Behind the Scenes / Q&A Episode – Pride & Prejudice Chapter 12
How do I carry out Regency Research? What got me interested in Jane Austen in the first place, and how is this show produced? Find out the answers to these questions and more, in this episode of My Cousin Jane.
Note: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. This means that every time you click on one and then buy something, I get paid billions of pounds by a secret organization trying to bring back the Regency period…or I get a few fractions of a cent from a company like Amazon, one or the other.
Note: Transcripts on this site are the scripts I used when preparing to record the show. They may or may not be a 100% faithful representation of the final recording. Audio clips of Pride & Prejudice come from Karen Savage’s narration of Pride & Prejudice, courtesy of LibriVox.org.
Welcome to My Cousin Jane, a podcast about Jane Austen and her works. With your host, Lee Falin. Season 2 – episode 12
Welcome back to another episode of My Cousin Jane. Normally we’d spend this episode talking about Pride & Prejudice chapter 12. But this chapter is super short at just over 670 words or so, and not that much happens.
Jane is on the mend. And Elizabeth, anxious to leave Netherfield, convinces Jane to borrow Mr. Bingley’s carriage, and they leave right after church on Sunday to return home.
And that’s basically it for Chapter 12.
We could talk a bit about Regency church services, but I’m saving those discussions for our Mr. Collins chapters. So instead, I thought we’d make this episode a little more interactive and go over some reader questions and comments.
I’ve gotten a couple of variations on this first question:
How do you approach research for these episodes? Do you just know a bunch of stuff about Regency times? What sources do you use?
First of all, though I love British history I did not study much about it in school. I have a PhD in quantitative genetics, and while that program and subsequent activities didn’t teach me much of anything about British history, it did teach me a lot about how to do research effectively, and how to corroborate information from reliable sources.
One of the things you’ll find as you start to research Regency lore, is that false information spreads pretty quickly, and often without any sources attributed to it.
Even fairly well known Regency writers will fall into this trap, so I try not to take anything at face value, even if it’s something published in a popular novel or research text.
While I find interesting information in all kinds of places, I don’t usually include it in the show unless I can verify the information with what I call my “Primary Regency Sources”.
These sources includes anything written by Austen herself, (including her novels and surviving letters). Things written about Austen by her immediate family members (or extended family and friends who knew her during her lifetime), and the original books, newspaper articles, maps, and periodicals published during the regency era, as well as the Oxford English Dictionary’s historical word usage and meaning reference.
This last one is particularly important because sometimes a word’s meaning will change significantly over the centuries.
There are a lot of secondary sources I really like as well. These include the publications of the Jane Austen Society of North America; the writings of historic site curators, such as the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, and the Jane Austen center in Bath; and articles published in peer-reviewed research journals, usually on period-specific topics rather than on “the regency era” per se.
Now, there are lots of other great resources out there for learning more about Jane Austen and Regency life in general, and I try my best to mention those specifically on the show when I come across them. Sites like the BBC and Jane Austen’s World, and countless books I’ve mentioned over the years.
But, I try to never take any information about the Regency era at face value (and therefore never include it in an episode), unless I can corroborate it with a primary source.
That’s not to say that I don’t get stuff wrong, or won’t get stuff wrong in the future. One interesting thing about history is that a specific fact or conclusion can be presumed true for quite a long time, and then a new discovery of an old letter or text can change everything we thought we knew about subject.
So if you think I’ve got something on the show wrong (and can prove it to me by citing a primary source from the time period), please let me know.
The second most common question I get is related to the first.
How do you plan and record each episode?
Typically what I’ll do is scan through the current episode’s chapter, looking for historical bits that I think listeners might find interesting, or which would clarify or add extra depth to the novel.
As I mentioned, I didn’t study British history in school, but at this point I have read a lot of information about Jane Austen and the regency era in general, so I can usually spot when something is going to be interesting.
But sometimes I’ll come across something I’ve glossed over a bunch of times and wonder what its significance is. That will usually send me down a rabbit hole of research.
A good example of this is the discussion way back in episode 5 of season 1, when I talked about Sir Walter’s description of Mrs. Clay as having “a clumsy wrist”.
At first this seems like a throw-away comment by a vain man, but digging a little deeper we learn that during that time period, rickets was a large problem during that time period for the lower class due to malnutrition, and that one of the symptoms was skeletal deformity in the wrist.
So once I learned all this, I knew it was something I wanted to include in the show.
Sometimes I’ll read something interesting and it’ll just stick with me, and I’ll make a note about it to include it in a particular episode. This is particularly true with Austen’s family life, where you find out so much about Austen’s understanding of the Navy came from her brother’s service, or her understanding of the clergy came from the fact that her father was a clergyman.
But once I have a general outline of the facts I want to discuss, and I’ve verified things using the primary sources I discussed previously, I write out a draft script for the episode.
On the more technical side of things, I use a few tools from Rogue Amoeba to do the prep work and recording. These include Fission for audio editing, Audio Hijack for recording, and Farrago for queuing up audio clips and the intro and outro clips.
Once the raw recording is done, I clean things up in Final Cut Pro, which is normally something I use for video editing, but its magnetic timelines and audio scrubbing tools make it really great for editing podcasts as well.
Once that’s done, I upload a reasonable transcript to the blog at MyCousinJane.com, and then post the episode on Buzzsprout, our podcast host. They then take care of syndicating it to various catalogues, like Spotify and Apple Music.
Each episode probably takes me 5 to 10 hours to research, write, record, and edit.
On the hardware side, the only recording hardware I have is a Blue snowball mic, though I would love to upgrade to a Yeti mic, or an Elegato Wave, and maybe pick up a Stream Deck, but those are down the road purchases.
Our final question today is:
How did you first get interested in Jane Austen and the Regency Era?
When I was going to graduate school, I had a pretty long commute, about an hour each way several times a week, and I was always on the lookout for new audiobooks that would make this drive less monotonous.
While I had an Audible subscription, I would listen to books faster than my Audible credits could keep up with, and then I discovered Librivox. Librivox is a fantastic service, and their volunteers provide public domain audio recordings of public domain books.
One thing you’ll notice pretty quickly is that there is a wide variety of narration quality. Many of the more popular titles have several different audio versions, all by different narrators.
Well, I started listening to a book narrated by Karen Savage, I think it was Anne of Green Gables. Then when I’d finished that, I looked for other titles she’d narrated and started listening to Pride & Prejudice.
Something about those books really helped me to deal with the stresses of being a young father working full time while also going to grad school.
I think Winston Churchill said it best when he talks about his own experience having Pride & Prejudice read to him while he was recovering from pneumonia:
The days passed in much discomfort. Fever flickered in and out. The doctors tried to keep the work away from my bedside…They all kept on saying, “Don’t work, don’t worry,” to such an extent that I decided to read a novel.
I had long ago read Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and now I thought I would have Pride and Prejudice. Sarah read it to me beautifully from the foot of the bed…What calm lives they had, those people! No worries about the French Revolution, or the crashing struggle of the Napoleonic Wars. Only manners controlling natural passion so far as they could, together with cultured explanations of any mischances.Winston Churchill
That wraps up episode 11 of season 2 of My Cousin Jane.
As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to help us out, please consider supporting us by heading over to MyCousinJane.com and clicking on the little donate button.
Either way, thanks so much for listening.
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