When Paul Morris, owner of Bookends bookshop in Cardigan, decided that he wanted to retire, he made the unusual move of raffling his bookshop off instead of putting it up for sale (it was worth an estimated £30,000 if he was to have sold it). Any customer who spent more than £20 in the shop over the past three months was eligible to be entered into the raffle to win the bookshop.
Overall sixty names were put into the raffle hat, and the winner was announced as Ceisjan van Heerden from the Netherlands. He says he will be taking over at the bookshop on November the 5th, alongside his friend from Iceland who is now moving to west Wales. Although, as if this story was remarkable enough, the pair have never actually met – but they have been friends online for nine years.
It might sound strange, but we are sure we can make it work. It is just an amazing opportunity
Mr Morris explained his decision to raffle the bookshop rather than sell it, and at the Jane Austen News we thought it was a charming reason, and we hope that Mr Morris has a fantastic retirement and that Bookends continues to thrive under its new management!
I thought about selling it, but I thought instead, let’s give someone an opportunity in life which they might not otherwise have had. The principle was to make sure the shop continues in good hands. I always wanted to have a bookshop, but I’ve had my stint, and now it’s time for someone else to take over.
Last week, Pemberley Digital (the makers behind the hit Youtube series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) released a video announcing the return of Emma Approved. But unlike the Emma in the original, this Emma Woodhouse has grown (at least a little) from her experiences, and learned to find love with her perfect match, Alex Knightley.
This new series of Emma Approved is a bit different from the original, as the show has become partly investor-funded thanks to the launch of its Patreon account, which allows fans of the show to pay money towards the project in return for show-related perks. The “shareholder” (as they are being called) privileges include sitting in on company board meetings, and even play a role in choosing new clients for the company. The team at Emma Approved have also experimented with using the Moment Stories app, which allows players to experience part of the narrative as digital interns at Emma Approved, interacting with characters through a text chat facsimile.
While Emma Approved is only scheduled to return for a two month run, the show’s Patreon account plans on extending the show if it reaches 1,000 “shareholders”. The new series will begin this month.
In 1794, Jane Austen’s mother wrote a poem about selective invites to a dinner given by the Lefevre family at Heckfield Place, an 18th Century Georgian manor house.
I Send You Here by Mrs Cassandra Austen
I send you here a list of all
The company who graced the Ball
Last Thursday night at Basingstoke;
There were but six & thirty folk,
Although the evening was so fine;
First then, the couple from the Vine,—
Next Squire Hicks, & his fair spouse;
They came from Mr Bramston’s house,
With Madam, & her maiden Sister;
(Had she been absent who’d have missed her?)
And fair Miss Woodward, that sweet singer,
For Mrs Bramston liked to bring her.
With Alethea too, & Harriet;
They came in Mrs Hicks’s chariot;
Perhaps they did, I am not certain.
Then there were 4 good folk from Worting:
For with the Clerks there came two more;
Some friends of their’s, their name was Hoare.
With Mr Mrs , Miss Lefroy
Came Henry Rice, that pleasant Boy.
And least a title they should want,
There came Sir Colebrook, & Sir Grant
Miss Eyre of Sherfield, & her Mother;
One Miss from Dummer, & her Brother.
Her Mother too, as Chaperon.
Mr & Mrs Williamson.
Charles Powlett, & his Pupils twain:
Small Parson Hasker, great Squire Lane.
And Bentworth’s Rector, with his hat,
Unwillingly he parts from that.
Two Misses Davies, with two friends;
And thus my information ends.It would have been a better dance
But for the following circumstance;
The Dorchesters, so high in station,
Dined out that day, by invitation,
At Heckfield Heath, with Squire Le Fevre;
Methinks it was not quite so clever
For one Subscriber to invite
Another, on the assembly night;
But ’twas to meet a General Donne
His Lordship’s old companion;
And as the General would not stay
They could not fix another day—
Today, unlike when Mrs Austen was writing, everyone is welcome to come and have dinner, as the manor house has been reopened as a luxury hotel.
There are still the morning and drawing rooms, but instead of tapestry frames and card tables, they’ve been exchanged for modern art from the Boston-based billionaire owner’s enormous collection. Heckfield Place also includes an entire farm within it’s huge grounds (480 acres); a farm which helps to supply the hotel restaurants. In addition to the farm, there are two lakes, an arboretum, and a big spa which is still being built – though in the meantime there’s a smaller version for current guests.
It’s not quite what the Dorchesters would have been invited to when the Lefevre family were in residence, but we quite enjoyed taking a peek at the new decor anyway. After all, even just the outer facade is something to behold!
The British Library in London is still calling for volunteers to help digitally transcribe information from historical theatre playbills to make the collection more accessible., with many dating from Jane Austen’s era.
Through the library’s dedicated website, In the Spotlight, volunteers can tag and transcribe details of 100,000 playbills from the 18th and 19th centuries (100,000 have been photographed so far of the 240,000) to the library’s digital catalogue. The aim of the project is to improve the library records and allow greater accessibility to researchers and the general public.
Some of the details which need logging are play titles, performance dates, genres, and cast names.
Millions of playbills – posters on shop windows or circulars passed about by hand – were printed to advertise an evening’s programme of entertainment at nearby theatres. Just like today’s adverts, these historic playbills are visually engaging, even captivating.
Christian Algar, curator of printed heritage collections at the British Library
The collection includes advertisements for shows in Plymouth, Margate, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hull and Bristol, with more volumes to be added.
It’s a good community project to get involved with if you’re interested in Georgian theatrical history, as In the Spotlight allows contributors to discuss with each other the interesting details they come across, and to make observations about the playbills in general.
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