For as long as I can remember I have always loved music. While my parents were not formally trained musicians, it was a rare day that you didn’t hear one of them break out in song. As you might suspect, I just had to join in. My mom had old sheet music which I learned to play on the piano while she and I sang. Then my whole family would often sing songs together while riding in the car instead of listening to the radio. Even at night my dad would read to me and sing an old song before I went to sleep. His favorite happened to be “Old Buttermilk Skies” by Hoagie Carmichael.
Growing up in Janesville, Wisconsin, my love of music followed me everywhere. In addition to voice, my mom allowed me to study violin and piano. When I attended college at Northwestern University I majored in Vocal Performance. Currently, I live in Crown Point, Indiana where I still continue to sing and have a delightful studio of young people where I teach Voice, Violin, and Piano.
So, how did I ever get into JAFF? (Jane Austen Fanfiction) Well, in addition to music, my parents loved old movies. My first exposure to Jane Austen occurred when my mom took me to see Pride and Prejudice, staring Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier. If any of you have seen that version, you will note that it was not set in Regency and basically did little more than hit the high points of the story. Still, I loved it. As time went on, I happened to find a used anthology of all of Austen’s works and then later got hooked on the BBC adaptations.
In the summer of 2011 while visiting a Barnes and Noble Bookstore, I happened to notice of table of JAFF books. Since I had never been big in social media, I didn’t even realize such things existed. Wow, did I blow my budget that day! Curiously, one of the first books I read was written by Mary Lydon Simonsen. In the back of the book I found an email address and decided to send her a message so that I could tell her how much I enjoyed her story. She kindly directed me to the JAFF community on Facebook, and from there I found DarcyandLizzy.com where I am now an avid reader and Forum Moderator.
After reading countless tales, I decided to try my hand at writing. If you look on the forum, you will find many of my short stories in the archives under the authorship of Jen Red. Currently I am working on a longer tale, Darcy’s Melody, which I plan post on the forum before publishing.
Thanks so much for stopping by my page.
See you in the threads!
Today, being Jane Austen’s birthday, 16 December, I would like to pay tribute to a very special woman in the world of literature. I first discovered Jane Austen when I was but a teenager. My mother was a lover of old movies and introduced me and my sister to the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice movie starring Greer Garson and Lawrence Oliver. What could be better than this old black and white with lively music and lighthearted banter between our beloved characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy?
Little did I know that this old film was just a sneak preview into the world of Jane Austen and the literary works that I would soon come to love and cherish. Following this introduction, I quickly sought out our local used book store to see if I might purchase the original. To my delight, I found a fat anthology containing not only Pride and Prejudice, but all six of Jane Austen’s completed novels.
Our dear Jane was born on 16 December 1775. She was one of eight children (six boys and two girls) born to George and Cassandra Austen during the course of their marriage. Like Elizabeth and Jane from Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen was very close to her elder sister Cassandra.
Coming from a family of modest means, Jane did not have the privileges that would have been given to her in a more affluent household such as that of Georgiana Darcy or even Caroline Bingley. Her father was a simple clergyman who not only performed his duties in the ministry, but farmed and often boarded several boys that he tutored for extra income. While Jane and Cassandra did have some schooling outside of the home, from what I can tell, the majority of Jane’s education came from the independent reading she did, guided by her father and brothers, James and Henry.
Jane had long been interested in the written word, and some of her earliest writings can be traced back as far as age eleven. She often wrote stories, poems, and short plays for her family’s amusement, and engaged in family theatricals on a regular basis. We can easily imagine how some of these experiences in Jane’s early life must have stimulated her imagination as well as forming the foundation for much of her writing that we enjoy today.
In this current day and age it is fascinating to be a part of the Jane Austen Fan Fiction culture that hungers for sequels, prequels and adaptations of almost every type based on Jane’s works. While writing my current Work In Progress, Darcy’s Melody, I have taken Austen’s main characters and written them into a new tale which takes place in London, during 1811. Although I could never hope to emulate Jane Austen’s masterful writing, I have thoroughly enjoyed trying to capture the essence of her characters within a genre that is so familiar to me, music. If you have not already done so, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you over to the storyboard to read along as I bring my tale to a close. Enjoy! Jennifer Redlarczyk ♫
PS I would love to know what first drew you to Jane Austen. What is your favorite Austen Book and what is is about JAFF that keeps you hungering for more?
