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Jane Austen’s House Museum visits Wisconsin Region for all-day symposium, concert, and quilting work

This post is contributed by Kim Wilson.


September 28 was a wonderful Jane Austen day in Wisconsin! JASNA-Wisconsin and Carroll University co-hosted an all-day symposium at Carroll, featuring Martyn and Sue Dell from Jane Austen's House Museum at Chawton Cottage in England. Martyn, a trustee of the museum, told us all about the history and daily life of the museum. Sue, who works with the museum collections, told us about the design, construction, and historical context of the quilt stitched by Jane Austen, her mother, and her sister, and led a workshop where we each made a little quilt section using the traditional paper-piecing method.


Amy Kermott, who is a dual JASNA-Wisconsin and JASNA-Iowa member, brought and dis-played the beautiful quilt (inspired by the Austen family quilt) that she won at last year’s AGM. Carroll University music students Faith Lillo, Julia Brooks, and Ally Mueller sang and played selections from the Austen family songbooks, including some that must have amused Jane Austen with their incredibly sad, melodramatic lyrics set to jolly music.


Wisconsin Regional Coordinator Kim Wilson talked about such traditional “female accomplishments” as singing and needlework in Austen’s works, and Wisconsin members presented colorful posters illustrating traditional and alternative Regency female accomplishments. Judy Beine’s poster highlighted the importance of dancing and walking to Regency women; Kathy Egstad and Phyllis Menne talked about the plain sewing and fancy needlework skills a Regency woman was expected to know; and Katie Marks told us of the amazing life and accomplishments of Anne Lister, nicknamed “Gentleman Jack.” Morning coffee, tea, and sweet rolls, a lovely lunch, and the company and conversation of good friends rounded out our day.