Monday, 26 December 2011

Poll Results: Social interaction tops Jane Austen fascination

The result of the polls are here. Well, we all knew that Jane Austen's gentlemen are bound to win out, but in fact the poll reveals that the gentlemen have competition.

In answer to the question: What do you think is so appealing about Jane Austen's world? The top choice is split two ways, with an even 50% each
The gentlemanly behavior of the heroes
The rules of social interaction
In answer to the question: What do you like most about Jane Austen? The top choice with an overwhelming 75% was
Her characters
Followed by 50%
Her sense of humor
Thanks to those of you who participated. What do you think of the results?

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Friday, 16 December 2011

Jane Austen Lives! Happy Birthday!

Think about it. How many people – men or women – have birthday celebrations 236 years after they were born?? Yet today blogs all over the Blogosphere are celebrating Jane Austen’s Birthday.
For Jane Austen’s Birthday, and to remember the wonderful joy she has given us, here are a couple of polls for you to vote on.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Dinner with the Indomitable Dominique Raccah

The Indomitable Dominique
The exclusive world of Gentlemen’s Clubs was invaded by a most wonderful group last night – the Sourcebooks British Book Brigade, which was almost exclusively female. Of course the Reform Club is no longer exclusively male, but looking around, with Henry James and Thackeray’s portraits – to name just two former members -- staring down at us, we could be excused for thinking so. During the Victorian period it would have been sacrilege to pass through these doors, yet here we were, with the Indomitable Dominique Raccah as our fearless leader. It’s a fitting image for the publishing world itself – with pioneers like Dominique heading publishing companies that have traditionally been male-dominated.

Being at the Reform club inevitably brings up snippets from the past. Virginia Woolf wrote about “so audaciously trespassing” as a woman on university turf, and being stopped by a Beadle : “he was a Beadle; I was a woman. This was the turf; there was the path. Only the Fellows and Scholars are allowed here; the gravel is the place for me.”

If you’ve seen the film Out of Africa I’m sure you’ll remember the scene where Karen von Blixen (author Isak Dineson) is escorted out of the exclusive gentlemen’s club.
Thackeray looking bemused at this group of female authors

The dark polished wood, the gilt-edged panelling and the male portraits everywhere brings up in me these and other images from women's past. I can’t help thinking of the past because the Reform Club is a spectacular reminder of bygone times. But of course it’s also a tribute to reform, as its name testifies. It was here that great politicians and thinkers of the last two centuries discussed their plans to re-make history and re-imagine the world –  from figures such as Gladstone,  to J. M. Barrie, E.M. Forster and H.G. Wells.

Being able to step onto that “turf” from which we as women were once barred is a wonderful thing. It makes being in the Reform Club as a member of Sourcebooks, a publishing company committed to women writers, a very special thing. What a wonderful space to celebrate the achievements of women since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Phillipa Ashley and Francesca Simon
Gabrielle Kimm, Jane Odiwe, Amanda Grange
Though I’ll admit it. This wasn't the only thing on my mind yesterday, as the champagne flowed, the fireplace flickered, laughter rang out and conversation danced merrily around the table.