The AUSTEN-L Mailing List

*Return to Jane Austen info page
*See also the Jane Austen Society
*Go to the `Republic of Pemberley' (Jane Austen writings and adaptations discussion board site)
*Go to article on AUSTEN-L
*Go to an MSNBC article on AUSTEN-L (and this web-site)
*Go to a list of AUSTEN-L group readings (off-site)


[Areas of this web-site which are especially indebted to the members of AUSTEN-L include the list of sequels and continuations to Jane Austen's works, the "Jane Austen punishments list", poetry on Jane Austen, coincidences in Jane Austen's novels, Ellen Moody on Jane Austen's Heroes, the comparison between Henry Crawford of Mansfield Park and Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, and an indisputable men-only scene (with quoted dialogue!) in Jane Austen's novels.]


IMPORTANT NOTE: The list has recently switched from being hosted on an old-style IBM mainframe at LISTS.MCGILL.CA to being hosted on a Windows NT machine at LISTS.MCGILL.CA; as of 9/98, this web page is no longer being systematically updated, and does not reflect the effects of the change to the new server. (See here for an actively-maintained AUSTEN-L web-page.) (In my opinion, AUSTEN-L has gone downhill somewhat from a high point in 1995-1996.)

An electronic mailing-list digest for readers of Jane Austen.

If you enjoy the novels of Jane Austen -- and those of contemporary women writers such Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, and Mary Wollstonecraft -- you might want to exchange views with others on any aspect of her work and time.

List Owner:
Dr. Jacqueline Reid-Walsh,
Faculty of Education,
McGill University, Montreal.


To subscribe, include the following text as the body of an e-mail message sent to listserv@LISTS.MCGILL.CA --


[Please, please do not send this e-mail message from within your WWW browser (unless you should happen to use an integrated mailer within your WWW browser as your main program for receiving e-mail). The LISTSERV software gets what it thinks is your e-mail address automatically from the RFC-822 headers of the message you send, but unfortunately the return-address of an e-mail message sent from within a WWW browser is quite frequently incorrect and invalid. To avoid creating problems for everybody, first start up the separate e-mail program that you intend to use in order to read the mailing-list messages that you will receive, and then send the SUBSCRIBE message from within that program. Thanks!]

NOTE: Due to some unfortunate past experiences, subscription requests from users of Prodigy, and especially from AOL, are placed under special scrutiny, and must be approved individually by the list-owner. I can't speak for the list-owner, but I imagine you will have a better chance of getting a subscription if your AOL "screen name" isn't something cryptic or ridiculous (on the order of GangstaBoy666 or whatever), and if you configure your account so that your real name is included in the "From:" header field of e-mail messages.


To get help on the LISTSERV mailing-list software, send a message whose body is the one word HELP to LISTSERV@LISTS.MCGILL.CA; a summary of commands is available by sending a message to the same address with INFO REFCARD on one line in the body of the message. The basic commands, including those that control how you receive messages from the list, are the following (to be sent, as always, in the body of a message to LISTSERV@LISTS.MCGILL.CA):

Receive all the messages sent to the list during a day as a single long "digest" message (this is the default set-up when you first subscribe to the list). On a day when there is especially heavy list traffic (or when someone has messed up by quoting the entire digest which includes the particular message they are replying to), then you may receive more than one digest a day.
Have individual messages forwarded to you as they come into the list. This option places a heavier burden on the LISTSERV than receiving daily digests does. You might not be sent copies of your own messages to the list, unless you set another configuration option to have this done (see the INFO REFCARD documentation).
Receive only message headers (not messages themselves); you can then retrieve the messages that have intriguing subject lines by using other LISTSERV commands.
Temporarily stop receiving mail (without unsubscribing from the list).
An e-mail message will be returned to you showing the configuration options of your subscription to AUSTEN-L (if you are not subscribed, you will be told so).
Send this in the body of a message to LISTSERV@LISTS.MCGILL.CA when the LISTSERV sends you a message asking you to confirm your subscription.
Ends your subscription to AUSTEN-L. When trying to unsubscribe, don't reply to a received AUSTEN-L message (quoting an entire long digest), and then scrawl "UNSUSCRIBE" at the bottom. THAT IS NOT THE WAY! Instead, start up a new message, addressed to LISTSERV@LISTS.MCGILL.CA, with the words SIGNOFF AUSTEN-L on one line in the body.
If you're leaving an account it's best to send a SIGNOFF message; otherwise, the AUSTEN-L messages will keep on accumulating in the account's mailbox (or, if the account is deleted, then the AUSTEN-L list-owner may have to deal with "bounce" messages).

Note that you can't post to the list from an e-mail address different from the one that you originally signed up as (this precaution was originally made necessary when the infamous Jeff Slaton, a.k.a. the "Spam King", made us the target of his tender attentions, and has been reinstated to curtail the activities of the "Detestable M--- J---" twit; see Notable moments in list history below -- it somehow seems appropriate to me that these two individuals should be associated together!). In particular, this means that if your original list subscription message had a return address of, and later on there is a configuration change at "", such that messages sent to will still reach you, but messages that you send out now have a return address of, then you will continue to receive AUSTEN-L messages, but may not be able to post to the list without unsubscribing and resubscribing.

A simple trick for managing AUSTEN-L messages in a Unix mailbox

If you read your e-mail directly in Unix, and don't want dozens of AUSTEN-L messages arriving in your mailbox every day, but also find large digests to be somewhat unwieldy, and awkward to read conveniently, then there is a simple way to "split" a digest, so that the messages contained inside it can be dealt with individually -- regardless of what Unix mail-reading program you use. If your system administrator has installed the free "procmail" software package (as is quite frequently done at Unix sites), then you can save an individual digest message to an external file (perhaps in the system /tmp/ directory), and run the following command line:

formail +1 -ds < saved_digest_file > new_mailbox

You can then use your mail-reader to read the newly created mailbox file, in the same way that the program reads any other external file in standard Unix mailbox format, and use the program for keeping track of which postings to AUSTEN-L you have read -- or use more advanced features for the selective filtering or processing of individual messages.

Problems and Troubleshooting

If you have problems which you can't solve by sending properly-formatted control messages to the automated LISTSERV program at the address LISTSERV@LISTS.MCGILL.CA, then send a message to the human list-owner at MICHAEL.WALSH@MCGILL.CA. (Do not send any such messages to AUSTEN-L@LISTS.MCGILL.CA, because mail sent to that address will be forwarded to everyone who subscribes to the list.) Since the list-owners of AUSTEN-L tend to be busy, don't be surprised if you don't get a reply -- just wait several days for the problem to be fixed (allow a longer time over week-ends and academic holidays). If the problem isn't fixed at the end of that time, then try resending your message.

Diagnoses for some commonly-occurring problems:

    You mysteriously and abruptly stop receiving all AUSTEN-L messages.
    Probably one or more AUSTEN-L messages addressed to your account were "bounced" (i.e. could not be sent to your machine, and were returned to the LISTS.MCGILL.CA server as "undeliverable"), so that the LISTSERV thinks your account no longer exists, and has unsubscribed you; such delivery problems could be due to a number of causes (configuration changes at your site, your site being disconnected from the Internet for a day or more, or the ever-popular "transient network failure"). It's also possible that you're still subscribed to the list, but your list status has been set to NOMAIL.
    Send a message with body QUERY AUSTEN-L to LISTSERV@LISTS.MCGILL.CA to find out your current list status. If you've been unsubscribed, just send another subscription message; if your subscription has the wrong options set, reconfigure it according to the instructions in the preceding section.
    You receive duplicate AUSTEN-L messages.
    If you consistently receive the same number of duplicates of each message, then you're probably subscribed to AUSTEN-L multiple times, with different e-mail addresses that feed into the same mailbox (you can verify this by comparing the full RFC-822 headers of received "duplicates" of the same message, if your software allows you to do this, and you know what you're looking for). On the other hand, if you occasionally receive, say, five copies of certain AUSTEN-L messages, but only receive a single copy of most messages, this is probably caused by sporadic and transient failures.
    If you're subscribed to the list from multiple aliases, try sending an unsubscribe message, and see what happens. If you can't control the exact form of the return e-mail address included in the RFC-822 headers of your messages to the LISTSERV, then ultimately the list owner may have to fix your subscription problem, but it's always best to find out as much as you can about the exact nature of your problem before contacting the list-owner.
    If you only sporadically receive small flurries of duplicate messages, it's probably not worthwhile trying to get this problem fixed (unless it occurs with annoying frequency), since these kinds of things can be hard to track down. (The problem is more likely to be in the network than the LISTSERV itself.)
    One specific AUSTEN-L message failed to arrive, though you're still subscribed to the list, and are still receiving other messages.
    "Transient network failure" (the Internet is hardly infallible, and sometimes messages can be lost). Also, if your daily digest has not arrived at its usual time, it may just be delayed, not lost altogether; another possibility is that there simply may have been no digest on that day (either because the LISTS.MCGILL.CA machine is down, as it was for a few days due to a campus power-failure in 1996 and again during the Great Quebec Ice-storm of January 1998, or because no one has sent any messages to the list on a particular day -- this last actually did occasionally happen in the "old days" of AUSTEN-L, before January 1996, and apparently happened again on Sept. 18th 1997). [[Recently there was an unexplained list glitch from 4/28/98 to 5/1/98.]]
    It's probably not worth tracking down the cause of a single message gone astray; just retrieve the appropriate AUSTEN-L weekly archive that contains the missing message. (It's best not to post a public message to AUSTEN-L asking people to send you a copy of the missing message -- this takes up space on the list with a message which isn't directly discussing Jane Austen, and you may end up receiving 25 copies of the same message ;-).)
    Also, since the digest length threshold is set to 1,000 lines, digests can be somewhat long, and some people have occasionally lost all or part of a long digest message due to local software failure, interrupted modem transfer, etc.; the remedy for this is the same as for a mysteriously missing message (retrieve the appropriate archive).

