Ready to get crafty? We're delighted to welcome historian and needlepoint enthusiast Jennie Batchelor to our next "Staying Home with Jane Austen" Zoom event! This free event will take place at 12 PM EDT on Thursday, July 23rd. It will be hosted by Anne Fertig and Inger Brodey, with a Q&A moderated by Emily Sferra. You can register here.
According to her biographer and nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen was ‘successful with everything that she attempted with her fingers.’ Whether she was playing ‘spilikins,' transcribing fair copies of her novels or working so finely at her needle that she would ‘almost have put a sewing machine to shame,' her ‘handiwork’ was precise, even exquisite. Austen-Leigh was not exaggerating. The author’s manuscripts attest to the neatness of her hand, while the survival of a painted needlebook, a stitched monogrammed handkerchief, an exquisitely whiteworked shawl and an embroidered housewife amply demonstrate Austen’s skill across a variety of craft forms. In this talk, Jennie Batchelor explores the role that needlework played in the lives of Austen and other women of her generation. Drawing on her research for the recently published Jane Austen Embroidery (co-authored with Alison Larkin), Jennie will discuss and share images of her discovery of a cache of presumed lost embroidery patterns from the Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832), a publication we know Austen read, to reflect on the relationship between and pleasures of craft, writing and work in the her time and our own. A live Q&A will follow the talk.
As Professor in the School of English at the University of Kent, Jennie Batchelor works and publishes in the long eighteenth century, focusing primarily on women's writing, authorship and anonymity, periodicals and women’s magazines, representations of gender, work, sexuality and the body, book history, material culture studies and the eighteenth-century charity movement. In April 2016 Jennie presented a few episodes of the New Statesman’s Hidden Histories podcast series, ‘The Great Forgetting: Women Writers before Jane Austen,' and in 2017 she was invited to speak at the Cheltenham Literary Festival about the enduring popularity of Jane Austen.
Jennie’s longstanding interest in the history of fashion and material culture and to public engagement in research led to her curation of ‘The Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off,' a project for which people around the world recreated 11 rare, surviving embroidery patterns from the Lady’s Magazine for display at an exhibition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Emma at Chawton House Library. Jennie is also Patron of the Kent branch of the Jane Austen Society.
Jennie runs a blog chronicling her research on the The Lady’s Magazine, filled with fascinating insights about periodical culture and women’s lives in the Regency period.