GUEST POST: Past, Present, Period Dramas

Hello All!

Enjoy today’s guest post by Faith Brammer, Instagram’s @perioddramas!

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Nice to meet you all, I’m Faith.
I prefer to describe myself as a reserved extrovert who loves black coffee, Scottish accents, morning walks, autumn leaves, vintage dresses and a good book. I find my mind floating between the past, present and future, looking for something unknown to me.

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Salutations world, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Faith and I’m an eighteen year old girl who was born and raised in the small suburbs of Ohio. At a young age, I developed an in interest in history and literature. I started reading historical American Girl books as a young child and I loved learning about girls of the past. I wanted to know more and more about the lives that came before me, so at age eleven, I started reading history books as a past time. I knew more about the American Revolution, Victorian Era and World War Two than the average seventh grader. I also began reading classic literature such as Little Women, The Secret Garden and Sherlock Holmes at age nine, and had no issue with the length or understanding the vocabulary. I devoured them. Of course, though I may have been precocious in some ways, I was still a little girl. I liked to play with dolls and dress up. However, while most little girls wanted to be Barbie, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls. I remember wearing a lovely red, ankle length prairie style dress that had a matching bonnet… on a daily basis. I didn’t want to wear jeans, I loved feeling as if I was connected with the girls I read so much about. I learned to bake bread from scratch (I made my first loaf at age eleven) and to sew my own dolls. I liked doing things the old fashioned way. I was young and naïve back then, I didn’t realize it was a bit odd or different. I was just happy being myself.

Flash forward several years and I still idealized and romanticized the past. I loved the Nancy Drew books and plaid skirts became part of my persona. I still hung out with girls who weren’t interested in history, but I always wished I had friends with similar interests. I longed for the days of swing dancing and juke boxes at parties, not Facebook stalking and music video watching. At age 13, I received a copy of Pride and Prejudice in a White Elephant Gift exchange. That was the start of a lifelong love affair. I adored Austen’s wit and fell in love with the character of Lizzie Bennet (and don’t forget Mr. Darcy). As soon as I finished it, I went and read all of Jane Austen’s other novels in quick succession and lost myself in daydreams of afternoon tea, balls and walking across the moors in long muslin dresses. The Bronte sisters also found a special place in my heart, as well as Charles Dickens. I was lucky enough to travel to England in 2013, and I felt so connected with all the historical places there. I felt at home. When standing alone on the moors of Yorkshire, I imagined Emily Bronte writing by candlelight and looking out the wide expanse of wild grass and heather, which would soon forever be associated with Wuthering Heights. I idealized the past perhaps more than I should have (racism and disease are undesirable), but at this time I was only a girl of 14. What else could be expected?

Come freshman year, I lost interest in boybands and Disney Channel sitcoms. They didn’t interest me. Everything in them seemed so vapid, immature and meaningless. I wanted something with substance. I discovered I had a love for the Celtic Fiddle, Jazz music… and period dramas. I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie, but once I hit high school, I really began to get into the period drama genre.  A new library I visited had a plethora of BBC and Masterpiece Theater productions on their shelves, dozens upon dozens of them. I spotted the 2011 adaptation of Great Expectations on the shelf and decided to watch it. I fell in love with the beautiful yet dark Victorian aesthetic and it became my new favorite show. I checked out more and more period dramas from that library, loving them all and falling in love with the language of the time, the wonderful costumes and the simple way they lived. Far From the Madding Crowd, one of my favorite books, was brought to life so wonderfully on the screen and it stirred something inside of me. I was passionate about it.

I began to struggle with fitting in when I was sixteen, I felt so alone. I was teased for my interest in history, my flowy skirts and dresses, and for carrying a book with me. I began drifting apart from my old friends. I didn’t fit in with them at all, and wasn’t okay with some of the things they did. I was called old fashioned, and I suppose I was. I felt that I was born in the wrong era. The way I dressed, behaved and thought was that of someone far older than me. Adults endearingly called me a “wise young girl”, but that only stirred up more teasing from my peers. As a teenage girl, I finally realized that I was different than everyone, but I didn’t know what I had done to deserve to be completely shut out. I listened to them talk about what they liked, but no one listened to me. Sometimes people wouldn’t even acknowledge me. I was hurt. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, like a misfit. I turned to books, who were there for me when people were not.  I lost myself in the world of yesteryear, wanting to escape the seemingly superficial city I was born in. I hated the monotony of modern life and the “mind forged manacles” that came with it. I wanted to leave technology, tabloids and traffic behind. I wanted to run away to Cornwall and live a Poldark-esque life (like I said, I WAS still a teenage girl). I was nervous for college and the future. I knew I was smart, but student debt and the horrible idea of sitting in an office from 9-5 terrified me. I wanted to find a way to make a living with a trade, I enjoyed physical work and often wished I could have just worked on a farm in the Scottish Highlands in 1888 or in a bakery in 1910. A simple life. I wasn’t sure who I was or who I wanted to be. I felt hopelessly lost, a romantic in an unromantic world.