Remember, send all personal administrative correspondence (such as unsubscription messages, or requests for action about your individual problems with the list) to the LISTSERV address or to the (human) list-owner, and NOT to AUSTEN-L itself!


We welcome you to join AUSTEN-L, and share your historical knowledge, personal insights, critical acumen, playful creativity, and/or perplexing questions (while keeping the topic more less relevant to Jane Austen). However there are some potential pitfalls that you should be aware of and avoid.

First, there are some quasi-technical issues: If you send a message to the list in response to a posting by someone else, then do NOT include the entire message you are replying to in your response (unless the original message was very short, or you are engaging in a detailed line-by-line response). Such behavior is considered bad mailing list etiquette -- and is especially rude when you reply in this way to a "digest" message (which contains all the messages sent to the list on a single day). If your mailer program does this automatically by default, then learn how to configure your program to turn off this option. Another problem with some mailer programs is that they can generate unnecessary multipart MIME messages (those messages in which one of the parts is encoded as a binary with BASE64 are particularly obnoxious); so if you type your posting to AUSTEN-L in a separate word-processing program, always save it as a plain ASCII file (with "hard" line breaks), and include it in your e-mail message (by cutting and pasting, if necessary) -- but do not "attach" it. Also, messages encoded with MIME "Content-Transfer-Encoding: Quoted-Printable" can be moderately annoying to read, and the encoding is usually not even necessary (as long as you have used only ASCII characters in the ranges 9-13 and 32-126); note that one should always turn off "smartquotes" when composing a message to AUSTEN-L. Ask the appropriate person at your site for help if you're unsure how to deal with such mailer problems. Finally, you should avoid beginning a line with too many TAB characters (ASCII 9), since such lines will frequently be displayed as overflowing the conventional column 80 right margin (the LISTSERV software is normally quite good about wrapping long lines to fit within 80 columns, but it can be fooled by TABs).

Also, when you send a message, be aware of its destination: replying to a digest or normal message from the AUSTEN-L list will cause your follow-up message to be sent to the list address; so do not use the "reply" function of your mailer to try to send administrative control messages (that should go to LISTSERV), or messages that should be sent directly to another individual list member. (I don't want to harp on this topic, but there's no quicker way to make oneself look foolish in front of hundreds of people, and to annoy a significant fraction of them, than to send a message to the list which consists an of entire 50-kilobyte digest quoted with ">" characters down the left side, followed by two lines which reveal that the message shouldn't have been sent to AUSTEN-L in the first place!)

¿?Frequently Asked Questions: If you have a simple question which you suspect may have been asked and answered many times already on AUSTEN-L, you might find the answer on this web page, or in the unorganized material contributed to a potential future AUSTEN-L FAQ, or by searching all the web pages on this site, or by searching the text of Jane Austen's novels, or by searching the AUSTEN-L archives, or even by looking at one of the books or articles listed in the various bibliographies on this site. Of course, if you find a basic answer to your query though one of these methods, you can still ask for further elucidation from the list members.

Newcomers and first-time posters: If you have just subscribed to the list, it might be wise at first to passively observe and "lurk", at least for a few days, in order to get a feel for the list, and the types of postings that are most welcomed there, before you make any postings of your own (see also the information on list topics and discussion style below). One shouldn't feel too intimidated about posting to AUSTEN-L, but there is something of a consensus as to what is appropriate and inappropriate, worked out over the years through interactions on the list; while new subscribers are usually forgiven if they make errors in their first messages, definite bias and discrimination will be shown to those who seem to be both incapable of making an intelligent contribution to the list, and also persistently unteachable about what is unwelcome there. A single newcomer to the list is unlikely to be able to affect this consensus very much, regardless of how loudly he or she complains, so please consider very carefully if you receive a number of complaints about your first postings to AUSTEN-L.

If you have posted a query to the list, and no one subsequently replies, it is probably because no one knows the answer off-hand, and no one feels motivated to make the time to seriously research the topic; since repeating your query will very likely not change this situation, please think twice before soon reposting to the list a query which was unanswered on its first appearance. It is especially ill-advised (neither polite nor effective) to repeat your query in an injured or demanding tone after it has gone unanswered: no one gets paid for participating in AUSTEN-L, they post to the list pretty much purely as the fancy takes them, and if they happen to choose not to answer your query, they are not failing in any responsibilities.

It is advisable, when you want to get discussion going on a topic, to "prime the pump" with some discussion of your own -- you should advance a concrete thesis, with which other people can agree or disagree, or at least indicate your own specific interests and tentative thoughts on the topic (so that a potential respondent has something to go on). This is more likely to get a useful response than is merely presenting an abstract and general request for discussion. Requests or demands such as "I have been assigned an English paper on X, tell me everything about X NOW!" have a particular likelihood of falling flat on this list.

Finally, the "charades" (word puzzles) and riddles that are sometimes posed to the group have a special protocol. Whatever you do, you should NOT rush to post the answer to the list in the first 24 hours, before the majority of people on the list (especially those who receive the list in daily digest form) have had the opportunity to read the puzzle and ponder over it a little (if you do post an answer to the list, it would probably be advisable to follow the standard Usenet convention of including the word "SPOILER" in your subject line). Most often, the person who has posed the conundrum to the list will request that all answers be sent to him/her in private e-mail.

Scholars who follow the most fashionably "up-to-date" critical theories will get along much better on AUSTEN-L if they remember that they are not addressing colleagues from their own clique -- but rather a general group of educated, but largely theoretically unenlightened, Austen-readers -- and so adjust the level of narrow in-group jargon that they use accordingly. Also, it is best not to take the position that if one advances a thesis which is sufficiently provocative or strikingly counterintuitive, then this eliminates any necessity to support one's theories with well-reasoned argument.

Do-gooders and mail forwarders: No matter how good the cause is that you are trying to promote, or how urgent the message you are forwarding, if it has nothing to to with Jane Austen, then it is off-topic and inappropriate for this list. Please reflect before posting messages of this nature (especially LONG ones). We also don't really want to hear about exploded Internet folklore like the "Good Times" virus and the little sick boy who wants to receive a record number of postcards, nor about commercial products that have nothing to do with Jane Austen.

*Go to a good general discussion of mailing list "netiquette" (though a few of the suggestions listed there are for very large technically-oriented lists, and don't really apply to AUSTEN-L).

List Topics, Discussion Style, and Folklore

Discussion on this list tends not to be heavily LitCrit "theoretical", and it is not necessary to be a professional literature specialist to participate actively on the list (though many members are academics, and well-informed discussion about the literature or way of life of Jane Austen's period, which helps to illuminate her writings, is always welcomed). Despite Ms. Reid-Walsh's hopeful definition of the list topics (see above), Fanny Burney has traditionally rarely been discussed on the list (though this has now changed with the recent "Burney reading subgroup" discussion of Evelina), and Maria Edgeworth and Mary Wollstonecraft almost never.

