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Jane Austen News – Issue 75

The Jane Austen News analyses genius

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Austen Letter For Sale  

letter written by Jane Austen is due to be auctioned for the first time on July the 11th.

Sotheby’s auction house have the letter for sale as part of the English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations sale, in which there will also be for sale two other fragments of correspondence between the two women (the lots are expected to sell altogether for as much as £162,000!).

The letter, dated 29-30 October 1812, was sent to one of Jane’s favourite nieces, Anna Lefroy, and shows how much enjoyment Austen had in making fun of the Gothic thriller genre (as she does to great effect in Northanger Abbey). The letter is addressed as a note, not to Anna herself, but to the author Rachel Hunter, whose 1806 novel Lady Maclairn, the Victim of Villany the two had recently read.

 Although the content was known, the letter itself has not been seen by scholars and it is very exciting to have it become available.

Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s specialist in books and manuscripts, declaring the letter a significant document.

 


Pride and Prejudice in Silk

We’ll shortly be adding an exciting new display piece to the Jane Austen Centre. Award-winning textile artist Linda Straw has kindly donated her beautiful Pride and Prejudice wall hangings to the Centre and they’ll be going up on display within the next few days!
In the past Linda has exhibited major works in Waterperry House, at exhibitions across the UK, at San Diego’s International Quilting Symposium, and even as far away as Tokyo! She is known the world over amongst the textile community, and specifically quilt makers, for her highly intricate and detailed machine-made quilts with examples being in the collections of global institutions such as the V&A and Art Institute of Chicago.
She developed her unique quilting method in 1981 by combining appliqué, quilting and embroidery, and the technique (known as the Linda Straw Method) has been widely taught in workshops throughout Britain, Ireland, Europe and America.
In the past Linda used the Pride and Prejudice wall hangings, which feature all of the major characters from the book, to illustrate the technique she spoke about during workshops and lectures, but now Linda has now retired she wanted to find an appropriate home for her work. We feel truly honoured that she chose us.

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The Complex Mind of Elizabeth Bennet

by Seth Snow

We have learned, and continue to learn, that a person seems to have both conscious and subconscious thoughts.  Conscious thoughts are those thoughts that influence our behavior with our knowing it, whereas subconscious thoughts are those thoughts that influence our behavior without our knowing it.  I will propose that the characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice have both conscious and subconscious thoughts, by examining Elizabeth’s conversation with Charlotte Lucas, which occurs early in the novel. While there are other passages in Pride and Prejudice dealing with conscious and subconscious thoughts of characters, I will narrow this discussion to one passage.

Charlotte Lucas, in an early conversation with Elizabeth Bennet about Jane Bennet’s plan to marry Mr. Bingley, suggests that Jane should be more honest and straightforward with her feelings towards Bingley to ensure that she can “secure” him to marry her.  Elizabeth then says to Charlotte, “Your plan is a good one…where nothing is in question but the desire of being well married; and if I were determined to get a rich husband, or any husband, I dare say I should adopt it.  But these are not Jane’s feelings; she is not acting by design”.  Elizabeth, through the word “determined,” is, in her conscious mind, trying to express at least three ideas to Charlotte: Jane’s feelings, her own feelings, and her view of marriage relative to Charlotte’s view of marriage.

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Jane Austen’s Life and Impact on Society

by Gracelyn Anderson

Jane Austen entered the world fashionably late by one month on December 16, 1775, as one of the seven Austen children. The Austens resided in a parsonage in Steventon, England, and started a small school for boys in their home to provide extra income along with working their usual occupations. Although Jane’s family was constantly working to make a living, her early life was far from dull. As Meredith Hindley writes in her article ‘The Mysterious Miss Austen’: “From an early age, Austen’s world was full of boyish antics, bawdy humor, and outdoor exploration.” Jane had a natural tomboyish instinct, which she picked up from her five brothers.

At age seven, Jane and her sister Cassandra were sent to a girl’s school in Oxford, but it was short lived as they returned home a year later when sick with typhoid. Another year passed and the Austen girls enrolled at Mrs. La Tournelle’s Ladies’ Boarding School in reading, but stayed only for a year. As Hindley writes: “Austen’s experience, however brief, left her with little regard for girls’ schools. In Emma, she writes scathingly of schools that ‘professed, in long sentences of refined nonsense, to combine liberal acquirements with elegant morality upon new principles and new systems-and where young ladies for enormous pay might be screwed out of health and into vanity.’”

Most of Jane’s education came from her father’s library and her lively and affectionate family circle. Jane used the library frequently, reading book after book and writing extensively. Mr. Austen encouraged Jane’s interest in writing and bought her expensive paper and pencils, even though he needed to save every penny. The entire family also put on home productions, adding to Jane’s dramatic experience, which would prove a help in later years when becoming an author. As Renee Warren has written: “One can only assume that it was in these excersises that the true talent of Jane Austen was being nurtured-through observation, improvisation, acting and participation.” Most of all, it was the world that Jane drew from to write. Her early experiences in life paved the way for the her well-known works.

By the age of nineteen, Jane Austen had begun working on “Elinor and Marianne,” which would later become Sense and Sensibility. Jane had been fearlessly experimenting with writing up to the point when she began her first novel. Jane acquired firsthand experience with the cruelty of a world dictated by money over love (much in evidence in her Continue reading Jane Austen’s Life and Impact on Society

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Jane Austen News – Issue 66

The Jane Austen News is a P&P ballet

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 Pride and Prejudice Becomes A Ballet  

Pride and Prejudice has been performed many many times on stage by various companies in plenty of different styles. However, on April 21st it enjoyed its premiere as a ballet. Performed by the American Repertory Ballet at McCarter Theatre Centre in Princeton, New Jersey, Pride and Prejudice has been choreographed by the ARB’s Artistic Director Douglas Martin, and the production features ARB dancers performing to live accompaniment by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor John Devlin.

