What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Romance At The Centre
There was excitement in the Jane Austen Centre this week when one visitor was asked an unexpected question by her boyfriend, Jamie Scott. Charlotte, one of our centre guides, described what happened.
“I only saw a little bit because I wanted to give them some private time. But by some luck, they were the only two in their talk. When they got to the writing desks, they were alone in the room with only me! While she was reading some of the information boards he wrote ‘Will you marry me?’ on one of the cards.
“She then sat down at the other desk and he went and gave her his card. I had left at this point to give them a moment, but was just outside with Serena (another of our guides) when she said yes. He gave her the ring he had kept hidden until that moment, and then we came around the corner and congratulated them. She seemed overwhelmed. It was lovely!”
Help Design Jane Austen Benches
Basingstoke and Deane is going to honour the 200 year anniversary of Jane Austen’s death by placing 25 specially decorated ‘BookBenches’ in and around the town during Summer 2017.
Local artists are being invited to come up with their own Jane Austen related designs which will be put onto benches that look like open books. Eventually the benches will be available as street furniture for the public of Basingstoke and Deane.
Director of the Sitting With Jane project, Sally Ann Wilkinson, said: “We look forward to a wide range of designs and different interpretations of all aspects of Jane Austen’s important contribution to literature be brought to life and celebrated by artists.
“The BookBench sculpture offers artists the opportunity to visually tell Jane Austen’s stories; the characters as well as her life, and bring enjoyment to thousands of people from around the world.”
Those who want to be involved have until December 1st 2016 to get involved through sittingwithjane.com.
If You Love Jane Austen, You Might Also Love….
Jane Austen and the Brontës endure as British literature’s leading ladies (and for good reason)—but were these reclusive parsons’ daughters really the only writing women of their day?
This is the question which Shelley DeWees addresses in her new book Not Just Jane – Rediscovering Seven Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature.
Within her book DeWees aims to throw light on some of the female writers from the late 18th and the 19th century. Most people have heard of George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen and Jane Eyre; but there have to be more great female authors from history than that. DeWees introduces us to seven amazing but forgotten female authors as she weaves history, biography, and critical analysis into a narrative which tells the evolution of female life and the changing literary scene.
The Jane Austen News is looking forward to having a look at the book and discovering who some of Jane Austen’s contemporaries were.
Jane Austen – The Secret Radical
On November 3rd Helena Kelly will be in Bath at Waterstones launching her new book Jane Austen The Secret Radical.
Helena argues that Jane’s novels don’t confine themselves to grand houses and they were not written for readers’ enjoyment. Helena puts forward that Jane writes about serious subjects and her books are deeply subversive, we just don’t read her properly – and we haven’t been reading her properly for 200 years.
Within Jane’s novels are arguments on the subjects of feminism, slavery, abuse, the treatment of the poor, the power of the Church, and even evolution – at a time, and in a place, when to write about such things directly was akin to treason.
Reviewers have said ‘However well you think you know the novels, you’ll be raring to read them again once you’ve read this.’ We have to say; we’re intrigued…
What to Expect From The Jane Austen Writers’ Club
From one new Jane Austen book to another.
Rebecca Smith has just published her how-to novel which explains how to write a novel using examples from Jane Austen’s novels and letters of advice which she wrote to her own aspiring-author niece.
Smith starts with advice on how to plan your story, and create believable, well-rounded characters and their environs. Then she moves onto how Jane uses irony, and picks out details and speech mannerisms, which has to be one of her most honed skills. Smith herself writes: “This whole book could be devoted to Jane Austen’s use of dialogue.”
Some of the other key pieces of advice Smith offers are:
- Be a people-watcher (and listener)
- Find somebody you trust to edit your work
- In the face of rejection, keep writing
- Suspense, suspense, suspense!
This month the Jane Austen News will have a lot of reading to do!
For Austen Fans Near Reading
This past weekend (28th-30th October), Jane Austen fans living near Reading got a treat when Helena Kelly (the author of Jane Austen The Secret Radical which we mentioned earlier) was in conversation with fellow “Janeite” Gill Hornby discussing Jane Austen’s political and social views and how she weaved her thoughts into her supposedly “safe” novels.
The talk was part of Reading Book Festival, and was a particularly good city to discuss Jane Austen in because it was in Reading at Reading Ladies’ Boarding School that Jane and Cassandra attended boarding school for a time. The boarding school was located by the Abbey Gateway and that fact is commemorated by a plaque on a nearby wall.
Hopefully there will be more events for Reading-based Jane Austen fans soon!
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