Jane Austen was an English writer whose books, set among the English middle and upper classes, are distinguished for their wit, social observation and insights into the lives of early 19th century women. Rich in comedy, romance, wit and satire, Jane Austen’s six novels are also pin-sharp reflections of her social and geographical milieu in and around Hampshire, Bath and Dorset.
Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hampshire. She was one of eight children of a minister and grew up in a close-knit family. She began to write as a teenager. In 1801 the family moved to Bath. After the death of Jane’s father in 1805 Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother moved several times eventually residinig in Chawton, near Steventon.
Steventon Rectory was Jane Austen’s home for the first 25 years of her life. From here she travelled to Kent to stay with her brother Edward in his mansion at Godmersham Park near Canterbury, and she also had some shorter holidays in Bath, where her aunt and uncle lived. During the 1790s she wrote the first drafts of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey; her trips to Kent and Bath gave her the local colour for the settings of these last two books.
Jane’s brother Henry aided her deal with a publisher and her first novel, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, appeared in 1811. Her next novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which she designated as her “own darling child” received highly favourable reviews. ‘Mansfield Park’ was published in 1814, then ‘Emma’ in 1816. ‘Emma’ was dedicated to the prince regent, an fan of her work. All of Jane Austen’s novels were published incognito.
Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice both revolve around sisters, and Austen’s loving alliance with her only sister Cassandra lasted all her life. Both Jane and Cassandra had romances, but, like Austen’s heroines, refused to marry for the sake of marriage. They remained single, supporting their mother after the death of their father in 1805.
In 1809, Austen moved with her mother and her sister to Chawton, a tranquil Hampshire village. There, in a house given to them by her wealthy brother Edward, Austen spent her happiest years. All six of her novels date in their finished form from this period. Mansfield Park was published in 1814 and Emma, with its heroine whom Austen foretold ‘no one but myself will much like’, in 1815.
In 1816, Jane began to suffer from poor health, probably due to Addison’s disease. She voyaged to Winchester to receive treatment, and died there on 18 July 1817. Two more novels, ‘Persuasion’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ were published after her death and a last novel was left unfinished.
WIT AND WISDOM OF JANE AUSTEN:
There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.” — Personal correspondence
Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)
One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.” —Sense and Sensibility (1811)
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” —Northanger Abbey (1817)
Without music, life would be a blank to me.” —Emma (1815)
To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)
It is very difficult for the prosperous to be humble.” —Emma (1815)
I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” — Personal correspondence
Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.” —Emma (1815)
The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Kurt Vonnegut, born on 1922 November 11th, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation. He was known, but not famous, when he took a two-year teaching position at the University of Iowa. The Writers’ Workshop would become known and so would Vonnegut.
The house on the Iowa campus (see above) would become a lighthouse for student writers and those who sought to teach them. Among his rules for writers, Kurt Vonnegut counseled: “Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.”
Vonnegut’s honesty, his willingness to scoff at assumed wisdom, is such that reading his work for the first time gives one the notion that everything else is rank hypocrisy. His opinion of human nature was dubious, and that low opinion applied to his heroes and his villains alike — he was continually disappointed in humanity and in himself, and he gave voice to that disappointment in a mixture of black humor and great despair. He could easily have become an old nutter, but he was too smart; he could have become a foolish clown, but there was something tender in his nature that he could never quite suppress; he could have become irrelevant, but even at his most despairing he had an endless willingness to entertain his readers.
Vonnegut’s tenure at the University of Iowa 1965 to 1967 was a wonderful time for the young writers on the Iowa City campus. Also, it was a smashing time for rock music with multiple influences of the mid-1960’s being played on the radio. Our playlist of songs from 1965 in tribute to Kurt Vonnegut at Iowa City (along with his quotes) is as follows:
Ferry Cross the Mersey – Stereo; 1997 Remaster
Gerry & The Pacemakers
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” —
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie) Stop! In The Name Of Love – Single Version
Four Tops The Supremes
My Girl Help Me, Rhonda – Remastered
The Temptations The Beach Boys
Tired of Waiting for You
“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: ‘The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.’” —
Mr. Tambourine Man
Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag The Game Of Love
James Brown & The Famous Flames Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders
Jolly Green Giant Seventh Son
The Kingsmen Johnny Rivers
There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead.” —
Like a Rolling Stone
For Your Love You’ve Got Your Troubles
The Yardbirds The Fortunes
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”
The Beau Brummels
She’s About A Mover – Re-recorded 1968 Shake
Sir Douglas Quintet Sam Cooke
Nowhere To Run – Single Love Potion Number Nine – Stereo Version
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas The Searchers
“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”———-A Man Without a Country
Hang On Sloopy
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place – UK Single I Go to Pieces
The Animals Peter And Gordon
The Last Time – Mono The Boy from New York City
The Rolling Stones The Ad Libs
HIS BIG VICTORIAN HOUSE NOT FAR FROM CAMPUS WAS THE PLACE FOR WIDE SPECTRUM OF PEOPLE TO GATHER, TALK, AND SOCIALIZE.
I Like it Like That – 2019 – Remaster
The Dave Clark Five
Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun) How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
Del Shannon Marvin Gaye
Treat Her Right Shotgun
Roy Head & The Traits Jr. Walker & The All Stars
“Science is magic that works.” —
Do You Believe in Magic?
The Lovin’ Spoonful
Ticket To Ride – Remastered 2009 Silhouettes
The Beatles Herman’s Hermits
You Turn Me On The Birds And The Bees
Ian Whitcomb Jewel Akens
“That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.” —
I’ll Never Find Another You
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – Single The Tracks Of My Tears – Single
The Righteous Brothers Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
THE NUMBER ONE HIT SONG IN 1965 DID NOT CHART IN THE TOP SPOT ON A WEEKLY BASIS THOUGH IT DID ACHIEVE THE TOP SPOT ON THE BILLBOARD ANNUAL CHARTS. THERE IS A SIMILARITY PRIMARY UNIQUENESS WITH THE VERY SPECIAL AUTHOR …KURT VONNEGUT. And So It Goes….
Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs