane’s December 16th birthday – was held a wee bit early this year – to accommodate the busy schedules of this merry Season, we made it a priority and toasted Jane’s 237th birthday two weeks early! The location was the historic Carleton Bar and Grill, 1685 Argyle Street, Halifax. The dining room – with its original stone walls and fireplace from the 1780’s – provided the perfect ambience for lunch and our customary toast to “our Jane”. We discussed the sessions attended by our members, at the recent JASNA AGM which was held in New York City this past October, such as: “The Power of Freeloading”; “Jane Austen in Love”; “The Austen Letters and Manuscripts at the Pierpont Morgan Library”; “Money, Then and Now; “A Jane Austen Education”; to “Courtesans, Mistresses and Fallen Women of the Regency”. We revelled in reliving the magic of the AGM once again and it was a thoroughly entertaining and delightful afternoon.
November 23 ~ Dr. David Monaghan, Professor Emeritus of Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, presented a talk titled “The Multiple Authorship of Sense and Sensibility (2007)” at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Building, Room #1198, 6135 University Avenue, Halifax. A wine reception was held following the presentation.
October 21 ~ A Potluck Luncheon was held at Anne’s house in the sunny hills of Armdale, before our annual business meeting. An assortment of savoury and sweet delights arrived, and not all of them were dessert; which our dieticians Carole and Catherine would not have “looked upon with a friendly eye”…
As there were so many grand ideas, discussion extended longer into the afternoon, and we decided to have our round-table discussion of the sessions we attended at the JASNA AGM in New York at our Christmas gathering in December, instead.
October 5 ~7: The Jane Austen Society of North America’s 2012 Annual General Meeting in New York City, titled “Sex, Money and Power in Jane Austen’s Fiction” . A record number of our group attended and three of our members were speakers, hosting break-out sessions, with such intriguing themes as: “Naval Prize, Power and Passion in Persuasion,“ outlining the naval career of Jane Austen’s brother, Captain Charles Austen, presented by Sheila and Hugh Kindred; and “Nothing Against Her, But Her Husband and Her Conscience: Jane Austen’s Lady Susan in Edith Wharton’s Old New York”, presented by Dr. Sarah Emsley.
The Plenary speakers include Anna Quindlen, author and columnist for The New York Times; Dr. Cornel West, Professor at Princeton University and Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems and benefactor of the Chawton House Library, England.
We will be sharing our incredible experiences and knowledge gained from the conference with the rest of our members at a round-table discussion, after the region’s annual business meeting. As one member stated, “I am still on a Jane Austen high, and it is difficult coming back to earth, with all that star power…”
Our first event of our new year, was Saturday, September 15, and it began with a tour of The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (1675 Lower Water Street, Halifax). We wanted to start off this year with a splash, with an homage to the naval connection between Nova Scotia and the Austens. The Museum has a wealth of exhibits: from the Titanic commemoration; The Age of Sail; The Age of Steam; to access aboard the ship CSS Acadia – which survived the Halifax Explosion and both World Wars. For more details of these fascinating exhibits, please visit: http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mmanew/en/home/whattoseedo/exhibits/default.aspx
“Come calling at “Acacia Grove”, an elegant Georgian house in the picturesque Annapolis Valley. Here, horticulturalist Charles Prescott cultivated Nova Scotia’s apple industry from 1811 to 1859. Discover how his great grand daughter, Mary Allison Prescott, rescued the derelict building in the 1930s to recreate a gracious home. See family portraits, antique furnishings and Miss Prescott’s collections of hand-stitched samplers and tribal Oriental carpets. Delight in the garden and lush countryside surrounding this special place.”
As both the Inn and Prescott House have lush gardens, we found a cosy, shady spot amongst the green verdure, “which is the most perfect refreshment,” to discuss Kim Wilson’s book, In the Garden with Jane Austen, who was known to love gardens.
For more information on this delightful place, please visit their web-site: http://museum.gov.ns.ca/prh/en/home/default.aspx
Sunday, May 6 ~ JASNA Life Member, Dr. David Monaghan, Professor Emeritus at Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, presented a fascinating talk about the treatment of Jane Austen in film, entitled “The Adaptor as Author in Andrew Davies’ Sense and Sensibility”. In the course of his research for a book he co-authored, The Cinematic Jane Austen, he has interviewed Andrew Davies, the screen-writer for two extremely popular film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Sense and Sensibility (2007) . Carole kindly offered her home as a venue for this event.
