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Jane Austen News – Issue 63

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 A Jane Austen Copycat On The Loose 

Last year, micro-engraver Graham Short made headlines by releasing four unique £5 notes in general circulation for people to find in a Willy-Wonka style treasure hunt. Each was engraved with a miniature portrait of Jane Austen, and an Austen quote, and are thought to be worth around £50,000 each. Three have been found, but one of the notes, the one released in England, is yet to be found. However, recently businesswoman Joy Timmins, 48, had high hopes she had snared one of the notes in her hometown of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. But, instead of finding classic quotes from Pride and Prejudice, Emma or Mansfield Park, Joy’s fiver had the cryptic engraving: “Look for serial number AL22171910”.

Joy’s unusual find has sparked theories that there may be a copycat engraver offering clues to find other valuable notes– or it might just be someone creating a bit of mischief. Whatever the answer, at the Jane Austen News we’re looking forward to seeing if anyone does find AL22171910, and if they do, if there is something special about it. As are Graham Short and his representatives who had this to say on the subject:

It would seem that somebody has decided to follow in Graham’s footsteps. We’re very interested in this because most of the ‘notes’ we’ve been sent images of have plainly been copies or fraudulently made. But this is certainly a conundrum. Maybe something great lies at the end of this rabbit hole?


 Rescuing A Regency Estate to Rival Pemberley 

The Grade 1 listed building of Wentworth Woodhouse, said by some to have been the inspiration behind the estate of Pemberley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, has had its future secured as it has been bought by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust. Although the Jane Austen Society dismissed the likelihood that Austen had had the house in mind, given the absence of any evidence that she had visited the estate. The building now faces a £42 million restoration bill to return it to its former glory over the next two decades.

Wentworth Woodhouse was the northern seat of the Fitzwilliam family – one of the richest and most powerful aristocratic dynasties in England at its height. The name Fitzwilliam being also the first name of Mr Darcy, is one reason why some make the link being Wentworth Woodhouse and Pemberley. That and its grandeur. Described as “exceptional” in both architecture and scale, the house was built by the Marquesses of Rockingham between 1725 and 1750 and it contains 365 rooms and five miles of corridors!
When the restorations are complete, the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust is hoping to open large parts of the property up to the public, with the help of the National Trust, and convert other sections for residential and business development and an events venue.


Jane’s Letters On Display – Together 
An exhibition has opened at Cambridge University Library, which will show three of Jane’s letters (of which only around 160 survive worldwide) together on display for the first time, as the letters are usually held by three different Cambridge collections.
The first letter is dated from the 5th of May 1801 – the day when Jane arrived to live in Bath following her father’s retirement. This letter is rich in detail about Bath, including comments on “the exorbitant price of fish”, and current fashion (“Black gauze Cloaks are worn as much as anything”).
The other two letters relate to the publication of Emma. One is from Jane to Frances Parker, Countess of Morley, to whom Jane sent a copy of Emma. The other is dated the 1st of April 1816, and is a short message from Jane to her publisher John Murray. In it, Austen discusses the novelist Walter Scott’s review of Emma. 
The letters are part of the exhibition titled ‘Jane Austen: Letters and Readers’, which runs from the 28th of March to the 8th of April 2017 (9am-6.30pm weekdays, 9am-5pm Saturdays, closed Sundays) in the entrance hall of Cambridge University Library. There is no charge for entry.

Pricey Pride and Prejudice!    

At the two day Fine Art Sale held in Nottingham at Mellors and Kirk auction house a rare 1813 first edition of Pride and Prejudice sold for £38,000. The private buyer outbid a huge number of leading antiquarian book sellers and collectors from the UK, USA and Germany. Austen’s Emma was the following lot and sold for £7,500, and then Northanger Abbey, was offered next, realising £4,200.

This sounds like a lot, especially considering that when Pride and Prejudice was first published in three volumes in 1813, it cost 18 shillings – just 90 pence in today’s money. However, these latest Austen book sales in Nottingham were a bargain compared to the price which was paid for a first edition in 2010, when a first edition of Pride and Prejudice fetched a record £139,250 at auction! More than 150,000 times its original price!


 Jane Austen on the Catwalk
Those who are both fans of high-end fashion labels, and also fans of Jane Austen, can now add to their wish lists the floral-sprigged book clutches stamped with the titles of Jane Austen novels carried by men and women on the Gucci catwalk.

The Autumn 2017 season of fashion also sees references to the Regency fashion era in the form of Molly Goddard’s ruffles, Alexander McQueen’s Spencer-like bolero, and the empire lines at both Vera Wang and Delpozo. At the Jane Austen News we have to say that we’re loving seeing the romance of the Regency era coming back into fashion!


Northanger Abbey With Added Puppets

Featuring a cast of two human performers and seven hand-made puppets, Jane Austen’s

Northanger Abbey is set to come to the stage of the Old Fire Station on Wednesday April 19th.

This adaptation will visit Carlisle with the Rural Highlights touring scheme. The team behind the production say they have tried to remain as faithful to the original work as possible and this, combined with the use of puppetry, has made the show a favourite of Austen lovers and sceptics alike. Actress Joanna Lumley is apparently a big fan, stating: “I was completely mesmerised by this enchanting production”.

Tickets are available from the Carlisle Tourist Information Centre (01228 598596) or via the Old Fire Station website.


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Jane Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Jane Austen Online Magazine.

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