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Jane Austen News – Issue 112

The Jane Austen News would love to buy Longbourn!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Georgian “Banned” Book Beats All Estimates

We love old books here at the Jane Austen News, but this week we came across an example of a highly unusual one up for auction that might have raised a few eyebrows in the Austen household.

A 300-year-old sex manual which was as good as banned until the 1960s because of its shocking content (though we hasten to add that by today’s standards it’s not nearly so shocking) has sold for £3,100. An astounding sum considering that its guide price was just £80-£120!

The 1720 book titled Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed In Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation – contains a range of bizarre advice.

Some of the strange pieces of advice within the manual include:

  • Don’t lie with beasts – lest you wish to run the risk of giving birth to monsters
  • During sex women should “earnestly look upon the man and fix her mind upon him”. Then the child will resemble its father.
  • Want a girl? After sex, a prospective mother should lie on her left. For a boy, she should lie on her right.
  • Don’t rush off – “When they have done what nature can require, a man must have a care he does not part too soon from the embraces of his wife”.

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Jane Austen Fan News – Issue 111

a feathered Jane Austen fan

What’s the Jane Austen Fan News this week? 


Jane Austen and the Stash of the Raven

Ask a Jane Austen fan and they’ll soon be able to tell you the many advantages of having the entire works of Jane Austen in your home library. Her novels are a must-have, go-to resource for times of trouble when you are in need of comfort, for times of boredom when you need entertainment, and, we learnt this week thanks to The Spectator, an excellent hiding place!

In an article by Joe Shute, journalist and author of A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven, which explored the role of ravens within the natural and literary world, we this week read the charming tale of Truman Capote and his pet raven:

Truman Capote had a pet raven, Lola, which he suspected of hiding a guest’s false teeth. He placed his gold signet ring on a table and spied developments. When the raven thought the way was clear it grabbed the ring and hid it in the library behind The Complete Jane Austen. Capote listed the cache revealed: among other things, his best cufflinks, long-lost car keys, the first page of a short story, and the teeth.

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Why Jane Austen’s Persuasion Still Captivates Audiences

Jane Austen's PersuasionThis Spring 2018, Theatre6 is producing a touring production of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Artistic Director Kate McGregor discusses why they’ve chosen to adapt the work for six actor musicians, and why Persuasion remains so captivating for today’s audiences. Adapting a novel like Jane Austen’s Persuasion for the stage, from the earliest planning stages until the opening night, is a project that absorbs your days and nights for at least two years. In making the decision to dedicate such time to a piece, it has to be one which you’d like to explore visually, conceptually, emotionally and intellectually. Most importantly, it has to be a story that will excite, captivate and be relevant for your audiences. For Stephanie Dale (the novel’s adapter) and I, our biggest inspiration for working on the piece was the character of Anne. We envisioned how the themes in Persuasion could transcend time and space, and imagined how Jane’s ideas could breathe and thrive in our modern world.   A novel must show how the world truly is, how characters genuinely think, how events actually occur, a novel should somehow reveal the true source of our actions – Jane in Becoming Jane.   Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, this is a story about heartbreak. It’s about making decisions you regret, about trusting the right people for the wrong reasons. It asks questions about the inner workings of why we love and who loves the longest. Most importantly it’s an expression of Anne inner thoughts (more…)
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Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours With Anne Elliot

anne elliotAnne Elliot: A quiet force to be reckoned with. Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels. Lizzy Bennet may be the one with all the flash and sparkle, but one should never underestimate one of Austen’s more reserved heroines, Anne Elliot of Persuasion. At first glance, Anne may not seem to fit the typical ideal of a cape-wearing, save-the-day superhero, but let’s take a closer look at Miss Anne: Austen Superpower 1: Grace under Fire. Who had the presence of mind that no one else had when Louisa Musgrove fell from the Cobb at Lyme? That’s right; Anne Elliot did. Everyone else was wailing and flailing while she was the voice of calm and reason in the midst of the emergency. She was the one who gave Captain Wentworth calm and rational directions as to how to help Louisa. Austen Superpower 2: Trusting Observation and Instinct. Who realized that Captain Wentworth was in love with her–despite his eight years of silence after she broke his heart, despite his ignoring her while happily being the Musgrove girls’ object of worship, and despite everyone else being ready to marry him off to Louisa Musgrove? You got it; Anne Elliot. Though not by any stretch of the imagination conceited or vain, and despite having been brought up to think of herself as beneath the notice of everyone in her family (aside, that is, from Lady Russell and Anne’s own (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 110

the jane austen news

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Emma Changes The Face of Fiction

