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Austen Chat: Episode 5

November 10, 2023

Jane Austen & Divorce: A Visit with James Nagle

Return from a WalkEnding a Regency-era marriage was difficult and daunting! In this episode, semi-retired lawyer James Nagle helps us navigate the murky legal waters of dissolving marital ties, Regency-Style, in a variety of ways. We're talking scandal. We're talking Maria Rushworth running away with Henry Crawford. We're talking wives being sold at auction to the highest bidder. What?! Yes. Crazy, but true.

James Nagle is a semi-retired lawyer, a member of  JASNA's Puget Sound Region, and a former board Secretary. A popular speaker at our Annual General Meetings and regional events, he has also served as a JASNA Traveling Lecturer. Jim has an abiding interest in all things Regency and has spoken on topics such as the laws of inheritance, elections, the British army, travel, and death rituals in Jane Austen's time.   

Show Notes and Links

Many thanks to James Nagle for appearing as a guest on Austen Chat!

Further Reading:
  • Bailey, Joanne. Unquiet Lives: Marriage and Marriage Breakdown in England, 1660-1800. Cambridge Press, 2009.
  • Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt. Wives for Sale. Palgrave Macmillan, 1981
  • Stone, Lawrence. Road to Divorce. Oxford Press, 1990.
Links for Upcoming Calls for Papers:

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You can listen to Austen Chat here or on your favorite podcast app: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and other streaming platforms

Credits:  From the Austen Chat podcast. Published November 10, 2023. © Jane Austen Society of North America. All rights reserved. Illustration: A Return from a Walk, Thomas Rowlandson, 1799 (Metropolitan Museum of Art). Music: Country Dance by Humans Win.


This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.

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Breckyn Wood: Hello, Janeites, and welcome to Austen Chat, a podcast coming to you from the Jane Austen Society of North America. I'm your host, Breckyn Wood, from the Georgia Region of JASNA. Many of you may already know my guest today because he is a frequent and popular speaker at JASNA Annual General Meetings. A semi-retired lawyer, former JASNA secretary, and member of the Puget Sound Region, Jim Nagle is here to talk to us about everybody's favorite topic: divorce! Just kidding. Ending a marriage can be a difficult subject, but in Jane Austen's time, it was complicated as all get out. So, Jim is going to help us navigate those murky legal waters of Regency history. We're talking scandal. We're talking Maria Rushworth running away with Henry Crawford. We're talking wives being sold at auction to the highest bidder. What?! Yes. Crazy, but true.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Jim. Welcome to the show.

Jim Nagle: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Breckyn: Okay, so before we dive into divorce, let's start with our Desert Island segment. You're stranded on a desert island, and you can only have one Austen character as your pen pal. Who do you choose and why?

Jim: Ooo. You know, my knee-jerk reaction would be my favorite Austen heroine, Anne Elliot from Persuasion. But the more I think about it, Anne's letters would be logical, loving, common sense. But if I were stranded on a desert island, I think I'd want a little bit more than that. I'd want some heavy wit, rapier snarkiness—snarkiness! So, I think I would probably go with Elizabeth Bennet.

Breckyn: All right. There you go. That's a good choice. We had a guest, Hilary Davidson, who said that she wouldn't want Anne Elliot's mopiness on her island. She would need something a little more positive to keep her going, if she were stranded. Hopefully, Anne Elliot wouldn't be mopey at that point, because she would be married.

Okay, Jim, let's start at the beginning. Why was it so hard to get a divorce in the Regency Era? What were the major obstacles?

Jim: Probably the major obstacle was that the national thought process, as expressed both in the ecclesiastical courts and the civil courts, was that marriage was ordained by God. What God has put together, let no one put asunder. And that meant something to the ecclesiastical judges and the civil judges; "till death do you part" really meant something. So, the judges were very unwilling to let someone out of a marriage because it wasn't all ice cream and cake. That was the initial hurdle. And because of that, all the other hurdles came about like dominoes: the expense, the horrendous expense; the publicity; the length of time. But the main one was that philosophical belief. Marriage was not treated during Jane Austen's time as a contract; it was treated as a sacrament. You didn't get out of that too easily.

Breckyn: Right. And was it different for different classes? I assume it would be. Would it be easier for lower classes or harder for them to get a divorce as opposed to the upper classes?

Jim: It was impossible for the lower classes.

Breckyn: Because they couldn't afford it?

