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Jane Austen News – Issue 112

The Jane Austen News would love to buy Longbourn!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Georgian “Banned” Book Beats All Estimates

We love old books here at the Jane Austen News, but this week we came across an example of a highly unusual one up for auction that might have raised a few eyebrows in the Austen household.

A 300-year-old sex manual which was as good as banned until the 1960s because of its shocking content (though we hasten to add that by today’s standards it’s not nearly so shocking) has sold for £3,100. An astounding sum considering that its guide price was just £80-£120!

The 1720 book titled Aristotle’s Masterpiece Completed In Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation – contains a range of bizarre advice.

Some of the strange pieces of advice within the manual include:

  • Don’t lie with beasts – lest you wish to run the risk of giving birth to monsters
  • During sex women should “earnestly look upon the man and fix her mind upon him”. Then the child will resemble its father.
  • Want a girl? After sex, a prospective mother should lie on her left. For a boy, she should lie on her right.
  • Don’t rush off – “When they have done what nature can require, a man must have a care he does not part too soon from the embraces of his wife”.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 97

A Mr Bennet Interview is the Jane Austen News from Bath this week!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 


Meet Mr Bennet

Our Mr Bennet, who is almost synonymous with the Jane Austen Centre as he stands at the Centre entrance in all A Mr Bennet interview is the Jane Austen News this week!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.

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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.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 74

The Jane Austen News couldn't agree more!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Austen Holy Grail Worth Half A Million  

““Although there are attractive editions of her novels published in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, the greatest value is, of course, in the first editions,” says Mark Wiltshire, a specialist in valuable books and manuscripts at Christie’s.” 

A new article published by The Times this week has extolled the benefits of investing in books, and in early editions of Jane Austen’s books in particular. It’s easy to see why considering the fact that rare bookseller Peter Harrington is in the process of selling a first edition of Mansfield Park— of which there are only 1,250 — and the price it is expected to go for is around £17,500! This is a hefty sum, but not when compared to the auction record for a Jane Austen; in 2008 a first edition of Emma was sold by Bonhams auction house for £180,000. It was a presentation copy to Austen’s friend and governess, Anne Sharp, which was inscribed “from the author” by a publisher or clerk on Austen’s behalf.

However, the best price would, the article says, go to a signed edition.

“It is hard to say what a copy inscribed by Austen would fetch [the holy grail in terms of Austen — such a thing may not exist], but I am pretty sure it would be a record for a 19th-century book, and it could easily fetch as much as half a million pounds.”

It may not exist…but we can dream!


The Bank of England in Literature  

To coincide with its release of the new Jane Austen £10 note, the Bank of England is launching a new exhibition exploring its literary connections.

Stories from the City will feature various artefacts on display which highlight over 300 years of literary connections to the Bank. These include a Charles Dickens £10 note – with the original hand-drawn artwork that goes with it, and a One Thousand Pound Note signed by George Eliot.

Some of the other authors referenced in the exhibition include Jules Verne and John Brophy, who are just some of the authors who have mentioned the Bank of England in their work. (Others, including P.G. Wodehouse, T.S. Eliot and Charles Lamb, worked nearby and drew inspiration from it.)

The exhibition is on at the Bank of England Museum from July 19th 2017 until summer 2018.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 73

The Jane Austen News watches the new display take shape

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Authors On Austen Up For Auction  

Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan, among others, have created revealing handwritten homages about Jane Austen in aid of a charity auction which is being held to raise funds for the Royal Society of Literature.

The auction includes Atwood writing on how Austen’s novels “set a bad example”, a new unpublished story by Hilary Mantel based on Pride & Prejudice, Ian McEwan on the “profound influence” of Northanger Abbey on his novel Atonement, Ian Rankin on disliking “stuffy” Jane Austen, and Sarah Waters turning cartoonist for “a good read”.

The auction also includes original works by other prominent authors (including Bath-born Jacqueline Wilson), and an annotated script by Andrew Davies from the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice TV mini-series.

At the Jane Austen News we’re sure the auction will be a huge success with such amazing items up for sale!

I especially liked the scene in which Elizabeth Bennett [sic] stands down Lady de Bourgh. I longed to do the same to my gym teacher, but occasion never offered.

Margaret Atwood


Austen vs. Austin 

It’s an incredibly common mistake – writing Jane’s last name as “Austin” rather than as it ought to be spelt – Austen with an eand it’s a mistake that even those who knew Jane personally made!

A royalty cheque which was paid to Jane from her publisher John Murray following the success of Jane’s novel Emma has shown that he also spelt her name wrong. However, it seems that either Jane didn’t really mind, or the fact that she was actually being given money for her writing was enough to let her gloss over the mistake, as she also signed the back of the £38 (plus 18 shillings and one pence) cheque as “Jane Austin”. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, the sum would be worth about £3400 ($4385) today. We can see why she might have chosen not to complain!

