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Jane Austen News – Issue 76

The Jane Austen News celebrates the bicentenary!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Austen’s Letter Makes A Fortune!   


We mentioned in last week’s Jane Austen News that a letter written by Jane to her niece Anna Lefroy in 1812 was going to auction for the first time. In the letter Jane writes disparagingly of Rachel Hunter’s gothic novel Lady Maclairn, the Victim of Villainy, calling it “most tiresome and prosy” (although both Jane and Anna took great pleasure in reading the melodramatic, sensationalist, clichéd text; it seemed to be a case of the novel being so bad that it was good).

Well the sale took place on July the 11th, and despite the estimation being between £80,000 and £100,000, the price which the letter eventually fetched was £162,000!

Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s specialist in books and manuscripts, had a theory about why the letter did so well. “The vast majority of her surviving letters talk about her day-to-day life, so to have a letter like we do here, that talks specifically about writing and shows her engaging with the popular literature of the day, is hugely significant.”


Celebrating July the 18th in Style! 

Fans all around the world spent July 18th celebrating Jane’s bicentenary, and the Jane Austen Centre was no exception. We hadThe Jane Austen News celebrates the bicentenary! lots of visitors come to celebrate with us on the day, but for those fans who couldn’t be with us, here’s a little bit of what we got up to:
  • Two of the Centre guides, Alice and James, donned their best Regency costumes and headed out with photographer Owen Benson to take some shots around some of Bath’s most iconic backdrops which Jane would have enjoyed (pictures soon!).
  • Martin, one of our experienced costumed guides, conducted free walking tours through the Georgian streets of Bath. These took in the places where Jane walked, shopped and visited, and the places made famous in her novels. The walk also passed the exciting new Jane Austen Floral Display in Bath’s Parade Gardens.
  • At 11a.m. BST we held a minute’s silence to officially mark the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death and to reflect on Jane’s life and works.
  • Just after our minute’s silence, micro-artist Graham Short presented us with a fifth Jane Austen £5 note, which he had engraved especially for the Centre. Graham caused a media storm last year, when he put into circulation four £5 notes which he had engraved with miniature portraits of Jane Austen, each valued at £50,000. His special fifth £5 note is now on display in the Centre.
  • After the presentation, Graham Short and some of the Jane Austen Centre guides popped upstairs to the Regency Tearooms for media interviews. (We’ll share some of our best bits with you in next week’s Jane Austen News).

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