Jim: They couldn't afford it. There were three levels of getting out of the marriage—legal methods: an annulment; a divortium a mensa et thoro, which was a legal separation, what we would call today; and a full-fledged divorce requiring an act of Parliament. An annulment, if it was uncontested, could be purchased for 80 to 100 pounds. Now, Mr. Bennet could clearly afford that. Hill, the Bennet's housekeeper, could not. For the vast majority of people, that would be years' worth of earnings. To go all the way through Parliament would cost upwards of 5,000 pounds. That would be like me telling you, Breckyn, "Yeah, you can get a divorce. It'll cost you about $5 million or more."

It just simply—it was not available. So, I have no doubt that Jane Austen, in her life, never met anybody who had been fully divorced. There were only like 300 of them granted in, like, 80 years. Only three brought by women, by the way. Too long, too expensive, too embarrassing.

Breckyn: So, let's dive into those other options, since divorce was rarely a feasible option. Can you tell us those options again and what are the pros and cons of each? So, what is an annulment, as opposed to the official divorce?

Jim: Okay. An annulment was only handled—during Jane's lifetime, only handled by the ecclesiastical courts. You would go to the consistory courts. You had to prove that there was a preexisting impediment to the marriage: bigamy, incest. You're marrying your brother. And I emphasize it had to be preexisting. "My husband is insane!" When did he become insane? "Well, a week after the wedding, there was a fever. He got the fever, lost his marbles." I'm sorry.

Breckyn: Too bad.

Jim: Too bad. Okay. "My husband is impotent." When did that happen? "Three days after the wedding." I'm sorry. Richer or poorer, better or worse, you're married. Okay? Had to be preexisting. That was the easiest, that was the cheapest. But it was embarrassing. And when I say cheapest, it was not as expensive—but that was the advantage. It was easier, cheaper than the others. The disadvantage was there was no marriage. So, if any children had been born during the life of that marriage, assuming impotency was not an issue, they were illegitimate. And that may not be a big deal today, but in Regency England, that was a big deal. And by the way, Breckyn, to show you how averse the Church was—if the husband or the wife wanted an annulment on the grounds that the husband was impotent, the diocese would hire two—and there's no other word for it— courtesans, who would get in bed with this guy and, basically, try to raise the dead so they could tell the bishop, "Yep! He's impotent." Because merely non-consummation was not enough. "Well, we never consummated the marriage." The church would go, "Who cares? Was he capable of consummation?” If he was, then . . . homosexuality, therefore, was not grounds for an annulment. He can have the sex, but maybe he doesn't want to. But he could. Not grounds for an annulment.

Breckyn: "He doesn't want to with you…" Wow, that is—so, I hope listeners will not be shocked that I'm going to bring up a Brontë, but a lot of what you were saying earlier really made me think of Jane Eyre, and how he's got, you know—spoiler alert—a crazy wife in the attic. Why couldn't Mr. Rochester get an annulment? Because she was crazy before. I mean, it sounds like her mother was in an insane asylum, and a lot of people knew that she was crazy, and they were trying to keep it from him until the wedding. Do you think that Mr. Rochester could have gotten an annulment?

Jim: Possibly. Possibly. But again, he would have to prove that it was preexisting, and in that case, he might also have a separate ground for fraud. "I was induced into this fraudulently."

Breckyn: I think the point, also, of that book is that he doesn't want to abandon her, that even though he doesn't love her and he's very upset about this marriage, he is a good man. That's why he doesn't just put her away in an insane asylum. That's why he tries to take care of her close by. That's why he doesn't just divorce her. Anyway, okay, so that's annulment. What about separation agreements?

Jim: Okay, now, you said separation agreement. That's separate. Okay, let me talk about the legal separation.

Breckyn: Go ahead.

Jim: Again, the marriage would still be intact. The parties would be allowed by the Church—because this was, again, the consistory courts, not the civil courts—to live apart. There were two bases: adultery. We all know what adultery is, but here, there was a stunning double standard. If the husband—he had committed adultery, but as long as he was a good husband, otherwise, kept the people, the wife and children, fed with clothes, roof over their head, the judges were very—forgiving might be too strong a word, but it's not too far. But, Breckyn, if you were found to have committed adultery, "You slut."

Breckyn: Jezebel!

