Persuasions #3, 1981 Pages 3-4
FROM THE (PAST) PRESIDENT
As our fame increases, more and more institutions arc joining our ranks: several universities including Harvard and Yale are now members. The New York Public Library, The National Library of Scotland, the Huntington Hartford and Bodleian Libraries, etc., etc., have likewise been lured, mostly by the erudition and attractiveness displayed in our annual “newsletter.” Special commendation must, therefore, be extended to its capable editor, Joan Austen-Leigh, and all the contributors. The raise in dues (as of May 1st) will allow us to issue the promised interim newsletters. For information regarding this, please contact the new President, Joe Costa.
Last year it was reported that Fay Weldon had sent a copy of the script for her television rendition or Pride and Prejudice. Since there are no immediate plans to air the recently-made Sense and Sensibility here, its adaptor Alexander Baron was approached for a copy of his version, shown early this year in England. It was sent “With good wishes to your Society from a fellow Janeite.” Merchant-Ivory Productions has also consented to contribute a shooting script for Jane Austen in Manhattan. All our “holdings” are available for inspection at The Jane Austen Museum/Archive overlooking Times Square at Manhattan Plaza.
Oakley Hall, near Steventon, might be considered the birthplace of JASNA since it was there that Joan Austen-Leigh and yours truly met at the bicentenary ball in the summer of ’75. We both retraced our steps there this past summer for a production of her play, Our Own Particular Jane. Later in the month the three founders, including Harry Burke, attended the AGM at Chawton and were introduced by Sir Hugh Smiley. Your humble servant had the pleasure and honor to nominate Lord David Cecil for re-election as President of that organization. Sir Hugh has kindly arranged for JASNA’s proposed visit next summer when the date of the AGM will be 17 July.
Eileen Morris, of Toronto, wrote to ask if one of our learned members might appraise the various editions of the novels now on the market. Coincidentally, another member and arch proselytizer of JASNA, Jo Modert, suggested: “a review of all current editions of JA’s works wherever published, with guidelines or ratings for buyers.” If you care to share your opinions and information about such write her at Mt. Vernon, IL. Jo will summarize them for next year’s P’s #4.
Many members have inquired about obtaining out-of-print books pertaining to JA. Second-hand booksellers are, of course, the best source, cf. that marvelous catalog that was sent to the membership (upon request) by Ian Hodgkins & Co., Ltd. late in ’81. Folcroft Library Editions, 842 Main Street, Darby, PA 19023 does (expensive) reprints of such esoteric JA titles as the Charades, Five Letters (from JA to Fanny Knight), Plan of a Novel and Three Evening Prayers. Also the books about JA by the Austen-Leighs.
Ross Smith’s pamphlet, Fanny Bertram: The Structure of Mansfield Park, is available for $3.00 (U.S.A. posted) from: The Secretary, Department of English, Post Office, James Cook University, Q. 4811, Australia… Diana Brown’s Come Be My Love was excerpted in the October ’81 Good Housekeeping. Like her Emerald Necklace, the novel is set in Regency England. It was published in December. Valerie Fitzgerald’s highly-acclaimed Zemindar was headlined in the Toronto Globe & Mail “Jane Austen Gone with the Wind to Lucknow.” Helen Arger’s A Lady of Independence comes from Doubleday in March ’82. To quote her agent: “The book takes place in 1824, seven years after Jane Austen’s death, but the characters, wit and the spirited courtship between the hero and heroine are totally in the Jane Austen mode.” Juliet McMaster, an active Patron and ardent supporter of JASNA from its inception, does incisive reviews about recent JA criticism in both Nineteenth Century Fiction and Studies in the Novel. A detour to the library for a look at the current issues will prove enlightening. She is co-author with her husband, Roland, of The Novel from Sterne to James: Essays on the Relation of Literature to Life (1981). Janet Todd, editor of Women & Literature, is bringing out an issue entirely devoted lo JA in the Spring of 1982. Country Life has accepted an article by Joan Austen-Leigh on JA’s housewife.
We were saddened by the announcement of the death of Dr. John Odmark, our West German member. His last book, An Understanding of Jane Austen’s Novels (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1981) appeared a month after his tragic accident in December, 1980. He was thirty-eight years old.
There are no bounds to the indefatigable inventiveness of Louise King. She established the Fanny Price Cup Perpetual Trophy award (very elegant, in silver) for Invitational Sidesaddle Pleasure Horses and then, last summer, proceeded to win it at the Washington (CT) Horse Show! After, she wrote: “In the spring, the Mary Crawford Plate for Sidesaddle Equitation will be offered at the International Sidesaddle Organization show at Mount Holly.” Where are the experts among us who will play the Mary Crawford that unseats our own dear Fanny?
Mary Kraus, a student at Bennington, writes: “I just received my certificate for the copyright on “The Game of Pride and Prejudice”! Mary created the board game in 1979 and the members who attended the First regional NY meeting played it at the first birthday party there. Another member, Marcia Gewanter, was instrumental in helping Mary secure the copyright.
As I sit here on a glorious (October) afternoon, overlooking Times Square, I realize how much the Manhattan Plaza mailman will miss stuffing the box downstairs. When Joan and Harry and I put our heads together three years ago we had no idea what a warm reception we would receive. Those of you who have visited me can visualize the atmosphere of the JA cocoon in which I am presently wrapped while composing this, my last letter as President. Rest assured, I’ll be back here on many other glorious and not-so-glorious mornings, afternoons, evenings and nights from now on and still with JA. But I shall be back at work on the bibliography and archives which have been sorely neglected these past three years. Unlike the recipients of other awards, I won’t thank anyone by name. In their hearts they know who they are and they have received my thanks and love, verbally and symbolically, whenever they were called for.
J. David Grey