Wednesday, 11 October 2017

An Evening with Jane Austen at Godmersham

Our Autumn mini-tour of An Evening with Jane Austen is drawing to a close and we have had an absolutely marvellous time. Just one date remains and tickets are selling fast, so be sure not to miss out!

With a cast headed by Adrian Lukis, better known to some as the roguish Mr Wickham, An Evening with Jane Austen cannot wait to call at stunning Godmersham Park. Godmersham was once the home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Knight, and is closed to the public, so this event is a unique opportunity to see inside the house.
Our show at Godmersham will mark the launch of the new £10 note featuring Miss Austen, and we are thrilled to return to Godmersham with a brand new production for 2017!
An Evening with Jane Austen, Godmersham Park, 29th October 2017
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters in the evocative surroundings of Godmersham Park. With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Lady Manners and Mr Lawrence

It's a pleasure to welcome LL Diamond, author of Particular Intentions, for a glimpse into the world of Sir Thomas Lawrence, one of my absolute favourites!


Since publishing Particular Attachments, I’ve received a lot of compliments on the cover, so I thought it would be fun to “expose” my cover so to speak. I only use a part of the painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence, but my Georgiana Darcy in the story has dark brown hair and blue eyes—vastly different than the subject’s. . . well, grey hair. I love the filmy detailing on her white gown and contrasting blue waist, grey gloves, and pink rose. The detailed fleshiness of her hand that is holding the rose is what initially caught my eye in this lovely portrait. If I am careful and very methodical I can draw hands (when I have time to practice), but they are very difficult. You never think of hands as tricking the eye, but the eye doesn’t always interpret the angles correctly when an artist tries to draw them. Checking each and every angle is a necessity if I want it to look as it should, so I find a well-drawn or well-painted hand will draw my attention, as it did on the cover for The Earl’s Conquest as well. I did hope to use more of the background of the painting, but it didn’t look quite right when cropped—particularly with the unusual colouring of the peacock’s tail.

Now that the entire painting is exposed. Who painted it? And who is the lady depicted? Let’s start with the artist.

Sir Thomas Lawrence
(13 April 1769 – 7 January 1830)

Born in Bristol, Thomas Lawrence showed his talent at an early age, drawing pastel likenesses for fashionable people in his father’s tavern for a guinea or a guinea and a half a piece and eventually, supporting his family with his earnings by the age of ten.

At the age of 18, Lawrence travelled to London and became a student of the Royal Academy. He began to exhibit his work soon after and word of his talent spread so rapidly that he was made an associate of the Royal Academy in 1791. Upon the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lawrence became the Painter-in-Ordinary to George III. While the previous generation was more restrained and smooth, Lawrence used thickly applied paint on clothing, boldly contrasted colours, and highlights that almost shimmer from the canvas. These qualities marvelled the fashionable set and earned him the commissions of many of society. He was knighted in 1815 and became president of the Royal Academy in 1820, holding that office until his death in 1830.

Lawrence was never married, though he was linked romantically with the Duchess of Devonshire, Sarah Siddons and both of her daughters, Caroline of Brunswick, and may have kept Isabella Wolff as his mistress.

As an artist, Lawrence was highly successful, however, his spending habits kept him in debt, though no one particularly knew what he spent his money on since it was said he didn’t bet on cards or horses, and never became intoxicated with his friends. He claimed to enjoy reading Jane Austen (I like him all the more for it!). Despite his lack of vices, it was estimated by his bankers that he owed twenty thousand pounds in 1807. He did have an impressive collection of artwork that was sold upon his death.

Now, who is the lady in the painting? Her name is Catharine Grey.

Catharine Grey, Lady Manners
(1766? – 1852) 

Catharine Rebecca Grey was born and raised in Ireland and later became the wife of Tory politician William Manners, who became a Baronet and later Lord Huntingtower. She wrote and published two books of poetry: Poems by Lady Manners (1793) and Review of Poetry: Ancient and Modern, A Poem by Lady M**** (1799).

In the painting, Lady Manners is depicted as the goddess Juno, which is symbolised by the peacock behind her; however, Lady Manners didn’t actually like the painting at all and it is claimed she “rejected” the work. Lawrence hoped to sell the portrait in 1794 at the Royal Academy, but no one purchased it and it remained in his possession until after his death.


Paula R. Backscheider. Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre. 28 Nov 2005. JHU Press. Pg. 407.,_Lady_Manners,_Lady_Manners,_by_Thomas_Lawrence.jpg

About the Book
She swore would never marry!

Georgiana Darcy is a lady with a secret! The last thing she wants is to return to London, but what else can she do when her brother and his wife make plans to spend the Christmas season in town. When Lizzy’s youngest sister, Lydia, joins them, Georgiana gains a confidante, but will Lydia’s outgoing nature cause problems when Lord Sele, son of a family friend reappears in Georgiana’s life?

As an insufferable boy, Lord Sele vowed he would marry Georgiana, but was his return from Ireland a coincidence or was his sole purpose to pursue her? He admits to desiring friendship, but Lydia is determined his desire is Georgiana and she will stop at nothing to see her best friend happily settled.

