After listening to clients who came on the Jane Austen the Dancing Years Tour, I have written a one-woman monodrama about Jane Austen's brief engagement to Harris Bigg-Wither, a twenty year old wealthy landowner of the Manydown estate. I ask, clients why, at the age of twenty six, did she accept the proposal? What went through her mind during the night of December the 2nd 1802? Why did she decline the offer?
The fifty minute play addresses the issues and dilemmas of the acceptance of marriage. Starring Stacy Hart, produced and directed by Sarah Brown, 12 Hours is a production that can be performed by professionals or amateurs, in theatre or non-theatre spaces, and provides interesting material for Jane Austen societies around the world.
The Manydown estate in Hampshire is soon to be host to an 8000 house development. I intend to record the bell one hears during the play which is the Manydown house stable bell, whose chimes Jane Austen would have heard during those intense twelve hours.
In December 2017 Stacy and myself are offering Jane Austen Readings on Sundays at the TeaBar in Basingstoke.
With Laura Wilcock on bodhran and Shruti box I created Fairfolk, playing English, Scottish, Irish and French music. I play guitar and Irish bouziki. We are often joined by other musicians on double bass, melodeon and mandolin. We play at festivals, folk clubs, parties and private venues.
Out of Fairfolk came the Johnny Marvels Blues Groove, now a nine piece R&B band playing classic R&B from the fifties and sixties, with saxaphone, trumpet, drums, percussion, guitars, bass and vocals, playing festivals, clubs, pubs and private parties.
After a career as a Senior Lecturer I also offer talks on Jane Austen's early life, a recent series of lectures at Highclere Castle at the request of Lady Carnarvon was well received.
As a director of Hidden Britain Tours I have taken thousands of Jane Austen fans on guided tours of where Jane Austen spent her first formative twenty five years. We see the country houses where she danced, and trace the people she mentions in her letters and I explain the countryside, the social, political, and cultural landscape that clearly informed her as a girl, young woman and writer.