Jim: Yes, but there was a logic to that, because if the husband commits adultery with the scullery maid, and the scullery maid has a child, you know that's an illegitimate child. But if you, Lady Wood, have a child, and you've committed adultery, we don't know if that's a legitimate heir or not. So that would really go to the fabric. But tremendous, tremendous double standard.

Breckyn: Of course.

Jim: The other ground? Life-threatening cruelty. Not just cruelty. Life-threatening cruelty. Your husband slaps you around every couple of days, every day? Not life-threatening. Takes a hot iron to your arm because supper was late? That's not life-threatening. Live with it. Okay. So, life-threatening was not just fluff in there for dramatic purposes. It was a real problem, and judges agonized over that. What's cruelty, first off, and what's life-threatening? The judges seemed to come down on three requirements. It had to be inhumane—merciless, barbaric was a word you saw quite a lot. It had to be repeated, not just one outburst of anger, and it had to be unprovoked. The wife had done nothing, like commit adultery, which would have provoked him. So, life-threatening cruelty. But if it was proved, the parties were allowed to live apart. The husband would be required to provide alimony of some type. Child custody was a bit of a problem back then. If it came to a judge to decide, the children would go to the husband.

Breckyn: Right.

Jim: Why? Because the vast majority of times, the husband had the money. Okay? Now, very often the parties would agree, children that age should be with the mother or something like that . . . but very expensive, very embarrassing, and very often there was a real problem with who gets the children.

Breckyn: And so, were there people who just walked away from their marriages?

Jim: Oh yeah, I'll come to that in a moment. The third and the final one—you still couldn't remarry because you were still married. If you really wanted to go the full—the nine yards, you got an Act of Parliament. It would go first to the House of Lords. There would be three readings of the bills and investigations. Then it would go to the House of Commons. There would be a nine-person committee who would look at it, and one of those would be designated, quote, "The Lady's Friend," to make sure the wife, if at all possible, was provided with enough to live on. Parliament, not surprisingly, wanted to have a lot of the heavy-lifting in terms of fact-finding done beforehand. So, they wanted the legal separation suit to have been successfully resulted. And they wanted a Crim. Con. ["criminal conversation"], was what it was called. It was a tort, where the cuckolded husband, the aggrieved husband, would sue the adulterer. And to understand that tort, you've basically got to understand this. Assume you and I are married. I discover you've had adultery with Steve. The lawsuit would be between me and Steve. You would not be a party. You would not be able to call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses. You would not be able to speak unless one, either Steve or I, called you as a witness, which was probably unlikely. Okay? And in fact, that was a real problem, and even judges were having problems with it, because at the divorce proceedings in front of the House of Parliament, the finding of adultery would be used as evidence against you. And even a lot of judges were going, "Wait a minute, how can we hold this against poor Breckyn when she was not a party to that proceeding? She had no right to say anything in that proceeding." But that was the rule until 1857, when all of this changed. But if Parliament said, "Yes, we're convinced the marriage is ended," then either party would be allowed to remarry.

Breckyn: So that's the only situation in which it's completely dissolved, both religiously and legally, and then both parties can go on. Do you have any examples of cases of like—it sounds so difficult, and since the men could just sleep around anyway, why did they even bother, I guess, is my main question.

Jim: That's a very good point. I'm going to give you a long answer, and then I'm going to come to your situation. This was very expensive. This was very public. Oh, by the way, remember I mentioned those Crim. Con. things a moment ago? Those were in civil court; everything would be taken down and very often published as bestsellers. Very public. Let me mention one case—and there are plenty—but let me mention one case to you: Lady Holland, Lord Holland's divorce. A man named Sir Godfrey Webster had married a woman who eventually became Lady Holland. Apparently, fairly quickly, she couldn't stand him—spent a good part of the marriage overseas. She met a nephew of Charles James Fox, the Whig leader, who would later become Lord Holland. They fell in love, spent the rest of their life together, had adultery. In fact, she had children by him; I think one within a day or two after the divorce was finalized. Lord Webster, Sir Godfrey, found out about this, began the lawsuit culminating in the House of Parliament. There are four things about this, three of which are typical, one is very untypical. Very public, very embarrassing.

Secondly, Lady Holland was the only child of a very rich man, had some Jamaican sugar plantations. He died during the course of the initial marriage. He left her 7,000 pounds per annum, a huge amount that went to the husband. They were married. It was his property. Okay? And in the divorce, he kept it. Now, I would assume that the "Lady's Friend" in the House of Commons tried to leave a portion of that for her, but the House of Lords very often would say, "No, we're not going to do that. She has tainted the marriage."

