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Posts Tagged ‘Second Impressions’

Inquiring readers, periodically Christine Stewart sends us her impressions in her quest to understand Jane Austen and study her novels and life in Embarking on a Course of Study. Here is her latest submission. Sandy Lerner, whose successful career as co-founder of Cisco Systems provided her with the fortune to renovate Chawton House, Edward Austen Knight’s  second grand house, and found Chawton House Library, spoke about Jane Austen’s concept of money and wealth in “Money Then and Now: Has Anything Changed?” at the JASNA AGM in NYC earlier this month. While I found her talk to be riveting (the salon was packed) and thought-provoking, some of us disagreed with a number of points she made. (More about that speech in a later post.) Christine also recently heard Sandy speak at Goucher College. Here are her impressions.

Sandy Lerner, savior of Chawton House, now Library, author of the P&P sequel, Second Impressions, visited Goucher last night to give a talk, a reading, and sign copies of her book.

Sandy Lerner at Goucher, image @Christine Stewart

About Sandy Lerner

If you’re not familiar with Lerner:  “Lerner in 1992 bought and restored an estate once owned by Jane Austen’s brother, called Chawton House, in Hampshire, England. She has transformed it into the Center for the Study of Early English Women’s Writing, and is currently underwriting the digitization of the works of female authors who lived in England between 1600 and 1830. The 10,000 volumes, not all of them novels, include works by Austen, Mary Shelley, Frances Sheridan and Maria Edgeworth, among many others, as well as a collection of cookbooks by Quakers.” (Piedmont Maverick by Suzanne Gannon). Lerner co-founded Cisco Systems with her (now ex) husband, and later a cosmetic company called Urban Decay, which sold unusual (at the time) nail colors like green and blue. Their slogan was ‘Does Pink Make You Puke?’ She once posed naked on horseback for Forbes Magazine. In short, she is an interesting, eccentric, wicked smart woman who owns a farm in Ayrshire, Virginia. She bought a 125 year lease on Chawton House in 1993.

My friend Clare and I went to the talk at Goucher College in the (still shiny and new!) Athenaeum. This is where Alberta Burke’s famous Jane Austen Collection  is housed. The Batza Room, where the Jane Austen Scholars talk every two years, was packed (50-75 people). So were the chairs. We were all pretty much sitting on top of each other, so that made it rather unpleasant when a man reeking of onions and gin sat down next to poor Clare. She bore it bravely, but we joked about how much we wished women still carried lavender scented handkerchiefs to bury their noses in.

Goucher’s president Sanford (Sandy) Ungar was there, which always signals that the visitor is a big deal, as if we didn’t know! Outside the door, the table was laden with the very prettily bound books (sort of blue and leathery looking) and elaborate bookmarks from Chawton Library, which you received when you bought the book. I couldn’t get a clear shot of the table because of the swarm of people.

Sandy Lerner at Goucher College

When Lerner took the podium, the first thing she said was that she had just decided what she was going to talk about, which might give you an indication of how well prepared she was. Clare and I enjoyed the talk, for what it was, a quick summary of her love of Austen and buying Chawton and what it is today, and a quick recap of writing the book, with some lamenting about not receiving the proper reviews, how agents and editors won’t talk to her, because she self-published. I think she spoke for, maybe 15 minutes?  (My notes on her talk will follow the post.) There was an awkward pause and she offered to read, but didn’t have a book (!). One was borrowed from the audience and she read for 10 minutes, a very quick scene between Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Read more for my notes about writing the book on my blog, Embarking on a Course of Studyhttp://www.embarkingonacourseofstudy.com/2012/10/sandy-lerner-visits-goucher-second-impressions.html

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The Emporium at JASNA’s 2012 AGM in NYC provided several delightful surprises, among which was meeting the staff of Jane Austen’s World Magazine and Chawton House Library a their respective booths. Jane Austen’s Regency World editor, Tim Bullamore, was selling a variety of magazines and books. The music you hear in the background of the first video is William Herschel’s Sonata in D Op4 No4, which came with the March/April 2010 edition of the magazine. Tim also spoke about Sex, Money and Power in Death Obituaries in the Time of Jane Austen, which I will discuss in more detail in a later post. (Music: With permission from Tim Bullamore, CD from Mar/Apr issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World.)

The staff of Chawton House Library, shown behind the second booth, were  the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Stephen Lawrence, Director of Research, Dr. Gillian Dow, and Director of Development, Ms. Eleanor Marsden (in the last scene with Mr. Lawrence) were also at their stations during various times throughout the conference. It was a pleasure to meet them. Janeites will know Dr. Dow, who also lectures at the University of Southampton in England, from her articles and books on Jane Austen and women’ studies. I have had the pleasure in the past to email Stephen Lawrence about permissions from Chawton House, most particularly in reproducing images of Edward Austen Knight’s suit, which required extensive restoration. Read my article here.

Edward Austen Knight’s Frock coat with lining. Image @Chawton House

Some of the items I purchased from both booths are shown in the video below. I was most particularly pleased to purchase The Compleat Housewife by Elizabeth Smith, reissued by Chawton House. I also purchased four back issues of Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine. You will also see the lovely Sense and Sensibility the Musical booklets, which I used to take notes, the Conference workshop guide, and a tin of tea distributed by the Minneapolis MN JASNA group, where the 2013 AGM meeting will be held. Topic? Pride and Prejudice, of course.

Sandy Lerner, shown left below, one of the keynote speakers, is the driving force behind the resurrection of Chawton House, Edward Austen Knight’s second grand house, and Chawton House library.

Sandy Lerner, author of Second Impressions, and Rachel Brownstein, author of Why Jane Austen? at the author’s book signing at JASNA AGM

Second Impressions is written by Ava Farmer, Sandra Lerner’s nome de plume. Profits from the sale of this book go to the Chawton House library.

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