What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
If you happen to have a spare £9 million lying around then Longbourn, home of the Bennet family, could be yours!
Luckington Court, which was the location used in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice (you know the one – it had Colin Firth and that wet shirt scene in it) to portray the home of the Bennets, is up for sale for the first time in 70 years.
The estate sits beautifully on 156 acres in the small village of Luckington, in Wiltshire, England. The house itself has seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, as well as paddocks and some wonderfully maintained gardens. Though naturally its biggest selling point is probably going to be its filming credentials! If only we had the money!
There’s been something of a backlash recently against the image of Jane Austen which is set to appear on the new £10 bank note, which will go into general circulation in the UK this September.
The image which will be used on the note was based upon the unfinished portrait of Jane as painted by her sister Cassandra, but never completed as the Austen family said it did not look like her. However complaints have been made that the portrait of Jane which appears on the note has been “given a Disney style touch up”. Paula Byrne, one of Jane’s biographers, said that “they presumably said to the artist, ‘make it look prettier’. It is like doctoring a selfie by a celebrity.”
Three years ago the Jane Austen Centre contacted the Bank of England to offer their own specially-commissioned image of Jane for use on the note. Bath MP Don Foster wrote to the Bank of England on behalf of the Centre and Victoria Cleland, the Bank’s Chief Cashier, wrote back:
We noted with interest the unveiling of the new Jane Austen waxwork: an exciting feature for the… Jane Austen Centre.
However, I am afraid it would be incredibly difficult at this stage to change the image that will be on the £10 banknote.
The Bank gave very careful thought to this selection, considering the available portraits of Jane Austen and consulting a number of experts.
In a recent statement, Centre spokesman David Lassman added that:
Although we had to accept the Bank of England’s decision, we feel it was a missed opportunity, given the level of criticism their final choice is currently receiving from Austen experts.
The Lost Letters of Mr Collins and Mr Bennet
We’ve heard of modern-day authors writing the next chapter in the lives of Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy. We’ve come across the story of Pride and Prejudice retold through the eyes of Lydia Bennet, the servants in the Bennet household, and from the perspective of Mr Darcy himself. However, a new one on us at the Jane Austen News is that which Limerick author Rose Servitova has just published – the story of the relationship between Mr Bennet and Mr Collins:
We know the two men write to each other as there are four letters between them in Pride and Prejudice, yet we are told that Mr Bennet is a reluctant and unreliable correspondent. And although Mr Collins’s company is irksome to Mr Bennet (who encourages his cousin not to visit often for fear of risking the displeasure of his noble patroness) we know that he derives great enjoyment from Mr Collins’s letters. He tells his daughter Elizabeth “I would not give up Mr Collins’s correspondence for any consideration”.
It was this line that triggered my envisioning their letters – the stories and intrigues that they may contain and transcribe them to paper. I wondered if their relationship could evolve over time as life threw both good and bad their way.
At the Jane Austen News we’ll admit that we’re intrigued, both by the book’s subject and by the new genre which Rose Servitova speculates her epistolary book may be the first of – that of a “Georgian Bromance”!
We were recently visited at the Centre by reporters from the UK branch of the TV channel Al Jazeera:
The Jane Austen Centre is taking part in Cirencester’s 2017 Hare Trail!
The 2017 Cotswold Hare trail is a not for profit arts festival in which 80 five foot hares are scattered to locations across 28 villages and towns throughout the Cotswolds area. The hares, which are sponsored and individually decorated by a mix of professional, amateur and community group artists, are on display until September and will go to auction in October with the net profits going to charity. The main charity will be National Star, but the Cotswold Hare Trail will also support local historical projects in Cotswold towns.
Our own hare, based on our famous Mr Bennet (a.k.a. Martin), is now at the Centre and awaiting a name. Although we did quite like the suggestion of Mr Bun-et, which came in via our Facebook page!
Lucy Worsley has just released her new biography of Jane Austen called Jane Austen at Home, and to help promote her new book she’s recorded this 9 minute podcast in which she shares some of her favourite insights about Jane. We thought you might like to have a listen:
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