Third, very typical item about that: custody of the children went to Sir Godfrey.

Breckyn: The children that aren't his?

Jim: Oh, no, no. The children that were the children of Lord Holland, they stayed with them. But the three children that were conceived during the term of the marriage and were Sir Godfrey's, he got custody of them. Lady and Lord Holland did not want to give up the youngest child, a daughter. They were living in Italy at the time. So, they faked her death. They said, "Oh, the poor child died." They had a funeral. But Sir Godfrey found out about it and was able to regain custody. Those three things are fairly typical. What was not typical was that Lady Holland, when she married Lord Holland, survived all of this fairly well. She found a husband, Lord Holland. They lived together. They went back to London and became pillars of London society.

Breckyn: Wow.

Jim: Which was normally—the disgraced wife, nobody would touch her with a ten-foot pole. But Lady Holland, through force of personality and because Lord Holland was very highly thought of socially and politically—they were able to survive that. Most women did not.

Breckyn: I want to watch that miniseries if it hasn't been made. Andrew Davies needs to get on that, because I would watch that. That's really interesting. Jim, we need to talk about wife sales, because I could not believe this when I read your description of it. What is happening?

Jim: Well, before I get to that—I'm going to get there, but you had mentioned separation agreements. If you had money, even if you couldn't afford a divorce, that's what you did. The parties agreed to separate. Okay. If you had money, this was done very formally with a contract drawn up: how much the husband will pay to the wife, and who gets custody, and stuff like that. So that was a very common thing to do. But if you didn't have any money—and the vast majority of the people in the country could not have afforded a divorce—desertion was very common. "I'm out of here."

Okay, but wife sales—this was totally extralegal. This is not mentioned in any statute at all. So, people ask me, "Well, what are the requirements?" There were no requirements. There were procedures that people would do. It had to be public. I, your husband, Breckyn—I would put a rope around your neck. Sometimes it could be around your hands, your wrists, around your waist, but most of the time around your neck. I would lead you into a public place, typically a market. Smithfield Market was very common. And I would pay the required amount, just as I would for selling a cow. Sometimes, Breckyn, you would be weighed before you were allowed into the market, and then there would be a public sale. "Anybody want this woman? She's a shrew. She's a drunkard or terrible cook," or what have you. Or, "She's a wonderful woman; I just want a change." And people would bid on her, and the winning bidder would pay the money. They would pay the portion to the market owner. And very often the parties would go to a tavern and have a drink on it, or so.

As bad as it sounds, let me point out—and please hear me out on this ...

Breckyn: Sure.

Jim: The advantages of this. First, for these people, a legal divorce was out of the question. They couldn't afford it. Very often—not all the time, as is sometimes believed, but very often—“I'm okay with it. You're okay with it.” You want out, and the bidder is your lover. You want to go with him. So, we are just doing this publicly. I'm okay with it, but I want to make sure all my neighbors are okay with it, or at least aware of it. So, I'm washing my hands. "Don't come to me if Breckyn runs up a bill at the butcher shop. Her new husband has that." This was totally outside the law. It was, in my words, a meaningless charade. There were early cases where people would go to a judge and say, "Judge, throw Nagle in jail!" And a lot of those early judges said, "Show me a statute that makes this a crime. It's not mentioned. This is a meaningless charade." Okay? Later on, some judges would throw people in jail, but not all the judges. Other judges would say, "Who do we throw in jail? The seller? The buyer? The guy running the market? Who? Show me a statute here."

But it was certainly—sometimes judges would try to stop it because this is an offense to public morals, and there'd be riots. That was the entertainment for the day. So, it existed. It was in this country, too, by the way. If you've read Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge, it starts, basically, with a wife sale, but it was relegated to the lower classes, who had no other choice, really.

Breckyn: You explaining it as sort of a way for everybody to save face makes much more sense now, because I was picturing just like, a slavery auction block. But how strange. How strange is that? And you said lower classes of men and women are what are doing this, right? Nobody from Austen's class was participating.

Jim: Oh, no. If Mr. Bennet ever tried something like this—I mean, who would bid for Mrs. Bennet? But he would be disgraced. He would never be allowed in church again for something like this. I'm sure, Breckyn, that there were instances where the wife was sold against her will, but it seemed to be very common that she was going to be sold to her lover. And in one case, the husband got cold feet and wanted to—"No, well, let's not do it." And the wife demanded, "I want a change! I'm out of here." Okay?

