Death and Jane Austen
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Jane Austen Regency Ball
Saturday, October 18, 2014
A Country Setting for Lovely Box Hill Picnic
Sunday, June 2, 2013
On a Sunday, June 2nd, several members and guests gathered at the country home of Vicki Jones at two o'clock in the afternoon for the annual Box Hill Picnic. After a delicious tea, replete with sweet and savory treats, attendees became better acquainted with each other by playing "Pass the Reticule," a newly devised conversation-starter game. First, one person drew a question from the reticule and answered it, and other guests then added their own responses to such prompts as "Which of the five Bennet sisters would you most like for your sister and why?" or "At whom in today's popular culture would Jane Austen aim her satirical wit?" The reticule was then passed to the next willing participant who drew another question. Collectively, guests determined the most clever or compelling responses, and two players won a "prize."
The party then moved outdoors for dancing on the lawn or for a country stroll. The weather was perfect for a bit of post-tea exercise. Leah Wilson graciously made her debut as a caller, and Deanna Smith provided an iPod full of English Country Dance Music. Amid much laughter, four "couples" learned two different dances. The entertainment lasted until about 4:30. —Vicki Jones
Left: A centerpiece of Cardinal Richelieu roses, extant from the era of Jane Austen. Right: Playing "Pass the Reticule"
at the home of Vicki Jones.
Left: The entire family of Deanna Smith came in period dress. Right: English Country dances called by Leah Wilson.
Left: Dancers circle in a star to their left. Right: "Hands to neighbors" seems even friendlier on the cool grass of Liberty, MO.
Taking Pleasure in "An Afternoon at Pemberley"
April 27, 2013
Left: Detail from Gaye Stevick's Regency ball gown created by Historic Costumer Nancy Robinson. Right: Iris Lutz giving the keynote lecture on Houses in Jane Austen's Life and Fiction.
By special invitation of Mr. Darcy of Derbyshire and his sister Miss Darcy, over 70 JASNA members and friends enjoyed An Afternoon at Pemberley in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. JASNA-KC was pleased to welcome members from the Missouri-Central, St. Louis and Nebraska Regions to the festivities on Saturday, April 27 at the Sheraton Hotel, Crown Center. Four area high school students were able to attend through the sponsorship of generous members.
JASNA President Iris Lutz gave the keynote address on Houses in Jane Austen’s Life & Fiction, prompting numerous inquiries about the next JASNA-sponsored trip to England. Historic Costumer Nancy Robinson delighted the audience with beautifully crafted Regency fashions including a dramatic reveal of Gaye Stevick’s new sapphire ball gown which had been artfully concealed beneath a “domino” also created by Nancy. Guests had another surprising reveal when actor Wes Studi (Last of the Mohicans, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Avitar) appeared in English gentleman’s attire. Wes amused guests with a story of “clearing an elevator of ladies in New York.” Wes was wearing his fearsome Mohawk hairstyle enroute to a film publicity event. “When I got on the elevator,” remarked Wes, “all the ladies got off!” The actor could not have been more charming while mingling with guests, posing for pictures, and taking Nancy’s direction for modeling.
Concluding the afternoon with another insightful lecture was Dr. Sheryl Craig. As always, guest received new insights into the time period and Jane Austen’s craft. Sheryl’s new lecture, The Whigs of Pemberley, gave us a window into the politics of prominent characters like Darcy and Bingley—and the clues Austen gives us to indicate their political leanings.
A delicious tea interval refreshed guests mid afternoon with gourmet tea sandwiches and petite desserts. To accommodate our traveling guests, tables were also set with country cheeses and fruit—an homage to the pyramid of grapes, nectarines and peaches served to Elizabeth Bennet at the “real” Pemberley.
Throughout the afternoon, participants could shop at Regence Emporium tables chaired by Kristen Woodbury, Tina Boutelle and Lisa Woodbury. Merchandise included homemade soaps with scents from Austen’s day, specially commissioned truffles with the portrait of the author, and mini Regency costumes proportioned perfectly for American Girl dolls. A mini tree displayed Darcy, Elizabeth and Wickham ornaments. Each Wickham was filled with catnip as if recommended by Lydia for every “Kitty.”
JASNA-KC is grateful for the many members who donated funds, merchandise and time to make this event a tremendous success. We also thank JASNA for the program grant which helped underwrite a portion of the costs.
Left: Gaye Stevick and Wes Studi model recreations of period fashions. Right: Historic Costumer Nancy Robinson highlights elaborate sleeve details on a gown she created for Gaye to wear at an AGM.
Left: Dr. Sheryl Craig and Wes Studi enjoy a relaxed moment before the event begins. Right: Nancy Robinson points out "clocking" or embroidery seen on the stockings of Regency gentlemen of wealth and fashion.
Jane Austen film adaptations, Bingley Teas and Spode china generously donated by members for sale at the Regency Emporium.
Left: Regency Emporium Co-Chairs Kristen Woodbury and Tina Boutelle. Right: Handmade Pride and Prejudice ornaments.