Sunday, April 15 ~ Sarah graciously hosted the group at her home to discuss P.D. James’ new book, Death Comes to Pemberley. There were a wide range of opinions on what motivated the author; whether it was ghost-written by someone else; the fine points of English law and the lack of thoroughly investigating a crime scene; the appearance of plot lines from Downtown Abbey (perhaps, Downton Abbey Comes to Pemberley?); favourable and not-quite so favourable book reviews from several illustrious publications – such as The New York Times – as well as various blogs and web-sites; and many other comments! The general consensus appeared to have been that the author should have kept with her initial thought in the Acknowledgement; “that Jane Austen did not let her pen dwell on guilt and misery and if she had, she would have done it better”!
Saturday, March 17 ~ Anita kindly offered her home as a venue forLou Harrington, our resident Regency-dress expert (after her trip to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath this past September) to discuss how to make or have made, a Regency gown. After a very informative and entertaining discussion, we went out for lunch at a local café specializing in English tea.
Sunday, February 26 ~ Christina (our former Regional Co-ordinator) invited the group to her home, to discuss the papers from JASNA’s 2011 Annual General Meeting, on Sense and Sensibility, which had been published in Persuasions On-Line on December 16, 2011. Although it was a cold, clear day, a crackling fire in a cosy living room elicited indepth discussion on topics ranging from defending the character of Edward Ferrars; seeing the star constellations which were in the sky 236 years ago for Jane’s birthday; the tokens of affection given to lovers in the form of portrait miniatures and locks of hair; the varying types of letters written in S&S: the good, the bad, and the otherwise; comparison between the movie adaptations of S&S and the novel (which is a lead-in to our upcoming lecture in May with Dr. David Monaghan on this subject); decoding the meaning of events according to the areas in London in which they occurred; to reviewing characters’ bahaviour in terms of tantrums and sugar plums! The tea table with tulips and edibles rounded out a gracious afternoon.
Friday, January 6 ~ We were absolutely delighted to hear the lecture by JASNA~NS member, Dr. Catherine Morley, on “The Invalid’s Dietary in the Austen Era: Its Presence in the Present“, as part of the Dalhousie University Speakers’ Series, Room #1198, McCain Building, 6138 University Avenue, Halifax. Dr. Morley currently teaches at Acadia University in Wolfville as an Assistant Professor in the School of Nutrition and Dietetics and spent a month as a Visiting Chawton Fellow at Chawton House Museum, Chawton, England, in July 2010. According to Catherine: “My interests are in the history of household management – in the roots of the food and textile related work that women have always done to [re]create home and family.” To find out more details about this knowledgeable lady and her research, please visit her blog: http://summerinchawton.blogspot.com/
Saturday, December 10, 2011 ~ We enjoyed a festive, celebratory luncheon at the historic Carleton Bar and Grill, Argyle Street, Halifax, to mark Jane’s 236th birthday on December 16. The Carleton had been built as the residence of Sir Richard Bulkeley in 1760 and was made of stone – making it the earliest documented Georgian stone residence in Nova Scotia. Sir Richard enjoyed social occasions and entertained such distinguished personages as General James Wolfe and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. Continuing this fine tradition of extending hospitality, one of the current owners, Mike, graciously welcomed us to the private dining room – that had been Sir Richard’s parlour – which still has the original fireplace and stone wall exposed. The latter was reputed to have enjoyed the products of his well-stocked wine cellar there and we obliged the tradition with a toast to our Jane, as well as to our new and benevolent patron, Mike. A quiz on Sense and Sensibility began our program and we continued with readings from the novel. Hugh elegantly brought to life the character of Mr. Palmer ~ “He is so droll” ~ and Mrs. Jennings also made an appearance. After a memorable respite in the 18th and 19th centuries, we reluctantly made our way back to the rainy, grey skies of the 21st ~ but we may say, in very, merry cheer.
Sunday, October 23 ~ The Fall Meeting was held at Sheila and Hugh’s home. A short business meeting was conducted and was followed by a screening of the 1995 Ang Lee/Emma Thompson movie version of Sense and Sensibility. As we had a thorough discussion in May of the novel ~ which was the theme of this year’s JASNA Annual General Meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, celebrating the 200th anniversary of its initial publication ~ we thought a light reading of the movie, would be a delightful pastime for a brisk autumn afternoon.