Douglas Martin, an Austen fan, spent years on this adaptation and it shows in its level of attention to detail. For example, the dancing is set to music by Ignaz Pleyel, a popular composer during Austen’s lifetime who is largely unknown today, and  it takes pains to look at the detailed relationship of four of the Bennet sisters, as well as that between Darcy and Lizzy.

According to Martin it’s not a typical ballet either. The choreography echoes that of some of the popular dances of the time, including the minuet, though Martin has adapted a few moves and made them “more balletic.” It also includes quick set and costume changes (some costume changes have to be completed in 20 seconds!) and the action is driven by acting and not just by dances.

At the Jane Austen News we can see how the romance of Pride and Prejudice would recommend itself to becoming a ballet. We just wish we could have been there to see it!


Unveiling Jane’s £10 Note 

Although it won’t enter general circulation until September this year (just in time for Bath’s Jane Austen Festival!), the official unveiling of the new Jane Austen ten pound note has been announced. It’s due to take place on July the 18th on the anniversary of the date of her death in Winchester Cathedral, where Jane is buried.

Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said in a statement that “Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature. As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and Winston Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”

Below is a video released by the Bank of England which goes into a bit more detail about their decision to put Jane on the banknote.

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Parbake & Prose: Making Mr Bingley’s soup

Parbake & Prose is a project created by sibling bibliophile and chef team, Daniella Rossi and Eric Upper.

The concept is pretty simple: Parbake & Prose takes a look at great works of literature, from Greek epic poems to modern classics, and creates recipes based on the dishes in them. Daniella lives in London and is a committed bibliophile, having studied languages and literature at New York University and receiving a doctorate from the University of Cambridge. After graduation, she spent years working at one of the world’s oldest rare book specialists in London. So books are her thing. Eric lives in New York. He studied at the French Culinary Institute there, and has chefed at Michelin-star restaurants including Charlie Palmer’s Aureole and Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas. He is currently working on a restaurant startup in NYC. Eric creates the recipes.

The blog explores intriguing books with important food references that help to either progress the storyline, showcase character development or reveal history. Then it provides a step-by-step recipe and cooking guide so you can recreate each dish. Eric and Daniella spend hours conceiving and testing the recipes and balance staying as true as possible to the literary reference with the tastiness of the end product.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 39

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  A Story of Friendship and Letters Our centre guide, Lizzy Bennet, recently had three delightful ladies in one of her tour groups and they shared a wonderful story with her about their friendship, and it was such a beautiful example of friendship that we just had to share it. The ladies, two American ladies and one British lady, told Lizzy that they are all part of an embroidery group who became pen pals over 20 years ago. They have kept up their friendship, mostly through letter writing, ever since. In their letters they would write about their families, their passions, about embroidery and, of course, about Jane Austen. They’re using the time they’re now spending together in the UK also hand-stitching a doll and a patchwork quilt to go with it; a project from the crafts book Good Day Miss Austen. We’re hoping that once they’ve finished their project they’ll send us some pictures, but we also wanted to share with you their experience of keeping up connections through letter writing – it was a story we felt was very much in the spirit of Jane Austen. An Update On The Updated £10     Due in Summer 2017 (lips are remaining firmly shut when it comes to details on the exact release date) the new £10 will be made of a polymer rather than paper, and will have Jane’s lovely face on it. But here are some other things which will be (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 38

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  Stanford Says Reading Austen = Awesome Brain Exercise  Now this is the kind of exercise the Jane Austen News could really become addicted to. Researchers at Stanford University say that reading Jane Austen could be the perfect brain exercise. Researchers at Stanford tested literary candidates at the university by hooking them up to an MRI machine and letting them get stuck into a Jane Austen novel. The preliminary results came back and the researchers found that there was a dramatic increase of blood flow to regions of the brain associated with paying close attention to a task. Researcher Natalie Philips explained why this is so good; “paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions.” She suggested that this style of reading creates distinct patterns in the brain that are “far more complex than just work and play.” And why is Jane Austen such a good author to read? Because there’s so much to analyse in its value, historical significance and hidden meanings. It’s mental multi-tasking! It’s official then, Stanford has said so, for the sake of our health we need to read Jane Austen! An Evening With Jane at Gloucester Cathedral     If you live or can get to Gloucester this may well be of interest. On Saturday 22 October at 7.30pm Gloucester Cathedral’s Chapter House will host a very special evening of readings from the works of Jane Austen, bringing alive some of her most-loved and most-reviled characters.  Adrian (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 29

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   Austen and Shakespeare – Pop Culture Throughout Time The new exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington called Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity includes some of the more goofy material objects that have been made to celebrate Shakespeare or Austen in recent years. Some are more corporate than others – empty shoe boxes with Jane’s name on them, sticking plasters, etc etc, but all show what an amazing influence the two writers still have on the world. What really caught the eye of the Jane Austen News though, were the antique pieces of memorabilia; some of them over 100 years old. Some antique memorabilia included in the exhibition are; a series of 18th-century porcelains showing famous actors as Richard III, a signboard for the Shakespeare’s Head tavern from the late-17th or early-18th century, and antique bellows carved with Shakespeare’s face. We are by no means lacking items celebrating Austen and Shakespeare today, and not all of them are received with open arms; some may be considered tacky or overly commercial. So it’s interesting to see what passed for commemorative merchandise in the past, and to consider what of today’s memorabilia may end up in a similar Austen/Shakespeare exhibition a couple of hundred years in the future. Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity is on show at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street S.E., Washington until the 6th of November 2016. JASNA Announces Essay (more…)