What is Georgiana to do when faced with the society she has managed to avoid for her entire adult life as well as the one man determined to change her mind about marriage? Will she be able to overcome her fears despite the spectre from the past that seems to be haunting her? Will she be forced to tell her secret and choose happiness or will someone from her past ruin everything?

About the Author
L.L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she has spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans until she vowed to follow her husband to the ends of the earth as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way. 

After watching Sense and Sensibility with her mother, Leslie became a fan of Jane Austen, reading her collected works over the next few years. Pride and Prejudice stood out as a favorite and has dominated her writing since finding Jane Austen Fan Fiction. 

Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolor is her medium of choice with one of her watercolors featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Leslie also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice! 

Leslie’s books include Rain and Retribution, A Matter of Chance, An Unwavering Trust, The Earl’s ConquestParticular Intentions and Particular Attachments.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Remembering Benjamin Whitrow

It was with a huge amount of sadness that I learned of the passing of Benjamin Whitrow. I was fortunate enough to work with Ben on An Evening with Jane Austen and to spend time with him away from the stage and dressing room, enjoying the company of a gent who, though growing frail as the years passed, was no less filled with mischief for it.

In many ways Ben reminded me of my grandfather, an irresistible combination of intelligence, wit and sparky silliness. He was passionate about acting and theatre and was filled with stories not only of his own career but his encounters with some very well known names indeed. Not all of those stories are repeatable, but each was golden.

My last memory of Ben comes just a couple of weeks ago when we all went for a celebratory drink after a performance of An Evening with Jane Austen at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. Ben was on top form, holding court amongst our party with a very generous glass of brandy to chase away the autumn chill. He was, as ever, the life of the gathering. 

He was a force of mischievous nature and we will all miss him dreadfully.

Monday, 25 September 2017

An October Evening with Jane Austen

Our Autumn mini-tour of An Evening with Jane Austen has just two dates remaining. Tickets are selling fast, so be sure not to miss out!

An Evening with Jane Austen, Kenwood House, 1st October 2017 
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters in beautiful Kenwood House. With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay.

An Evening with Jane Austen, Godmersham Park, 29th October 2017
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters in the evocative surroundings of Godmersham Park. With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Salon's Summer Break

As is tradition here on Gin Lane, the salon is closing its doors for my summer gadding; I shall return in September, never fear!

I shall be attending a whole host of events during September and October, with tales of kings, wild boys and Miss Jane Austen. Do pop along and say hello if you can - it'd be marvellous to meet you!

The Mad King and the Coronation ChairStamford Georgian Festival, 23rd September 2017 
The madness of George III is legendary. Restrained, gagged, blistered and plied with leeches, the king suffered humiliating and brutal treatment at the hands of those who were charged with his care. In a country wracked by upheaval both at home and abroad, the monarch’s madness left Britain in turmoil whilst, imprisoned at Kew, he ranted and foamed at the mouth. Join Catherine Curzon for the story of a very human sovereign.

The Curious Story of Peter the Wild Boy, Stamford Georgian Festival, 24th September 2017
In 1725, hunters led by King George I captured a feral child in the forests of Germany and took him home as a pet. Catherine Curzon untangles the history of ‘Peter the Wild Boy’, who was brought to England to entertain and amuse the court. Living in palaces, adored by princesses and heralded as a celebrity, Peter was a curiosity to thrill seekers and scholars alike. Yet when the glamour faded, what became of Peter the wild boy?

An Evening with Jane AustenStamford Georgian Festival, 24th September 2017 
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters! With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay. 
An Evening with Jane Austen, Kenwood House, 1st October 2017 

An Evening with Jane Austen, Godmersham Park, 29th October 2017 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Playing Cards with Jane Austen

It's my pleasure to let you know of a new Kickstarter project, celebrating Jane Austen!


Jane Austen Playing Cards
Eric Ligon is a graphic designer/typographer and Associate Dean at the University of North Texas in the College of Visual Arts and Design. By night, he is a lover of classic novels, and novel playing cards.

Eric is behind a Kickstarter campaign that celebrates Jane Austen with a custom designed pack of playing cards. 

Jane Austen Playing CardsThese cards are rich in authentic period detail, designed using fashion images and needlework patterns from the early 1800s Ackermann's Repository of the Arts. 

Jane Austen Playing CardsEach suit represents a different book: Spades–Pride and Prejudice; Hearts–Emma; Clubs–Persuasion; and Diamonds–Sense and Sensibility. The royalty in each suit is represented by that novel's main characters. The images for all of the female characters come directly from Ackermann’s whilst each ace bears its book’s title and first edition typography. The needlework patterns became the basis for the line art on the back of the cards and on the tuck case. 

If you’d like to find out more about the extensive rewards on off for supporters of this Kickstarter campaign, as well as more about the project, please visit

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Jane Austen and Seduction

It's a pleasure to welcome Meg Kerr for a look at seduction in the works of Jane Austen, and a cheeky quiz all about Austen's seductive scenes!


