Bits of Ivory
|Name:||Bits of Ivory|
|Date(s):||September 1996 – present; last updated 2008|
|Founder:||Ann Haker, Myretta Robens|
|URL:||http://www.pemberley.com/derby/boiarchive.html (from 1998) |
www.pemberley.com/derby/ (1997–1998; via Wayback Machine)
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Bits of Ivory (BoI) is a medium-sized fanfiction archive in the Jane Austen fandom, a part of the wider Austen fansite, The Republic of Pemberley. It is generally considered the oldest online archive in this fandom, with the first fanfiction being posted to a message board in September 1996. An off-message board archive started in February 1997, initially under the title "Derbyshire Writers' Guild", and was edited by Ann Haker. The RoP archive was renamed "Bits of Ivory" in 1998, after Ann's departure to found a separate archive called the Derbyshire Writers' Guild. The BoI closed to new content in 2008; it remains online as of January 2014.
See also Derbyshire Writers' Guild
A Pride and Prejudice message board, P&P2BB, spun off from the AUSTEN-L list in July 1996. The first piece of fanfiction, "Arnessa's Sequel Plot" by Arnessa, was posted to it in September 1996; it is the earliest work indexed at the Jane Austen Fanfiction Index. The editor's note states This sequel plot was written late in September 1996 and posted to the original P&P board at Bluemarble. It is the original fan fiction!
Stories started to be archived outside the fanfiction message board in around February 1997, originally hosted at Shore. By March the community was called "The Republic of Pemberley"; they acquired the pemberley.com domain in May. In December 1997 (the earliest Wayback Machine capture), the RoP index page linked to a fanfiction message board (Fan Fiction, where our own Austen sequels and missing scenes get discussed, and where the fresh stuff is posted before publication in the Derbyshire Writers Guild.) and the "Derbyshire Writer's Guild" archive (Fan fiction by our crowd. Forget Tennant and the other published sequels. Many of our writers put them to shame, and all the writers have great fun with their speculations about what our favorite characters might have done, if...). The archive page, then entitled "Derbyshire Writers' Guild" (the apostrophe moves around a lot) was located at pemberley.com/derby/ and was edited by Ann Haker. At this date the archive was split into sections: The first group attempts to stay true to the stories and the characters in the Austen canon, while attempting to fill in for the parts of her stories which Miss Austen neglected to write. The second group falls more into the fantasy category, or modern-day retellings, with humorous and at times silly results.
Some time in March or April 1998, Ann left RoP to found a separate archive called the Derbyshire Writers' Guild, which included many but not all of the stories previously published at the RoP archive. The RoP archive, at that date simply called the "Fan Fiction Archive", appears to have ceased to accept works that were not faithful to canon and set during the Regency era; works previously archived in the fantasy/modern category seem to have been removed. (These continued to be accepted in the "Fantasia Gallery" of the DWG.) Some time probably subsequently, Drool Fan Fiction (link) was also spun off for explicit stories.
The name "Bits of Ivory" was in use for the RoP archive by December 1998. (It had probably been in use earlier for the fanfiction message board.) Bits of Ivory was most active between 1998 and around 2002, although works were still being archived as late as 2008. It closed to new submissions in around 2008.
Myretta Robens, administrator of the RoP site writes:
One of the manifestations of the desire to know more about Jane Austen’s time and her characters is Fan Fiction. Early in the life of The Republic of Pemberley, people began creating scenes they felt were missing from their favorite novels. What happened to Darcy in London right before he proposed to Elizabeth or what went on during that walk to Oakham Mount? (Pride & Prejudice) Did Marianne Dashwood and Col. Brandon live happily ever after? (Sense and Sensibility) What about the ten days in Bath from Capt. Wentworth’s perspective? (Persuasion). All these questions and many more fueled the pens of Pemberley’s writers.
Six years later, the Republic of Pemberley has amassed a large collection of fiction based on Jane Austen’s characters and has spun off two other sites: one devoted almost entirely to non-period derivations of Jane Austen stories and one that includes stories too sexually explicit for our RSAC-rated site. (It seems as though everyone wants to write about Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding night).Is this how a romance writer starts? I don’t know, but I imagine it’s possible. Of the hundreds of stories published at The Republic of Pemberley’s Bits of Ivory Archives, some are very good, indeed and most are definitely romance.
When the archive was called the Derbyshire Writers' Guild, it used a header graphic with green handwritten text and green foliage, similar to that currently used by the DWG. An additional early graphic depicted a quill and ink well with the words "Fan Fiction" in mirrored handwriting. After renaming the archive Bits of Ivory, the graphic changed to depict a pink fan decorated with flowers. Between 2003 and 2011, the graphic depicted a polygonal tabletop with a manuscript and quill and inkwell. The graphic currently in use (2014) depicts a lady in white Regency dress seated at a small desk.
Fanfiction based on all Austen's works was accepted. As of 3 July 2013, the number of works archived for each novel were:
- Pride and Prejudice 333
- Sense and Sensibility 29
- Emma 23
- Persuasion 23
- Mansfield Park 19
- Northanger Abbey 9
- plus a handful of works set in juvenilia
I have read the stories since I first discovered RoP a few years ago ... and I enjoy most of them. IMHO, they are funny and provide some "missing scenes" or other character's point of view, and of course there are some variations to the main plots (many are cases of what if?). (Cinthia Garcia Soria)
Pamela Licalzi O'Connell discusses the differences between the two main online archives in early 2000 in the New York Times:
The two Austen Web sites represent two schools of fan fiction. The Republic of Pemberley's stories try to mimic more closely Austen's style with plots that remain "in period," or true to Regency-era England. They range from straightforward sequels and "missing scenes" (those that readers wish had been in the novels) to retellings from different characters' points of view and stories that imitate Austen's style without being a sequel to, or a completion of, any specific original.
Austen.com, however, allows more fanciful interpretations, like "crossover" stories in which Austen characters mix with those from other novels or even modern television characters like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A recent story inspired by "Pride and Prejudice," for example, was set in the antebellum South. "That was our first black Lizzie!" Ms. Haker sighed, happily.
BoI is also discussed in several academic studies of fanfiction, including Sheenagh Pugh's book, A Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a Literary Context (2005).
- The Republic of Pemberley: FAQ (accessed 29 January 2014)
- Bits of Ivory: Arnessa's Sequel Plot (accessed 28 January 2014)
- The Republic of Pemberley: Derbyshire Writers' Guild (accessed 28 January 2014, via the Wayback Machine)
- The Republic of Pemberley (accessed 28 January 2014, via the Wayback Machine)
- At the Back Fence: Words of a "Janeite" (accessed 29 January 2014)
- The Republic of Pemberley: Republic of Pemberley Icons 1997-1998 (Amy, Hil, Arnessa, Kali ) (accessed 29 January 2014)
- The Republic of Pemberley: Republic of Pemberley Icons 1998-2003 (Hil) (accessed 29 January 2014)
- The Republic of Pemberley: Pemberley Header Images 2003-2011 (accessed 29 January 2014)
- AUSTEN-L: The Bits of Ivory (accessed 29 January 2014)
- hafital: P&P Fanfic Recommendations (accessed 29 January 2014)
- Subliminal Messages: Links (accessed 29 January 2014)
- O'Connell, Pamela Licalzi. (2000) A World Without End For Fans of Jane Austen. New York Times (accessed 29 January 2014)