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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.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 74

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Jane Austen News – Issue 57

The Jane Austen News looks for Darcy

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Third Jane Austen Fiver Found

The third of the four specially engraved £5 notes which feature a tiny portrait of Jane Austen has been found, leaving only one of the £5 notes still in circulation and yet to be claimed.

The latest note was found in a small bar called ‘Charlie’s Bar’ in Northern Ireland, which incidentally is where the engraver responsible for the notes, Graham Short, said he originally spent it.

It was found by an elderly lady who wishes to remain anonymous. She also isn’t looking to profit from her find. In fact she sent the £5 note back to Mr Short with a note asking him to use it to help young people – “if it sells for a lot of money it will be better if young children could benefit from it.”

Mr Short’s friend and fellow artist, Tony Huggins-Haig, who launched the project, said around 5,000 people have called up falsely claiming to have found it. We can see why it’s so highly sought after, even by those who aren’t Austen fans, as each of the notes is insured for at least £50,000, but Mr Huggins-Haig believes the notes could actually sell for up to £100,000.


Jane’s Men – Attractive in Anonymity     


John Sutherland, author of numerous books on Literature and Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London, has proposed that one of the reasons Austen’s heroes resonate so well with her readers is because they are so anonymous in their appearance, and therefore, open to personal preference and interpretation. 

Recently John Sutherland and Amanda Vickery were commissioned by UKTV to come up with a convincing illustration of what Darcy might have looked like when Austen first created him. They found it a challenge as all we are told about Darcy is that he is 28, “handsome”, has a good “mien” and £10,000 a year. “What we came up with was more the Justin Bieber end of the hunk spectrum than Dolph Lundgren. Or Firth. ” said John.

He suggests that there are a couple of possible explanations for Austen’s lack of detail.

The first is that Austen wants us to fill in the blanks ourselves. The second is that Austen was what is called “aphantasiac” — she didn’t think pictorially, whether it was places, locations or people. Some creative people are like that. They think, principally, of design. Look for portraiture in Mondrian.

What do you think? Does Darcy’s unclear face help him? Or does Colin Firth’s portrayal of him do his popularity more favours?


Come and Stay in Jane’s Old Home!

Bath is by no means lacking when it comes to lovely places to stay. However, thanks to Airbnb, now you can stay in the house in which Jane Austen first lived in when she came to live in Bath in 1801 – that of 4 Sydney Place.

Admittedly the apartment in Sydney Place is decorated in a modern style, but it is beautifully presented and offering one gorgeous bedroom as well as two sofa beds, making it suitable for four people to stay in. There are nods to Austen inside – as you enter the flat there’s a Pride & Prejudice quote on the wall, and heading upstairs will bring you to the main accommodation and the master bedroom, which offers the best of Georgian architecture with hardwood flooring and a period fireplace. One reviewer describes the apartment as ‘historically enchanting’.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 57

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