Though no special academic expertise is required for AUSTEN-L, I would strongly advise you not to take part in a discussion about a Jane Austen novel if you have only seen a movie adaptation of it, and have not read the original book. When a particular novel is being discussed, comparisons and references to the other novels are generally extremely frequent, so that you will not be able to participate very effectively in the list discussion without having read all of Jane Austen's six novels at least once (this is more or less assumed as a basic minimum background knowledge, and probably few list members would consider an elementary plot-summary question about one of the six novels to be a worthwhile use of the list). On the other hand, familiarity with the (so-called) "Minor Works" and the Letters is not assumed, and basic questions about these are not necessarily out of place.

In May 1996, the list finished a chapter-by-chapter discussion of Pride and Prejudice (special thanks are due to Ellen Moody for almost single-handedly keeping this discussion on track); in August 1996 the list finished up a reading of Sense and Sensibility, and then went on to Emma, in December 1996 to Lady Susan, then in January 1997 to Persuasion. Carolyn Nelson arranged the reading schedules for the first few post-P&P readings (setting a brisker pace than our original slow ramble through Pride and Prejudice). In September 1997, the list finished a (somewhat monotonously contentious, in the opinion of your humble web-page maintainer) reading of Mansfield Park and then embarked on (a slightly slower-paced) reading of Northanger Abbey. Currently the list has finished a Feb.-Apr. 1998 reading of Jane Austen's "Fragments" (The Watsons and Sanditon), and has now gone on to a (somewhat sporadic) discussion of the Juvenilia. Following the success of the Burney-reading subgroup (which has finished Evelina and is about to go on to Cecilia), there have been proposals for other subgroups, and an "inner orbit" quick reading of the six novels within a year has been started (beginning with Pride and Prejudice, and now [7/98] going on to Sense and Sensibility).

*Go to a schedule of AUSTEN-L group readings.

Though film versions should always be distinguished from the original Jane Austen novels, discussion about the films as interpretations of the novels is welcome on AUSTEN-L (however, Hollywood gossip about the actors who appear in the films, or declarations of admiration for Colin Firth's derrière, are less welcome); this is explained in the following posting from the list:

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 12:44:19 -0700
From: Karen P

As for the proposal that movie adaptations of the novels be excluded from the list, the discussions on AUSTEN-L are wide-ranging, taking in subjects as diverse as wedding rules and customs, china, dancing, dyes, clothing, furnishings, manners, religion, drawing, medicine, naval history and customs, and on and on and on. It is not to be expected that all list members (and I think we currently number over 800) are going to be interested in every message. Postings carry subject headings to help people decide which ones they want to read. Limiting discussion on the list to the writings of Jane Austen would be less complicated, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like AUSTEN-L.

The following abbreviations for the adaptations are well-established and very convenient for use in postings about movies on AUSTEN-L; the use of these terms in a heading tells list members that the subject is a particular movie, and if they are not interested in that movie, then they should just move on:

P&PO or P&P0 -
1940 movie with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Some use O, standing for `original', others 0 standing for `zero'.
P&P1 -
the BBC version from 1979 or 1980, with Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul
P&P2 -
the recent BBC/A&E collaboration with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth
Emma1 -
the BBC version from the early 1970's
Emma2 -
the recent Miramax movie version with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam
Emma3 -
The ITV/A&E production with Kate Beckinsale.

You can also go to the `Republic of Pemberley' (a Jane Austen writings and adaptations discussion board site), where some types of discussion (such as gossip about the actors) will be more welcome than on AUSTEN-L.

It seems that the majority of active AUSTEN-L list members are female (why is no one surprised?), though some very active participants are of the male persuasion. Perhaps partially for this reason, and/or because of the list's topic, AUSTEN-L tends not to be as argumentative as some other lists. However, we do have certain points of contention: --

The following topic is EXTREMELY controversial in nature!
Read further at your own risk!

Without a doubt, the most disputed topic on AUSTEN-L is: --

Miss Fanny Price

The heroine of Mansfield Park has always been a controversial topic on AUSTEN-L, and we have had periodic "Fanny Price wars", which one should avoid exacerbating needlessly and gratuitously. Therefore if you have just subscribed, and are new to the list, then it would be advisable, before you post any standing questions or urgent reflections about Miss Price, to take into account the current state of any discussions of the topic on the list, and especially whether or not a "Fanny Price war" has just ended (in such a case, your posting may serve to fan the dying embers of argument into fresh flames, just when many list members were beginning to breathe a sigh of relief); to check on this, you can retrieve or search the list archives. Meanwhile, you should be careful about casually throwing around words such as the following in reference to Miss Price: ``insignificant'', ``moralizing prig'', ``feeble'', ``dull'', or ``nebbish'' -- not because these are necessarily objectively wrong, but because on AUSTEN-L they are what the U.S. Supreme court has termed "fighting words".

On this web site, Fanny Price is discussed somewhat in the general comments on Mansfield Park (however, your humble web-page maintainer, being an inveterately biased pro-Fannyite, does not pretend to objectivity), in the list of passages from Mansfield Park detailing Fanny's endearing imperfections, and in the quotes given immediately below on this page; also, in the Opinions of Mansfield Park collected by Jane Austen herself, you can read the comments of the pro-Fannyites and anti-Fannyites of 1814 and 1815. Those Crawfordites among you might indulge your feelings by reading the Alternative Ending to Mansfield Park (if you can get hold of it) -- but probably would be offended by reading the comparison between Henry Crawford of Mansfield Park and Darcy of Pride and Prejudice (which shows how Henry Crawford falls far short of Darcy in true herohood).

*Click here to view a concept illustration for another possible alternative ending to Mansfield Park (one that many people may find just as believable as Fanny getting together with Henry C.! ;-))
*Also see What Fanny Price would have to do for some people not to find her "insipid"!
*Read a humorous updating of Mansfield Park set in rural Tennessee

By the way, when Jane Austen said "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like", she was referring to Emma Woodhouse, not Fanny Price!

The definitive Fanny-bashing

The recent disputations about Fanny Price on AUSTEN-L have inspired me to include a passage from the C. S. Lewis book The Screwtape Letters below, in which the demon Screwtape ("his abysmal sublimity, the undersecretary") describes a certain character from his own point of view. In my own personal, highly subjective, and idiosyncratic opinion, if you can't top this, then don't even bother trying to insult Fanny Price!

I have looked up this girl's dossier and am horrified at what I find. Not only a Christian, but such a Christian -- a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouselike, watery, insignificant, virginal, bread-and-butter miss! The little brute! She makes me vomit. She stinks and scalds through the very pages of the dossier. It drives me mad, the way the world has worsened. We'd have had her to the arena [i.e. with the lions] in the old days. That's what her sort is made for. Not that she'd do much good there, either. A two-faced little cheat (I know the sort) who looks as if she'd faint at the sight of blood, and then dies with a smile. A cheat every way. Looks as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, [...a] Filthy, insipid little prude -- and yet ready to fall into this booby's arms like any other breeding animal.

A psychological profile of Fanny Price

The following profile is taken from a posting to AUSTEN-L (it shows some interesting points of agreement with the C. S. Lewis quote above!):

Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 11:07:22 -0500
From: Theresa

The discussion about Fanny Price has been interesting, and leads me to offer my thoughts. My background is in psychology, and I couldn't help but to try to identify what puts so many Austen fans off about this particular heroine.

I believe that in Fanny, Jane Austen has developed a perfect INFP personality type (in the Jungian or "Myers-Briggs" classification). INFP stands for Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling and Perceptive as dominant traits. In a word: an "Idealist". Interestingly, only 1 percent of the population fits into this group.

Consider this brief portrait: INFPs --

  • present a calm, pleasant face to the world.
  • are seen as reticent and even shy.
  • demonstrate cool reserve toward others, but inside are anything but distant.
  • care deeply about a few special persons or causes.
  • have a profound sense of honor derived from internal values. (This is not necessarily religious morality -- they have their own sense of integrity and morality.)
  • are willing to make unusual sacrifices for someone or something believed in.
  • seek unity of body, mind, and soul.
  • often have a tragic motif running through their lives, which others may not detect.
  • show deep commitment to the `good' and are always alert for the `bad'.
  • are adaptable to new information and ideas.
  • are well aware of people and their feelings and relate well to most people while keeping some psychological distance.
  • prefer to live in harmony and will go to great lengths to avoid constant conflict.
  • tend to be compliant, and may even prefer to have decisions made for them, until their value system is violated -- then they will not budge from their ideals.
  • will often be found in service careers -- social work, ministry, teaching (or in Fanny's case, serving as a companion to her aunt).