On Saturday, September 10, we experienced a fascinating and informative trip-back-through-time tour of Government House, the vice-regal residence of the Lieutenant-Governor, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Nova Scotia. This Georgian-style building was built over several years and in 1805 became home to Nova Scotia’s first Governor, Sir John Wentworth. It has been recently refurbished with historical accuracy to reflect the decor of the period. Our guide brought the building’s history alive, through his careful detailing of the story of its paintings, furniture and architecture, as well as its guests; such as royalty, dignitaries and world leaders when the G-7 Summit was in Halifax in 1995. For a virtual tour, please click on the link: http://lt.gov.ns.ca/government-house/virtual-tour/
Sunday, July 10 ~ As Donwell Abbey was otherwise engaged, we had an incredibly interesting visit to Uniacke House, on The Uniacke Estate Museum Park, (Highway 101, Exit 3) for a tour of the grand country house which was built by Richard John Uniacke, Nova Scotia’s first Attorney-General, between 1813 – 1815. According to the Museum’s web-site, “it is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in Canada”. There are also seven walking trails (one around the lake) and a small tea shop, for additional diversion!
The day was beautiful and sunny and our picnic table faced Lake Martha; so, we enjoyed warm breezes and a picturesque vista. After being inspired by the insightful lecture by noted Austen scholar, Dr. Alistair M. Duckworth, on “Landscape and the Picturesque in Jane Austen’s Novels”, in November, we were pleased to read that … “the grounds of Uniacke’s estate were designed in the English Landscape Garden style which was popular in the early 1800s. A key feature of this style was a long, uninterrupted view, or vista, and the one at Uniacke’s estate was unrivaled in its day.” For more information on The Uniacke Estate Museum Park, please click on the link: http://museum.gov.ns.ca/uemp/en/home/visitus/default.aspx
Thursday, June 30 ~ Tea at Evergreen House, Dartmouth Heritage Museum, 26 Newcastle Street, Dartmouth. “Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language,” said Henry James. On a beautiful summer afternoon on the last day of June, we enjoyed tea (and coffee) and scones at a fundraising tea hosted by the Dartmouth Heritage Museum at Evergreen House. The tea was followed by a fascinating tour of Victorian treasures on display in the house, which was for many years the home of well-known Nova Scotia writer and folklorist Helen Creighton; below are links to the Evergreen House Museum and to a biography of Helen Creighton: http://www.dartmouthheritagemuseum.ns.ca/dhmHistoricHousesEvergreen.html
Saturday, June 25, A Special Georgian Tea, was held at Scott Manor House, 15 Fort Sackville Road, Bedford, which several of our members attended. We were welcomed by the Town Crier, a pipe and drum band of the Clan Farquhar and the Manor House staff in period dress. Scott Manor House was built in 1776, on four acres of land and is now part of the Nova Scotia Museum System. ‘Tis the season for teas, gardens and enjoying the beauty of nature, as Jane Austen so frequently wrote about in her novels and letters.
Sunday, June 12 ~ A “Wilde” Strawberry Afternoon Tea, was held at Anne’s house in the sunny hills of Armdale. We thoroughly enjoyed our review of Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest, comparing and contrasting his characters, plot and witticisms with those of Jane Austen. We listed numerous phrases, names and wordplay, which were directly comparable to her novels: the name Fairfax; and places cited such as Shropshire, Grosvenor Street; Sussex. It seems that Mr. Wilde not only shared our delight in Jane Austen’s writings, but also residence in Halifax – when he visited in 1882.
Sunday, May 15 ~ In spite of the less-than-sunny-Springtime-weather-we-are-accustomed-to-having, nine of us gathered for a savoury brunch at Seasons in The Atlantica Hotel, Halifax, to discuss Sense and Sensibility, the focus of the October 2011 JASNA AGM in Fort Worth, Texas. Our spirited discussion pondered a wide-range of points, including the novel’s ending; the treatment of certain characters; why it was chosen as the first of the available novels to be published. Our review concluded with a fairly difficult quiz, with questions such as the first name of Mr. Dashwood, the uncle; referred to as “the old Gentleman”. (Do you know this detail?) We are now more sensible of the delicate shadings in the usage of sense and of sensibility, which were so skillfully interwoven into this work.
