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The Geography of Jane Austen
2019 March 16

Judith gave a wonderful presentation called "The Geography of Jane Austen - What This Reader Didn't Know". The main element of Judith's presentation centered on what people reading Jane's novels in the Regency era would have known that would have added context and meaning to the books that readers of today's age might miss.

Judith advised us that young ladies in the Regency era would know about geography, the British Empire and its influence, and they would also have an understanding of the monetary and moral implications of distance and cost.

The introduction of Cary's New & Correct Atlas published in 1787 would have allowed Jane to have had a modern understanding of the distances to various locations. For example, a reader in those times would have known that to travel from (the fictional) Barton Park to London was a distance of about 200 miles and would require several very long days in the carriage and overnights at inns. These are things a reader in current times may not appreciate.

Additionally, for Colonel Brandon to have collected Mrs. Dashwood from Barton to bring her Cleveland to be by Marianne's side in her illness shows not only how quickly he must have travelled but is also a reflection on the Colonel's character in his ability to have organized the horses he would need at each change, etc. Certainly, the reader is meant to not only see that he did something kind and useful for Marianne, but also that he is practical, efficient and self-sacrificing.

Similarly, in Pride and Prejudice, a reader in today's age might read Lydia's intention to elope to Gretna Green and believe there may have been a possibility of the elopement happening. When Judith broke down the possible cost of such an elopement for our group (about $20,000 of modern-day funds), it became much clearer why Elizabeth was so certain that it would never take place.

After tea and treats we broke into 3 groups to discuss the following topic: 'What do we know about the people in __(Emma, Northanger Abbey, or Pride and Prejudice)____ by the forms of transportation (or lack) and where they go?' The three groups each discussed one of these novels. Group shared a lively conversation regarding Frank Churchill's going to London for 'a haircut', Mrs. Elton’s brother-in-law's barouche-landau, John Thorpe's horse and gig vs. Henry Tilney's curricle, and the use of the carriage to take Jane for tea at Netherfield. Thanks to Judith's explanation of cost and distance, these subjects held an all new meaning! Thank you, Judith, for this extremely interesting and enlightening topic.

Time for a Laugh!

Ellyn Cardon, a senior undergraduate at Brigham Young University, is the winner of this year's JASNA Young Filmmaker Contest for her entry, Mrs. Bennet's Plan. This short spoof is worthy of Jane Austen's juvenilia.

New Books

  • Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility
    by Hillary Manton Lodge

    Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. When Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

  • My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park
    by Cindy Jones

    Lily Berry is a needy, desperately unhappy dreamer who after reading “The Six” (Jane Austen’s six major works) has let her affection for dear Jane run wild. She sells off all her possessions, buys a plane ticket to Great Britain, and begs an acting role in a summer literary festival.

  • A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen
    by Susannah Carson, ed.

    Why are we so fascinated with Jane Austen’s novels? Why is Austen so universally beloved? The essayists in this volume offer their thoughts on the delightful puzzle of Austen’s popularity.

Regular Meetings

JasnaCalgary is a region of the Jane Austen Society of North America. We are all interested in everything Jane, from love of her novels to scholarly pursuits. Five times a year we meet to enjoy talks, workshops, teas, and galas. Attend a meeting and if you have fun, join in! Membership is $15.00 annually to cover our tea and cakes and other expenses.

Our meetings are 2:00 - 4:00, held at Sunalta Community Association, 1627 10 Ave SW, a location that is wheelchair accessible.
View map for meeting location

Only a few special events require pre-paid tickets, such as the annual Tea celebrating Jane Austen's birthday.

On the Family page, members can access additional information with a password.

Site last updated on 2019 March 27

New Books on the Reading Page
Notes on The Geography of Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey novel study for May 25 meeting

Comments welcome

Or email jasnacalgary@jasnacalgary.ca JASNA Calgary