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Jane Austen News – Issue 73

The Jane Austen News watches the new display take shape

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Authors On Austen Up For Auction  

Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan, among others, have created revealing handwritten homages about Jane Austen in aid of a charity auction which is being held to raise funds for the Royal Society of Literature.

The auction includes Atwood writing on how Austen’s novels “set a bad example”, a new unpublished story by Hilary Mantel based on Pride & Prejudice, Ian McEwan on the “profound influence” of Northanger Abbey on his novel Atonement, Ian Rankin on disliking “stuffy” Jane Austen, and Sarah Waters turning cartoonist for “a good read”.

The auction also includes original works by other prominent authors (including Bath-born Jacqueline Wilson), and an annotated script by Andrew Davies from the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice TV mini-series.

At the Jane Austen News we’re sure the auction will be a huge success with such amazing items up for sale!

I especially liked the scene in which Elizabeth Bennett [sic] stands down Lady de Bourgh. I longed to do the same to my gym teacher, but occasion never offered.

Margaret Atwood


Austen vs. Austin 

It’s an incredibly common mistake – writing Jane’s last name as “Austin” rather than as it ought to be spelt – Austen with an eand it’s a mistake that even those who knew Jane personally made!

A royalty cheque which was paid to Jane from her publisher John Murray following the success of Jane’s novel Emma has shown that he also spelt her name wrong. However, it seems that either Jane didn’t really mind, or the fact that she was actually being given money for her writing was enough to let her gloss over the mistake, as she also signed the back of the £38 (plus 18 shillings and one pence) cheque as “Jane Austin”. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, the sum would be worth about £3400 ($4385) today. We can see why she might have chosen not to complain!

The cheque is on display as part of the Which Jane Austen? exhibition at the Bodleian Library.

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