Recorded events

Commencing as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns JASA began recording meetings so members unable to attend in person could still enjoy our guest speakers, a practice that we have decided to continue for the time being. Please enjoy these recordings of guest speakers at our meetings.

APRIL 2024

“Edward Taylor: Jane Austen’s First Love” – Syrie James

Renowned author, Syrie James discusses her critically acclaimed novel Jane Austen’s First Love and her research which uncovered a wealth of previously unknown information about the real-life Edward Taylor, heir to a grand estate, who Austen mentioned as a young man upon whom she once “fondly doated.”

Jane Austen’s First Love, which the Historical Novel Society called a “masterwork,” was Library Journal Editor’s Pick of the Year and was described as “A quite delightful romance—not only a touching record of a young girl’s first experience of love, but also a funny, eventful and entertaining comedy of Regency manners.”—Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine

MARCH 2024

“Fathers in Jane Austen” – A Zoom Study Morning

The fathers in Jane Austen’s novels generally play a key role in the destinies of their daughters, often leaving them dependent upon their individual foibles and character. The failures and weaknesses displayed by these men are often integral to the situations of the women in the novels. What does this say about the merits of male inheritance and power in Jane Austen’s world?

Recorded from a Zoom presentation, the morning featured a series of talks and fun activities, as presenters discussed father figures in the novels, debated the best and worst, examined paternal roles and responsibilities, and explored individual shortcomings and qualities.

Chaired by JASA Meetings Coordinator, Julie Sweeten; other presenters were Dr Penelope Nash, Charles Guillan, Sibylle Burkart, Michelle Cavanagh, Cheryl Hill, Harriet Jordan, Judy Stove, Jan Merriman and Susannah Fullerton.


“Such different accounts of you” – Representations of Darcy on Screen – presented by Harriet Jordan

When Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy emerged from a lake in 1995, membership of Jane Austen Societies across the world skyrocketed. Then, in 2005, Matthew Macfadyen’s Darcy flexed his hand. But even before Laurence Olivier’s Darcy picked up a bow and arrow in 1940, readers of Pride and Prejudice were entranced by Fitzwilliam Darcy, who wrote a letter in Austen’s novel published over a hundred years earlier. This presentation will look at the five readily accessible screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice (1940, 1967, 1980, 1995, and 2005), and occasionally at some of the looser adaptations and modernisations, to explore how each version draws on Austen’s character but refashions him to suit the conventions and audience expectations of the time, giving us new Darcys for new generations.

Harriet has a B.A. (Honours thesis on Jane Austen) and an M.Litt from the University of Sydney, and runs a podcast called Reading Jane Austen. She previously presented this topic in November 2023 at the JASNA Conference in Denver, Colorado, for which the theme was “Pride and Prejudice: A Rocky Romance”.


Jane Austen’s False Friends: Isabella Thorpe, her Precursors and her Successors – presented by Prof Peter Sabor

Jane Austen had a special gift for portraying reprehensible characters, male and female. Her false friends form a special female subset. This paper will focus on Northanger Abbey’s Isabella Thorpe, the falsest friend of all in Austen’s novels, while also considering some of the predecessors and successors in works ranging from Love and Freindship and Catharine, or The Bower to Mansfield Park.


Jane in Spain: How Austen Changed my Life – presented by Miguel Angel Jordan

Twenty years ago Miguel’s eye was caught by the cover of a library book – it featured Gwyneth Paltrow holding a cup of tea. He’d seen that picture on a movie poster, so decided to give the novel a chance. (Members will remember that it was the 1996 Hollywood adaptation of Emma.) What he could not imagine was that this choice would change his life completely.


Jane Austen and Publishers – presented by Prof. Chris Browne

In a return visit to JASA, Chris Browne tells the stories of the four most important publishers of Jane Austen from the perspective of the roles they have had in the publication and dissemination of her works. He will also discuss two of her might-have-been publishers and will cover some of the economic difficulties of publishing novels in the early nineteenth century. Chris is a longtime collector of Jane Austen and the books of other 19th Century English authors. If he had been an Austen hero, he would have chosen to be Henry Tilney!