Devotion, explores the theme of seduction by picking up on the threads left by Pride and Prejudice Hello readers of Madame Gilflurt! My name is Meg Kerr, and I’m thrilled to be here with you. I’d like to thank Catherine for allowing me to contribute this guest post on seduction in Jane Austen’s writings. My new book, Devotion, explores the theme of seduction by picking up on the threads left by Pride and Prejudice through fan-favourite characters including Georgiana Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and others.

How does seduction feature, thematically, in Pride and Prejudice?
When as a reader you’re caught up in the chaste romance between Darcy and Elizabeth, you sometimes lose sight of the fact that two seductions are pivotal in the plot of Pride and Prejudice. 

We know quite a bit about George Wickham’s seduction of Lydia Bennet—or at least all the news that’s fit to print in a Jane Austen novel: she becomes his mistress until the pair are apprehended and forced to marry. 

We only hear about Georgiana Darcy’s brush with Wickham through Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth, so the details are hidden from us. Was more than hand holding involved? We have no reason to think well of Wickham; his relationship with Lydia was certainly a sexual one; and then after news of his flight to London with Lydia becomes public in Meryton, we hear that his “intrigues, all honoured with the title of seduction, had been extended into every tradesman's family.” Wickham is a man on permanent booty call, and Georgiana is a lovely, ingenuous and rich young girl….

What about in Jane Austen’s other novels?
George Wickham is not alone. Jane Austen’s novels are full of charming seducers. Austen’s bad boys—and bad girls! Besides Wickham going after everything that moves in Pride and Prejudice, there’s 
  • John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, who ruined Colonel Brandon’s teenaged ward, and who may have had illicit intentions towards Marianne Dashwood—even love-drugged Marianne is not certain of his innocence in that regard
  • Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, who out of “cold blooded vanity” plans to capture the hearts of the three young ladies at Mansfield, Maria and Julia Bertram and Fanny Price, and is two-thirds successful; and then runs off with Mrs. Rushworth, née Maria Bertram, destroying her life (not his own of course)
  • Lady Susan in Lady Susan (something went on with Mainwaring and we somehow don’t feel positive that Sir James Martin remained untouched before his wedding night)
  • Mrs. Clay/William Elliot in Persuasion (it’s hard to tell who’s taking the lead there!). 

There’s even a parody seducer in Northanger Abbey, John Thorpe, who doesn’t exactly force Catherine Morland into a traveling-chaise and four and drive off with incredible speed, but pretty close. 

Seduction image

How does Devotion explore the theme of seduction?
The charming bad boys and bad girls do their actual seducing off the pages of the novels. I wanted to see what it would be like to catch a bad boy in the act! But not only that—more importantly to me—I wanted to see whether it was possible to redeem a bad boy. Austen tried. 

John Willoughby came close. “That his repentance of misconduct … was sincere, need not be doubted.” And as Austen says that rich old Mrs. Smith would almost certainly have forgiven him for marrying more or less any woman of character, “had he behaved with honour towards Marianne, he might at once have been happy and rich.”  

Henry Crawford came even closer. “Could he have been satisfied with the conquest of one amiable woman's affections, could he have found sufficient exultation in overcoming the reluctance, in working himself into the esteem and tenderness of Fanny Price, there would have been every probability of success and felicity for him.”

But neither reached the goal. Maybe it just is not possible for a bad boy to change?

Devotion is a tale of two seductions—one featuring Georgiana Darcy once more!, and of a charming bad boy, John Amaury, who might be able to change….

Devotion is a tale of two seductions. Who would like to seduce whom in Pride and Prejudice? Test your knowledge with this fun matching quiz and match the “he” to the correct “she”!

Quiz #1 Who does he want to seduce?
Who wants to seduce whom in Pride and Prejudice? Match the eager “He” to “Her”

About Devotion:
In this sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana Darcy, now twenty years old and completely lovely, is ripe for marriage. Her brother has carefully selected her future husband, but the arrival of a long-delayed letter, and a secret journey, bring Georgiana into the arms of an utterly wicked and charming young man whose attentions promise her ruin. At the same time, events in Meryton are creating much-needed occupation for Mrs. Bennet and a quandary for Lydia Bennet’s girlhood companion Pen Harrington; and the former Caroline Bingley is given — perhaps — an opportunity to re-make some of her disastrous choices. Meg Kerr, writing effortlessly and wittily in the style of Jane Austen, sweeps the reader back to the year 1816 for a reunion with many beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice and an introduction to some intriguing characters.

About Meg Kerr:

What do you do when you live in the twenty-first century but a piece of your heart lies in the nineteenth? If you are author Meg Kerr you let your head and hand follow your heart. With her love of country life—dogs and horses, long walks in the woods and fields, dining with family and neighbours and dancing with friends, reading and writing and the best conversation—and her familiarity with eighteenth and nineteenth century history and literature, Meg has a natural gift to inhabit, explore and reimagine the world that Jane Austen both dwelt in and created, and to draw readers there with her.