Besides excellent plenary speakers and creative breakout sessions, Elizabeth Garvie, who played Elizabeth Bennett in the 1980 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice will be there for opening night. Louise West, educational manager of the museum at Chawton Cottage will speak. The 11th Hour Theater Company will present Austentatious. Period experts will instruct, harpists will perform, and there'll be a Regency Ball on Saturday night. They don't get to hear me til Friday. I'll tell you what my presentation's about then.
What fun we will have talking about Jane Austen's brothers and sisters! Did you know that each novel contains at least three sibling pairs? Have you wondered why the Ward sisters of Mansfield Park are so different from one another? Is it their nature, or have circumstances alone created the differences among them? Is the plot in Sense and Sensibility influenced more by the disregard that John Dashwood shows his sisters or by the devotion between Elinor and Marianne, struggling with their new circumstances? Which has been more influential on Emma Woodhouse: Isabella's absence or her presence? Why is Elizabeth Bennet so very different from her sisters? How can five young women with one set of parents range so completely across the personality spectrum? Why is Anne the only thoughtful sister of the Elliot women, when other Persuasion sibling pairs—Harriet and Louisa Musgrove and Frederick Wentworth and Mrs. Croft, e.g.—are so considerate of one another? Oh, what a Henry is Mr. Tilney! He is the perfect brother—isn't he? Will we settle any of these questions after spirited and lively discussion? Perhaps not, but we will have a splendid time trying to answer these and raising many more questions about Austen's brothers and sisters in the novels and how her own sibling relationships inspired and influenced those she created.