June 2023

A Scandalous Diary: The Grand Tours of Anna Jameson (1794 – 1860) – presented by Judy Stove

Anna Jameson worked as a young governess in the years directly after Austen’s death. Readers of Austen will know that the role of governess could be a daunting prospect, as it was for Jane Fairfax in Emma: it represented thankless drudgery around the clock, coupled with ambiguous social status. Yet there could be compensations. In 1821 Anna Jameson had the opportunity – otherwise out of reach for someone of her background – to travel to Italy with her employer’s family on the established Grand Tour route. The journey provided the inspiration for her first novel, published anonymously in 1826: Diary of an Ennuyée, which created a sensation.

April 2023

Jane Austen in the Classroom – presented by Benjamin Taaffe

For both students and staff of high school English departments, Jane Austen is truly an education. Students respond immediately to the engaging force of the novels’ literal world: the contrast of various marriages; the process of a key decision; the conflict between reason and passion. Austen teaches us all how to see the way in which ordinary events and places carry a profound significance. (This talk was not illustrated, so please enjoy listening to the audio recording.)

February 2023

A plot that Jane Austen herself might have contrived: The story of Rose de Freycinet – presented by Suzanne Falkiner

French naval officer Louis de Freycinet and his wife Rose Pinon, a modest schoolteacher’s daughter, gently raised, but without fortune or connections made a remarkable journey. In the same year that Jane Austen died, Rose dressed herself in men’s clothing and set off to accompany her husband on a scientific expedition to the southern hemisphere. Although not the first woman to circumnavigate the world by sail, Rose was the first to leave an account of her journey. Suzanne has recently published a new book, Rose: The Extraordinary Story of Rose de Freycinet: Wife, Stowaway, and the First Woman to record her Voyage Around the World

October 2022

Jane Austen’s Brother Edward: Art and Accomplishments – presented by Anne Harbers

Jane Austen’s 3rd brother Edward (1767 – 1852) was adopted in 1783 by his father’s cousins Thomas & Catherine Knight who were rich and childless. He was to inherit three country estates and having not been brought up in wealth and luxury, the Knights paid for Edward to undertake two Grand Tours to the Continent to acquire polish and sophistication. In 1786, when he was 18, he visited Switzerland and in 1790 to Italy, Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands. This talk will explore where he went, how he travelled, who he met and most importantly the art and cultural sights that he saw.

September 2022 International Lecture by Zoom

A Bridge to Austen’s mature works … and more – presented by Collins Hemingway

Northanger Abbey serves as a bridge from Austen’s juvenilia to her mature novels. It plays with the conceits of the Gothic novel while also creating Austen’s first relationship story. This presentation uncovers strong evidence that Northanger Abbey likely began as late juvenilia—one of the “betweenities” mentioned by Austen’s niece—and evolved step by step into a mature love story. The presentation shows how Austen builds a modern novel from earlier foundations. The talk demonstrates her developing strengths with dialogue and character development when she moves beyond older literary structures.

August 2022 Meeting

Lady Susan is Dead – presented by Tim Bullamore

Some years have passed since Jane Austen cast her sharp eye over the beautiful, charming and scheming young widow Lady Susan Vernon. The impoverished aristocrat never changed her manipulative ways and after she is dead, how will her obituary read? Will it conform to the Latin maxim “De mortuis nil nisi bonum” (Do not speak ill of the dead)? Or will it allude to her devious character?

Tim Bullamore, an award-winning obituary writer, known to JASA members as [previous] editor of Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine, gives an entertaining presentation on how her obituary might appear in The Times of London today.

June 2022 Meeting

Jane Austen PhD: From reading passion to reading wisely and well Dr Ruth Wilson

The title of Dr Ruth Wilson’s PhD thesis was described by Devoney Looser, who was one of the examiners, as ‘a significant, original contribution that combines the methods of criticism and memoir’. In her talk, Ruth discusses the background of her research and her close readings of the three novels that serve as test cases for the recommended reading approach.
Ruth returned to re-reading Jane Austen’s novels in her retirement and in 2020 she completed a thesis called ‘Milestones in a Reading Life: Jane Austen and Lessons in Reading, Learning and the Imagination’.

