Sunday, May 15, 2022



Manydown 1833
By George Frederick Prosser (1805-1882)
Public Domain,

May Meeting

Event:    JASNA CWNY May Meeting
Topic:    Manydown, a new Jane Austen play
               Performed by Sarah Rose Kearns & Laura Rocklyn
When:    Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 1 pm EDT 
Where:   On Zoom
Registration: Click HERE to register and receive a link

Manydown Manor was well known to Jane Austen. She and Cassandra were friends with the Bigg sisters and it was the place where Jane received her only known marriage proposal, from Harris Bigg-Wither. After what must have been a difficult night, Jane finally turned down the proposal and went on to become one of the most well-loved authors in the English language.

In her play Manydown, Sarah Rose Kearns imagines what that night must have been like for Jane and Cassandra. At our May meeting, Sarah Rose Kearns and Laura Rocklyn will perform the play, and take us back 220 years to a night that may have been a turning point in English literature.

The performers are both very accomplished Jane Austen fans. Please read about their backgrounds below, and join us at our May meeting for their performance of Manydown.

Performer Backgrounds

Sarah Rose Kearns is a writer, performer, and lifelong Austen enthusiast. She studied acting with Dan Daily, Ragnar Freidank, Austin Pendleton, and many others; and she holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Columbia University. Her stage adaptation of Persuasion debuted off-Broadway in 2021, while her one-act play Manydown, which imagines one important night in the life of Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra, has recently been produced as a radio drama, available to purchase through Audible. Rose is the most recent recipient of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) International Visitor Program fellowship; she will travel to Chawton, UK, in the summer of 2022 to conduct research for another biographical play about the Austen sisters. She is a frequent speaker on Austen and the art of adaptation, and has discussed her work at such venues as The Peabody Institute in Baltimore, The Jane Austen Summer Program in Chapel Hill, HB Studio, and The New York Society Library. She serves as a member of the JASNA committee for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Laura Rocklyn (Jane) is an actress, writer, and Janeite based in Boston, MA.  Laura has performed with regional theaters across the country where favorite roles have included Lydia in Pride & Prejudice at Round House Theatre, Elinor (u/s) in Sense & Sensibility at The Folger Theatre, Elizabeth in Pride & Prejudice and Marianne in Sense & Sensibility at The Classic Theatre of Maryland. Laura has performed her one-woman show on Jane Austen, Who Dares To Be an Authoress? for JASNA regions and educational groups across the country.  Her original short play Emma is Presented in Washington City premiered as the Curtain Raiser for the JASNA 2016 AGM in Washington, DC, with Laura in the role of Louisa Catherine Adams.  Laura presented her one-woman play about Charlotte Brontë, To Do More and Better Things, as a part of the North American Friends of Chawton House 2021 Speaker Subscription Series.  She holds an MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Jane Austen's Mean Girls

Lucy reveals her tie to Edward

 "Fortunately for her, they had now reached the cottage, and the conversation could be continued no farther. After sitting with them a few minutes, the Miss Steeles returned to the Park, and Elinor was then at liberty to think and be wretched." Sense and Sensibility chapter 22

Event:    JASNA CWNY (virtual) March Meeting
Topic:    "Jane Austen's Mean Girls: Duets and Duels"
               A discussion led by Celia Easton, JASNA-CWNY member and
               Dean of Academic Planning and Advising, Professor of English, SUNY Geneseo
When:    Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 1 pm EST 
Where:   Online
Registration: click HERE

Jane Austen's characters are not always heroes. Even Austen's most endearing characters have flaws. Elizabeth Bennet just can't get over being described as "tolerable". Fortunately, Elizabeth realizes her mistakes and learns to better perceive her own character after receiving Darcy's letter. 

"She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. -- Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd." Pride and Prejudice chapter 36.

However, there are some characters in Jane Austen's novels who are just plain mean. Lucy Steele in Sense and Sensibility intends to have Edward, and, under the guise of friendship, wants Elinor to know it.

Then there is my all time favorite mean girl, Lady Susan. Yes, she needs to do what she needs to do in order to survive, but her whole attitude is fraught with meanness. There does not seem to be a shred of compassion in anything she does.

This month JASNA Central and Western NY invites you to a discussion of "Jane Austen's Mean Girls: Duets and Duels" led by Celia Easton. Celia writes: 

"This meeting with be an interactive discussion on Zoom (including Zoom “polls” for participation) exploring the kinds of “mean girls” who appear in Jane Austen’s fiction and deciding — or not — who’s the meanest of them all."

So if you ever wanted to truly understand some of Jane Austen's less endearing (but always fascinating) characters please join us for this for this discussion. Put aside Elizabeth and Elinor for a bit, and let us know with whom you would least like to have tea.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

 She was in dancing, singing, exclaiming spirits.


The Jane Austen Ball is back!

Jane Austen Ball Weekend
Saturday & Sunday, April 30-May1

Registration opens March 1
Visit here for more information.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Bath From Pump Room to Confectionary Shop

While walking in Bath ,Anne meets Admiral Croft

 Event:    JASNA CWNY (Virtual) February Meeting
Topic:    "'The Shops are Tastefully Laid Out; Capacious and Elegant':
                Shopping in Bath with Anne Elliot & Friends"

                A talk by Ann Buerman Wass, JASNA Maryland Member

When:    Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 1 pm EST 
Where:   Online through Zoom, pre-registration required

Registration: Click HERE to register

Two of Jane Austen's novel take place at least partially in Bath. Our speaker writes:

"Bath was second only to London as a place to shop. In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Anne Elliot visits the city. Using quotes from the book, circa 1815-1816, as Anne and her friends walk the streets of Bath, Dr. Wass rounds out the picture–from the Pump Room to the baths, and a confectioner’s shop to a gunsmith. She does this using a compilation of newspaper advertisements from The Bath Chronicle; contemporaneous images, including views and a map of the city, fashion plates, and caricatures; and extant objects. So, ladies, strap on your pattens, and gentlemen, grab your umbrellas for this shopping tour of the city."