I think the only way she might have been persuaded to marry Henry Crawford was if he had had a profound reformation, so that she was able to believe that not only was his love true and deep, but her values of honesty (integrity) were shared. I believe she could accept less of a passionate love from Edmund Bertram because she believed him to share her same values.

Some apparently common misconceptions of Jane Austen and her characters

You won't gain additional respect for your posts to AUSTEN-L by recycling these.

  • One frequently-repeated assertion about Jane Austen, that she never wrote dialog between males only, without any females present or overhearing, has been refuted on AUSTEN-L by the keen observational powers of the lynx-eyed Elvira Casal: see this scene from Chapter 20 of Mansfield Park.
  • When Maria Bertram (Mrs. Rushworth) is sent away to "another country" at the end of Mansfield Park, this most probably does not mean she was sent away to a foreign country -- the word "country" in Jane Austen usually means a local region (such as a county or shire of Britain), rather than a whole nation-state.
  • It is not true that an unmarried unrelated young man and young woman must never be together by themselves. Even a perfunctory reading of Jane Austen's novels will turn up plenty of counter-examples -- think of Charles Musgrove handing Anne Elliot over to Capt. Wentworth for a walk uptown near the end of Persuasion, or Bingley arranging with Mrs. Bennet for Darcy and Elizabeth to take "a nice long walk" alone to Oakham Mount, etc., etc. (strict rules of chaperonage belong more to the Victorian era than to Jane Austen's day). There are limits and rules of propriety (for example, young unmarried unrelated members of the opposite sex can't correspond or exchange personal gifts, unless they are engaged, and it is not quite proper for a young gentlewoman to go unaccompanied on a long journey by public coach), but they are somewhat more subtle and flexible than never allowing tête-à-têtes with the opposite sex.
    The main thing to be avoided was too long or too frequent meetings between the same woman and man -- just as it was bad etiquette for the same couple to dance too many dances together at a ball (two sets of two dances each was the conventional upper limit). Thus in Northanger Abbey Mr. Allen doesn't much object to Catherine Morland having gone on a carriage ride with John Thorpe once, but does object to a possible repetition ("Do not you think it has an odd appearance, if young ladies are frequently driven about in [open carriages] by young men, to whom they are not even related?"). In Jane Austen's very first surviving letter (January 9, 1796), she makes fun of herself for having somewhat violated etiquette, by being "particular" in this way with her "Irish friend" Tom Lefroy:
    "we had an exceeding good ball last night... Mr. H. began with Elizabeth, and afterwards danced with her again; but they do not know how to be particular. I flatter myself, however, that they will profit by the three successive lessons which I have given them. You scold me so much in the nice long letter which I have this moment received from you, that I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together... But as to our having ever met, except at the three last balls, I cannot say much; for he is so excessively laughed at about me at Ashe, that he is ashamed of coming to Steventon, and ran away when we called on [his aunt] Mrs. Lefroy a few days ago."
  • Frank Churchill did not really go to London just to get his hair cut; this was a cover story for his ordering a piano to be delivered to Jane Fairfax.
  • Mrs. Clay of Persuasion must be a widow, not a divorcée. As somebody on AUSTEN-L has pointed out, in Chapter 17 it says:
    "Mrs. Clay, who had been present while all this passed, now thought it advisable to leave the room, and Anne could have said much, and did long to say a little in defense of her friend's not very dissimilar claims [...] She left it to himself to recollect that Mrs. Smith was not the only widow in Bath between thirty and forty with little to live on, and no sirname of dignity."

    But this statement actually would not have resolved any suspense in the minds of Jane Austen's readers, since in the pre-1857 era pretty much the only grounds for divorce was the wife's infidelity, so that a divorced woman would have been almost guaranteed to have a flaming scarlet reputation in genteel rural society (and Lady Russell would have been on firm ground in reproaching Sir Walter for allowing his daughters to associate with such a person). Also, the husband almost always receives automatic custody of children in a divorce, while Mrs. Clay had her children with her at her father's (though we don't hear much about them, and she doesn't take them with her to Bath). Furthermore, getting a divorce allowing remarriage cost quite a bit of money, in order to go through the baroque legal procedures which included getting a bill passed in Parliament, and anyone who was likely to marry the daughter of Mr. Shephard probably couldn't afford a divorce (thus the reason that the widowed Mrs. Clay has to re-enter under the paternal roof, instead of being able to set up a separate household of her own, is that her late husband had been "unprosperous").
  • Mr. Collins is not the son of a deceased sister of Mr. Bennet. Not only is it said at the beginning of Chapter 7 that "Mr. Bennet's property... unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of heirs male, on a distant relation", but also the standard type of entail by male primogeniture doesn't indiscriminately favor males over females -- rather, it favors males who can trace a male-only line of descent from a past owner over all other descendants, both males and females. Therefore inheritance by or through females only happens after all the sons, and sons of sons etc., of past owners have died off; and when such female inheritance occurs, a male estate-owner's daughters are preferred over his sisters, and the son of a woman who is in line to inherit can't have more rights than the woman herself did (see the handy chart of succession to the inheritance of such an entail); this default entail is the type that Jane Austen knew would be in her readers' minds if she did not specify any further legal details, and is also implied by the legal term "heirs male" used in the quote above.
    (The type of inheritance in which the nearest living male relative inherits -- so that a daughter's son is favored over the daughter of a deceased son -- is known as "heirs male whatsoever", and apparently was applied in some cases in Scotland, but was not the usual way of doing things in England.) The reason that Mr. Collins has a different surname than Mr. Bennet, even though they are patrilineal relatives, is undoubtedly that someone in one or the other of their two lines (i.e. either Mr. Bennet, his father, or paternal grandfather, etc.; or Mr. Collins, his father, or paternal grandfather, etc.) changed his surname on receiving an inheritance from a non-patrilineal relative. This was done relatively frequently among the "genteel" classes, and there are several examples of changing surname, or adding another surname hyphenated to one's original surname, among Jane Austen's near relatives (her brother Edward and his children changed name from "Austen" to "Knight" when he became the heir of a cousin and cousin's wife named "Knight"; Jane Austen's uncle added the surname "Perrot" to become "James Leigh-Perrot" upon inheriting from his great-uncle Thomas Perrot; and later Jane Austen's nephew James Edward Austen changed his surname to "Austen-Leigh" after inheriting from James Leigh Perrot and his wife).
  • The widowed Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters are not necessarily impoverished by an entail in Sense and Sensibility. The money that Mr. Henry Dashwood's first wife had brought into the marriage was reserved by marriage settlements for her own offspring (namely John Dashwood), and could not be given to Mr. Henry Dashwood's daughters by his second wife. And the late uncle of Mr. Henry Dashwood chose to put stipulations in his will which effectively held his estate in trust for John Dashwood's son Harry (see the genealogical chart). The first of these legal devices is not an entail, and the second does not have to be. And in fact, marriage settlements are actually designed to protect women (as opposed to an entail, which keeps wealth away from women), since these settlements ensure that the wife's money will revert to her or her children, and prevent the husband from misappropriating the money for other purposes (as he would otherwise be entitled to do).
  • Fanny Price of Mansfield Park is not the next probable Lady Bertram (see discussion).

It is also apparently advisable not to take all the statements in What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool as the gospel truth. A number of people have reported inaccuracies or oversimplifications -- and especially that the book often fails to meticulously distinguish between Jane Austen's era and the quite different mid-Victorian period of 50 years afterwards.

For some further information on certain frequently-asked questions about Jane Austen, her writings, and her times, see my (unofficial) offered contributions for a possible FAQ for AUSTEN-L.

Notable moments in list history

There have been four memorable "incidents" on the list since late 1994. The first happened when somehow the AUSTEN-L address was itself signed up as a recipient of AUSTEN-L digest postings. This meant that every time an AUSTEN-L digest was sent out, its contents were automatically received and added to the accumulated messages waiting to be included in the next digest. Now AUSTEN-L digests are sent at about midnight EST every day (if there are any messages waiting), and also earlier in the day whenever the total size of the accumulated messages waiting to be sent out exceeds a certain amount. So when the size of the material being recirculated through list digests exceeded this threshold, the list went into meltdown (or ``sorcerer's apprentice mode'', as the Jargon File calls it), sending over a hundred messages of steadily increasing length in a single day!