I spent a good chunk of my teen years floating from place to place, trying to find somewhere I fit in. I had developed anxiety and trust issues from being rejected before, so I may have appeared cold or taciturn at times. I wasn’t, I was just scared. I was tired. I was lonely. However, one day I began a new class for school and met some really wonderful girls. I was wary at first. However, one girl asked me if I liked to read, and we got to talking about Jane Eyre. Another girl and I began talking about Jane Austen. However, there was also talk of lip gloss, Harry Styles and use of the word “fleek” by some girls. However, I found I didn’t mind. As annoying as I usually found it, these girls were nice to me and shared my interests. They didn’t just talk to me, they listened to me. They accepted me. We weren’t the same at all, but we all supported what one another liked and bonded over what common interests we did have while embracing what made us all unique.

There was a girl there who looked just like Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby. She had on a cloche hat and drop waist dress, and she complimented my 1940s style dress. We got to talking about many things and found out that we have a lot in common. We both love history and jazz, and hate the crazy obsession with technology going on in the world. We both love vintage fashion. However, we also have extreme differences. We may both love similar things, but she’s a Greaser and I’m a Soc. That’s okay though. Our differences have helped bring out new sides of each other, and now she’s one of my closest friends. I also reconnected with a girl from my childhood last year and we instantly fell back into a close friendship. It’s funny though, we’re polar opposites. I think we work because we know what it’s like to not fit and we accept people for who they are. I’m so thankful for both of them.

I’ve just turned nineteen , and I feel like I’ve finally begun to find my place in this crazy world. I also still have day dreams about walking the streets of a provincial town or going to a sock hop, but I’ve learned to embrace where I am.  I was put here for a reason, I have a purpose. I wasn’t put here by mistake. After so many struggles with insecurities and fitting in, now I’m able to laugh at myself and even make fun of the quirks I know I have, something I would have never done before. Guess what? I’m comfortable with them now.

I’ve had such a journey of self discovery throughout my teen years. I’ve discovered my own little niche where I fit, but I’ve also embraced lots of new things.  I still jam out to fiddle music in my car, but I also listen to indie rock. I like both Clueless and Sense and Sensibility. I still wear plaid skirts, but sometimes I wear them with a Riverdale or Spider-Mansweatshirt. I have used the phrase “on point”. I have learned to embrace where I am in life and my surroundings, while still staying true to myself. I’ve learned to find a balance. I’m making my way and creating my own person. I’m so thankful for where I’ve been put, because I realize that there’s so many ways I can help others and be a positive influence now. I plan to a pursue a career in hair, makeup, costume design and acting, in hopes of becoming involved in Masterpiece Theater someday. I currently run a successful Instagram account, @perioddramas, where I combine my passion for the past with 21st century technology. I’m so thankful for the little community and that I can show fellow history lovers that they’re not alone.

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GWtW, P&P, and Other Obsessions

Hello All,

Enjoy this lovely, lovely guest post by Elissa McKinney–known to the Instagram world as the beloved @janeaustenhumor! I am excessively excited to have her as a guest here at Pen to Paper Collections!

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My name is Eliunnamedssa McKinney, a Janeite and Iced coffee lover. I’m an introvert by nature and love spending my free time reading, cooking, taking long walks, and (#duh) watching period dramas.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that this has to be the most predictable way for me to start this post. Let’s just roll with it. 

Hey, hi, hello! My name’s Elissa, but most people call me Lue. I was born and raised in the wild spaces of the west; a farm girl with a reading addiction. 

Gone With the Wind was the book that started my affinity for Period Dramas. Rhett Butler was (and still is) my dream man. As a 19-year-old looking back at my 11-year-old self, it probably wasn’t the best story to be fantasizing about… But once I watched the movie, Clark Gable wrapped me up in his handsome mustache and there was no turning back. The summer of 2006 was spent on a make believe plantation in Georgia. A stack of hay bales was Tara. My cousin and sister were forced into being Civil War reenactors daily. They might still resent me for it, but we all got really good grades in history the next school year. You’re welcome, guys.

Now apparently, there is a limit to the number of times a “sane person” can watch Scarlett O’Hara throw a temper tantrum. For my mom, that limit had been exceeded. 

She loves the book, but if I’d quoted “Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies,” one more time, I think she may have sent me to off to live on an actual plantation. 

*Enter Pride and Prejudice*

It was a typical Thursday night “girls night” at our house. Manicures, face masks, and Italian sodas were happening. I started to pull out GWtW, but my mom said that she had a new period drama for us to try… I think you can probably figure out what happened next.

English Period Drama became my thing. I couldn’t get enough. Still can’t. 

The 2005 Pride and Prejudice laid the foundation for a lifetime of Austen love. 