Please join us as Ann Bauerman Wass takes us on an exciting trip to Bath (virtually).

Friday, January 7, 2022

Jane Austen Birthday Celebration


Cuts off a Long Lock of Her Hair
C.E. Brock

Event:    JASNA CWNY (Virtual) Jane Austen Birthday Celebration
Topic:    "A Young Lady of Spirit Happened to be at the Playhouse":
                Austen Re-Writes the Archetypal Coquette for Regency England
                A talk by Claudia Martin, Adjunct Associate Professor at 
               Binghamton University, and JASNA CWNY Member
When:    Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 1 pm EST 
Where:   Online through Zoom, pre-registration required
Notes:     Enjoy birthday cake and/or popovers at home
               Don't forget a suitable beverage on hand for the birthday toast!

Registration: Click HERE to register.

Once again we will celebrate Jane Austen's birthday with a virtual gathering. This year's meeting will feature Claudia Martin speaking on: "A Young Lady of Spirit Happened to be at the Playhouse": Austen Re-Writes the Archetypal Coquette for Regency England. Claudia gave this talk at the recent AGM and we are delighted to have her bring it to us in the Central and Western NY Region.

The speaker writes: The figure of the coquette, a woman publicly performing femininity in pursuit of pleasure and masculine attention, was an archetype that Austen knew well from plays and fictions of the 18th century. This presentation will look at theatrical influences on Austen’s flirts, using film clips to suggest why the coquette readily adapts to film and cross-cultural adaptations.

Claudia Martin is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Binghamton University in both the English Department and the Engineering School, teaching 18th and 19th century British Literature, Law and Literature, and Bad Girls and Wicked Women in Fiction. Her research focuses on the relationship between novels of the long 19th century and the network of laws and socio-legal practices that dispossessed women. 

Please join us for the Birthday Luncheon talk.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

An Introduction to Martha Lloyd & Cooking at Chawton Cottage


Marie Sprayberry reveals her ultimate ambition

He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins's admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture were examined and praised; … The dinner too, in its turn, was highly admired; and he begged to know to which of his fair cousins, the excellence of its cookery was owing. But here he was set right by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen. Pride and Prejudice chapter 13

Event:    JASNA CWNY December Meeting
Topic:    "An Introduction to Martha Lloyd and Cooking at Chawton Cottage"
                 A talk by A. Marie Sprayberry, JASNA CWNY Member
When:    Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 1 pm EDT (2nd Saturday)
Where:   Online through Zoom, pre-registration required

Registration: Click HERE to register.

In December, A. Marie Sprayberry gives us "An Introduction to Martha Lloyd and Cooking at Chawton Cottage." Who was Martha Lloyd, and why was she so important to Jane Austen? This talk not only answers these questions, but discusses Martha's manuscript Household Book, which is now available in a facsimile edition published by the Bodleian Library. Martha's book provides a glimpse into the many ways Regency-era foodways and food preparation differed from our own--as well as some surprising similarities! The focus is on processes rather than modernized recipes, although sources for such recipes  will be provided.

Dinner was an important part of the Regency day. It was a time for families to gather, to show off their wealth and to spar with each other, as Mr. Bennet does with Mr. Collins.

[Mr. Collins] “…I have more than once observed to Lady Catherine that her charming daughter seemed born to be a duchess, and that the most elevated rank, instead of giving her consequence, would be adorned by her. -- These are the kind of little things which please her ladyship, and it is a sort of attention which I conceive myself peculiarly bound to pay."

"You judge very properly," said Mr. Bennet, "and it is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?"

"They arise chiefly from what is passing at the time, and though I sometimes amuse myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible."

Mr. Bennet's expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance, and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure.

Of course, Regency ladies and gentlemen would not have anything to do with the actual preparation of food, as seen in the quote at the top of the page. Nevertheless, food had to be cooked, and we will learn more at our meeting. Please join us on December 11 for Marie's presentation.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Business of Marriage

Emma Plans a Match

"Ever since the day—about four years ago—that Miss Taylor and I met with him in Broadway Lane, when, because it began to drizzle, he darted away with so much gallantry, and borrowed two umbrellas for us from Farmer Mitchell's, I made up my mind on the subject. I planned the match from that hour; and when such success has blessed me in this instance, dear papa, you cannot think that I shall leave off match-making." Emma chapter 1.

Event:   JASNA CWNY November Meeting
Topic:    "The Business of Marriage" 
                A talk by Alice Villaseñor, JASNA CWNY member
When:    Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 1 pm EDT
Where:   Online through Zoom, pre-registration required

 Registratrion:    Click HERE to register

In Jane Austen's Regency, marriage was a serious business. Financial concerns were often just as important as matters of the heart. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor and Marianne discuss just how much wealth is necessary for a happy marriage.

"Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."

"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. Your competence and my wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfort must be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than mine. Come, what is your competence?"

"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than that."

Elinor laughed. "Two thousand a year! One is my wealth! I guessed how it would end." Sense and Sensibility chapter 17.

In Emma the plot revolves around Emma's attempts to arrange a marriage for her young friend Harriet. Of course Emma is totally inept at the business of marriage and fails spectacularly in her attempts to arrange an appropriate match.

At our November meeting, Dr. Alice Marie Villaseñor, Associate Professor of English at Medaille College, will explain the economic and social structures of Regency England that frame the marriage plot of Jane Austen’s Emma. Please join us by registering using the link above.