200 years after it was first published, John Mullan, professor of English at University College London and a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, is arguing that Jane Austen’s Emma belongs alongside the works of Flaubert, Joyce and Woolf as one of the great experimental novels.

Mullan argues that Emma was not revolutionary because of its subject matter, but was revolutionary in its form and technique. “Its heroine is a self-deluded young woman with the leisure and power to meddle in the lives of her neighbours. The narrative was radically experimental because it was designed to share her delusions.”

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Jane Austen News – Issue 109

jane austen news

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Do Some Books Have “Best Before” Dates?

In our travels around the web this week, we at the Jane Austen News found an article by Jennifer Finney Boylan for the New York Times which talked about the best age at which to read books. Are there some books which are best read when you’re older? Is a book like War and Peace best not opened until you’re 25+?

It’s a knotty question. Some people have reading ages far beyond their years, and some readers are happy to read books which explore deep philosophical questions before they’ve even sat their GCSEs. Then again, some visitors to the Jane Austen Centre explain that, having been taught the likes of Dickens at a young age at school, they’ve been put off ‘classics’ almost for life.

Reading age aside though, the question can be approached from a different angle: do some books come with an ideal reading age? By this we mean, an age at which the book will best resonate with its reader, and an age at which it has the best chance of bringing a fresh perspective to the reader’s life.

Some examples which were suggested were:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle — before the age of 18. In order to learn that some mysteries, including the ones inside your own heart, really can be solved by logic and reason.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 108 – Janeites and Shelley

Go-to books for a Janeite

Janeites! What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Mary Bennet and Frankenstein’s Monster

This is an important year for fans of Mary Shelley, it being the 200th anniversary of the publication of her most famous novel, Frankenstein. There will be plenty of books published this year which centre on the book and on the author herself, but one that’s caught our eye is Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel.

In the original novel, Victor Frankenstein and his friend Henry Clerval run away to England and Scotland when the creature they have made demands that they make a mate for him. In Pride and Prometheus, Kessel has the pair meet Mary Bennet, the bookish and often slighted Bennet sister, who is portrayed in the novel as a keen amateur scientist who is fascinated by Frankenstein’s ideas. (Mr Darcy and Lizzy Bennet also make an appearance but it is fleeting).

Naturally the creature has followed Frankenstein and Clerval on their escape, and it’s not too long before the Bennet family is mixed up in the melodrama of the Frankenstein saga.

As book fusions go, this one is done exceedingly well, and has much that will delight fans of Austen and Shelley alike, especially if the tongue-in-cheek mockery of gothic novels in Northanger Abbey was something you enjoyed.

When she was nineteen, Miss Mary Bennet had believed three things that were not true. She believed that, despite her awkwardness, she might become interesting through her accomplishments. She believed that, because she paid strict attention to all she had been taught about right and wrong, she was wise in the ways of the world. And she believed that God, who took note of every moment of one’s life, would answer prayers, even foolish ones.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 107

The Jane Austen News having a ball!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


A Bookshop Of Women For All

As a pioneering female author we think that Jane would love this idea.

Penguin has teamed up with Waterstones to mark International Women’s Day by opening a pop-up store in East London. The bookshop will run from the 5th-9th of March and will sell only books written by women to “celebrate the persistence of women who’ve fought for change: those who fight, rebel and shout #LikeAWoman”.

The other unique aspect of the pop-up bookshop is the way in which it will be laid out. Rather than the typical “biography”, “fiction”, “sci-fi” categories, the books will be grouped by “the impact the author has had on culture, history or society”. The categories will range from “essential feminist reads”, to “inspiring young readers”, “women to watch”, and “changemakers”.

A series of literary events will also take place at the boo

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