We are continuing virtually in 2021 with meetings being held monthly. In January, we delved into “Seeing and Being Seen in Northanger Abbey” with Tim Erwin from the South Nevada Region. Georgian Valentines were the subject in February with Michael Russo and Nancy Rosin from the National Valentine Collectors Association. A crafternoon followed the talk, and several of our members’ own Valentines are in the gallery below. In March, we held our meeting on a Tuesday evening for a rousing game of bingo with “Huzzah!” instead of the usual shout of “Bingo!” In April, we enjoyed a video presentation on English gardens courtesy of American Ancestors by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Candice Hern joined us for a virtual Q&A session in May after we watched her AGM videos on “Things That Might be Kept in a Reticule.” She was a great guest, and there was interesting discussion and questions. In June, Dan Macey, of the Eastern PA region, helped us enjoy a Virtual Box Hill Picnic. Receipts were shared before the event and members shared pictures of their treats.
The normal in-person 2020 summer and December events did not occur, but beginning in spring 2020 we began meeting virtually on a monthly basis. These meetings have featured lively discussions on many Austen topics including the film adaptation EMMA.;
making a reticule and how to challenging it was to dress in Jane Austen’s day; a virtual trip to Austen’s England; a Jane Austen Murder Mystery; food in the time of Austen; an AGM recap and scavenger hunt; Hillary Davidson’s “Dress in the Age of Jane Austen”; and carols of the Regency period paired with a special-order Birthday Box.
The JASNA MD Winter Meeting on Saturday, December 14, was at Kelsey’s in Ellicott City, Md., where we celebrated Jane Austen’s birthday. Maggie C. Sullivan from the Eastern PA Region presented “From Handmade to Digital: Jane Austen’s Publication History.”
Although not technically one of our JASNA meetings, we wanted to share some of the fun pics from the 2019 Williamsburg, Va., AGM and the post-AGM Day with Martin and Susan Dell at Goucher College, Md.
We had a delightful Summer Meeting featuring Alexandra Deutsch of the Maryland Historical Society. Ms. Deutsch spoke to us on the remarkable life of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, and about the Maryland Historical Society and its collection of Regency/Federal artifacts. A buffet brunch and a business meeting followed.
We had a lovely time at the JASNA MD Birthday Meeting on Saturday, December 8. The Johns Hopkins Club was decorated for the holidays and made for an amazing setting for our festivities. It was wonderful to catch up with all our JASNA friends and toast Jane on her birthday.
The highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Sarah Walsh and Vicki Lynn Embrey titled “Mrs. Adams and the Authoress: A Fantasia on Two Remarkable Women.” Sarah wrote the short script, which imagined the two women meeting in Heaven’s Library in the year 1818. It was quite clever, informative and entertaining.
The Day With Emma in Staunton Trip. We had an amazing day in Staunton, Va.! Thanks to every one who joined us and made this trip so much fun. The weather on the way down was a little iffy, but the rain cleared as we hit the Staunton city limits and all was good.
The Playhouse Tour was fascinating — what a beautiful theater!! There’s not a bad seat in the house. It was fun to go backstage and down into the prop room (did any one else spy the basket of strawberries on the shelf?) and the costume room. Tea at the Anne Hathaway Tea Room was delightful. The garden was quaint, and inside you felt as if you’d been transported back in time. And the play was just the icing on the cake. The best part … there are seats on the stage for truly brave audience members (including a few of the ladies on our tour). Two girls from the local college who had never read Emma and had never seen any of the adaptations were experiencing Austen for the first time. When Mr. Knightley proposed, one girl turned to the other and mouthed “I knew it!” By the time Mr. Martin proposed to Harriet, they (the girls) were in raptures. Such a treat to see the magic of Austen through fresh eyes.
After the show we were treated to an exclusive talkback with four of the cast members. They answered our questions and explained their process in bringing the characters to life.
Even the bus trip was fun, with trivia, Austen-related Bingo, door prizes and a raffle.
On Saturday, July 21, was our Summer Ode to Captains Wentworth, Benwick and Harville as we explored life on an early (American) sailing vessel, Baltimore’s own USS Constellation. After an exclusive tour of the ship, we headed off for provisions. It was a very muggy and showery day, but it was enjoyed by all.
JASNA MD members attended a Birthday Event for Jane Austen on Saturday, December 16, at the Johns Hopkins Club in Baltimore. We celebrated with lunch, a specially decorated birthday cake and the singing of “For SHE’s A Jolly Good Writer.”