Breckyn: It was complicated.

Jim: I hesitate to say this, but it was not all the time as offensive as it might seem to be at first blush. Sometimes all three parties were absolutely fine with this.

Breckyn: That is so interesting. You've put my mind at ease. I'm glad that it's not as bad as we thought it was going to be. So, we've talked a lot about the legal aspects of ending a marriage, and we've mentioned some of the social ramifications. But because it's so uncommon in Austen's work, I do want to just call out the two divorces that she talks about, because they're both devastating to the woman. The big example, of course, is Maria running away from Mr. Rushworth with Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park. Austen is the master of understatement, and I love this quote from the end of the novel about Henry Crawford. She says, "That punishment, the public punishment of disgrace, should, in a just measure attend his share of the offense is, we know, not one of the barriers which society gives to virtue. In this world, the penalty is less equal than could be wished." And the way that she writes it in the passive voice, right? "Is less equal than one could wish." That's peak Austen right there. And that's, you know, as radically feminist as she usually gets, overtly. But you can tell that she is not happy with how society treats women in these sorts of cases.

And then the other example is Eliza Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. So, Colonel Brandon's older brother divorces her for infidelity, and she suffers a tragic fall from grace. So, why do you think Austen included these two women in her novels? And what do you think she's showing us through their examples?

Jim: I think she's showing exactly what you said. This would be a societal death penalty, typically for the woman. She would not be able to show her face in society. Even if she tried to go to church—hopefully she'd be allowed in church, but there would be plenty of whispers. The ability to her to effect a good marriage, or really any marriage after that, is really downhearted. By the way, you asked me earlier, and I deferred it to when I thought we would get to this, as to why there are so few full-fledged divorces. First off, it's expensive. Secondly, even for the husband, this is incredibly embarrassing for the husband. He's got to admit publicly that his wife found another man more attractive, and often it would come out that their husband was a lousy lover or impotent or something like that. But the third reason, it seems to me, is that it takes a particularly vindictive SOB to spend all that money, suffer all that embarrassment, when often—not all the time, but often—the main benefit is to grind your wife into dust. That takes a particularly hard-nosed individual.

Breckyn: Do you think—Mr. Rushworth doesn't seem like that type, and I'm now not certain—It doesn't mention in the end of Mansfield Park what happens, does it? Does it say whether they get a divorce?

Jim: No, I don't think it does. I think it just talks about a bill in Parliament. I think you wouldn't have any trouble doing it. But remember, that was the only way he could—he had no children. That was the only way he could legitimately marry. So, I think he has to go through it. And here—it's embarrassing, but if he wants to marry and have legitimate heirs, that was the only thing open to him.

Breckyn: Listeners, right now, I'm doing a word search. Oh, yeah, it says, "Mr. Rushworth had no difficulty in procuring a divorce, and so ended a marriage contracted under such circumstances as to make any better end the effect of good luck not to be reckoned on." So, they did, they successfully got divorced.

Jim: And it probably was uncontested.

Breckyn: What's with it being published in the paper? It's a little bit coy, because it just says, like, "Mrs. R and Mr. C," and stuff like that. But it mentions their address, so everybody knows who they're talking about.

Jim: Yeah, yeah. The same thing with the Crim. Con. suits; you know, they would become bestsellers very often. Everyone would know. And the problem with the House of Parliament, obviously, is it's not limited to Yorkshire or Kent. This is national news at that point, and everybody would know about it.

Breckyn: And, so, you mentioned briefly, I think, an act in 1857. I was going to ask, when did divorce laws start changing to be fairer towards women?

Jim: 1857.  There were attempts—because everyone knew this was terribly unfair. There had been an attempt in 1800. It didn't work. They voted it down. Even in 1857, there was a lot of objection to it. William Gladstone, the later prime minister of England, was vehemently against this relaxing of the divorce rules—thought it was an easing of the morality of the country. But 1857 was really where things changed fundamentally. To explain that in the context of what I've talked about—1857 took away the jurisdiction of the church courts. It was in the civil courts. Now, that is as fundamental a change as I think you're going to see in a statute, because basically what that says is, "we're not going to treat this any longer as a sacrament. It's a contract, and there's only two parties to that contract, the husband and the wife. God is not a party to this contract. And if one of those parties breaches the contract—does something that rips out the guts of that contract—then the other party, the innocent party, we will not hold him or her to the requirements of that contract. We will declare it ended, and they can go and contract elsewhere."

