What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Jane Austen Manuscripts – Free and Online
An Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project to digitise the original handwritten manuscripts of Jane Austen’s fiction has finally been completed. Jane’s manuscripts have been scattered across libraries and public collections around the UK and New York, but now they have been scanned and uploaded online, allowing them to be seen as a unified complete collection for the first time in more than 160 years. It also means that the manuscripts can now be viewed free of charge by anybody! Jane Austen News really likes this development.
The manuscripts include not only Austen’s novels, but also in the collection are the short stories and things that she wrote from the age of 12 up until her death at the age of 41. The manuscripts can be accessed here, and allow fans to see her words written in her own hand, alongside her own notes and smudges.
“The online edition is a way of stitching together Jane Austen’s legacy and restoring what she intended, which was a collection of the manuscripts she regarded as precious.”
Project lead Professor Kathryn Sutherland of the University of Oxford.
Jane Austen’s £10 – Here to Stay Thanks to Design
In September this year the new UK £5 will go into general circulation. On it will be Sir Winston Churchill, who will be replacing Elizabeth Fry as the important British figure featured. Next year the new £10 note will also be released, and the face on that note will be Jane Austen. But it seems that new famous figures are not the only changes coming to the banknotes…
Instead of the cotton-paper banknotes which have been used ever since the establishment of the Bank of England in 1694, these new notes will be made from a kind of thin plastic film polymer. Australia was the first to launch plastic notes in 1988, followed by countries including New Zealand and Singapore. Now over 30 countries use them.
Not only will this new polymer material mean that the notes will last for around 5 years instead of 2, but it also means that they’ll be almost impossible to tear and should survive a 90 degree wash in the washing machine. Although Victoria Cleland, the Bank of England’s chief cashier, said “we’re not encouraging people to do that”. Well of course not. Why would we ever try to destroy Jane?
The Real Housewives of Jane Austen?!
Sophie Gilbert, writing for the online magazine The Atlantic, has said that the reality TV stars of today have an “uncanny” resemblance to Jane Austen’s famous heroines.
This seems an unbelievable claim at first, but Gilbert goes on to explain:
One of the more unconventional fairytales of our time involves a brilliant schemer, famous almost entirely for her physical attributes, who finds herself a single mother after her partner abruptly departs. Intent on bettering her situation, the woman pursues the wealthy and eligible son of a noted family, several members of whom she’s already intimately involved with. His relatives panic. But the man remains besotted with the woman, whose meticulous plotting and social savvy make him ever more intent on proposing marriage to her.
Gilbert says, quite rightly that this is the story of Lady Susan, the eponymous heroine of Jane’s early epistolary novella, which is the base of the new feature film Love and Friendship. However, Gilbert says, it is also the story of Blac Chyna, a friend of Kim Kardashian, whose story is being told via the reality TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians!
It’s an interesting view – that women on reality TV echo Austen’s heroines in their behaviour and aims.
Deprived of intellectual gratification or professional empowerment, they scheme, manipulate, and get bogged down in petty rivalries with each other.
It’s probably also not one that not everyone will agree with… The full article is available to read here.
Jane’s Music Performed at Shugborough Hall
On Sunday 5th June, visitors to Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire were treated to music composed by Jane Austen herself. Jane loved music, and would play the piano each morning before breakfast. A keen amateur musician, she composed music of her own, as well as playing the popular music of the day such as pieces by Handel.
Shugborough Hall was a good location for such a performance as its gardens and grounds have barely changed since the early 1800s, when Jane was writing. Visitors to Shugborough’s mansion on Sunday were treated to the performance by Sue Brereton-Banks for free. The Jane Austen News is sad to have missed it. But hopefully it is something they’ll do again!
U.S. Jane Austen Film Festival Returns
At Dumbarton House in Washington D.C., the fifth annual Jane Austen Film Festival will soon be beginning. The screening schedule is:
- June 29, Sense & Sensibility (1995)
- July 13, Emma (1996)
- July 27, Pride & Prejudice (2005)
For Dumbarton Museum members tickets are free, and general tickets are $6 to attend one screening and $15 for a ticket for all three. The screenings all take place outside and guests are encouraged to bring their own blankets to sit on (chairs are allowed but those wishing to use one will be asked to sit at the back).
Jane Austen in the peaceful open-air surroundings of beautiful estate grounds. We wish we could be there.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – DVD Release
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but some Jane Austen fans might like to know that in the U.S.A. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has now been released on DVD. It came out across America on May 31st, and is due for DVD release in the UK on June 27th.
For those who missed it at the cinema, you can expect to see the Bennet sisters as trained zombie killers; Mr Darcy being typically stand-offish; and Mr Wickham being just as much trouble as in Austen’s original…only not in the way you might expect.
It may comfort some more traditional Austen fans to know that, although it might have been based on Pride and Prejudice, it doesn’t follow the old storyline for very long. It can be much more accurately described as a new tale. So if you want to watch it, it’ll be on DVD near you very soon.
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