What is it about a beautiful handmaid quilt that makes your heart want to sing when you look at it or run your fingers over the seemingly endless stitches that were so lovingly placed throughout? For me it is an appreciation of an art that gives me a connection to the past. My mom, Jean Gibson Kreuser, came from a long line of Kentucky quilters who quilted out of necessity.
Growing up on a small 100 acer farm during the depression, my mom and her sisters used every scrap of fabric they could find in order to make coverings that would keep them warm at night. I remember her telling us stories how they would cut squares out of old shirts, dresses and sometimes even feed sacks to create their quilt tops. When looking in her old trunk, which I viewed more like a treasure chest, she still had several hand pieced blocks that she made when she was a young girl.
As a child, I remember my mom was a woman who loved to keep her hands busy. I can still see her sitting in the old rocking chair crocheting or embroidering as we watched television or listened to music on the radio or phonograph. When I was very young, Mom sewed on an old Singer treadle sewing machine, as did my grandmother. I could sit at her feet for hours watching the wheel spin and the fabric run past the sewing feed as she made curtains for our windows or created the cutest clothes for me and my little sister, Melody.
At the young age of seven I desperately wanted to learn how to sew on that old machine and pestered my mom until she finally agreed to teach me. I was thrilled when Mom told us that our first project would be a nine-patch quilt top. The nine-patch was an old favorite of Mom’s, since it reminded her of her own childhood and all of the hours she spent sewing with her sisters.
In making the nine-patch, the first thing we had to do was to cut an accurate two and a half inch square for the template. Once we got the cardboard template made, the next step was to tediously trace and cut the squares on varied scraps of cloth, being careful not to waste any fabric. We then sorted out the solids and prints, making what I thought were a very pleasing arrangement of blocks on the table. At last we were ready to sew.
On modern sewing machines, it is quite easy to make an accurate seam. On the old treadle it was more difficult so you had to mark the sewing lines for the seams to insure accuracy or use the presser foot as a gauge. With her loving hands guiding me each step of the way we worked diligently and actually completed the quilt top during the course of the summer between my second and third grade. Today, that old quilt resides at my sister’s house, and as tattered and worn as it is—the quilt has been an old favorite for many years.
Being a lover of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I have always had a soft spot for dear Georgiana, the younger sister who remembers so little of the mother who died when she was but a little girl. In my story Lady Anne’s Quilt, I have decided to give Georgiana a loving bond to her past through a very special heirloom, her mother’s quilt. Georgiana and her new sister, Elizabeth, happen to come upon the quilt while exploring the contents of an old trunk which was left by Lady Anne for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday. From there, a story of discovery allows Georgiana to connect with her mother in a way that is very endearing. This story may be found on the completed stories board on the forum. Lady Anne’s Quilt
In researching quilts made during Jane Austen’s time, I discovered that most quilts were often made from whole cloth and were not necessarily pieced or appliquéd as many are today. Even so, I learned by reading a wonderful UK article printed in The Jane Austen Community which tells us that Jane, her sister Cassandra, and her mother hand pieced the beautiful patchwork quilt that is now on display at Chawton Cottage in Hampton, UK. Here is a quote from the article.
In May 1811, Jane asked her sister Cassandra, “have you remembered to collect pieces for the Patchwork?—we are now at a standstill.”
In corresponding with Sue Dell, Collections Volunteer at Jane Austen’s House Museum whose specialty is the Austen quilt, Sue told me that the central medallion is a chintz fabric that was taken from a piece that was sold as a panel for quilting, making chair covers or fireplace screens. The central medallion was cut out of this panel in the shape of a diamond and is equivalent in size to 121 of the small edging diamonds. Because it is printed, there is no piecing involved in this section of the quilt. Sue say that the full panel can be seen in a quilt in the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle in Yorkshire.