Framed cards from Chawton House Library and other Jane Austen related items available for sale.
Leah Wilson commissioned period fashions sized perfectly for American Girl dolls.
Left: JASNA members drove from Omaha, Columbia and St. Louis for the event. Right: Member Norma Jean May and friend Heidi Hermann.
Vicki Jones and the Jane Austen portrait truffles she requested from Minneapolis chocolatier Peter Macaroni. Left: Gaye Stevick, Aria Smith and her mother Deanna Smith. Right: Jennifer Pace, Vicki Jones and Gaye Stevick.
Ernie Torok and Leah Wilson enjoy the afternoon event at the Sheraton Hotel, Crown Center.
Open faced tea sandwiches of smoked turkey and thinly sliced cucumber.
Creative desserts include a Chocolate Ganache Tulip, Strawberry Pistachio Trifle, Passion Fruit Cones and Truffles.
Guests were given "Gentlement" or "Lady" characters then encouraged to create couples by trading cards during event breaks.
Jane Austen Harvest Dance a Great Success
October 21, 2012
On a crisp fall afternoon, nearly 60 members and friends filled the Alexander Majors House Barn for our first Jane Austen Harvest Dance. Caller Jerome Grisanti and live music by Red House swept guests through a program of period dances arranged by “Mistress of the Dance” Leah Wilson. Special program keepsakes designed by Leah explained the courtesies of dance, and detailed the steps to popular dances such as The Duke of Kent’s Waltz, The First of April, and Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot.
At one point, a small column of dancers ascended to the loft to alleviate the “crush” on the dance floor—although no guest sat out due to lack of space or want of a partner. Friends from the Lawrence English Country Dance Group added to the festivities with a special exhibition of The Fandango.
Throughout the afternoon, dancers and spectators were fortified by period inspired foods and libations, including Rout Cakes, Martha Lloyd’s Ginger Cakes, Plum Shrub, Gooseberry Fool and other delights made by JASNA-KC members. Refreshments were organized and presented by Miriam Reingold-Fuller, Kristin Woodbury, and Lisa Woodbury.
Natural decorations of bittersweet, thyme, hedge apples, lamb’s ears, lavender and hydrangea gave the barn the charm of harvest home—thanks to the efforts of Vicki Jones, Cathy Blake, and Julienne Gehrer.
JASNA-KC extends special thanks to our accommodating partners at the Alexander Majors House who provided the lovely venue through a reciprocal arrangement. We also express our gratitude to the many members and friends assisting us before and after the event.
Although this was our very first dance, we have it on good authority that it shall not be our last. —Julienne Gehrer
Gallery of Dance Photos
Historic House Comes Alive with Jane Austen
May 12, 2012
Leah Wilson, Frances Dorrestein and Miriam Rheingold-Fuller were among 22 JASNA-KC members
participating in the Jane Austen Mother-Daughter Tea at the John Wornall House.
On a temperate day in May, the 1858 John Wornall House Museum turned the pages of time back to Jane Austen’s England for its annual Mother-Daughter Tea. A sold-out crowd entered the Greek Revival mansion and was cordially greeted in the parlor by costumed JASNA-KC members Vicki Jones and Miriam Rheingold-Fuller. The most polite conversation acquainted 21st century attendees with topics of Austen’s day, followed by a brief musical interlude which even Lady Catherine would have commended. Guests selected their choice of JASNA-KC fans and were gently escorted to the next room by our members who served as honorary guides for the day.
In the sitting room, Gaye Stevick demonstrated needlepoint as finely as Miss Woodhouse could have accomplished. Pictures of period needlework showed the range of items that would have been embellished with hand stitching by ladies of the house. Upon entering the dining room, Lydia Bennet would have shrieked with delight over the bonnets that awaited trimming, but who indeed could resist the urge to seize the pleasure of a dance with society as refined as Deanna Smith, Leah Wilson, and Aria Smith?
Upstairs in the children’s room, Ellen Fuller and her younger sister Sasha practiced gliding across the floor as a perfectly balanced book restrained their energetic steps. In the mother’s bedroom, poor Frances Dorrestein recuperated after a clumsy footman supposedly dropped a valise on her unsuspecting toe. Surely Mary Musgrove would commiserate.
Finally, guests took refreshment in the kitchen while Sheryl Craig detailed the labors of cooking over an open hearth, described a typical Georgian dinner, and commented on Austen era food costs and availability. Deb Haber passed a tray of Raspberry Cordials and a basket of Gingerbread “Cakes” as Julienne Gehrer described the period foods she re-created from “receipts” collected in Martha Lloyd’s household book. –Julienne Gehrer
Vicki Jones and Miriam Rheingold-Fuller await 21st century guests in the parlor.
Vicki Jones plays Jane Austen favorites on the antique Baldwin grand piano.
Gaye Stevick adds color to her needlepoint peacock while sitting on the horse hair sofa.
Deanna Smith and Leah Wilson demonstrate
the latest Georgian dance moves.
Aria Smith plays dance tunes on a smart phone hidden amongst the china.