Friday, April 29 ~ Several members accepted a gracious invitation to the public from our Lieutenant-Governor, (The Queen’s representative in Nova Scotia), Her Honour, The Honourable Mayann E. Francis, O.N.S., D. HumL, to watch The Royal Wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales, K.G., and Miss Catherine Middleton, at Government House. This regal Georgian building of elegant history, was the perfect venue to witness the marriage of a modern couple of elegant heritage; (with the bride being a distant relative of Jane Austen!). The guests were enchanted with beautifully set tables, complete with floral arrangements, china, delicious scones, pastries and fruit. A toast of Champagne and orange juice was offered to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge upon their marriage. The whole event was indeed a magical pageantry of horse-drawn carriages and liveried footmen from the past, in this, our technologically sophisticated age of the future. A wedding ~ such a delightful ending for a novel, or two…or six.
Sunday, March 6, ~ We were so pleased that Sarah presented her talk, “Everything She Ever Wanted: Marriage and Power in the Novels of Jane Austen and Edith Wharton,” which she gave in November 2010 in Boston, to the Massachusetts region of JASNA. Sarah discussed the similarities and differences between Austen’s character, Lady Susan Vernon in Lady Susan, with Edith Wharton’s protagonist, Undine Spragg, of The Custom of the Country, as well as the similarities and differences between the two authors. After a lively discussion, a beautiful tea-table beckoned which featured tea, edible delights and tulips, which hinted at the promise of Spring. Ann MacC., of Regatta Point, graciously provided the venue for this meeting.
Sunday, February 6, The group met at Lilian’s for an extremely informative and insightful discussion of the papers on Northanger Abbey from JASNA’s 2010 AGM titled: “Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem and Muslin in Portland” , which were published on December 16 in the Winter 2010 Persuasions On-line, Volume 31, No 1: http://jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol31no1/index.html
The following events occurred in 2010:
We gathered for a celebration at The Lord Nelson Hotel’s Victory Arms Pub on Saturday, December 11, to commemorate Jane Austen’s December 16 birthday. Amidst a slight dusting of snow flurries, the members “nipped into Old World England in New World Halifax,” long enough to hear Hugh (elegantly attired in top hat and waistcoat) read two letters: one written by Mrs. Austen, in November 1775, awaiting Jane’s imminent birth and a second penned by her father, Reverend George Austen, on December 17, 1775, the day after she was born. A toast was offered on this happy occasion; and with that inspiration, the Planning Committee began discussing meetings and events for 2011.
On Sunday, November 28, three members of our regional group involved inThe Duke of Edinburgh Award’s Naval Centennial Challenge, (Sarah Emsley; Sheila Kindred and Anne Thompson) received their certificates – prints of an original artwork designed by local artist, Tom Forrestall for the occasion – from Rear Admiral Gardam, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic/Joint Task Force Atlantic. As our group has been so involved in naval history and its connection to Charles and Francis Austen’s residence in Halifax, we were delighted to be received at HMCS Scotian, with a naval salute!
The Award was to honour, celebrate, and commemorate the Royal Canadian Navy’s Centennial Celebrations this year, by recipients committing to volunteer a total of 100 hours: 25 hours in each of the four categories of community service; physical activity; developing a new skill; and exploring an aspect of naval history. Ready, Aye, Ready.
On Friday, November 19, we were pleased to welcome to Halifax, the distinguished scholar, Professor Alistair M. Duckworth, Professor Emeritus, of the University of Florida. He had just concluded a trip to Scotland, or Antiqua Scotia, and then made his way to Nova Scotia, to present a fascinating lecture on: “Landscape and the Picturesque in Jane Austen’s Novels”, to a full-house audience (standing-room only) at Dalhousie University’s Marion McCain Building, Room #1198, 6135 University Avenue. Dr. Duckworth’s insights have inspired several of us to start re-reading the novels again, noting the descriptions of landscapes so skillfully used by Jane Austen to convey her thoughts on specific characters, locations and situations. Yet another level of complexity to discover in her work!
We were also greatly appreciative to The Dalhousie Department of English for providing the venue and arranging the presentation in conjunction with Sarah Emsley; as well as to The Jane Austen Society of North America, for their financial assistance. In honour of Dr. and Mrs. Duckworth’s visit, the group held a dinner, hosted at Lilian’s home. One of our members, Hugh Kindred, has suggested that “syllabub,” ~ a frothy confection of spirits and sweetened cream, that another member, Anita, has perfected ~ be our region’s official dessert; as it is a “light and sparkling” delight with Regency flair.
