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Jane Austen News – Issue 103

Jane in Jane Austen the Musical

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Jane In The West End

Some of our readers might remember that the UK was treated to a touring, musical-adaptation of Persuasion last year. Well now, rather than one of her novels, Jane’s life has been adapted into a musical.

Jane Austen the Musical is receiving great reviews as it continues its UK tour, which runs until March this year.

The tour began in October last year and has visited the likes of York, Norwich, and Birmingham. It is currently playing in London and, as London is a theatre hub, the theatre critics have been going to see the show and making their verdicts.

Rob Winlow has fashioned a diverting, grown-up, pleasant (but not without its bite) chamber musical that captures some of the dilemmas faced by the quiet girl who scribbled immortal novels in a Hampshire rectory.

Rob Winlow’s songs are pleasing, especially when the cast sing in harmony, with more than a hint of Gilbert & Sullivan in the patter numbers.

The audience amongst whom I sat were mostly women, though (as both the male director and male writer prove) Austen’s work is universal in its appeal, as all great art must be. See it if you’re a fan and, if you’re not, see it anyway

The highlight of the production is Edith Kirkwood’s assured performance as Jane. She has a charming voice and vivacious presence. Jenni Lea-Jones is enjoyable as Mrs Austen and Thomas Hewitt and Adam Grayson provide game support as the suitors and Rev Austen.

Of course it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and some critics have said that it is too flimsy (“frustratingly thin portrait of an author”), but we thought that if you like musicals and you like Jane, this is a production you might like to know about.

Tour dates for the show are available here.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 103

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Jane Austen News – Issue 75

The Jane Austen News analyses genius

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Austen Letter For Sale  

letter written by Jane Austen is due to be auctioned for the first time on July the 11th.

Sotheby’s auction house have the letter for sale as part of the English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations sale, in which there will also be for sale two other fragments of correspondence between the two women (the lots are expected to sell altogether for as much as £162,000!).

The letter, dated 29-30 October 1812, was sent to one of Jane’s favourite nieces, Anna Lefroy, and shows how much enjoyment Austen had in making fun of the Gothic thriller genre (as she does to great effect in Northanger Abbey). The letter is addressed as a note, not to Anna herself, but to the author Rachel Hunter, whose 1806 novel Lady Maclairn, the Victim of Villany the two had recently read.

 Although the content was known, the letter itself has not been seen by scholars and it is very exciting to have it become available.

Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s specialist in books and manuscripts, declaring the letter a significant document.


Pride and Prejudice in Silk

We’ll shortly be adding an exciting new display piece to the Jane Austen Centre. Award-winning textile artist Linda Straw has kindly donated her beautiful Pride and Prejudice wall hangings to the Centre and they’ll be going up on display within the next few days!
In the past Linda has exhibited major works in Waterperry House, at exhibitions across the UK, at San Diego’s International Quilting Symposium, and even as far away as Tokyo! She is known the world over amongst the textile community, and specifically quilt makers, for her highly intricate and detailed machine-made quilts with examples being in the collections of global institutions such as the V&A and Art Institute of Chicago.
She developed her unique quilting method in 1981 by combining appliqué, quilting and embroidery, and the technique (known as the Linda Straw Method) has been widely taught in workshops throughout Britain, Ireland, Europe and America.
In the past Linda used the Pride and Prejudice wall hangings, which feature all of the major characters from the book, to illustrate the technique she spoke about during workshops and lectures, but now Linda has now retired she wanted to find an appropriate home for her work. We feel truly honoured that she chose us.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 75

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