In addition to the center medallion, there are at least 64 fabrics including a mixture of dress fabrics and furnishing fabric that are used in the construction of the quilt. The central area is made up of block printed fabrics that were probably fussy cut. This technique centers the flower before cutting out the shape. The small diamonds around the edge are largely made from roller printed fabrics.
There is no embroidery on the quilt. In fact, Sue says that though it is called a quilt, it is considered a coverlet since there is a layer of wadding between the patchwork and the backing, but the layers have not been connected by a quilting stitch. While there were quilts made at this time with the quilting stitch going through all of the layers, Sue believes that the Austen women made theirs for decoration rather than warmth. Interestingly, Sue also says that the quilt is completely symmetrical in terms of the positioning of the patches—even the tiny diamonds around the edge.
When taking in all of the planning that must have gone into the quilt by the Austen women, and viewing the end result, one can only image that the hand sewing of this treasure would have taken months to complete. For those of us who value the art of quilting, I feel that we are fortunate to have this particular connection to Jane Austen’s past. My heartfelt thanks of appreciation go out to all lovers of Austen and to those historians who have worked so hard to preserve another part of her legacy.
NOTE: I would like to make mention of an incredibly beautiful book called Jane Austen Patchwork Mystery by Linda Franz. In it you will find wonderful color pictures and additional information about Jane Austen’s quilt. Included are step-by-step instructions of how you might make your own patchwork treasure.
ALSO: I would like to acknowledge Sue Dell, who so graciously answered many of my quilt questions by email. Sue will be speaking at the Jane Austen North American (JASNA) convention on Friday, October 21, 2016 from 7:00-8:00 pm. The Annual General Meeting takes place from October 21-23 in Washington DC Metropolitan USA. Here is the blurb from her lecture:
Jane Austen was an adept needlewoman who did plain sewing and participated in the decorative crafts of the wealthier classes. Jane, her mother, and her sister together stitched a unique and beautifully designed quilt, now displayed at Jane Austen’s House Museum. Slides showing the quilt in previously unseen detail will accompany a discussion of its design, construction, and historical context.
I would love to know if you have ever been to Chawton House and seen the Jane Austen Quilt. Or if you have a special quilt story of your own, please feel free to share it in the comments thread. Thanks so much for reading my blog today. Jen Red ♫
In chapter eight of Darcy’s Melody, Elizabeth comforts Georgiana much as a mother would. As we all know from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,Georgiana lost her mother at a very young age and was most likely raised by several governesses. After the passing of her father, her guardians became her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy and her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Knowing that, it is understandable that Georgiana is exceedingly shy, as she is described by Jane Austen in her novel. We might also speculate that she is in much need of female companionship and would have benefited by having a sister.
As you will read in Darcy’s Melody,music is all important to Elizabeth Bennet who sings and is willing to share her love of music to inspire others. Lizzy’s song, All Through the Night (Ar Hyd y Nos)is a lovely Welsh folksong sung to a tune that is mentioned in the Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards (1784) by Edward Jones. The Welsh lyrics were written by John Ceiriog Hughes, and have been translated into several languages, including English. Curiously, the melody was earlier used by John Gay in his ever popular English Ballad Opera, The Beggar’s Opera, 1728.
The second link is Bryn Terfel’s rendition sung in traditional Welsh. I first heard Mr. Terfel sing in concert at the Ravinia Summer Music Festival when I lived in the Chicagoland area. He has an amazing baritone voice and in this setting, the song is much like a prayer. Thank you so much for listening, and please feel free to tell me how music inspires you. Jen Red ♫
“What is that you are saying, Fitzwilliam? What is it you are talking of? What are you telling Miss Bennet? Let me hear what it is.”
“We are speaking of music, Madam,” said he, when no longer able to avoid a reply.
“Of music! Then pray speak aloud. It is of all subjects my delight. I must have my share in the conversation, if you are speaking of music. There are few people in England, I suppose who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.” Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
I have often wondered what was required of a young lady to become a great proficient during Jane Austen’s time. Jane Austen, 1775-1817, studied the pianoforte until she was age twenty-one. As we know from reading her novels, music was an integral part of her stories. Several of her heroines played the instrument and sang, not to mention that her characters often attended balls and assemblies or concerts.