Trafalgar Day,which was re-scheduled from October 21 to Monday, November 8, was held at the home of Sheila and Hugh, to celebrate that most British of celebrations, honouring Admiral Nelson’s victory in The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. At this meeting, those members involved in The Duke of Edinburgh Award’s Naval Centennial Challenge, presented their naval exploration studies, which were part of the Challenge’s requirements.
After an informative presentation on the particulars of The Battle of Trafalgar, Sheila Kindred provided a fascinating picture of the dockyard in Halifax during 1805 ~ 1811, which was under the direction of the British Admiralty and referred to as “The King’s Yard”. Hugh Kindred read several letters written by Captain Francis Austen, expressing his disappointment that he had missed the “Trafalgar action”, from Brian Southam’s book, Jane Austen and the Navy. (Sheila read a touching tribute she had written to Mr. Southam, a well-known Austen scholar, who was in Halifax during the 2005 Jane Austen Society Conference. Please see the tab, Tribute to Brian Southam.)
On Saturday, November 6, several of the members met at the Bethany Artists Art Show and Sale at Bethany United Church, 2669 Joseph Howe Drive, Halifax, to view a selection of water-colour and oil paintings in various sizes and subject. Of particular interest to our group, were the beautiful note cards, printed with the artists’ original works ~ and as Jane Austen had always enjoying writing letters ~ it is always a pleasure to have attractive stationery on hand.
As the day was so full of November rain and wind, the group came back to Anne’s house in the-usually-sunny-hills of Armdale, for a cup of tea by a crackling fire, to discuss details for several of the group’s upcoming events.
The Fall Meeting was held on October 3, at the home of Sarah, and was a welcome chance for the group to get caught up on everyone’s summer activities. Although this meeting usually discusses the JASNA’s AGM topic, which this year focuses on Northanger Abbey, the group decided to delay discussion until after the papers were published. A meeting in the New Year will be scheduled for that purpose.
Instead, the focus was on the group’s direction for the upcoming year, and the books, events and meeting day which is most convenient ~ which was decided to be Sunday afternoon. A beautiful tea-table beckoned, complete with flowers, china cups and delicious tea edibles, and discussion turned from academic topics to those more epicurean.
On July 11, our scheduled Box Hill Picnic had to move indoors, as the quintessentially British, as well as Maritime rain, changed our best-laid plans. Although it rained out, we reined in any “Emma-like” comments, and had a thoroughly enjoyable time at Lilian’s, with a picnic of such Regency fare, as cold meats, cheeses, home-made bread, Macaroni-and-Cheese from The Jane Austen Cookbook and apple pie.
A sparkling addition to our picnic, was an original Regency-era recipe for the delightful concoction, syllabub, which is mentioned in several of the novels. It is an English drink (or can be served as a dessert), made of sweetened milk or cream curdled with wine or spirits, served chilled. It was the effervescent finish to a day filled with the best company.
A Strawberry Afternoon Tea was held in the sunny hills of Armdale, on Sunday, June 13. As several of the members gathered for some light refreshment, insightful conversation and camaraderie, perhaps a new tradition has been started, as was detailed in an article in an issue of The Jane Austen Society of North America’s Persuasions On-Line, Volume 29, No. 1 (Winter 2008). “We have also realized, however, that our gathering over tea generates significant social bonds, akin to the tea-table sympathies of Austen’s novels, as well as an understanding of some of the social aspects of Austen’s world and her fiction”. The author of the article and the above excerpt – Natasha Aleksiuk Duquette, Assistant Professor at Taylor University College – recounts the truly delightful story of how she started a tea with her students to discuss the works of Jane Austen and how it developed into a cherished tradition, growing in size each year.
Here is a link to her article, http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol29no1/duquette.html, but before you click on it, put the kettle on and enjoy a warm “cuppa”, cosying up for a good read in a comfortable chair to enjoy, “Laughter over Tea: Jane Austen and Culinary Pedagogy”, which opens with this insightful sentence: “In our fast-paced, individualist, coffee-driven culture, it is difficult for twenty-first century students to realize the importance of subtle, social, tea-table interactions in Jane Austen’s time…”