Ruth’s reading memoir, A Jane Austen Remedy, is now in bookstores.

April 2022 Meeting

Dramatic Structure in Jane Austen’s Novels – Rev. Dr Michael Giffin

In this presentation, Michael describes the basic architecture of Austen’s dramatic structure, from the exuberant, offbeat, raucous comedy of her Juvenilia—which Chesterton called Rabelaisian and Dickensian—to the serious novels of her adulthood. He introduces the question: Do her novels reveal a theory of mimesis, of art imitating nature or life? Inevitably, this involves chicken-and-egg questions about how she absorbed influences and transformed them into art. Then there is the question of whether her novels became more complex as she matured as a novelist. If the dramatic structure of her novels remained the same, how is her developing literary maturity defined and measured?

Study Day, March 2022: Jane Austen and Food

A special online event by The Jane Austen Society of Australia which included 6 illustrated short talks on a range of topics relating to Jane Austen & Food. Topics covered were food, drink, diet, cookbooks, influences from abroad, and characterization in the novels through relationships with food.

February 2022 meeting

Adrian Dickens – Jewels of the Regency

In this talk, jewellery historian Adrian Dickens discusses jewels of the Regency era, as well as the three pieces (that are known of) relating to Jane Austen. Adrian Dickens is a jeweller with forty years experience in modern, estate and antique jewellery. He trained in England and in 2012 he founded his own business in Australia. He travels in Australia and internationally, sharing his knowledge about jewels and their history. 

Please visit Circa AD Jewels to see Adrian’s beautiful range.

October 2021 meeting

At this meeting, guest speaker JASA member, Jan Merriman, presented ‘Discovering Philadelphia’s Story: Researching the Life and Times of Jane Austen’s Remarkable Aunt, Philadelphia Hancock’.

Philadelphia Hancock was Jane Austen’s father’s older sister. Hers is a remarkable story: orphaned, sent to live with relatives, served as a millinery apprentice in London, and then packed off to India with ‘the fishing fleet’ to marry and then to fall in love. Philadelphia’s daughter Eliza de Feuillide was cousin to Jane Austen and later sister-in-law after she married Jane’s brother Henry.

Jan Merriman presents a talk on her exploration of Philadelphia’s life and its connection to Austen’s works. Jan says:
“My interest in researching the life and times of Jane Austen’s paternal aunt, Philadelphia Hancock, nee Austen, came from an interest in the life of young women in the 18th century, the kind of young women Jane Austen fictionalised and their challenge to make a future for themselves in a world where they held little power or agency. For me, here was a real woman, important to Jane, who struck me as having had an interesting life. Her story deserved to be told. My research began almost four years ago and it’s now become a passion which I’m turning into a book. In my talk I aim to give a little of what I have found about Philadelphia and what I feel about her and the times she lived through.”

Please enjoy the feature talk from our October meeting held via Zoom.

Note: We had some technology problems during this meeting which affected the quality of this video recording.

August 2021 meeting

With Sydney again in lockdown we had no option but to hold our August meeting online via Zoom. Thank you to the 136 people, members and guests, who joined us live for the meeting.

Covid restrictions have also played havoc with our guest speaker programme, this time preventing two guest speakers from giving their talks. Dr Ruth Wilson recently successfully completed a PhD thesis entitled ‘Milestones in a Reading Life: Jane Austen and Lessons in Reading, Learning, and the Imagination’. Ruth will delay her talk sharing the inspiration behind her thesis and the pedagogy involved until we can meet in person. We next approached US-based Dr Janine Barchas, a fabulous Jane Austen scholar, who agreed to do an illustrated talk about her book, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, from her temporary location in New Zealand. Sadly, with just three days’ notice New Zealand went into lockdown preventing Janine from accessing the required technology. Luckily for us, our President, Susannah Fullerton stepped up at the last minute to present this talk on ‘The Best Books about Jane Austen’, her special favourites amongst the thousands of books written about Jane.