I suspect that Georgiana may have begun her musical studies at a very young age. While her first teacher may have been her governess, as she grew older and showed more promise, her father, and later her brother, would have engaged Masters who resided in London to serve as her tutors.
“Oh! Yes—the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so accomplished!—She plays and sings all day long.” Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
To become truly accomplished on the Pianoforte, a young lady such as Georgiana Darcy might have easily practiced six to eight hours a day, much like university music majors do today. Her technical studies may have included the older masters such as J.S. Bach, C.P.E.Bach, G.F. Handle, and Domenico or Alessandro Scarlatti. Then she would have been introduced to more contemporary masters such as Clementi, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. In addition, she would have had vocal studies where she would have been expected to learn Italian arias and popular ballads written by English composers.
In Darcy’s Melody, I have allowed several proficient musicians to join the cast of characters and I would like to introduce them to you here. For example, in chapter one, we first hear of Herr Schneider, Georgiana’s music master, from her days at school. Coming from a German descent, I envisioned him as having lived in Hamburg where he studied with the notable C.P.E. Bach before immigrating in his later years to London where he took up his teaching position.
Then, in Chapter Two, I have mentioned the acclaimed blind composer from Vienna, Maria Theresia von Paradis, 1759-1824. In my story, she happens to be a summer guest of the Darcys’ cousin, Lady Jessica Helmsley. In reality, Miss Paradis was a personal friend of Mozart and toured extensively in Europe as well as London. At the hospital concert, in chapter six, Georgiana and her friend Lady Lilyan perform Miss Paradis’ composition, the beautiful Sicilienne.Please click here to listen to Sicilienne by Maria von Paradis.This particular recording of Sicilienne happens to be arranged for the flute and harp.
As for Elizabeth Bennet, while she has not had the opportunity to study formally like her friend, Georgiana, in Darcy’s Melody we find that she has an inherit gift for singing. Her strength comes through her interpretation of the ballad song which was very popular during Jane Austen’s time.
During the course of the story we are also introduced to an English musician, Sir Henry Bishop, 1786-1855, who became the music director and composer in residence of Covent Garden around 1810, at the young age of 24. Mr. Bishop was known for his ever popular English Ballad Operas. In Darcy’s Melody, Mr. Bishop assists Lady Matlock’s committee in her charitable endeavors and is commissioned to write a song, Deep in my Heart, which will be sung later in the story by Lizzy. Please click here to listen to my recording of Deep in My Heart by Sir Henry Bishop.
While we journey our way through the posting of Darcy’s Melody here on the forum, I hope that you will enjoy how I’ve incorporated my own passion for music into this tale. Now that you’ve read a few of my thoughts and speculations, what can you tell me about your musical background? Have you ever studied the piano or another instrument? Do you sing? I wonder if any of you have performed professionally or know of someone in your family who does. Please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts, as I would love to hear them.
The written word is like music to my soul. It can stir your emotions to great heights, inspire, and challenge you to think, put a smile on your face or perhaps leave you with a bit of melancholy. Just as a musician paints a story by the way he writes his music, the author writes the melody of his innermost being and leaves it on the written page for us to read.
In Darcy’s Melody, Elizabeth Bennet and Georgiana Darcy meet through their mutual love of music. This is the story of how music and friendship bring two families together, challenging Fitzwilliam Darcy to embrace a new melody within his heart.
A preview from the first chapter of Darcy’s Melody is now appearing in the forum thread called A New Story Posting. Below you will find a visual preview of my tale. The stills are taken from the Pride and Prejudice 1995 Movie, while the Deryshire photos were shot by author, Florence Nicolaï. I shall be posting Darcy’s Melody in its entirety on this forum before publishing. If you are currently not a member, please feel free to register and login. See you in the threads!
