Yes, Loretta and I are both writers, but we don't like to write about writing. While we're here, we'd rather be Nerdy and Historically Inclined, and besides, the actual act of writing a book is not terribly thrilling for bystanders.
Except, of course, when the book-writing is being done by Jane Austen (1775-1817).
I've already mentioned here (andhere) how more and more rare books and manuscripts are being made available on line. Not only does this wonderful trend free these works from the confines of rare book rooms for a much wider audience, but it also helps safely preserve the originals for posterity.
Certainly this is the case with Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts, a three-year funded project of the University of Oxford and King's College London. Here is the formal explanation of the project, in polysyllabic scholar-ese, but the gist is wonderfully simple: to create a digital resource that offers all of Jane's handwritten manuscripts on line, page by page, with transcriptions beside them.
I can't begin to explain how much I love this. As a reader, it's fascinating to see how a familiar story evolves, how sentences and characters were changed by the author. But as a writer, it's empowering as well, this astonishing chance to peek over Jane's own shoulder as she sits at her desk. Consider this page, the beginning of Chapter Ten of Persuasion, my favorite JA book. Cross-outs and insertions, scribbles and abbreviations and over-writing: all proof that those wonderfully perfect words didn't spring fully-formed and complete, but were wrestled with considerable thought and effort into final submission.
And yes, Jane, seeing that effort only makes me admire you more....:)
Many thanks to Michael Robinson for suggesting this link.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.