Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Today in history is the 200 anniversary of Jane Austen's death. Although she has been gone for so long, Miss Austen continues to touch the lives of many with her unequaled wit and powers of description. Her characters are still relevant two centuries later and their fictitious lives continue to resonate with the public.

Many people are paying tribute to our Dear Miss Austen.   Around the world a minute of silence was observed at 11 am this morning, exhibits centered around Jane Austen's life and work are open to the public including "Which Jane Austen?" at the Bodleian Library in Oxford as well as the unveiling of the new £10 note at Winchester Cathedral which features Jane Austen.  The latter, a fitting tribute, for Jane Austen was buried at Winchester Cathedral.

Jane's influence has widespread appeal having been the target of many film and literary adaptations. You probably know Bridget Jone's Diary is based on Pride and Prejudice but did you know the film Clueless was based on Emma? Bollywood's Bride and Prejudice enchanted Jane's fans and a sci-fi offering by author Seth Grahame Smith: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies went on to be made into a film starring Lily James of Downton Abbey fame. A few years ago a mini-series entitled "Lost in Austen" aired here in England portraying a modern day Janeite who trades places with Lizzie Bennet which was very amusing. One of my favourite adaptations is Youtube's "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries"  shown in 100 short segments. If you haven't seen it, do go and have a look. It's a current take on P & P done very well; so well in fact that "Emma Approved," based on the novel Emma and "Welcome to Sanditon" which was based on Jane's unfinished novel Sanditon were also made by Pemberley Digital.

Miss Austen's adoring fans pay tribute in many different ways. With such adulation I'm sure our dear Jane will still have a thriving fan base in 200 years to come. As for me, my tribute is a small one compared to many. I made bookmarks for my Janeite friends to mark the day. A small remembrance of one who has charmed so many.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Vintage Saturday

It's Vintage Saturday in case you were wondering. There are all sorts of interesting things out in blogville if you care to look. Vintage Saturday is one of them. This theme recurs each week and many a blogger will paint a pretty picture of something old and treasured in their life. I find the stories behind the vintage items so compelling and hope you find my vintage tale as interesting.

I had been wanting to do a post about something in my daily life that I simply became blind to until last week and thought Vintage Saturday is just the day to do it. It was a bit of a eureka moment and the phrase “What was I thinking to overlook this????” has been uppermost in my thoughts for the past week. It's just been the unassuming box passed down through the  generations that holds our documents, a deed box if you will, and has been for over a century.  My husband doesn't know when it came into his grandfather's care and it may well be older than we believe which makes it an even more fascinating mystery; a family heirloom which has taken on a different existance. Today I thought I would expose its true identity.

This box rests atop a chest in our sitting room. A crocheted doily graces its top and there is a little vase perched there. All very homey. I walk past it every day, and have done since I married. I've seen it opened, indeed I have opened it, but did I notice it? Not once. It was literally just a part of the furniture. I'm sure I must have known what it was in the back of my mind but it simply didn't register.  Then last week, I was walking by, stopped, walked back and turned the little key, then stood wide-eyed gazing at it. How could I not have reckoned this? Me, letter writer extraordinaire and devoted Janeite? Some mysteries will never be solved.

So, today, let me show you our cherished document box. Closed it is just an unassuming little mahogany chest and yet opened it is the stuff of daydreams. Our little document box is in reality a writing slope. There is a pen tray and two compartments for ink as well as storage space under the velvet writing area. It is very much like Jane Austen's writing slope, if I may be so bold. Not quite as old or refined, but still a beautiful writing slope nonetheless. You can still see the design which has been impressed into the velvet writing area.  Evidence that it once was indeed used as a writing slope exists in the pen tray where there are little fingernail marks from someone reaching for their pen. Oh to have the power to see what letters were written on this little desk but I will  just have to rely upon my overactive imagination to supply those details.  Of course, now that its secret is out I so desperately want to use it for its true purpose, but after a century or more of being a document chest, I think it will stay in that office. Now when I walk by I smile, because I know its secret, and it is all the more dear.

You can see the similarities between Jane Austen's  writing slope and our own.
Jane Austens' Writing Slope courtesy of The British Library Board.