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Jane Austen News – Issue 81

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

Jane Austen In Couples Therapy For Campaign

Audible has launched a new campaign in Australia encouraging people to “grow their minds”, and Miss Austen plays a starring role.

Research commissioned by Audible and conducted by researchers at Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Centre has found that 62 per cent of Aussies want to grow their mind, but 35 per cent are unsure of how to do so. Inspired by this, Audible.com.au has launched its new multi-channel campaign; “Grow Your Mind”, and one of the videos made to support the campaign has a flustered Jane Austen in a bonnet in couples therapy with a negligent reader.

We thought it was good for a giggle.

To help Australians kick start their journey, Audible.com.au has also created the list “The 24 Best Audiobooks to Grow the Mind”, which can be found here (though shockingly Jane’s novels don’t feature!)


Unconventional Pride And Prejudice Is A Hit

Currently playing at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in New York state is what’s being called an “unconventional” stage production of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It includes theatrical acting (naturally), disco music (maybe not so naturally) and men playing women (very Shakespearean) – but it does all this while apparently “staying true to Austen’s original themes”.

This is the trailer/taster from the performance and, while we can’t be sure how “true” it is to Austen’s original themes, it did remind us at the Jane Austen News a little of the UK Austen improv group Austentatious. Either way, a bit of fun if you’re in the area.

 


Jane Austen As A Video Game Surprise

Agents of Mayhem, a sci-fi, open-world, shooter-based video game, might not sound like it has anything at all to do with Jane Austen. At first this is true. It’s literally an imaginary world away from Jane’s world, except that in a bizarre twist, it turns out that Jane Austen is the narrator behind the whole thing!

How?

The game that inspired Agents of Mayhem is a game called Saints Row IV. At the end of this game the narrator finally reveals herself — it was Jane Austen all along! She’s now one of the Saints, and rewriting history with a little more subtly than the Saints themselves do (they were trying to fix flaws in time). Agents of Mayhem is a spin-off game from Saints IV and is, again, another story narrated by Jane. These are certainly not stories we ever thought we’d see Jane associated with. Weird!


 Wanted: Eccentric Hermit For Garden Ornament

Every so often we come across a news item or blog post that takes us by total surprise. This week it was the discovery that the humble garden gnome used to be a real-life human being.

Before the days of the ceramic garden gnome, a human being often played the role of stern, robe-wearing guardian. The human would preferably be a grizzled old man who didn’t mind being a hermit, living in seclusion, and forgoing even basic personal hygiene. The whole point of these “gnomes” or hermits? To show off the wealth and status of the landowner. The men would agree to live in the landowner’s estate grounds for a span of time (about seven years) and add a touch of romantic melancholy to the place – much like the building of a folly was supposed to do.

One advert for a hermit placed by Charles Hamilton in the 1740s ran thus:

…he shall be provided with a Bible, optical glasses, a mat for his feet, a hassock for his pillow, an hourglass for timepiece, water for his beverage, and food from the house. He must wear a camlet robe, and never, under any circumstances, must he cut his hair, beard, or nails, stray beyond the limits of Mr. Hamilton’s grounds, or exchange one word with the servant.

However, while the ornamental hermit might have done a good job of “reminding all passersby of our shared mortality”, we can’t say that we’ve found that’s something the modern garden gnome does. Usually the only thing they remind us of is that we desperately need to mow the lawn because once again their pointed hats have disappeared behind a jungle of grass!

If you’d like to read the full blog post on ‘The Mysterious Lives of 18th Century Garden Hermits’ you can click here.


Recommended Viewing For Poldark And Austen Fans

For those of us who are suffering from Poldark withdrawal, or who can’t wait for the new Pride and Prejudice TV adaptation to be aired in 2020 (so long to wait!), the Metro has helpfully compiled a list of period dramas which we can watch in the meantime. Some of these you may well have seen already, but some you might not so we thought we’d share the list (a couple of us here at the Jane Austen News have sadly still to see Parade’s End).

  • North and South 

This British miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1855 novel follows the Hale family who move from their home in the South of England to an industrial mill town in the North.

  • Parade’s End

This five-part World War One drama sees aristocrat Christopher become entangled in a love triangle between his selfish, socialite wife Sylvia and the young, free-thinking suffragette Valentine.

  • The Musketeers

Based on Alexandre Dumas’ historical novel, the BBC period drama-action series follows young farm boy d’Artagnan, who joins forces with Athos, Porthos and Aramis, the titular three musketeers, as they protect king and country, though not necessarily in that order.

  • Banished

One-time city girl Elizabeth Quinn, one of many British convicts sent to the first penal colony in Botany Bay in 1788, must learn how to survive in an environment where tensions constantly run high as the convicts live alongside the guards.

  • Jericho

Airing on ITV at the beginning of last year, Jericho takes place in a shanty town in the Yorkshire Dales and follows a group of labourers as they build a towering railway viaduct in the hope of bringing prosperity to their families.

If you’d like to read more about the series, and see clips from them, they can be found here.


And Finally…

On Saturday the Jane Austen Centre had its highest number of visitors in a single day this year – over 1,200 people visited the Centre and they’re well on target to have their best business year since opening almost two decades ago!

What a turnout! The festival in September is going to be equally record-breaking we’re sure!

The Jane Austen News is: Martin Salter


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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