Our featured presenter was the always delightful Dr. Juliette Wells, who gave an illustrated lecture titled “The Hidden History of Austen in Early America.”
Members also had a chance to place donation bids on a one-of-a-kind plush fleece Austen blanket made especially as a fundraiser for this meeting. Joyce was the lucky winner.
JASNA MD members met for lunch on Saturday, July 29, at Union Jack’s in Columbia, Md., for our annual Summer Meeting. The event featured a memorial to mark Austen’s passing with readings of the tomb marker, her obituary, the 1870 brass tablet, and an excerpt from Kipling’s “Jane’s Marriage.” A proclamation from Governor Larry J. Hogan of Maryland commemorating the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and expressing “great respect and deep appreciation” to JASNA for our efforts to honor her legacy was also read. The memorial ended with the group singing “Amazing Grace.” Members Susan Dill, Mark Turner, Juliette Wells, Nancy Magnuson, Jennifer Jones, Polly Bart and Rita Baker-Schmidt led the memorial.
The main event was food historian Kimberly Costa’s presentation “From Page to Plate: Food in Jane Austen’s Time.” Ms. Costa’s delightfully entertaining slideshow/talk gave us peek into the Regency kitchen as cooks and hostesses planned and prepared food for a variety of households.
On Sunday, May 21, five JASNA MD members and their guests joined Chef Nancy Longo at PierPoint Restaurant in Fells Point, Baltimore, to learn about Regency cooking and make some sweet and savory dishes. We made curry soup, meat pie, fish, apple puffs and two types of rout cakes. Then we set the table and sat down for a delicious meal. It was the perfect combination of good food, wonderful company and a bit of learning.
JASNA MD celebrated Jane Austen’s Birthday with a trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art on Saturday, December 3. We gathered at 10:00 a.m. at the museum to enjoy a wonderful lunch at Gertrude’s Restaurant. This was followed by a brief business meeting, including our traditional toast, the AGM wrap-up and the election of officers (Peggy and Rita were re-elected to their posts of Treasurer and Coordinator, respectively). Then we went on a self-guided scavenger hunt of the museum to find Regency and Federal period art. Members who completed the scavenger hunt earned a commemorative magnet.
We had a delightful day exploring Hampton Mansion on Saturday, July 16. Our Summer Meeting began with a delicious boxed lunch arranged by our treasurer, Peggy. After a short business meeting, Rita gave a presentation on how life on a large estate in Federal Maryland compared with life on a large estate in Regency England. She gave us some history on Hampton Mansion and the estate, and explored how the Ridgelys of Hampton compared to the heroes in Austen’s books. A Q and A followed the talk, and then we broke into small groups for tours of the house. While the first tours took place, the rest of the group explored the grounds or stayed in the Orangery to play Jane Austen Bingo and have some fun.
The house tour was a delightful and informative glimpse into the lives of the Ridgely family. Highlights were the bedrooms (restored to various periods), portraits of Governor Ridgely and Eliza Ridgely and, of course, Eliza’s harp. Alas, we couldn’t convince our guide to let us sneak up to the famous cupola.
We rang in the holiday season with a talk by our own Dr. Juliette Wells, Associate Professor and Chair of English at Goucher College, who presented a lecture on what we know about Christmas celebrations from Austen’s letters and fiction. Dr. Wells concentrated on Emma
, our bicentenary novel, which includes Austen’s most extended description of festivities. Dr. Wells also explored the busy Decembers of 1815 and 1816 that led to the publications of the first English and first American editions of Emma
Dr. Wells specializes in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, with a special focus on Jane Austen. She is the author of Everybody’s Jane: Austen in the Popular Imagination (Bloomsbury Academic, 2011) and the editor of the recently published Emma: 200th-Anniversary Annotated Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition), for which she also penned the introduction.
We enjoyed a tea with scones, sandwiches and pastries at the lovely Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore on Light Street. And we toasted Jane’s birthday with a rousing chorus of “For She’s a Jolly Good Writer!”
“Dress was her passion. She had a most harmless delight in being fine …” —Description of Mrs. Allen (Northanger Abbey
, Chapter 2)
July 2015: Saturday, July 18, broke hot and muggy over the shores of Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia, Md. But, like an Austen heroine, a little bad weather wasn’t going to stop us from having some fun. We met at Petit Louis Bistro just before noon. The rain took a break for our promenade and group photo at the lake. Then we retired to the restaurant for a lovely French luncheon and our program.