The second major incident was when Jeff Slaton (the "Spam King") made us the object of his tender attentions, posting his long pitch to buy schematics of the first two atom bombs not only once or twice, but every time he changed accounts (which was several times a week), even though he always knew he would shortly lose the account he was posting from, and for this reason requested that people contact him by other means than e-mail!

[There was another web-site at recently, detailing his questionable activities, but this now seems to have gone off-line.]

The third incident was a "flame war" (or what passes for a flame war on AUSTEN-L). Since your humble web-page maintainer was a participant :-(, I shall refrain from any subjective comment, merely remarking that the whole thing was aggravated when the list malfunctioned, sending forth duplicate copies of some of the more inflammatory messages.

The fourth and most recent incident involved a flaky attention-craving twit (she herself has said she identifies with Mrs. Elton!). I will render her AOL "screen name" (i.e. handle alias) here as "The Detestable M--- J---". Some people on the list felt that the list moderator should have expelled her from AUSTEN-L much more quickly than was actually done, while others felt that those who complained about the "Detestable" were hypersensitive types who should learn to ignore her messages. Whatever might have been the proper philosophical posture to take towards the "Detestable" in some abstract ideal world, there's no denying that she created a lot of turmoil on AUSTEN-L, and that she enjoyed creating this turmoil. -- This is very clear from the fact that after the first "screen name" associated with her AOL account was banned from the list, she started posting from a second "screen name" associated with her account, and then when that was banned from the list, she succeeded in taking advantage of the resentments and insecurities of another member of AUSTEN-L, who was almost certainly suffering from fairly severe mental-health problems, in order to persuade that other person to forward her messages to the list.

Usenet Proposal

In March-May 1997, the AUSTEN-L list-owners offered a proposal to create a Usenet "newsgroup" (discussion group), to be titled "humanities.lit.authors.jane-austen", and to gateway this with AUSTEN-L. A formal "RFD" (proposal) was posted to the Usenet group news:news.announce.newgroups (now archived at Reaction to the proposal on AUSTEN-L and Usenet's news:news.groups was largely negative, based mainly on fears that a two-way link with an unmoderated Usenet group might affect the AUSTEN-L mailing list negatively, and on a perception that the proponents were not taking very seriously the possible drawbacks to such a link that had been pointed out. Nevertheless, the proponents went ahead with the proposal, and a formal Usenet vote was held, ending on May 29th (the ballot is archived in the same FTP location) -- which resulted in the proposal being rejected.

Searching Jane Austen's novels and letters

[Apparently defunct; you can use the
on-line search instead.]

A member of AUSTEN-L has set up a program to do word searches of e-texts of Jane Austen's novels and letters, and will do searches for people, if they are requested in the proper format. (It is also possible to do an immediate on-line search of the six novels, Lady Susan, and The Watsons only.)

Date: Wed, 7 Aug 1996 17:41:07 EST
From: Mark Turner
Subject: Word Search

I'm offering the following service: send in a list of words using the instructions below, and back will come a complete report on where the words occur in Jane Austen's novels and (the Brabourne edition of) her letters. There are a lot of possibilities for using this sort-of-concordance tool with terms of interest to you: colors, emotions, body movement or sensation, animals, music, food, household terms, writing, appearance, the senses, or anything you like. You even get your choice of number system (roman or arabic) and choice of numbering by volume/chapter or by chapter only.


Send your search request to mturner@ in the following format:

  • The subject should be "JA Search"
  • The body of the message should have three lines:
    1. Enter "chap" as the first line if you want whole-book chapter numbers, or "vol" if you want the original volume and volume-relative chapter numbering.
    2. Enter "roman" or "arabic" on the second line to indicate which type of numbering you'd like. (Why I implemented this, I'll never know.)
    3. On the third line, enter your list of words (up to 10) separated by spaces. The words can be in any alphabetic case.

Example of a request message:

The following message requests a listing of all appearances of some feline and canine terms in the e-texts of the novels and letters.

[RFC-822 Headers:]

To: mturner@
Subject: JA Search

[Body of Message:]

cat cats dog dogs kitten pug pup puppy

Please try to avoid using words likely to appear very frequently. The searches are run manually, so don't expect an instantaneous response (I may be traveling).

[Also, if you're not sure that your WWW browser will include a valid return e-mail address in the RFC-822 headers of messages it sends (see the caveats above), then don't click on a mailto: link, but rather start up a separate e-mail program and use it to e-mail mturner@ manually.]

Example of a report:

A listing such as the one below will be returned; it will look best if you use a fixed (non-proportional) font, such as Courier.

Report on: cat cats dog dogs kitten pug pup puppy

Vol Chapter Para
--- ------- ----
  i   xviii   32 not endure such a *puppy* when it came
iii     vii   37 came from an abominable *puppy* you know who
iii   xviii   63 no what an impudent *dog* i was how

Mansfield Park
Vol Chapter Para
--- ------- ----
  i       i   17 not tease my poor *pug* said lady bertram
  i      ii    4 sofa with herself and *pug* and vain was
  i      ii   31 thinking more of her *pug* than her children
  i     vii   57 sitting and calling to *pug* and trying to
  i    viii   30 and the barking of *pug* in his mistresss
  i     xii    4 his boast of his *dogs* his jealousy of
 ii       i    9 away her work move *pug* from her side
iii      ii   28 maria the next time *pug* has a litter
iii      ii   28 you shall have a *puppy*
iii     vii   29 devil take those young *dogs* how they are

Northanger Abbey
Vol Chapter Para
--- ------- ----
  i    viii   10 of the horses and *dogs* of the friend
  i      ix   30 skill in directing the *dogs* had repaired the
 ii      xi   17 solitude a large newfoundland *puppy* and two or

Vol Chapter Para
--- ------- ----
  i      vi    3 destroy their own horses *dogs* and newspapers to
  i     vii   24 was come for his *dogs* that his sisters
  i       x    6 taken out a young *dog* who had spoilt

Pride and Prejudice
Vol Chapter Para
--- ------- ----

Sense and Sensibility
Vol Chapter Para
--- ------- ----
 ii       x    9 fellow such a deceitful *dog* it was only
iii     iii    8 as dull as two *cats*
iii    viii   69 promise about a pointer *puppy* what i felt
iii     xiv   18 breed of horses and *dogs* and in sporting

No.     Date        To Para
------- ----------- -- ----
  xviii May 17 1799 CA    9 and a little black *kitten* runs about the
   lxiv Sep 23 1813 CA    6 i am still a *cat* if i see
lxxviii Dec  2 1815 CA    9 the mistake of the *dogs* rather vexed him
    xci ??? ?? 1815 AL    3 am pleased with the *dog* scene and with

Summary of word counts:
                Emma     MP     NA   Pers    P&P    S&S    Let  Total
         cat       0      0      0      0      0      0      1      1
        cats       0      0      0      0      0      1      0      1
         dog       1      0      0      1      0      1      1      4
        dogs       0      2      2      2      0      1      1      8
      kitten       0      0      0      0      0      0      1      1
         pug       0      7      0      0      0      0      0      7
         pup       0      0      0      0      0      0      0      0
       puppy       2      1      1      0      0      1      0      5

       Total       3     10      3      3      0      4      4     27

Mark Turner

The AUSTEN-L Archives

[See end of this page for new archive site.]

An archive of AUSTEN-L postings is available through e-mail from the LISTSERV. To get a monthly archive file, send an e-mail message (again, using your regular mailer program, and not from within your WWW browser) to LISTSERV@LISTS.MCGILL.CA, the body of which contains only the following words, on a single line:


Here you should substitute for "XXX" the appropriate numbers from the second column of the table below. Note that these files can be somewhat large, so that you shouldn't request files if your e-mail program can't handle large messages; and you should use common sense in not overloading the LISTSERV with requests. (In the table below, an approximate idea of the size of each file is given by "nrecs", which is the total number of lines in the file.)