Frances Dorrestein swears her injury is not an attack of gout brought on
by an over indulgence of Port.
Ellen and Sasha Fuller achieve perfect posture with a book.
Julienne Gehrer and Sheryl Craig wear Jane Austen aprons to discuss period foods.
Jane Austen would have recognized these favorites from Martha Lloyd's household book: Macaroni,
Ragoo of Celery, Chicken Curry after the Indian Manner, Syllabub, Gingerbread "Cakes" and syrup
for Raspberry "Vinegar" Cordials.
Ready to greet guests are Valerie Hodges-Sporn, Leah Wilson, Miriam Rheingold-Fuller, and Deb Haber.
Ellen and Sasha Fuller enjoy a quiet moment before 80 guests arrive.
JASNA-KC members receive final instructions from Docent Dorene Disbrow.
Members relax and enjoy tea after the last tour is completed.
Members gather to make paper fans (with our web address) weeks prior to the event.
Discovering the "Lost Memoirs" of Jane Austen
April 22, 2012
Front: Jamie Hibbs, Leah Wilson, Deb Haber Back: Christie Kennard, Cathy Blake, Tina Boutelle,
Vicki Jones, Kimberlea Rauzi, Ginger McElwee, Evelyn Pypes
Is there a delight any greater than sipping tea and talking about books and Jane Austen on a gloomy Sunday afternoon? On April 22, gracious hostess Marilyn James welcomed twelve “ladies of polite society” from JASNA-KC to the reception room at the View Condominium in the Downtown Loop. We gathered first with a nice cup of tea, seated in a semi-circle around the “treasure table.” Each participant had brought a treasure one might find in a family trunk, a fitting symbol of the book under discussion, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. Artfully arranged on the table were such beloved items as a handmade instrument, a silver baby cup, an embossed needle case, various photographs and a father’s boyhood diary. This beautifully sentimental focal point was enhanced with hand-crocheted doilies that Marilyn had thoughtfully created as party favors.
A lively conversation ensued about the book. To enhance discussion, Marilyn had placed small composition books in an old wooden chest. Volunteers drew one of the books from the trunk and read the question located inside as a discussion starter. While this highly verbal group barely needed prompts to guide the conversation, this innovative method initiated lively discussions about such literary matters as verisimilitude, archetypes, and characterization. Members responded to the book with varying degrees of enthusiasm or approval. Even though the novel did not purport to be an authentic biography of our beloved Jane, one could still learn pertinent details of her life from it. True, the prose was a bit modern, lacking Austen’s sparkling wit and vivacious style, but this reader wished fervently that the tale would have been true, totally endorsing Jane’s young nephew James-Edward’s views: “Do you mean to say, that if I believe in your story as you have told it, then it is as good as if it were true?”
Following our book chat, we enjoyed each other’s company over a refreshing afternoon tea. The sumptuous spread included salmon paté, elegant sandwiches, Deb Haber’s famous shortbread, lemon scones and lemon curd, and many other delectable treats. All who gathered at The View agreed that the benefit of these small group gatherings is that we are able to visit with each other in a relaxed atmosphere thus enhancing our relationships. We also agreed that we need to continue our “book club” in the near future, perhaps discussing one of Austen’s lesser known works. —Vicki Jones
Handmade crochet coasters given as parting gifts.
Event Hostess Marilyn James
“Doctor of Austenology” Makes a House Call
March 31, 2012
JASNA-KC was pleased to welcome former three-term JASNA President Dr. Joan Klingel Ray to give her enlightening lecture, Jane Austen for Smarties. Changing into her “Doctor of Austenology” lab coat, Dr. Ray quickly delineated the difference between those who love Jane Austen and those who actually read her.
Using a Jane Austen parody of the popular Operation game, Dr. Ray identified the "parts" necessary to make one a true Jane Austen Smarty. Such a sage recognizes the unique lifelike characters in Austen’s works, and appreciates both her dramatic presentation and feminist criticism. The Smart Set also identifies Austen’s use of irony and humor to create satire and social commentary—all done through language displaying a remarkable degree of self restraint. “Jane Austen never wrote a throw away line,” observed Dr. Ray. Audience members could say the same for our guest lecturer.
After Dr. Ray autographed copies of her book, Jane Austen for Dummies, 42 members gathered for an intimate tea at Andre's Confiserie Suisse. We also welcomed six new members: Diana Kornfeld, Lisa Hanlon, Becky Wilson, Marla Jannings, Ann Cole and Kimberlea Rauzi.
JASNA-KC is grateful to Gaye Stevick and Leah Wilson whose generosity made this event possible.
Dr. Joan Ray prepares herself and the audience for the procedure that identifies the various "parts"
making one a "Jane Austen Smarty."
Leah Wilson, Julienne Gehrer and Joan Ray at the post-lecture member tea at Andre's Confiserie Suisse.
Gaye Stevick, Joan's friend and hostess. Ernie Torok, recognized by Joan as the day's lone male "Smarty."
Lindy and Terry Baker represent several mother-daughter membership duos.