Dr. Ann Wass, a costume historian, presented an illustrated lecture on the latest fashions in 1815 called “New and Fashionable Goods, Suitable to the Present Season.” Dr. Wass walked us through fashions that were popular in both England and France. As the talk progressed, we were able to put together our own fashion albums from copies of historic advertisements.
We celebrated Austen’s birthday with movies at Christopher Daniels Restaurant in Timonium, Md. Media critics Christopher Llewellyn Reed and Linda DeLibero joined us to discuss how to take a fresh look at the 1940, 1995 and 2005 versions of Pride and Prejudice,
discussing the elements that make for great adaptations and considering how our preferences are shaped by filmmakers’ choices. From Greer Garson’s hoop skirt to Colin Firth’s famous lake scene, everything was on the table for our fascinating multimedia discussion.
On the business side, we elected a new Regional Coordinator, Rita Baker-Schmidt, and a new Treasurer, Peggy Maxson.
”The profession, either navy or army, is its own justification. It has every thing in its favour; heroism, danger, bustle, fashion. Soldiers and sailors are always acceptable in society. Nobody can wonder that men are soldiers and sailors.” —Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park
, Volume I, Chapter XI
July 2014: Our Saturday, July 26, meeting gave us a historical glimpse at life in the Royal Navy, the Navy’s role in the Battle of Baltimore and their links to our beloved Miss Austen. The year was both the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mansfield Park and the bicentennial of the bombing of Fort McHenry, and we commemorated both.
The meeting started out at Hull Street Blues Cafe. Named after Isaac Hull, Captain of the frigate USS Constitution and darling of the American fleet, the historic Hull Street Blues was a ship’s chandlery (a store specializing in ship’s supplies) before it was converted to a tavern in 1889.
From there we proceeded down the point to Fort McHenry for an exclusive lecture by one of the park’s historians, Ranger Vince. We were treated to an amazing and in-depth talk on what it was like to be a sailor in the British Navy, Austen personal and literary connections to the Navy, and the role the British Navy played in the Battle of Baltimore. Afterward, many of our members took the opportunity to tour the fort.
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” —Jane Austen
December 2013: Our Sunday, December 15, meeting took place in the Formal Lounge in Doyle Hall at Notre Dame of Maryland University and featured mystery author Tracy Kiely. Her books include Murder at Longbourn, Murder on the Bride’s Side, Murder Most Persuasive and Murder Most Austen. Much like her books, Ms. Kiely’s talk was interesting and witty. No wonder she was named a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award.
Jane Austen has inspired countless writers to set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). The results, both scholarly and easy reading, bulge our bookshelves and cram our Kindles. But which are worth recommending to our fellow Janeites? At this meeting, our own members took the stage to review Austen-inspired books and helped us separate the Darcys from the Wickhams.
We had a lovely tea at Goucher College’s Athenaeum, caught the college’s “Pride and Prejudice: A 200-Year Affair” exhibition and even had a peek inside the Alberta and Henry Burke Jane Austen Collection.
The pianoforte played a supporting role in many of Austen’s novels. WBJC classical music host Mark Malinowski shared with us some insights on how Austen used the instrument to evoke emotions of sorrow, deceit, love and affection.
The day was an extra special one for JASNA Maryland, because we got to honor one of our longest serving members and then treasurer, Rena Kelly. Rena was surprised with a basket of gifts, a tiara and a proclamation from the Mayor of the City of Baltimore announcing December 1, 2012, to be “Rena Kelly Day”! We also got to hear a brief history of Rena’s life story as written by her son, Eugene.
Lunch and festivities took place in the Hamptons Dinning Room at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in Baltimore.
Our members gathered on the grounds of the Patapsco Female Institute Ruins in Ellicott City to see the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company perform Pride and Prejudice
on Sunday, June 24. Pre-show activities included music, English line dancing, a costume booth and a swordfighting display.
Our group was also treated to a pre-show panel titled “Kitty and Lydia: Mischief and Merriment,” moderated by Polly Bart. The discussion included JASNA members Mark Turner and Karen Hornig as well as the actresses portraying Kitty and Lydia in the show, Jana Stambaugh and Rachael Jacobs.