If you’ve been to visit us at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, you’ve probably met our famous Mr Bennet, a.k.a Martin. He’s our senior meeter and greeter, and is the most-photographed man in England. He’s been with us for over ten years, and now he’s been nominated for an award.
The national Tourism Superstar Awards 2018 are down to their final top ten finalists, and Martin is one of them. The awards were set up by VisitEngland and Mirror Travel, and the organisers behind the award explained that they’re:
looking for people who far exceed the call of duty to ensure visitors have an amazing experience, whether it’s on a day trip or a holiday.
Martin, they added, is a prime example.
Martin has worked in tourism all his life – at the Pump Rooms in Bath and for the past 11 years at the Jane Austen Centre. He does charitable work, is Father Christmas, teaches dancing and is a keen re-enactor. Online there are lots of images of Martin posing with visitors.
It’s free to vote for your Tourism Superstar (not only that, but by voting you enter into a draw to win an English staycation), and the vote is open until midnight on March the 20th. The winner will be announced at the end of English Tourism Week on March the 24th.
We would be so grateful if you could spare a moment to visit the dedicated page on the Mirror’s website and vote for Martin. He’s a real gentleman and without a doubt a superstar in our minds. If we could all work together to help him win this award it would mean so much to all of us.
The New York Times has just published an article looking at how to teach students about Austen in the modern era. They asked for teachers to comment on how they teach Austen to their own classes, but they also published a great list of their own suggestions.
Study the word choices
“Have students read ‘The Word Choices That Explain Why Jane Austen Endures,’ and study the graphic (featured below). Then, invite them to take whatever Austen novel they are reading, choose a passage, and highlight words and phrases that illustrate the findings, just as the author does in the piece with lines from “Emma” and “Persuasion.”
How do “these distinctive words, word clusters and grammatical constructions highlight her writerly preoccupations: states of mind and feeling, her characters’ unceasing efforts to understand themselves and other people”? How do they show her “acute emotional intelligence”?”
Ask the students to draw parallels
What connections can students make between any of the Austen novels and their own lives?
What are the rules, written and unwritten, that govern courtship, love and marriage in Jane Austen?
What are the rules, written and unwritten, that govern courtship, love and marriage today?
Study the adaptations
Always a popular option. Have students choose an Austen update to compare and contrast with the original, and write essays in which they decide how well it has recast the original’s ideas, characters, themes, plot, setting, tone and language. Or, invite them to create their own adaptations.
There are far more suggestions in the article on how to teach Austen than we have space to list here, but if you’d like to read them all you can find the full article here. Or you might prefer to try their other idea…
The New Jane Austen Portrait using source material and forensic methods Introduction: Forensic Artist Melissa Dring In 2001, Melissa Dring* was commissioned by David Baldock, the Director of the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, to produce a new portrait of the author, as she might have appeared during her time in Bath, 1801-06. Combining the insights of the professional portrait painter with those of the police forensic artist, Melissa was uniquely qualified to accept this challenge. David Baldock had heard of her work on a speculative likeness of the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi. A film producer, wanting a likeness to use as a casting aid for a proposed film biography of the composer, and feeling it was a job for a forensic artist, had approached Scotland Yard, who recommended Melissa. The difficulty with both commissions was their shared lack of reliable contemporary portraiture, although a wealth of written eye-witness accounts survive in both cases. Melissa Takes up the story… My new speculative likeness of Jane Austen fills the gap left by the paucity of authenticated representations of the author. As I hope it will come to be accepted as a good portrait of her, despite being made 185 years after her death, I will describe the research and working methods I used, so that it can be seen how it is based almost entirely on solid fact, and how little guesswork was needed. There is a tiny pencil and watercolour sketch of her, in the National Portrait Gallery in London, by (more…)
The Independent Bath Literature Festival is just around the corner, with the first events due to start on Friday 26th February 2016. The 10-day celebration of the written word has a packed program catering for an impressive variety of literary tastes. Among their headline shows is the ‘Literary Death Match’, hosted at The Abbey Hotel‘s Igloo venue. The contest will see four authors compete in a 7-minute ‘write-off’ with hints at a humorous finale. As well as hosting events, The Abbey Hotel are sponsoring the festival and are welcoming visitors into their Art Bar and Allium Restaurant where they can save 10% on food and drinks by showing a ticket or wristband. Their quality offerings include a special literary-themed cocktail list that includes a cocktail named in honour of The Jane Austen Centre – The Northangover Abbey! For those not in the know, it is widely believed that Northanger Abbey is in fact based on real-life happenings in Bath (that’s our Abbey !). It’s therefore very fitting that The Abbey hotel would choose this particular novel as their cocktail’s namesake. We haven’t yet been told what’s in the cocktail yet but we hope to reveal the recipe after the festival concludes. If you’d like to try one for yourself, the Northangover Abbey cocktail plus five other marvels of mixology will be on sale from Friday 26th February until Sunday March 2nd 2016. The Abbey Hotel Bath Literary Festival Cocktail List No Country For Old Fashioned Men Lime & Punishment Northangover Abbey Tequila Mockingbird Bloody Mary Poppins The Prime Of Miss Gin Brodie (more…)
Happy Jane Austen Day! Today we’re celebrating Jane’s birthday in Bath at the Jane Austen Centre and on the streets of the city. At the Centre we been performing traditional carols, giving out Cassandra Austen’s recipe plum pudding and mulled wine and generally having a bit of fun on this special day. Have you done anything for Jane Austen Day? Let us know. We’ve been asking members of the public if anyone knows what day it is. The results are great and you can see a short film we’ve made below. (more…)
Festival Promenaders taking a break. The Jane Austen Festival starts on the 12th of September and looks like it will be the biggest and best ever. Jackie Herring, Jane Austen Festival Director is happy with the arrangements and ticket sales. ‘Lots of events have already sold out but there are still a few tickets left. If you want to see something spectacular turn up on to the Regency Promenade on Saturday. Watch 600 spectacular promenaders in their Regency finery as they take to the streets of Bath.’ The event has been covered by The Bath Chronicle. Take a look at their article here More Promenade information; Each year the Jane Austen Festival officially opens with our world famous Grand Regency Costumed Promenade. The Promenade is a parade through the streets of this beautiful city and over 500 people all in 18th Century costume take part, making it a record breaking event. In 2014 the Jane Austen Festival achieved the Guinness World Record TM for ‘The largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costumes at 550′ All sorts of people take part from the very young to the young at heart plus red coats, dancers and our official town crier. The Promenade stops the traffic in Gay Street, The Circus, George Street, Milsom Street and Orange Grove, making it difficult for drivers from 11am until 12.30pm on Saturday 12th September 2015. ALL participants wear costume to take part in the Promenade and also purchase a ticket, the cost is £10 per adult, (more…)