Just for fun, I decided to interview some of our authors on DarcyandLizzy.com to find out what kind of music inspires their muse. Here is what I discovered. ~ Jen ♫
Aleksandra – Ola Wegner: “I love all kinds of music from Classical to Film Soundtracks, then Country Music, Jazz, Broadway, Rock, and Opera. It’s kind of like reading. I love a little bit of everything, although oddly enough, I’m not much on Romance.”
Aureader – Rose Fairbanks: “I like to write with the 2005 P&P Sound track playing in the background. After that, it’s usually Disney Theme Songs.”
Kay Kay’s Quill – Kathy Langenstein Berlin: “I’m a Hard Rock kind of girl, especially when I am driving my 2015 Mustang. What does that have to do with my muse, you ask? I work out dialogue and complex scenes while driving. Bizarre, I know, because my JAFF is Regency, not modern. When I move to my office and my computer for both my full-time job and my Darcy and Elizabeth story, I also move to Jazz, which is my version of white noise. Today, though, it will be all Prince, in the same way that several days were devoted to David Bowie not too long ago.”
Klnba – Zoe Burton: “I can’t have any noise when I write, so I don’t play music at that time. I do love Country. George Strait is my favorite, though I have many songs and artists that I love.”
Leenieb1- Lennie Brown: “Oh this is a hard question! I LOVE music! Let’s see, when writing, I need music that is instrumental … no words allowed. I prefer that it be soothing and have the right feel or mood for what I might be working on, but that doesn’t always happen.”
Liedermadchen – Natalie Richards: “As for inspirational music, I prefer tunes that are more on the mellow side while writing so that I won’t be distracted by the sudden urge to dance a reel. Christina Perri’s Arms comes to mind, Ella Fitzgerald & Loius Armstrong’s You Can’t Take That Away From Me and Dream a Little Dream of Me, Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men, Nora Jones & the soundtracks for The Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice are others.”
Lindablanche – Linda Tremblay Blanchette: “I don’t use music to fuel my muse as I always write without anything on. But, to get rid of writer’s block, I usually play Classic Rock or Pop like Journey, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Madonna, Prince etc.”
Lis – Lis Batten: “I do like some modern composers and Mark Knopfler and his record Sailing to Philadelphia is one of my favorites. I’ve always liked Classical Music ever since my music teacher introduced our class to Tchaikovsky’s Overture of 1812 when I was 11 years old. Then many years ago, I watched the film Somewhere in Time and have never forgotten that music. I particularly like Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.”
Mgtiffy – Maureen Grinter: “I like everything from Classical, Rock n’ Roll, Pop, Scottish Pipe Bands, but I guess what fuels my muse when I’m sitting at the computer writing, is music from Westlike, My favorite singer is John Farnham. I used to play the drum in the Air League Drum Band, and to this day when I hear that music, it makes me want to join in.”
PlaineJane27 – Ivy May Stuart: “I love Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald and then throw in some early Blues, Stephane Grappelli (Jazz Violin), Maroon Five, Corrine Baily Rae, and the list goes on.”
Rainbowpromise – Annette Wristen: “Music is important to me though I can’t say that any certain type inspires my muse. For example when writing Chocolate, Curls & Dragons, I listened to a variety of YouTube fan videos that included Darcy clips. It’s Raining Men comes to mind. When writing Short of the Truth the song of choice was from Jars of Clay – Show you the Love. Currently I’m working on a Victorian novel so I listen to Viennese Waltzes.”
Rhae52 – Rhonda Aldridge: “I always have a song playing in my head when thinking of certain scenes. In the final scenes of Take Me Home the song that played through my head was God Bess the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts. Of course, the title for TMH came directly from Johnny Cash’s song by the same name because it was my little man’s favorite. When I think of the relationship between Will and Connor, the song Dare You by Hardwell feat/Michael Koma comes to mind. Then between Will and Lizzy, You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate or Im Too Sexy by Right Said Fred. The list goes on. Needless to say, Music is a very powerful force in shaping my muse.”
Muzio Clementi square fortepiano belonging to Jane Austen, 1815
I hope you enjoyed my first blog post. Please feel free to leave your comments and tell me what kind of music inspires you below.