The New Jane Austen Portrait using source material and forensic methods Introduction: Forensic Artist Melissa Dring In 2001, Melissa Dring* was commissioned by David Baldock, the Director of the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, to produce a new portrait of the author, as she might have appeared during her time in Bath, 1801-06. Combining the insights of the professional portrait painter with those of the police forensic artist, Melissa was uniquely qualified to accept this challenge. David Baldock had heard of her work on a speculative likeness of the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi. A film producer, wanting a likeness to use as a casting aid for a proposed film biography of the composer, and feeling it was a job for a forensic artist, had approached Scotland Yard, who recommended Melissa. The difficulty with both commissions was their shared lack of reliable contemporary portraiture, although a wealth of written eye-witness accounts survive in both cases. Melissa Takes up the story… My new speculative likeness of Jane Austen fills the gap left by the paucity of authenticated representations of the author. As I hope it will come to be accepted as a good portrait of her, despite being made 185 years after her death, I will describe the research and working methods I used, so that it can be seen how it is based almost entirely on solid fact, and how little guesswork was needed. There is a tiny pencil and watercolour sketch of her, in the National Portrait Gallery in London, by (more…)
The Independent Bath Literature Festival is just around the corner, with the first events due to start on Friday 26th February 2016. The 10-day celebration of the written word has a packed program catering for an impressive variety of literary tastes. Among their headline shows is the ‘Literary Death Match’, hosted at The Abbey Hotel‘s Igloo venue. The contest will see four authors compete in a 7-minute ‘write-off’ with hints at a humorous finale. As well as hosting events, The Abbey Hotel are sponsoring the festival and are welcoming visitors into their Art Bar and Allium Restaurant where they can save 10% on food and drinks by showing a ticket or wristband. Their quality offerings include a special literary-themed cocktail list that includes a cocktail named in honour of The Jane Austen Centre – The Northangover Abbey! For those not in the know, it is widely believed that Northanger Abbey is in fact based on real-life happenings in Bath (that’s our Abbey !). It’s therefore very fitting that The Abbey hotel would choose this particular novel as their cocktail’s namesake. We haven’t yet been told what’s in the cocktail yet but we hope to reveal the recipe after the festival concludes. If you’d like to try one for yourself, the Northangover Abbey cocktail plus five other marvels of mixology will be on sale from Friday 26th February until Sunday March 2nd 2016. The Abbey Hotel Bath Literary Festival Cocktail List No Country For Old Fashioned Men Lime & Punishment Northangover Abbey Tequila Mockingbird Bloody Mary Poppins The Prime Of Miss Gin Brodie (more…)
Happy Jane Austen Day! Today we’re celebrating Jane’s birthday in Bath at the Jane Austen Centre and on the streets of the city. At the Centre we been performing traditional carols, giving out Cassandra Austen’s recipe plum pudding and mulled wine and generally having a bit of fun on this special day. Have you done anything for Jane Austen Day? Let us know. We’ve been asking members of the public if anyone knows what day it is. The results are great and you can see a short film we’ve made below.
