What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Activist Caroline Criado-Perez, who campaigned so hard to get Jane Austen featured on the new £10 bank notes, has been on the campaign trail again. This time it was in the cause of getting a statue of a woman built in Parliament Square.
Her online petition received more than 85,000 signatures and now Dame Millicent Fawcett, who was the founder of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, will be honoured with her own statue next year to mark one hundred years since the first British women got the vote. The NUWSS used peaceful tactics to campaign, such as lobbbying MPs and undertaking non-violent demonstrations, and lead to the emergence of Emmeline Pankhurst’s suffragette movement.
Ms Fawcett’s statue will be designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing (who will be the first female sculptor to have a work displayed in Parliament Square) and will join those of Sir Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela, already on display.
The Mayor of London said the statue was “long overdue” and Austen-note-activist Ms Criado-Perez said she was “thrilled” with the project.
They’re here, we love them, but some are more valuable than others. In fact three Austen £10 notes, each with a AA01 serial number, sold together for £250! Another £10 set to make big money is the AA01 000010 note which is predicted to make up to £10,000 when it goes up for auction next month!
Admittedly there are some unrealistic examples of £10 note price tags – with some sellers asking for thousands of pounds for a single note with an unremarkable serial number, but on the whole the demand for pristine Austen £10 notes is booming.
Experts are now asking whether Thornton Lacey, the parsonage first given to Edmund Bertram upon his ordination and marriage in Austen’s third published novel Mansfield Park, could have been based on real-life 18th century house Compton Verney in Warwickshire near Stratford-upon-Avon.
Previously it has been suggested that Thornton Lacey could have been based on Stoneleigh Park, also in Warwickshire, or Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire, but now experts believe that it might be Compton Verney that was the inspiration for Thornton Lacey.
As a name Compton Verney is remarkably similar to Thornton Lacey, and it also lies just off the old Roman roads of the Fosse Way, which connected the Leighs’ houses of Adlestrop and Stoneleigh, and along which Jane must have travelled when visiting her relatives.
Director of Compton Verney’s Art Gallery and Park, Professor Steven Parissien.
To commemorate the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death therefore, Compton Verney are holding a number of events linked to the author throughout October such as the Rocco Singers performing songs from Jane’s lifetime in the chapel, and a talk about Austen’s use of comedy in her writing.
Whether Compton Verney really was Thornton Lacey in Austen’s mind, however, is something we’ll never know.
It’s something we often think at the Jane Austen News: if only it were possible to meet Jane Austen in real life, and maybe ask her to autograph a book or two as well…
Clearly this isn’t an option, but it’s a fun idea and one which promoters of a new comic performance of Pride and Prejudice (as adapted by stand-up comedian Sara Pascoe) decided to run with.
York Theatre Royal is getting ready for its Page to Stage season which, as well as Pride and Prejudice, will also see Agatha Christie’s A Murder Is Announced, Hans Christian Andersen’s Ugly Duckling, and E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children performed. To promote Pride and Prejudice, actress Emma Dubruel appeared for a book signing at York’s Waterstones, in character as Jane Austen.
It’s a fun idea, we wonder if they’ll do the same for Agatha Christie soon…
Good Jane Austen news from Basingstoke’s “Sitting With Jane” event.
The bookbenches commemorating Jane Austen and her works, which had been painted by artists and local groups, and sponsored by local businesses, had been dotted around Basingstoke over the summer as a bookbench-trail. Now the trail is over, a total of 22 bookbenches were sold at auction for up to £7,000 each, and raising overall £95,750 for charity. Three quarters of the money raised will be going towards a new cancer treatment centre in Basingstoke.
The amount of money raised for the charity is a great outcome for the cancer patients and their loved ones who will be helped and supported by the new centre, which will be a beacon of hope.
Merv Rees, Ark Cancer Centre Charity Trustee
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