Our Mr Bennet, who is almost synonymous with the Jane Austen Centre as he stands at the Centre entrance in all weathers to greet our visitors with warmth and charm, has been featured in the Bath Chronicle this week.
His article is the first of the Chronicle’s new series ‘Meet the’…, which will be taking a closer look at the personalities who make Bath such an incredible place.
“He’s a great addition to the Jane Austen Centre, everyone knows him and greets him and he knows every street, square and alleyway in Bath.
His local knowledge is unparalleled, he sees everything from his perch on the steps outside the Jane Austen Centre, he even reports misdeeds and fights to the police or council, he misses nothing.”
Some things you might already know about Mr Bennet:
He makes his own period clothes having worked for a gentleman’s outfitter and costume hire company.
“I bought myself a little sewing machine and I do all the research as to what men would have worn during Jane Austen’s time.”
…others might be more surprising…
When Martin’s not working he’s a rock ‘n roll fan and dresses as a Teddy Boy or Elvis and goes to gigs.
He also loves motorbikes and dresses head to toe in leather when out on his beloved Honda 750.
You can read the full interview with our Mr Bennet here.
While we’re not a fan of all of their suggestions (shotgun shell tree ornaments?!) we were nevertheless delighted to see that Tatler, the go-to magazine for high society fashion and lifestyle, has included our delightful Mr Darcy Christmas tree ornament in their list of what they dubbed “baubles every well-heeled home should own”.
The original article, entitled ’12 posh Christmas tree decorations every Sloane should have’ lists a dozen items to hang on one’s Christmas tree. These include, as well as our Mr Darcy; a Queen Elizabeth II glass decoration in gold, a John Lewis Ruskin House pheasant tree decoration, and even a set of gin-filled baubles!
Those Austen fans who, in addition to a love of Austen’s novels also have a penchant for any kind of academic learning, might like to know about a new book written by Wendy Jones and published by Pegasus Books.
In Jane on the Brain: Exploring the Science of Social Intelligence with Jane Austen, Wendy Jones combines psychology, neuroscience and literature together to provide a compelling study of social intelligence.
She begins by posing the question: why do we care so deeply about Austen’s characters?
We care because it is our biological destiny to be interested in people and their stories – the human brain is a social brain. And Austen’s characters are so believable, that for many of us, they are not just imaginary beings, but friends whom we know and love. And thanks to Austen’s ability to capture the breadth and depth of human psychology so thoroughly, we feel that she empathizes with us, her readers.
Wendy Jones explores the many facets of social intelligence and juxtaposes them with the Austen canon. How did social intelligence evolve? Why is it so valuable?
(The book might be a good way to convince those academics who are dubious about reading Austen to give it a go having been given a glimpse of her characters in the psychological explorations.)
This week at the Jane Austen News we came across a most interesting article exploring a few of the “lost words” of the English language.
“Lost words” aren’t quite the same as obsolete words, which are words which have dropped out of use (we particularly liked the example “quacksalver” – a peddler of false cures, as an obsolete word). Rather lost words are words which have at some point in their histories had their original meanings die, only for the word to be revived into a mere semblance of its former self. In addition to this, and in some of the most interesting cases, the meaning of the word has changed so fully that the meanings of these words today are almost the opposite of what they once meant. For example, “sophisticated”, now describes something as being elegant, refined, or of a high quality, yet originally it meant practically something corrupted, adulterated, dishonest or impure!
We include this piece about lost words in the Jane Austen News because “nice”, which the use of Henry Tilney so roundly teased Catherine Morland about in Northanger Abbey, is one of these lost words which has had it’s original meaning reversed.
As for “nice,” it’s definitely had a semantic rollercoaster ride from a Latin root that meant “stupid, ignorant, foolish” to “fussy, fastidious”, to becoming polite society’s catchall, “a very nice word indeed. It does for everything” as Jane Austen once wrote. The crazy semantic shift for “nice” from negative to blandly positive caused a bit of a confusing time during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as it became legitimately difficult to figure out what people meant by it, the OED tells us.
As voracious readers we thought this was rather interesting, and so thought you might also find it such. If you’d like to read the full article on lost words it can be read here.
It’s been a year since the four specially engraved £5 notes (engraved with a tiny 5mm portrait of author Jane Austen and reckoned to be worth up to £50,000) went into circulation.
We say four, but specialist micro-engraver Graham Short (who was the artist to engrave the notes) did engrave a fifth, which did not go into circulation but was gifted to us at the Jane Austen Centre for Austen fans to see and enjoy.
Three of the four released into general circulation have been found (though one remains somewhere out there yet!), and one of these notes was in the spotlight this week as it went up for auction in London to raise money for the charity Children In Need. The note spent in Northern Ireland was returned to the gallery in south-east Scotland with a small, hand-written note reading: “£5 note enclosed, I don’t need it at my time of life. Please use it to help young people, kindest regards J…”.
In the end the note sold for £6,000! Although not £50,000, this is still more than 1,000 times its face value!
James Morton of auctioneers Morton & Eden who sold the note said: “We are delighted that this unique £5 note has fetched such a substantial amount of money which will be used in accordance with the finder’s wishes.” Mr Morton added that Morton & Eden will not be charging a seller’s commission, and will also donate the equivalent of the buyer’s premium to the charity.
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.
Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.