Festival Promenaders taking a break. The Jane Austen Festival starts on the 12th of September and looks like it will be the biggest and best ever. Jackie Herring, Jane Austen Festival Director is happy with the arrangements and ticket sales. ‘Lots of events have already sold out but there are still a few tickets left. If you want to see something spectacular turn up on to the Regency Promenade on Saturday. Watch 600 spectacular promenaders in their Regency finery as they take to the streets of Bath.’ The event has been covered by The Bath Chronicle. Take a look at their article here More Promenade information; Each year the Jane Austen Festival officially opens with our world famous Grand Regency Costumed Promenade. The Promenade is a parade through the streets of this beautiful city and over 500 people all in 18th Century costume take part, making it a record breaking event. In 2014 the Jane Austen Festival achieved the Guinness World Record TM for ‘The largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costumes at 550′ All sorts of people take part from the very young to the young at heart plus red coats, dancers and our official town crier. The Promenade stops the traffic in Gay Street, The Circus, George Street, Milsom Street and Orange Grove, making it difficult for drivers from 11am until 12.30pm on Saturday 12th September 2015. ALL participants wear costume to take part in the Promenade and also purchase a ticket, the cost is £10 per adult, (more…)
A Sally Lunn is a large bun or teacake made with a yeast dough including cream, eggs, and spice, similar to the sweet brioche breads of France. Served warm and sliced, with butter, it was first recorded in 1780 in the spa town of Bath in southwest England, though it is not the same as Dr. Oliver’s Bath Bun. A selection of Sally Lunn buns on display. The origins of the Sally Lunn are shrouded in myth – one theory is that it is an anglicisation of “Sol et lune” (French for “sun and moon”), representing the golden crust and white base/interior. The Sally Lunn Eating House claims that the recipe was brought to Bath in the 1680s by a Huguenot refugee called Solange Luyon, who became known as Sally Lunn, but there is no evidence to support this theory. There is a passing mention of “Sally Lunn and saffron cake” in a 1776 poem about Dublin by the Irish poet William Preston. The first recorded mention of the bun in Somerset is as part of a detox regime in Philip Thicknesse’ 1780 guidebook to taking the waters at Bath. Thicknesse describes how he would daily see visitors drinking 2-3 pints of Bath water and then “sit down to a meal of Sally Lunns or hot spungy rolls, made high by burnt butter!”. He recommends against the practice as his brother died after this kind of breakfast- “Such a meal, few young men in full health can get over without feeling (more…)
Ice Cream, as we know it, was a relatively new invention in Jane Austen’s day. Enjoyed in Italy and France in the 17th c, the first recorded English recipe was published in 1718. Recipes featuring fruit not available until early summer were, no doubt, a treat reserved for the wealthy, who could afford to buy their ice and keep it cool in ice houses, until wanted. If you did not have access to ice in the summer, you could always visit the local Pastry Cook for a variety of sweets, including ice cream. Molland’s, in Bath, was one such establishment. In Jane Austen’s, The Beautiful Cassandra, her heroine “…then proceeded to a Pastry-cook’s, where she devoured six ices, refused to pay for them, knocked down the Pastry Cook & walked away.” Slapstick comedy does seem to have been the name of the game in Austen’s early work. Mr. Punch would be proud. The following recipe for Apricot Ice Cream is taken from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, and is based on one first printed by Hannah Glasse in her Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1755. To Make Ice-Cream Pare and stone twelve ripe apricots, and scald them, beat them fine in a mortar, add to them six ounces of double refined sugar, and a pint of scalding cream, and work it through a sieve; put it in a tin with a close cover, and set it in a tub of ice broke small, with four handfuls of (more…)
Caroline Lucretia Herschel (16 March 1750 – 9 January 1848) was a German British astronomer and the sister of astronomer Sir William Herschel with whom she worked throughout both of their careers. Her most significant contributions to astronomy were the discoveries of several comets and in particular the periodic comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which bears her name. She was the first woman to be paid for her contribution to science, to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1828), and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1835, with Mary Somerville). She was also named an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy (1838). The King of Prussia presented her with a Gold Medal for Science, on the occasion of her 96th birthday (1846). Statue of William and Caroline at the William Herschel Museum , Bath. Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). Herschel Museum of Astronomy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org Caroline Lucretia Herschel was born at Hanover on 16 March 1750. She was the eighth child and fourth daughter of Isaac Herschel and his wife, Anna Ilse Moritzen. Isaac became a bandmaster in the Guards, was away with his regiment for substantial periods, and suffered ill-health after the battle of Dettingen in 1743. At the age of ten, Caroline was struck with typhus, which stunted her growth, so that she never grew past four-foot three. Her family assumed that she would never marry and her mother felt it was best (more…)