What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Amazing Librarians Up For Award
Libraries are wonderful, magical places, and one of the things that helps the to be such is their dedicated librarians. So, in order to honour the work of these fantastic people who work in school libraries and help children to become lovers of books from an early age, the School Librarian of the Year Award was set up. We have to say, this year’s honour list, from which an overall winner will be announced in a ceremony at Covent Gardens in London on October 3rd, has some truly amazing examples of librarians who go above and beyond in their jobs.
Amy McKay, librarian at Corby Business Academy in Northamptonshire, has hosted barbecues, sleepovers, a comic-con event, a zombie-apocalypse and staff-pupil battles of the books to introduce pupils to different genres and authors.
Lauren Thow of Portobello High School in Edinburgh has research lessons for pupils, in which she occasionally dresses as Sir Alan Sugar and has established a Portobello High literature festival.
Sophie Chalmers library at Southbrook School in Devon is housed inside a double-decker bus (how wonderful is that?) and she has established a reading-buddy scheme, connecting her own special school with the local mainstream secondary.
Alison Tarrant helped to establish her library at Cambourne Village College in Cambridgeshire, and this involved the donning of hard hats and high-visibility jackets as the build began.
But the one that really caught our eye was Rachel Knight, who is a librarian at the independent Sherborne Girls’ School in Dorset. She has dressed up in a white coat and dug out her stethoscope to act as the school’s “book doctor”, but she’s also hosted a dinner party with Mr Darcy for her pupils! Clearly a librarian after our own hearts!
A Regency Request
The guides at the Jane Austen Centre have an unusual request for actor Dominic Cooper, who played Willoughby in the 2008 BBC production of Sense and Sensibility.
After noticing that Mr Cooper was set to appear in The Libertine at Bath Theatre Royal while the annual Jane Austen Festival would be on two of the guides penned a letter with quill and ink, and using Jane’s tone of voice and references to her work, asking whether he might visit the Jane Austen Centre for complimentary afternoon tea, donate a signature for the centre’s signature wall, and perhaps read a passage of Sense and Sensibility during the festival.
For the past 16 years, the Jane Austen Centre has welcomed many a famous face from the Austen film adaptations through their doors, including Rosamund Pyke, Anne Hathaway, and Matthew MacFadyen, and as the film adaptations play such a huge part in the Austenite fan base, we always endeavour to get our hands hands on a signed photograph to add to our wall of fame if we can.
Lauren Thompson, Duty Manager
The guides at the centre and all of us at the Jane Austen News are keeping their fingers crossed that he accepts.
Was Austen More Financially Savvy Than Modern Women?
Jane Caro, writing for the online magazine Women’s Agenda, has proposed the idea that women today are still somewhat stuck in the era of Austen when it comes to money matters and she has come to the defence of Mrs Bennet’s obsession with marriage. In her opinion Mrs Bennet should be applauded not derided. Shame on Mr Bennet who sat back and trusted that it would all somehow work out for his daughters, and well done Mrs Bennet for knowing that marrying her daughters off was the best thing she could do to protect their future and actively pursuing it.
However, the main aim of Caro’s article is to propose that, while in Jane’s time marrying a man was a good financial plan, too many women today are still thinking that looking after the finances is a man’s responsibility.”Research from the Financial Planning Association indicates that only 20% of Australian women aged between 18 and 55 have sought professional financial advice, which means a terrifying 80% of us have not.”
It’s an interesting point. Although a lot of our attitudes about life have changed (for one thing our life’s entire aim is no longer just to get married) what ideas from the 1700s and 1800s do we still have that desperately need an update? Is the idea that finances are mainly a man’s domain still one of them?
Austen Set In Pakistan = Austenistan
Laaleen Khan, a British Pakistani media professional who is also the founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP), has an exciting new project in progress which she hopes will be published next year. That project is Austenistan – a new Jane Austen-inspired anthology set among Pakistani society.
Laaleen has asked writers to contribute short stories to this new anthology which she hopes will be “unabashedly mainstream commercial fiction for global readership and relatable for women everywhere.” She hopes that the combination of Austen and Pakistani culture will “reveal an authenticity about Pakistani society that is seldom explored internationally to generate a new appreciation about metropolitan lifestyles here.”
Austenistan is an engrossing anthology of more than 15 short stories. I’m the editor and one of its contributors. Earlier this year, I invited an array of brilliant women, who are also members of JASP, to contribute stories inspired by Jane Austen’s characters or storylines, and set in Pakistani society. It’s already created a flutter among international publishing circles, which is so encouraging.
The Cate Morland Chronicles
A few years ago The Lizzie Bennet Diaries were published on YouTube. For those readers who have not come across the Lizzie Bennet Diaries before, they tell a modernised version of the story of Pride and Prejudice through a series of vlogs made by Lizzie and Charlotte. They were the work of “Pemberley Digital” who also filmed other classic books in the same way, including Emma Approved, Frankenstein MD, Welcome to Sanditon, and The March Family Letters.
Now the latest Austen book to get its own online series is Northanger Abbey. Though not published through Pemberley Digital, but rather created by Apple Juice Productions, The Cate Morland Chronicles follows a similar format to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Through a number of vlogs we meet and learn about Cate Morland and see the story of Northanger Abbey play out. But while in Northanger Abbey Catherine Morland has a deep love for Gothic novels, in the vlogs this love becomes a general love for genre fiction in all its shapes and sizes – anime, Star Trek etc.
The full series being uploaded to YouTube over the next few months, with episodes 1-10 already live.
Voting On Bromley’s Mr Darcy Almost Closed
A little while ago the Jane Austen News came across a story which announced that Bromley was looking for its own Mr Darcy. The public were asked to find and nominate Bromley’s own Mr Darcy and give him the rewards he deserves which included a pair of tickets to Pride and Prejudice at the Churchill Theatre and an overnight stay for two at Bromley Court Hotel. Well the nominations are in and it was lovely to read about all of the wonderful things the nominees had done.
One finalist was nominated by his partner because he had supported her so fully after she had recently had major spinal surgery, and one nominee was a son nominated by his mother because he “holds all the old family values”.
The finalists will be announced on August 31st following an online public vote. (If you wish to vote the link is here.)
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