Jim: So, it was a very fundamental change. It ended that criminal conversation suit I talked about earlier, but it was consistent with some other statutes that had been going on earlier on women's property rights. As bad as people might think the plight of women today is, it was nothing compared to during the Regency.

Breckyn: We've made great strides, certainly. So that big change was in 1857. What do you think some of the factors are that influenced those laws to improve?

Jim: Yeah, I think even a lot of the judges were choking on some of the rules they had to enforce. “This is not fair, these criminal conversation suits, which are used as evidence against a wife, and she's not a party to that?” That shakes the foundations of British justice. There had been other laws passed 1830-31, allowing women more property rights, and more and more people were not wasting their time going to the church courts. The dockets on the church courts over the years were really plummeting. People were just going to criminal conversation suits, typically in the London civil court. So, I think society was changing. It simply—while it was outwardly as religious as it always was, in fact, it was becoming a much more secular society.

Breckyn: This has been a really fascinating conversation, Jim. Thanks so much for talking with me today. Are there other places that our listeners can go to learn more about this topic?

Jim: Yes. Wives for Sale by Samuel Pyeatt Menefee. Road to Divorce, one of the standard treatises by Lawrence Stone. And then a third book, Unquiet Lives: Marriage and Marriage Breakdown in England, 1660-1800 by Joanne Bailey. The Bailey book was published by Cambridge Press. The Road to Divorce was published by Oxford Press, and the Wives for Sale book was by St. Martin's Press. So, they're all done by university presses. They're very scholarly. They don't go out of their way to be lurid or anything like that. Lots of footnotes, lots of footnotes.

Breckyn: Right. Thank you for stopping by today, Jim.

Jim: Great. Thank you, Breckyn.

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Breckyn: Okay, friends, now it's time for a skosh of JASNA news. Every superhero has an origin story, and Jane Austen, our superhero, is no different. The 2024 AGM in Cleveland, Ohio, will focus on “Annotated Austen: Her World and How it Influenced Her Novels, Juvenilia, and Letters.” Do you have an idea for a breakout talk for next year's conference? If so, it's not too late. The deadline for submitting proposals is the end of this month, November 30, 2023. You could discuss a literary work or genre that Austen drew from, look at events in her world that may have influenced her writing, or focus on ideas and innovations in politics, science, commerce, or society during her time.

By the way, you don't have to be a professor to be an AGM breakout speaker to apply. All you need is a fresh, well-researched topic and a clear and compelling abstract. And one first-time AGM speaker will be selected as the 2024 New Voices breakout speaker and will receive free AGM registration and a $300 travel grant. For more info and submission guidelines, visit the Call for Papers page on JASNA's 2024 AGM website. The URL is a long one; it's jasna.org/agms/cleveland2024/call-for-papers.php. We'll post it in the show notes for this episode as well.

Also, it's not too early to start thinking about submitting a breakout talk for the 2025 AGM, which will be held in Baltimore, Maryland. We'll celebrate Jane Austen's 250th birthday, and the conference theme, “Austen at 250,” will focus on the milestones of her life, her interactions with family and friends, and her genius as exhibited in her writing. Breakout proposals and applications for the New Voices speaker grant will be due on November 30, 2024. The 2025 Call for Papers is also available online at https://jasna.org/agms/baltimore2025/call-for-papers.php. Start brainstorming ideas for a breakout session if you're interested in applying. 

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Breckyn: Now it's time for "In Her Own Words," a segment where listeners share a favorite Austen quote or two.

Holly Eckelbarger: My name is Holly Eckelbarger, and I'm the regional coordinator for our Tucson and Southern Arizona Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America. My favorite quote is from the Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice. The quote is, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This is the first line of the first book that I ever read by Jane. Reading this first line over 20 plus years ago is what started a lifelong love of her work, her life, and all of the things that go along with it, including being part of JASNA and all of the friends that I've made in our community of Janeites.

Breckyn: Well, that's it for this episode. Thanks for listening, Janeites. If you're interested in joining the Jane Austen Society of North America or learning more about its programs, publications, and events, you can find them online at jasna.org. That's J-A-S-N-A dot org. Join us again next time, and in the meantime, I remain yours affectionately, Breckyn Wood.

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“Know your own happiness.”

Sense and Sensibility