Please enjoy the feature talk from our August meeting held via Zoom.

You will find a full list of the books mentioned here:

June 2021 meeting

Social distancing restrictions continue to impact JASA meetings and the June 2021 meeting was held on Saturday 19th June with a limited number of members in attendance by booking only.

Covid also prevented our guest speaker from travelling to NSW, so we were very fortunate that Dr Michael Olsson stepped in, almost at the very last minute (what a true Austen hero!), to speak to us on ‘The British Army in Jane Austen’s time’. Members of the British army, both militia and regular army, play a prominent role in two of Jane Austen’s works, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Dr Michael Olsson will provide insights into aspects of the army in Jane Austen’s time, illustrating them with references to characters from the novels.

Dr Olsson is a widely published information/communication researcher with a passion for history, literature, fencing, martial arts and horsemanship – at least some of which will hopefully prove useful to the talk!

Please enjoy the feature talk from our limited June meeting.

April 2021 meeting

Once again restrictions have impacted a JASA meeting, although numbers are increased. The April 2021 meeting was held on Saturday 17th April with a limited number of members in attendance by booking only. It was great that we could offer afternoon tea this time!

At this meeting, we were entertained by Rachel Givney presenting ‘The Heart or the pen: Jane Austen’s Choice’.

After loving reading Jane Austen as a teenager, Rachel Givney felt saddened when she discovered that the writer of such beautiful love stories never married or had children. She wondered, must a female artist be single and/or unhappy to create art? And if Jane Austen had to choose between the heart and the pen, which would she choose? That’s how her novel, Jane in Love was born. Rachel talked about what inspired her novel and how marriage and family might have impacted Jane Austen’s career.

Rachel Givney is an award-winning writer and filmmaker originally from Sydney, Australia. She’s written for many of Australia’s most beloved and critically acclaimed shows including Offspring, McLeod’s Daughters, All Saints, and The Warriors. Jane in Love is her first novel.

Please enjoy the feature talk from our limited April meeting.

February 2021 meeting

Once again restrictions have impacted a JASA meeting. The February 2021 meeting was held on Saturday 20th February with a small group of members in attendance, all adhering to safe Covid practices.

At this meeting, we entertained by Monida Jarman presenting ‘Universals and Particulars – Pride and Prejudice Retellings from Around the World’. She asks us to consider the stereotypical Jane Austen fan. What does this person look like? What gender? Age? Socioeconomic status? … “I would bet,” she says, “that the majority of people imagine a typical Austen fan as female, middle-aged or older, and middle class. She is also likely white.”

JASA hopes all members and their loved ones remain well and safe. Please enjoy the feature talk from our ‘virtual’ February meeting.

October 2020 meeting

Once again restrictions have impacted a JASA meeting. The October meeting was held on Saturday 17th October with only a small group of members in attendance, all adhering to safe Covid practices. As we did in August, the whole meeting has been recorded on video.

This month, we were lucky to have the wonderful Walter Mason present his talk on headaches and ill health in Jane Austen’s time. Were headaches just for malingerers? Watch and see.

JASA hopes all members and their loved ones remain well and safe. Please enjoy our ‘virtual’ October meeting.

August 2020 meeting

“Let me introduce you to a heroine. Her name was Dorothy Gwynnyd Darnell. It is thanks to this remarkable woman that we can today visit the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton.”

These words marked the beginning of a memorable feature talk. In a first for the Jane Austen Society of Australia, the whole of the meeting held on Saturday 15th August 2020 was recorded on live video. 

Like most organisations, JASA has been unable to hold our regular meetings for many months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, as we emerge from strict lockdown practices, the JASA committee worked within health and safety guidelines to arrange this meeting. The small group of people in attendance adhered to safe Covid-19 practices and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be together again in person while sharing our common bond.

JASA hopes all members and their loved ones are well and safe. Please enjoy this ‘virtual’ meeting.

Jane Austen Society of Australia Inc