From: BITNET list server at MCGILL1 (1.7f) <LISTSERV@LISTS.MCGILL.CA>
Subject:      File: "AUSTEN-L FILELIST"

*  Archives for list AUSTEN-L (Jane Austen discussion list)
*  Monthly NOTEBOOK archives for the list
*                                                     last change
* filename filetype lrecl nrecs     Started on       date     time
* -------- -------- ----- -----   ---------------  -------- --------
  AUSTEN-L LOG9401     80   478   Sun, 2 Jan 1994  94/01/24 06:57:01
  AUSTEN-L LOG9402     80  1955   Sun, 6 Feb 1994  94/02/26 12:34:27
  AUSTEN-L LOG9403     80  1599   Tue, 1 Mar 1994  94/03/31 20:11:36
  AUSTEN-L LOG9404     92  1289   Sat, 2 Apr 1994  94/04/29 09:12:07
  AUSTEN-L LOG9405     80  2464   Mon, 2 May 1994  94/05/31 16:24:17
  AUSTEN-L LOG9406     80  1620   Thu, 2 Jun 1994  94/06/30 18:05:35
  AUSTEN-L LOG9407     80  1704   Thu, 30 Jun 1994 94/07/31 20:38:24
  AUSTEN-L LOG9408     80  1330   Mon, 1 Aug 1994  94/08/31 08:44:05
  AUSTEN-L LOG9409    111  2336   Thu, 1 Sep 1994  94/09/30 22:57:31
  AUSTEN-L LOG9410     80  2569   Sun, 2 Oct 1994  94/10/31 21:28:14
  AUSTEN-L LOG9411     85  2630   Tue, 1 Nov 1994  94/11/30 19:31:32
  AUSTEN-L LOG9412     80  2397   Thu, 1 Dec 1994  94/12/31 09:54:16
  AUSTEN-L LOG9501     85  2699   Sun, 1 Jan 1995  95/01/31 04:09:47
  AUSTEN-L LOG9502     85  2253   Wed, 1 Feb 1995  95/02/28 19:13:58
  AUSTEN-L LOG9503     91  4417   Wed, 1 Mar 1995  95/03/31 17:15:21
  AUSTEN-L LOG9504     86  2388   Fri, 31 Mar 1995 95/04/30 23:24:59
  AUSTEN-L LOG9505     85  9019   Mon, 1 May 1995  95/05/31 10:29:24
  AUSTEN-L LOG9506     80  5729   Wed, 31 May 1995 95/06/30 13:56:00
  AUSTEN-L LOG9507     85  6378   Sun, 2 Jul 1995  95/07/31 15:52:08
  AUSTEN-L LOG9508     82  8823   Tue, 1 Aug 1995  95/08/31 22:04:26
  AUSTEN-L LOG9509     84  6225   Thu, 31 Aug 1995 95/09/30 11:56:51
  AUSTEN-L LOG9510     85  9133   Sat, 30 Sep 1995 95/10/31 18:48:24
  AUSTEN-L LOG9511     85  8702   Wed, 1 Nov 1995  95/11/30 22:48:44
  AUSTEN-L LOG9512     85  9093   Fri, 1 Dec 1995  95/12/31 20:07:21
  AUSTEN-L LOG9601     89 27111   Mon, 1 Jan 1996  96/01/31 20:12:45
  AUSTEN-L LOG9602     85 22205   Wed, 31 Jan 1996 96/02/27 08:33:27
*  Weekly NOTEBOOK archives for the list
*                                                     last change
* filename filetype lrecl nrecs     Started on       date     time
* -------- -------- ----- -----   ---------------  -------- --------
  AUSTEN-L LOG9602D    80  2104   Tue, 27 Feb 1996 96/02/28 23:49:01
  AUSTEN-L LOG9602E    85   961   Wed, 28 Feb 1996 96/02/29 23:39:02
  AUSTEN-L LOG9603A    80  4993   Fri, 1 Mar 1996  96/03/07 23:23:25
  AUSTEN-L LOG9603B    85  7488   Thu, 7 Mar 1996  96/03/14 23:54:37
  AUSTEN-L LOG9603C    83  5809   Thu, 14 Mar 1996 96/03/21 21:37:13
  AUSTEN-L LOG9603D    85 10288   Thu, 21 Mar 1996 96/03/28 23:58:20
  AUSTEN-L LOG9603E    80  4934   Fri, 29 Mar 1996 96/03/31 23:34:52
  AUSTEN-L LOG9604A    80  8644   Mon, 1 Apr 1996  96/04/07 23:11:19
  AUSTEN-L LOG9604B    81  8814   Mon, 8 Apr 1996  96/04/14 23:23:36
  AUSTEN-L LOG9604C    80  6467   Mon, 15 Apr 1996 96/04/21 18:06:32
  AUSTEN-L LOG9604D    80  5875   Mon, 22 Apr 1996 96/04/28 17:40:59
  AUSTEN-L LOG9604E    80  1735   Mon, 29 Apr 1996 96/04/30 19:17:22
  AUSTEN-L LOG9605A    80  6205   Wed, 1 May 1996  96/05/07 18:22:35
  AUSTEN-L LOG9605B    80  3378   Wed, 8 May 1996  96/05/14 18:38:11
  AUSTEN-L LOG9605C    80  4021   Wed, 15 May 1996 96/05/21 12:19:09
  AUSTEN-L LOG9605D    80  2464   Wed, 22 May 1996 96/05/28 14:37:57
  AUSTEN-L LOG9605E    86  2813   Wed, 29 May 1996 96/05/31 20:43:48
  AUSTEN-L LOG9606A    80  4998   Sat, 1 Jun 1996  96/06/07 19:00:14
  AUSTEN-L LOG9606B    81  3293   Sat, 8 Jun 1996  96/06/14 16:15:51
  AUSTEN-L LOG9606C    87  4324   Sat, 15 Jun 1996 96/06/21 17:51:18
  AUSTEN-L LOG9606D    84  6222   Sat, 22 Jun 1996 96/06/28 23:06:02
  AUSTEN-L LOG9606E    80   786   Fri, 28 Jun 1996 96/06/30 20:45:56
  AUSTEN-L LOG9607A    81  7452   Sun, 30 Jun 1996 96/07/07 23:02:48
  AUSTEN-L LOG9607B    81  7098   Sun, 7 Jul 1996  96/07/14 23:03:06
  AUSTEN-L LOG9607C    81  5355   Sun, 14 Jul 1996 96/07/21 22:54:11
  AUSTEN-L LOG9607D    80  8238   Mon, 22 Jul 1996 96/07/28 21:47:08
  AUSTEN-L LOG9607E    80  3215   Mon, 29 Jul 1996 96/07/31 23:25:31
  AUSTEN-L LOG9608A   177  8875   Thu, 1 Aug 1996  96/08/07 22:55:42
  AUSTEN-L LOG9608B    81  6965   Thu, 8 Aug 1996  96/08/14 23:37:50
  AUSTEN-L LOG9608C    84  7194   Thu, 15 Aug 1996 96/08/21 21:04:03
  AUSTEN-L LOG9608D    83  8300   Thu, 22 Aug 1996 96/08/28 22:44:52
  AUSTEN-L LOG9608E    88  4703   Thu, 29 Aug 1996 96/08/31 23:38:25
  AUSTEN-L LOG9609A    87  9942   Sun, 1 Sep 1996  96/09/07 22:35:21
  AUSTEN-L LOG9609B    86 12190   Sat, 7 Sep 1996  96/09/14 23:09:09
  AUSTEN-L LOG9609C    81  7588   Sat, 14 Sep 1996 96/09/21 20:32:00
  AUSTEN-L LOG9609D    80  5417   Sun, 22 Sep 1996 96/09/28 23:22:01
  AUSTEN-L LOG9609E    80  1085   Fri, 27 Sep 1996 96/09/30 18:41:36
  AUSTEN-L LOG9610A    80  4239   Tue, 1 Oct 1996  96/10/07 18:42:41
  AUSTEN-L LOG9610B    80  4359   Mon, 7 Oct 1996  96/10/14 22:16:06
  AUSTEN-L LOG9610C    80  6284   Tue, 15 Oct 1996 96/10/21 23:08:14
  AUSTEN-L LOG9610D    80  8399   Mon, 21 Oct 1996 96/10/28 22:41:14 
  AUSTEN-L LOG9610E    80  3291   Mon, 28 Oct 1996 96/10/31 16:42:23
  AUSTEN-L LOG9611A    80  4244   Fri, 1 Nov 1996  96/11/07 17:38:16
  AUSTEN-L LOG9611B    80  5246   Fri, 8 Nov 1996  96/11/14 23:54:03
  AUSTEN-L LOG9611C    80  4511   Fri, 15 Nov 1996 96/11/21 23:33:45
  AUSTEN-L LOG9611D    80  4332   Fri, 22 Nov 1996 96/11/28 17:05:16
  AUSTEN-L LOG9611E    80  1246   Fri, 29 Nov 1996 96/11/30 23:36:42
