If you’ve been to visit us at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, you’ve probably met our famous Mr Bennet, a.k.a Martin. He’s our senior meeter and greeter, and is the most-photographed man in England. He’s been with us for over ten years, and now he’s been nominated for an award.
The national Tourism Superstar Awards 2018 are down to their final top ten finalists, and Martin is one of them. The awards were set up by VisitEngland and Mirror Travel, and the organisers behind the award explained that they’re:
looking for people who far exceed the call of duty to ensure visitors have an amazing experience, whether it’s on a day trip or a holiday.
Martin, they added, is a prime example.
Martin has worked in tourism all his life – at the Pump Rooms in Bath and for the past 11 years at the Jane Austen Centre. He does charitable work, is Father Christmas, teaches dancing and is a keen re-enactor. Online there are lots of images of Martin posing with visitors.
It’s free to vote for your Tourism Superstar (not only that, but by voting you enter into a draw to win an English staycation), and the vote is open until midnight on March the 20th. The winner will be announced at the end of English Tourism Week on March the 24th.
We would be so grateful if you could spare a moment to visit the dedicated page on the Mirror’s website and vote for Martin. He’s a real gentleman and without a doubt a superstar in our minds. If we could all work together to help him win this award it would mean so much to all of us.
The TV channel Drama has masterminded a new project, which has taken three of the most well-known and much beloved romantic novels, and has given then a ‘digital makeover’ to show the effect that digital devices are having on romance.
Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles are the three novels in question, which now include social media, internet dating and Wi-Fi issues within their pages. Researchers from University College London and Professor John Sutherland have worked on the project, and they believe that the re-imagined novels illustrate how modern communication can be the ultimate romance killer.
A Mr Darcy obsessed with digital media and a Heathcliff that spent his time hashtagging or checking his emails certainly wouldn’t be identified as the romantic heroes we still think of today.
The Pride and Prejudice reimagining sees how Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship may have been affected by the perils of WhatsApp message distraction and ‘accidental tagging’. (Elizabeth causes a Twitter storm by accidentally tagging Mr Darcy in a photo she takes of him swimming in the lake.) While the Bennet sisters, being mostly ladies of leisure, now spend their time competing against each other through online games, even during social events, leading others to balk at their brash enthusiasm and competitiveness.
If you’re curious to read the novels, they’re free to download here.
You might have remembered that the final day to spend the old, paper £10 notes is the first of March. After which time any old £10 notes will need to be taken to a bank in order to be exchanged for legal tender – the lovely new Jane Austen £10 notes. There’s been a lot of press surrounding the new £10 notes, and quite rightly, but what about those notes that are still paper -the £20 and the £50?
The figure who has been chosen to appear on the £20 note is artist JMW (Joseph Mallord William) Turner. The new Turner £20 notes will be released in 2020. However, we were quite surprised to find that the £50 notes will not be changing. There aren’t currently any plans for the £50 note featuring Matthew Boulton and James Watt, the entrepreneur and engineer who in 1775 joined forces to develop and market steam engines, to be changed for a plastic version.
The primary reason we mention the new banknotes though, is to raise awareness that the first of March is the last day you can spend the old style notes. So if you haven’t done it yet, have a look in any stray wallets you may have around the house, check in old coat pockets, and have a dig down the back of the sofa. You never know where one might turn up.
Admittedly this piece of news isn’t the newest. However, as it’s a new one to some of us here at the Jane Austen News, and was something they enjoyed reading about, we thought we’d include it nevertheless.
Natalie Phillips, a professor at Michigan State University who studies 18th and 19th century literature, was inspired to investigate how different types of reading can affect the brain. She asked volunteers to lie in a brain scanner and read Jane Austen’s work. For some scans she asked volunteers to browse-read, as you might when looking for your next read at a bookshop. Other times she asked the volunteers to read the text and look for a deeper meaning – to analyse it as a scholar might.
Positioning Austen’s work so that the volunteers could read it without needing to turn their head was a unique challenge she said:
If you asked me on a top 10 list of things that I did not expect to find myself doing as an 18th-centuryist when I first started this study on the history of distraction, I would say lying on my back in an MRI scanner trying to figure out how to position paragraphs by Jane Austen so that you wouldn’t have to turn your head while reading with a mirror.
Professor Phillips had been warned by neuroscientists that she wouldn’t see many differences on the scans between the casual and the intense reading. That was fine; what she was looking for was what kind of reading made different areas of the brain active. She said she mainly expected to see differences in parts of the brain that regulate attention because that was the main difference between casual and focused reading. That was not what really struck her about her results.
Phillips found that close reading activated unexpected areas: parts of the brain that are involved in movement and touch. It was as though readers were physically placing themselves within the story as they analyzed it.
As far as our brains are concerned then, reading really can transport you to different worlds.
Our final Austen exam-revision crossword is here. Mansfield Park puzzle in the first link, answers in the second.
(We’ve also included links to the previous crosswords below in case you missed them.)
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