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 (more…)
On Sunday (10th July) in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire in the UK, a local actress performed her one-woman show, “Yours Ever, Jane”, in which Jane Austen tells her sister Cassandra all about her latest novel, Pride and Prejudice.
The actress, Sarah Finch, performed for free but asked her audience for donations, and donations towards a very good cause. She is planning on traveling to Cuba in this coming September, where she will be helping the Government open a new Shakespeare centre in Havana.
Sarah said: “Although Cuba has been cut off from the rest of the world until quite recently, they have a passion for Shakespeare. Shakespeare is universal.”
Sarah will be one of several actors who will performing some of the Bard’s most famous scenes, and also teaching aspiring Cuban thespians.
The Jane Austen News is sure Jane would approve!
A Near Miss For Lady Susan
American writer-director Whit Stallman has said that he discovered Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, the basis of his film Love & Friendship, completely by accident! In a recent interview he admitted that he only stumbled across it while re-reading Northanger Abbey. “It was included in an edition of that book, which was probably one of the last (more…)
History Lessons Via Romantic Novels
Writing for the History News Network, Robert W. Thurston, Professor Emeritus of History at Miami University, has proposed the idea that, rather than teachers and textbooks, a lot of the historical information many people learn nowadays comes from romance novels.
Sales of romance novels climbed to $1.08 billion in 2013 and continues to grow. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) found in a 2014 survey that 64 percent of readers went through at least one book a week. It’s not only women that are reading more historical romances either. Women comprise 78% of readers, but the men’s share has risen to the remaining 22%, up from just 7% in a 2002 survey.
Historical romances give us vital information on the everyday lives, customs, manners and important events of the eras in which they are set. Jane Austen for example teaches us that society was focused on marriage; that money today is not worth what it was back then (£10,000 a year? Peanuts today); and a whole host of other things. Romance novels, Thurston says, are undeserving of their frivolous reputation.
The vast and growing popularity of romances should not be cause for alarm; no one can stand at the ocean’s shore and make the tide retreat. Rather, the academy would do well to consider the influence of these books (more…)
An English teacher named Eleanor Capasso from Ayer-Shirley Regional High School in Massachusetts recently received a rather mysterious package. Opening the parcel Capasso found that the English department of the school had been sent what appears to be a first edition of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. It was a little tattered (as you can see) but that did nothing to lessen her excitement. She hurriedly got on the trail to find out more about it.
Capasso said the book was sent to the school by Alice B. Bantle. Bantle explained in the letter which accompanied the book that she had found it in a box of auction house “junk” in her mother’s garage. Bantle had read the inscription on the inside of the book, and seeing that the original owner was a woman named Lillian M. Flood who had won the book as a prize in May 1900 at Ayer High School, Bantle sent the book to the school in the hope that it could be reunited with the it’s rightful owners.
The owners are yet to be found, but Capasso is currently in the process of trying to trace the Flood family via the town’s record office.
Mr Darcy Teaching Romance To Sports-Mad Men Of Today
Reworked Pride and Prejudice Set To Top Summer Book Charts
In recent years, as part of a project that has paired six writers with Austen’s six novels and asked them to reimagine them for the twenty-first century, we’ve seen Alexander McCall Smith bring out Emma, Joanna Trollope write a new Sense and Sensibility, and Val McDermid setting Northanger Abbey at the Edinburgh Fringe. This summer it’s the turn of Curtis Sittenfeld who has taken what is arguably Austen’s best loved novel, Pride and Prejudice, and brought it a couple of hundred years forward in time; planting the Bennet clan in Cincinnati.
The new Pride and Prejudice book is called Eligible, and in it Lydia and Kitty are gym-obsessed, Mrs Bennet is a shopaholic and Elizabeth is a journalist. And the big issue in Eligible? There’s still a burning need to get married, but the other big problem is that of 40 year-old Lizzy and Jane’s ticking biological clocks and their desire for babies.
Whatever the various opinions may be of the new version of Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, one thing that most people can agree on is this: as everyone gets hold of their copy to see what the fuss is about, Eligible looks set to top the summer book charts.
The Love and Friendship Trailer is Here!
Whit Stillman’s Jane Austen film adaptation, Love and Friendship, starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, is set to open the San Francisco International Film Festival on April 21st.
Great news! Even better, we can now finally see a trailer for the upcoming film, which is set to be released in the UK on the 27th of May, and you can find the latest official trailer here. We can hardly wait!
Staying In the Estate That Inspired Pride and Prejudice
Rumor has it that Austen started writing Pride and Prejudice after a rejuvenating stay at Goodnestone Park; an English manor in Kent—and that a double wedding held at the mansion inspired the double weddings of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and of her sister Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley.
Now the estate will be available to stay in for the first time this coming July, and it gives guests the chance to step back into 18th-century England. It has 12-bedrooms, formal dining rooms, cozy drawing rooms, and, of course, a vast classic library!
It’s not cheap, but it is stunning! You can have a look at a few of the photos of the estate (more…)
What a wonderful year the Bennet family has enjoyed with three of my girls successfully married!
My darling Lydia, youngest of my five daughters is blissfully happy with her ‘dear Wickham’ as she calls him. Just think of it – only sixteen years old, yet she was the first of my daughters to find a husband! And such a man; he’s a dashing figure, always so courteous, so charming with a smile and compliment at the ready. I remember when I admired a redcoat myself; indeed I still do at heart. Lydia is such a lucky girl.
The next delightful news came when Jane, my eldest, was married to Mr Bingley. I always said her beauty would be her fortune. So when I heard that Netherfield Park was to be taken by a young gentleman of large property, I knew it would be an ideal opportunity for one of my girls. I can reveal that it was a lucky idea of mine that brought Jane and dear Charles together!
When Bingley’s sisters invited her over for tea I insisted that she went on horseback rather than take the carriage, for I thought it likely to rain. Then a bad cold kept her at Netherfield for some days, just as I had planned, and that was when they fell in love! Mr Bingley (more…)
We had a great time unveiling our new Jane Austen waxwork to the assembled media folk on Wednesday 9th of July.
Reaction was overwhelmingly positive when the curtains were parted. The waxwork is now on public display. Developed from a forensic portrait of the author by Melissa Dring, the waxwork has been over 2 years in the making. Members of the team behind her creation, especially brought together for the project, were in attendance at the event, – the internationally-renowned sculptor, an FBI-trained forensic artist and a Bafta and Emmy award-winning costume designer. (See their biographies below) The novels of Jane Austen are known throughout the world, her heroes and heroines have been brought to life in many adaptations, and the industry which has built up around her name is significant. So whilst people happily associate Jane Austen’s characters with the actors who portray them, perhaps most famously Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, there remains a real desire to possess a likeness of the writer herself.