  AUSTEN-L LOG9612A    84  4715   Sat, 30 Nov 1996 96/12/07 23:22:36
  AUSTEN-L LOG9612B    80  3917   Sun, 8 Dec 1996  96/12/14 19:27:00
  AUSTEN-L LOG9612C    80  4002   Sun, 15 Dec 1996 96/12/21 23:39:19
  AUSTEN-L LOG9612D    79  3170   Sat, 21 Dec 1996 96/12/28 20:41:18
  AUSTEN-L LOG9612E    80  2359   Sun, 29 Dec 1996 96/12/31 20:20:58
  AUSTEN-L LOG9701A    80  5159   Wed, 1 Jan 1997  97/01/07 20:25:04
  AUSTEN-L LOG9701B    80  5711   Wed, 8 Jan 1997  97/01/14 21:05:15
  AUSTEN-L LOG9701C    80  5788   Tue, 14 Jan 1997 97/01/21 23:56:15
  AUSTEN-L LOG9701D    80  4427   Tue, 21 Jan 1997 97/01/28 23:32:11
  AUSTEN-L LOG9701E    80  1333   Wed, 29 Jan 1997 97/01/31 21:45:17
  AUSTEN-L LOG9702A    80  6740   Sat, 1 Feb 1997  97/02/07 21:20:33
  AUSTEN-L LOG9702B    80  5284   Sat, 8 Feb 1997  97/02/14 22:11:54
  AUSTEN-L LOG9702C    80  7388   Fri, 14 Feb 1997 97/02/21 22:35:48
  AUSTEN-L LOG9702D    80  9011   Sat, 22 Feb 1997 97/02/28 23:39:23
  AUSTEN-L LOG9703A    83  9816   Sat, 1 Mar 1997  97/03/07 22:04:25
  AUSTEN-L LOG9703B    84  6199   Fri, 7 Mar 1997  97/03/14 22:34:31
  AUSTEN-L LOG9703C    80  4338   Fri, 14 Mar 1997 97/03/21 23:36:22
  AUSTEN-L LOG9703D    80  8662   Fri, 21 Mar 1997 97/03/28 22:37:16
  AUSTEN-L LOG9703E    79  3568   Sat, 29 Mar 1997 97/03/31 23:20:57
  AUSTEN-L LOG9704A    85  7525   Mon, 31 Mar 1997 97/04/07 22:56:08
  AUSTEN-L LOG9704B    82  7428   Mon, 7 Apr 1997  97/04/14 23:12:53
  AUSTEN-L LOG9704C    83  5164   Mon, 14 Apr 1997 97/04/21 23:02:28
  AUSTEN-L LOG9704D    80  5546   Tue, 22 Apr 1997 97/04/28 23:58:50
  AUSTEN-L LOG9704E    79  1317   Mon, 28 Apr 1997 97/04/30 23:05:53
  AUSTEN-L LOG9705A    80  5994   Thu, 1 May 1997  97/05/07 17:23:03
  AUSTEN-L LOG9705B    82  3763   Wed, 7 May 1997  97/05/14 23:23:15
  AUSTEN-L LOG9705C    81  4077   Wed, 14 May 1997 97/05/21 22:41:39
  AUSTEN-L LOG9705D    83  4536   Wed, 21 May 1997 97/05/28 21:49:50
  AUSTEN-L LOG9705E    79  2841   Wed, 28 May 1997 97/05/31 22:19:41
  AUSTEN-L LOG9706A    87  4226   Sat, 31 May 1997 97/06/07 02:20:05
  AUSTEN-L LOG9706B    80  2341   Sat, 7 Jun 1997  97/06/14 18:30:57
  AUSTEN-L LOG9706C    80  2643   Sat, 14 Jun 1997 97/06/21 16:59:20
  AUSTEN-L LOG9706D    83  3530   Sun, 22 Jun 1997 97/06/28 18:56:25
  AUSTEN-L LOG9706E    78  1412   Sat, 28 Jun 1997 97/06/30 20:51:10
  AUSTEN-L LOG9707A    82  2665   Tue, 1 Jul 1997  97/07/07 23:24:11
  AUSTEN-L LOG9707B    82  3646   Tue, 8 Jul 1997  97/07/14 23:07:14
  AUSTEN-L LOG9707C    80  7753   Tue, 15 Jul 1997 97/07/21 23:44:34
  AUSTEN-L LOG9707D    82  5259   Mon, 21 Jul 1997 97/07/28 23:31:37
  AUSTEN-L LOG9707E    80  2686   Mon, 28 Jul 1997 97/07/31 21:59:48
  AUSTEN-L LOG9708A    80  9385   Thu, 31 Jul 1997 97/08/07 23:23:45
  AUSTEN-L LOG9708B    83 10637   Thu, 7 Aug 1997  97/08/14 23:05:20
  AUSTEN-L LOG9708C    84 10335   Fri, 15 Aug 1997 97/08/21 23:40:26
  AUSTEN-L LOG9708D    83  9342   Fri, 22 Aug 1997 97/08/28 21:43:38
  AUSTEN-L LOG9708E    79  1328   Thu, 28 Aug 1997 97/08/31 19:42:55
  AUSTEN-L LOG9709A    80  5569   Mon, 1 Sep 1997  97/09/07 22:59:41
  AUSTEN-L LOG9709B    80  4376   Mon, 8 Sep 1997  97/09/14 23:46:31
  AUSTEN-L LOG9709C    80  2758   Sun, 14 Sep 1997 97/09/21 13:59:51
  AUSTEN-L LOG9709D    87  3707   Mon, 22 Sep 1997 97/09/28 19:19:45
  AUSTEN-L LOG9709E    88  1708   Sun, 28 Sep 1997 97/09/30 23:12:59
  AUSTEN-L LOG9710A    80  4821   Tue, 30 Sep 1997 97/10/07 23:54:13
  AUSTEN-L LOG9710B    80  8766   Wed, 8 Oct 1997  97/10/14 22:39:34
  AUSTEN-L LOG9710C    85  9405   Tue, 14 Oct 1997 97/10/21 23:18:04
  AUSTEN-L LOG9710D    80  8003   Wed, 22 Oct 1997 97/10/28 23:16:08
  AUSTEN-L LOG9710E    81  2931   Wed, 29 Oct 1997 97/10/31 23:28:01
  AUSTEN-L LOG9711A   103 10971   Sat, 1 Nov 1997  97/11/07 23:45:35
  AUSTEN-L LOG9711B    80  8226   Sat, 8 Nov 1997  97/11/14 23:39:32
  AUSTEN-L LOG9711C    80  7056   Sat, 15 Nov 1997 97/11/21 22:28:03
  AUSTEN-L LOG9711D    80  6399   Sat, 22 Nov 1997 97/11/28 19:12:54
  AUSTEN-L LOG9711E    80   479   Sat, 29 Nov 1997 97/11/30 20:47:14
  AUSTEN-L LOG9712A    96  5263   Mon, 1 Dec 1997  97/12/07 23:24:33
  AUSTEN-L LOG9712B    79  6645   Sun, 7 Dec 1997  97/12/14 23:11:44
  AUSTEN-L LOG9712C    87  5323   Mon, 15 Dec 1997 97/12/21 18:50:22
  AUSTEN-L LOG9712D    80  3589   Sun, 21 Dec 1997 97/12/28 17:31:52
  AUSTEN-L LOG9712E    79  1152   Mon, 29 Dec 1997 97/12/31 21:51:46
  AUSTEN-L LOG9801A    79  3371   Thu, 1 Jan 1998  98/01/07 23:19:22
  AUSTEN-L LOG9801B    78   889   Thu, 8 Jan 1998  98/01/09 13:15:08
  AUSTEN-L LOG9801C    81  4535   Tue, 13 Jan 1998 98/01/21 21:30:05
  AUSTEN-L LOG9801D    80  3195   Thu, 22 Jan 1998 98/01/28 23:54:52
  AUSTEN-L LOG9801E    79  1209   Thu, 29 Jan 1998 98/01/31 20:53:04
  AUSTEN-L LOG9802A    80  5110   Sun, 1 Feb 1998  98/02/07 21:03:20
  AUSTEN-L LOG9802B    80 11137   Sun, 8 Feb 1998  98/02/14 22:41:43
  AUSTEN-L LOG9802C    80  9003   Sat, 14 Feb 1998 98/02/21 22:08:52
  AUSTEN-L LOG9802D   133  9468   Sat, 21 Feb 1998 98/02/28 22:19:37
  AUSTEN-L LOG9803A    80  6526   Sun, 1 Mar 1998  98/03/07 22:51:54
  AUSTEN-L LOG9803B    80  9960   Sun, 8 Mar 1998  98/03/14 23:06:09
  AUSTEN-L LOG9803C    80  8322   Sat, 14 Mar 1998 98/03/21 23:16:52
  AUSTEN-L LOG9803D    80  6308   Sat, 21 Mar 1998 98/03/28 20:33:59
  AUSTEN-L LOG9803E    80  2604   Sat, 28 Mar 1998 98/03/31 22:13:35
  AUSTEN-L LOG9804A    79  8678   Wed, 1 Apr 1998  98/04/07 21:23:42
  AUSTEN-L LOG9804B    81  6582   Tue, 7 Apr 1998  98/04/14 23:07:18
  AUSTEN-L LOG9804C    81 11303   Tue, 14 Apr 1998 98/04/21 23:58:07
  AUSTEN-L LOG9804D    80 11322   Tue, 21 Apr 1998 98/04/28 19:41:50

