Program Announcment - Celebration of Life

Hello Everyone!

We have a great program planned for our July celebration of Jane Austen's Life.

Please share with everyone who would enjoy celebrating the life of Jane Austen with us.

We are planning on doing some dramatic readings and are looking for volunteers to take on a part.  We'll all be reading from the scripts so take a look and see if anything looks interesting to you!

and the sign up to read a part here -

We look forward to seeing you in July.


First Line Friday - Mary Brunton's Self-Control

While she aroused interest Austen was never a best-seller in her lifetime. She had stiff competition. Mary Brunton, a Scottish novelist, created an overnight sensation with her novel Self Control. It was published around the same time as Sense and Sensibility and everyone was clamouring to read it, including Jane Austen:

"We have tried to get Self-controul, but in vain. I should like to know what [Mrs Knight's] Estimate is, but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever and of finding my own people all forestalled." (Jane Austin, 30th April 1811)
-from the BBC article "Jane Austen: What books were on her reading list?"

So here is the first paragraph of Self-Control

It was on a still evening in June, that Laura Montreville left her father's cottage, in the little village of Glenalbert, to begin a solitary ramble. Her countenance was mournful, and her step languid; for her health had suffered from long confinement, and her spirits were exhausted by long attendance on the deathbed of her mother. That labour of duty had been lessened by no extrinsic circumstance; for Lady Harriet Montreville was a peevish and refractory patient; her disorder had been tedious as well as hopeless; and the humble establishment of a half-pay officer furnished no one who could lighten to Laura the burden of constant attendance. But Laura had in herself that which softens all difficulty, and beguiles all fatigue—an active mind, a strong sense of duty, and the habit of meeting and of overcoming adverse circumstances.

You can read the full novel from Project Gutenberg - Mary Brunton's Self-Control

And read more on Mary Brunton here.


Regency Woman Wednesday - Princess Lieven

Princess Dorothea von Lieven
(December 17, 1785 - January 27, 1857)

From her Wikipedia Page:
Princess Dorothea von Lieven née Benckendorff was a Baltic German noblewoman and wife of Prince Khristofor Andreyevich Lieven, Russian ambassador to London, 1812 to 1834. She was also an influential figure among many of the diplomatic, political, and social circles of 19th-century Europe.

In 1810 her husband was appointed minister to Berlin. When Tsar Alexander I appointed Count Lieven ambassador to Great Britain in 1812, Dorothea von Lieven used her intelligence, charisma, and social skills to make herself a leader of London's politically infused society, thereby contributing materially to the success of her husband's embassy.

In London, Princess Lieven cultivated friendships with the foremost statesmen of her day. As well, she and Austrian Chancellor Prince Klemens Lothar Wenzel von Metternich had a notorious liaison. She was also reputed to have had an affair with Lord Palmerston, although there is no firm proof of this.[3] She was a close friend of Lord Castlereagh, and was one of the first people to voice concerns about his increasingly strange behaviour in the weeks leading up to his suicide. Lord Grey confided in her, even sharing with her his intense grief on the death of his grandson Charles in 1831; on the other hand she admitted that the details of what became the Reform Act 1832 came as a complete surprise to her, which may be a sign that Grey despite their friendship did not entirely trust her.

In England's vibrant political environment, the Princess discovered in herself a flair for politics. She also became a leader of society; invitations to her house were the most sought after and she was the first foreigner to be elected a patroness of Almack's, London's most exclusive social club, where von Lieven introduced the waltz to England. Despite her apparently frivolous nature she had a deep religious faith, and far in advance of her time seems to have disapproved of the death penalty. She was something of a snob, and made many enemies due to her haughty manner towards those she regarded as social inferiors. Dorothea von Lieven's position as the Russian ambassadress, her friendships, and her political acumen established her as a major political force. Though outwardly deferential to her husband she was by far the stronger character and soon completely eclipsed him: London society jokingly called them "the two Russian ambassadors".

Princess Lieven "succeeded in inspiring a confidence" with prominent men "until now unknown in the annals of England", wrote Russian foreign minister Count Nesselrode. Her friendships with George IV, Prince Metternich, Lord Palmerston, the Duke of Wellington, George Canning, Count Nesselrode, Lord Grey, and François Guizot gave Dorothea Lieven the opportunity to exercise authority in the diplomatic councils of Great Britain, France, and Russia. She was a political force, a position reached by no other contemporary female.

The Princess participated, either directly or indirectly, in every major diplomatic event between 1812 and 1857. She knew "everyone in the Courts and cabinets for thirty or forty years"; she "knew all the secret annals of diplomacy", wrote a French diplomat. Lord Palmerston seems to have resented her interference, writing " a busy woman must do harm because she can do no good."

Hence, Princess Lieven's politically focused correspondence with luminaries across Europe is primary source material for students of the period. Parts of the Princess's diary, her correspondence with Lords Aberdeen and Grey, François Guizot, Prince Metternich, and her letters from London to her brother Count Alexander von Benckendorff, have been published. There is a vast trove of unpublished material in the British Library, and a scattering of unpublished correspondence in several Continental archives.

"She is a stateswoman", said the Austrian ambassador to France, "and a great lady in all the vicissitudes of life."
This was a really interesting page and I highly suggest you take a read of her full biography. She seems like she was an amazing woman to know!


Regency Man Monday - Tom Cribb

Tom Cribb etching.jpg
Tom Cribb (July 8, 1781 - May 11, 1848)

Tom Cribb was an English bare-knuckle boxer of the 19th century, so successful that he became world champion.

Cribb was born near Bristol but moved to London before starting professional fighting. He undertook a series of fights between 1805 and 1812.   
In 1810 Cribb was awarded the British title. On 10 December 1810 he fought an American, former slave Tom Molineaux, at Shenington Hollow in Oxfordshire. Cribb beat Molineaux in 35 rounds and became World champion. The fight was controversial for two reasons: Molineaux was injured when the crowd invaded the ring, and Cribb at one point seemed to have taken longer than the specified time to return to the centre of the ring. Cribb retained his title in 1811 by beating Molineaux at Thistleton Gap in Rutland in 11 rounds before a large crowd. Cribb had also beaten Molineaux's trainer Bill Richmond. 
In 1812, aged 31, he retired to become a coal merchant (and part-time boxing trainer). Later he became a publican, running the Union Arms, Panton Street, close to Haymarket in central London. His career has been commemorated with the name of a pub and in literature.