I read all the novels, watched most of the film adaptions, and started expressing my enthusiasm for the genre by trying out recipes, phraseology and hairstyles from my favorite works. I also began to search for other PD authors and discovered Bronte, Hardy, Gaskell, Dickens and more. To quote Henry Nobley: “…the truth is, I enjoyed stepping into history. The idea of a simpler world where love is straightforward and lasting.” #relatable

Speaking of hashtags, in 2014 I created an Instagram account to connect with other Austen fans on the world wide web (specifically those who enjoy memes). I had no idea that three years later I would have over 16,500 followers. I am so grateful to be part of a community where people can come together and share a giggle about boiled potatoes, bonnets, or Darcy’s painfully awkward proposal. Yep. I adore our little corner of the universe. Jane Austen, “My heart is, and always will be, yours.”

Sincerely, Elissa

A(nother) Quick Look at Pride and Prejudice

Hello All!

If you haven’t read enough about Jane Austen on this blog, then today is your lucky day, because I’m at it again! I was given a writing assignment in a Theatre Appreciation class that incorporated noting a work (book, movie, or play) in which two major characters were in conflict with each other and briefly describing the characters, their conflict, and the resolution. My first thought was, obviously, Pride and Prejudice! I mean, what greater, more classic example could there possibly be? It was a no-brainer. Or maybe it’s just me? Either way, I chose to write about something I love, and this was my submission:

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a perfect example of a story in which two major characters are at odds. Many adaptions and knock-offs have been created from this story over the years, but one thing remains constant: the bitter tension between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Despite the opinion of many pessimistic minds, the story is not a petty representation of hate turning to love overnight, but rather the story of gradual transformation; specifically, of learning to let go of first impressions, or even second impressions, and coming to terms with the fact that they might have been drastically distorted.

Elizabeth is a woman whose “lively, playful disposition” leads her to witty conversation and a generally good-natured aversion to those think too highly of themselves to be in good humor. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, is too serious to enjoy himself much of the time and far too self-important to find the company of a witty girl from a middle class family the least bit pleasant, much less find her handsome. At least, that is how he seemed to be on first observation. Behind his proud façade, however, is a protective, dutiful man, whose standards in place for himself are far higher than those he holds for the people around him.

Conflict arises first when Elizabeth feels that Mr. Darcy slights her by refusing to dance with her, but this is something she can look over by simply labeling him a pompous jerk and moving on. It continues to increase, however, when she hears the false tale of a man who has been robbed of his hopes and dreams by this arrogant, selfish Mr. Darcy. It comes to a peak when she discovers that he encouraged his best friend to abandon the relationship he might have had with her dear sister. She soon becomes aware that none of his errors were without explanation; most of which encompassed his loyalty to those he cared about, she being one of them. She believes it to be too late for reconciliation but is fortunately proven wrong. A casual reader and/or watcher would quickly assign the pride to Mr. Darcy and the prejudice to Miss Elizabeth, but I believe Jane Austen intended us to look further and discover that both characters were plagued by both pride and prejudice, and had to overcome the faults in themselves before they were able to see the good in each other.

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“Why Literature?” by Mario Vargas Llosa

Happy Monday!

Due to a busy homework schedule, I’m afraid I can’t write a long, intriguing post, but I had to take a moment to tell you of an essay that I had to read for my American literature class. 

It is an work entitled “Why Literature?” by Mario Vargas Llosa and is part of a larger work, The New Republic, which I have not read, unfortunately. 

This essay so eloquently and powerfully describes the importance of literature to the past, present, and future of our society. He begins by stating a popular question: why literature? And concludes his articulate and logical answer with a plea for us all. 

I myself have a plea to you all, and that is this: Go find and read Llosa’s essay in the first moment you find to do so, and let it open your eyes and mind the way that it did mine! 

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Hello All!

Today, December 16th, 2015, is Jane Austen’s 240th birthday! I’d like to take a moment to thank her for the masterpieces she gave to the world, and everything that she has taught me through them. Including this: The best guys aren’t always the ones with the most charisma, family is the most important thing (next to finding a husband 😉 ); there is “no enjoyment like reading” and “nothing like staying at home for real comfort”; love isn’t easy, but it’s worth it; the best remedy for anything is a little witticism; you can change the world with a pen and ink; don’t shy away from having an opinion just because you’re not expected to; and “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” These are few of many. Thank you, Jane! I want to be just like you when I grow up… maybe by the time I’m 240 I’ll be half the writer you were. 🙂

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Scattered Words

I think I just realized, or rather, just truly understood the fact that a writer has not the luxury of “last words.” Their words ring forever into the future-they have no end. The marks of their pen will forever stain the minds of those who dare to examine the words that they have written. This is apparent. Consider the poets and authors that were in existence before you and I… John Keats, Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost. Through the works of their pens, they still speak. They have never ceased to give inspiration or insight. Their voice can still be heard every time we read their writing, and even after we close the cover of a book, we still ponder what was taken in and mull over it all in our hearts and minds. We borrow and quote their words; it is as if they were standing by with creased brow, in a romantic sort of daze, imparting it themselves. I am left in awe. Perhaps I am a bit strange for finding it of such depth, but it stirs my soul and my deepest thoughts alike. Writers have no “last words.” Their words are endlessly, carelessly scattered, and I will not feign disappointment that it is so, as I doubt they would.