There is no "LOG9804E" because of the unexplained list glitch mentioned above.

  AUSTEN-L LOG9805A    81  8271   Fri, 1 May 1998  98/05/07 23:34:58
  AUSTEN-L LOG9805B    80  8706   Thu, 7 May 1998  98/05/14 22:19:12
  AUSTEN-L LOG9805C    80  7481   Fri, 15 May 1998 98/05/21 23:49:57
  AUSTEN-L LOG9805D    85  7458   Thu, 21 May 1998 98/05/28 23:58:27
  AUSTEN-L LOG9805E    81  1960   Thu, 28 May 1998 98/05/31 23:44:55
  AUSTEN-L LOG9806A    83  6843   Mon, 1 Jun 1998  98/06/07 23:48:07
  AUSTEN-L LOG9806B    85  7262   Mon, 8 Jun 1998  98/06/14 23:38:53
  AUSTEN-L LOG9806C    85  6129   Mon, 15 Jun 1998 98/06/21 23:13:15
  AUSTEN-L LOG9806D    84  6778   Mon, 22 Jun 1998 98/06/28 22:49:45
  AUSTEN-L LOG9806E    84  1321   Mon, 29 Jun 1998 98/06/30 22:39:02
  AUSTEN-L LOG9807A    84  4354   Wed, 1 Jul 1998  98/07/07 23:01:35
  AUSTEN-L LOG9807B    81  3998   Wed, 8 Jul 1998  98/07/14 22:57:07
  AUSTEN-L LOG9807C    85  3511   Tue, 14 Jul 1998 98/07/21 23:49:37
  AUSTEN-L LOG9807D    83  3350   Tue, 21 Jul 1998 98/07/28 23:24:13
  AUSTEN-L LOG9807E    82  2203   Tue, 28 Jul 1998 98/07/31 22:58:21
  AUSTEN-L LOG9808A    85  3144   Sat, 1 Aug 1998  98/08/07 22:57:02
  AUSTEN-L LOG9808B    85  5601   Sat, 8 Aug 1998  98/08/14 21:32:30
  AUSTEN-L LOG9808C    92  6677   Fri, 14 Aug 1998 98/08/21 13:30:06
  AUSTEN-L LOG9808D    81  2924   Sat, 22 Aug 1998 98/08/28 22:58:38
  AUSTEN-L LOG9808E    87  2083   Fri, 28 Aug 1998 98/08/31 21:10:35
  AUSTEN-L LOG9809A    84  3770   Tue, 1 Sep 1998  98/09/07 22:25:14
  AUSTEN-L LOG9809B    80   ---   Mon, 7 Sep 1998  98/09/-- --:--:--

Warning: you can only retrieve a whole archive file's worth of messages at a time (when requesting log files -- for searching, see the next section below), and they will be sent to you as a single large e-mail message. The last monthly archive files were very large (the January 1996 file, AUSTEN-L LOG9601, is over a megabyte in length!), but this problem is somewhat alleviated now that the list has switched over to weekly archives.

Searching the Archives

Method 1 (e-mail)

[This now defunct due to change of LISTSERV
to new host with different operating system;
see near end for on-line searches.]


For a while, the e-mail search function of the LISTSERV was having intermittent difficulties. It seems to be working now, but if you get back two or three e-mail messages, none of which has the requested results, and one of which consists entirely of the oh-so-informative errormessage ``DDname "RULES" not found in job stream.'', then your original search request may not have been at fault.

The LISTSERV search command allows one to search the list database (comprised of previous messages) for specific topics.

For example, to search the Jane Austen Discussion Group archives for messages that contain the word "dance", send e-mail to consisting of the following six lines:

database search dd=rules
//rules dd *
search dance in austen-l

This will return a list of messages sorted by item (message) number. Assuming that one wants items 01729 and 01985 sent back as e-mail, then the following should be sent as a second e-mail message to --

database search dd=rules
//rules dd *
search dance in austen-l
print all of 01729 01895

In other words, to get the texts of articles sent back to you, you should send a second message almost identical to your original search request, but with the postings to be sent to you ("printed") specified on line 5. In these LISTSERV search and retrieval messages, only line 4 (the words between "search" and "in austen-l" which specify the object of the search) and line 5 (specifying the action) can vary. Thus all such search or retrieval requests should obey the following absolutely rigid template, where only the slots indicated by upper-case bold words can be changed (you don't have to understand what the other stuff means -- in fact, I don't know what it means myself, except that it has to do with old IBM mainframe control languages -- but you do have to copy it absolutely verbatim, exactly as it appears here):

database search dd=rules
//rules dd *
search {SOME SEARCH WORDS} in austen-l

More complicated searches can be performed by connecting search words with the AND or OR operators ("and" is the assumed default). For example, SEARCH DANCE AND EMMA IN AUSTEN-L will search for messages that contain the words "dance" and "Emma". Parentheses can also be used, so that including the following as line 4 of a search request, for example, will turn up quite a few messages:

search (Edmund Bertram) OR (Mansfield Park) OR (Fanny Price) in austen-l

Finally, if any command line would be longer than 80 characters, you should use the special "continuation line" mechanism -- at a word break in the command, instead of separating two words by a space character, the first word should be followed by a space, then a hyphen character ("-"), then a line break, with the second word at the beginning of the next line. So the line 4 command --

search ((Catherine Morland) OR (Henry Tilney) OR (Eleanor Tilney)) AND (Northanger Abbey) in austen-l

should in fact be sent as two lines, where the first line ends in the continuation sequence, and neither line is longer than 80 characters; for example:

search ((Catherine Morland) OR (Henry Tilney) OR (Eleanor -
Tilney)) AND (Northanger Abbey) in austen-l

When formulating searches, you should be aware that the titles of the novels Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility are frequently abbreviated as "MP", "NA", "P&P", and "S&S" in postings to the list; that the surnames of the main younger characters are frequently omitted when they would be obvious from context; and that Elizabeth Bennet is frequently referred to as "Lizzy". (Also, casual misspellings such as "Bennett", "Elliott", "Moreland", "Tilny", or "Knightly" are not unknown.)

To have a manual on the search language and commands mailed to you, send a message to with the words INFO DATAB on one line in the body of the message.

Method 2 (interactive)

In addition to the above two-step e-mail method, you can also search AUSTEN-L messages interactively at the Web site However, AUSTEN-L postings only started being archived there in early June 1996 (and may not in fact still be kept going back that far), and searches are not restricted to AUSTEN-L unless you explicitly specify this. Individual postings to AUSTEN-L were at first archived separately on this service, but when searching more recent material, it is apparently entire digests which are the units of search and retrieval.

2/99 Update:
Web searches of most archives since Dec. 1997 are available at

*Return to Jane Austen info page

Group Read Board Pride & Prejudice Board Emma Board Sense & Sensibility Board Persuasion Board Mansfield Park Board Northanber Abbey Board Austenuations Board Jane Austen's Life & Times Board Lady Catherine & Co. Board Library Board Virtual Views Board Ramble Board Meetings Board Newcomers' Board Milestones Board Help Board Pemberleans Board

- Jane Austen | Republic of Pemberley -

Quick Index Home Site Map JAInfo

© 2004 - 2011 The Republic of Pemberley

Get copyright permissions