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Jane Austen visits New Zealand

Cocktails with Miss Austen co-author Frances Duncan describes her day out with Jane in Wellington, New Zealand.

We’d spend the day either at the beach, probably in Kapiti, or we’d take walk in the bush to enjoy the native greenery, perhaps at Zelandia where she could hear the native birds. After a day in nature, I’d take Jane to the Library Bar in Wellington so we could be surrounded by books, sip cocktails, and gossip like old friends.

I'd try to convince her to get Lower Hutt Lemon Meringue (Vanilla vodka, lemon curd & lemon juice topped with French meringue - basically a drunk Lemon Meringue in a glass) but she'd probably go for Dancing Shoes (Vodka, pomegranate syrup & fresh mint, topped with sparkling mineral water) because she loved to dance. I'd wish I drank alcohol so I could get a dessert in a glass, too, but I'd probably get a Pansy (pineapple & cranberry juices, shaken with passion fruit syrup) as it sounds sweet and a little sharp (an excellent description for myself and Jane too!)

I'd try to convince her to try all the interesting cocktails, and we'd attempt to flirt - unsuccessfully - with any even slightly cute waiter. We'd talk about her characters like they were old friends, and I'd want to know where each of them ended up and how they are these days.

I’d let her know how much I love Lady Susan. She's so deliciously evil, even those that want to dislike her end up admiring her.

I imagine Jane might still refer to New Zealand as a colony, but I know she would admire the harbour and wonder how we got all those houses to perch on hills.


Frances Duncan is an avid reader and sometime scribbler. When not bullying others into reading Jane Austen or Harry Potter, she goes for long walks in the native bush. Her presence at writing groups is characterised by her persistence that the author kill whichever character they are writing about. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where she runs the Jane Austen Society. You can find her at Frances Duncan Writes.

Frances is currently preparing for her first trip to the UK, visiting London, Chawton and Bath. She will be giving a talk at the Jane Austen Society in London about Jane Austen in New Zealand on Saturday 14 April. Further details here.

Frances loves the following quote from Lady Susan:

"There is exquisite pleasure in subduing an insolent spirit,

in making a person pre-determined to dislike, acknowledge one's superiority"


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