Brian Southam, Chairman of the British Jane Austen Society died on October 5, 2010. Elsa Solender, Past JASNA President, Past NY Metro coordinator, has written the following:
Brian Southam (1931-2010)
Brian Southam, chairman of the British Jane Austen Society (JAS) from 1990 to 2005, died quietly in France on October 5. He had suffered earlier heart attacks.
A student of Mary Lascelles at Oxford, Southam became an Austen devotee after being afforded privileged access to Volume the Second of her juvenilia, which had been closely held by Austen family members. He taught briefly before entering publishing. In 1980 he purchased Athlone Press, which he served as managing director until his retirement in 2000. As an independent researcher, he wrote extensively on Austen's life, family and manuscripts, as well as the indispensable Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage. His most widely used book, however, was his Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot.
Southam co-edited, with JASNA co-founder J. David Grey and Professor A. Walton Litz, The Jane Austen Companion, a compendium of "everything Austen" published in 1986 before filmed adaptations stimulated "Austen-mania" and the explosion of popular and scholarly interest in Austen.
His lecture at JASNA's 2003 AGM in Winchester, "Jane Austen's Sailor Brothers: Francis and Charles in her Life and Art," drew upon his volume Jane Austen and the Navy. His study of "Professions" in Austen's era appeared in the Context volume of the recent Cambridge Edition. Of late, he was studying Austen's seaside experiences, including Austen family mentions of a romantic encounter at Sidmouth.
Under Southam's leadership, the JAS developed closer ties with JASNA and qualified officially as a British educational and cultural charity.
Messages of condolence may be sent to:
Mrs. Doris Southam
c/o Maureen Stiller, JAS Secretary
20 Parsonage Road,
Henfield, West Sussex BN5 9JG,
- Elsa Solender