The cheque is on display as part of the Which Jane Austen? exhibition at the Bodleian Library.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 63

The Jane Austen News is a copycat may be on the loose!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 A Jane Austen Copycat On The Loose 

Last year, micro-engraver Graham Short made headlines by releasing four unique £5 notes in general circulation for people to find in a Willy-Wonka style treasure hunt. Each was engraved with a miniature portrait of Jane Austen, and an Austen quote, and are thought to be worth around £50,000 each. Three have been found, but one of the notes, the one released in England, is yet to be found. However, recently businesswoman Joy Timmins, 48, had high hopes she had snared one of the notes in her hometown of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. But, instead of finding classic quotes from Pride and Prejudice, Emma or Mansfield Park, Joy’s fiver had the cryptic engraving: “Look for serial number AL22171910”.

Joy’s unusual find has sparked theories that there may be a copycat engraver offering clues to find other valuable notes– or it might just be someone creating a bit of mischief. Whatever the answer, at the Jane Austen News we’re looking forward to seeing if anyone does find AL22171910, and if they do, if there is something special about it. As are Graham Short and his representatives who had this to say on the subject:

It would seem that somebody has decided to follow in Graham’s footsteps. We’re very interested in this because most of the ‘notes’ we’ve been sent images of have plainly been copies or fraudulently made. But this is certainly a conundrum. Maybe something great lies at the end of this rabbit hole?


 Rescuing A Regency Estate to Rival Pemberley 

The Grade 1 listed building of Wentworth Woodhouse, said by some to have been the inspiration behind the estate of Pemberley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, has had its future secured as it has been bought by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust. Although the Jane Austen Society dismissed the likelihood that Austen had had the house in mind, given the absence of any evidence that she had visited the estate. The building now faces a £42 million restoration bill to return it to its former glory over the next two decades.

Wentworth Woodhouse was the northern seat of the Fitzwilliam family – one of the richest and most powerful aristocratic dynasties in England at its height. The name Fitzwilliam being also the first name of Mr Darcy, is one reason why some make the link being Wentworth Woodhouse and Pemberley. That and its grandeur. Described as “exceptional” in both architecture and scale, the house was built by the Marquesses of Rockingham between 1725 and 1750 and it contains 365 rooms and five miles of corridors!
When the restorations are complete, the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust is hoping to open large parts of the property up to the public, with the help of the National Trust, and convert other sections for residential and business development and an events venue.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 48

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   One Austen £5 Note Has Been Found One of the four £5 notes which carry a mini 5mm engraving of Jane Austen has been found. The note was first paid to staff at the Square Cafe in Blackwood, South Wales, by the engraver Graham Short. Unfortunately no one recognised who he was at the time and staff unwittingly gave the note away in change. When it was announced in the national news that the £5 had been spent at the cafe customers flocked to the cafe and staff checked all to the notes in the till but it was already gone. The note turned up later in the purse of an elderly art fan who wishes to remain anonymous. She said she is going to give the note to her granddaughter as an investment rather than reaping the reward. The note is said to be worth £50,000. She is one generous grandmother! Jane Austen Letter Massively Exceeds Estimate   The recent auction at Sotheby’s, in which a letter written by Jane Austen and early copies of her novels went up for sale, has had some astounding final sale prices. The letter written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra at the age of 25 sold for £150,000 – almost four times the lower estimate that was predicted for its sale (£40,000 – 60,000)! The letter was a window into the daily life of Jane Austen, and is one of a series of letters written by Jane to Cassandra (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 47

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   Rare Portrait of Jane Austen Goes on Display Members of The Jane Austen Cambridge Group enjoyed a private viewing of an oil painting of Jane Austen, the ‘Rice Portrait’, at Queens’ College on Saturday (December 10) before the group’s annual lunch. They were also treated to a talk on the portrait’s origins and significance by researcher Ellie Bennett. For the last ten years the group has celebrated Austen’s birthday with an annual lunch or dinner as near to December 16th, Jane Austen’s birthday, as possible. This year they had a special treat when the famous Rice Portrait was brought out of a vault in Switzerland for the occasion by owner Anne Rice and her son John. (Anne’s husband, the late Henry Rice, was a descendent of the Austen family, who died on July 18, 1817 and the portrait was passed down to him from the Austen family as part of the estate.) There is some controversy around the portrait, as the National Portrait Gallery doesn’t believe the portrait is of Jane Austen, whereas other experts definitely think it is. The portrait was painted by Ozias Humphry in 1788 or 1789, and it is thought to be of Jane Austen at the age of 13. It’s stunning. When you’re standing in front of it, the twinkle in her left eye. It’s like she’s looking at you. It’s quite incredible, you can’t see it and not be moved by it. Vicki Smith, joint secretary of The Jane Austen (more…)
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