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Jane Austen News – Issue 58

The Jane Austen News is Darcy in Italy

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Pride and Prejudice is the Bishops’ Pick     

A television channel owned by Italy’s conference of bishops and endorsed by the Pope is to broadcast BBC shows for the first time. Among the nine period dramas it has chosen to show are the BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation, which considering the fact that it has that wet shirt scene in it, which has left women weak at the knees for years, it might not be quite the safe and genteel choice they think it is.

Usually TV2000, the name of the Roman Catholic station which is also known as “the Italian Church’s TV”, shows in a typical day’s schedule broadcasts of Holy Mass and the Holy Rosary from Lourdes, with occasional showings of Doris Day films.

Other programmes the channel has signed up for are adaptations of Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, The Paradise, and Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals.

They’ve also asked for the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility. However this adaptation was criticised after its original airing by the Jane Austen Society for “sexing up the story” by opening with a scene in which John Willoughby seduces a 15-year-old girl. Hopefully this won’t take away the bishops’ seal of approval from Jane Austen adaptations, which was also given to (through their purchase of) a 2009 version of Emma, starring Romola Garai, and a BBC feature film, Miss Austen Regrets, which charts the author’s later years.

Winning Illustrator Chosen 

Darya Shnykina has been selected as the winner of The Folio Society’s 2017 competition to see who will illustrate The Folio Society edition of Mansfield Park. Darya, who is a student of the Moscow State University of Printing Arts, was one of 23 illustrators who were selected for the longlist of finalists. This year the entrants were asked to submit three illustrations and a binding design for Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. The new edition, featuring illustrations by the winner, will be published by The Folio Society in October 2017.

Darya was presented with the prestigious commission, worth £5,000, by eminent historian Lucy Worsley during a ceremony at House of Illustration on Thursday 23 February. The rest of the shortlist, who each receive a £500 prize, are; Natasa Ilincic (Italy), Katie Ponder (UK), Meizhen Xu (Germany), Alexandru Savescu (Romania) and Pedro Silmon (UK). The winner of the first ever Visitors’ Choice Award, which saw over 1,500 people voting, was Katie Ponder.

Darya did the perfect cover: fitting in beautifully with the rest of the series, charming to look at, clever with the layering, and bold. But we were equally charmed by her illustrations for inside which managed to suggest character and some of the powerful feelings in the novel, like anger and disappointment.

Lucy Worsley

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Jane Austen News – Issue 54

The Jane Austen News is in the stars

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Turning First Lines Into Constellations    
Data artist Nick Rougeux has launched a new project called Literary Constellations, in which he presents the first lines of famous novels in what appear to be star charts. The idea originally wasn’t to make them look specifically like constellations however, it was an exploration of how to present data in beautiful, clever ways, but by connecting the words using his special formula, the result was a circular map which resembled a star chart, so he went with the idea. He’s also gone on to apply the formula to short stories and entire first chapters of books.

So what is the formula?

Rougeux’s sentence diagrams are organized by their grammatical structure. He connects the words in each sentence with lines, the length and direction of which are based on the length of the words and their parts of speech, respectively.

Here’s the explanation from

First, Rougeux mapped each part of speech to a point on a compass. A line that connects to an adjective, for example, points due north, while one that extends toward a prepositions does so in a southwesterly direction. Then he classified words from the opening lines of classic novels. Jane Austen opened Pride and Prejudice with a 23-word sentence comprised of a pronoun (It), verb (is), a (article), noun (truth), adverb (universally), verb (acknowledged), and so on. Next, he plotted the words in order, according to his system. The lines extending from “It” and “is” are of equal length and much shorter than the line extending from the word “universally”. But they point in different directions, because the words toward which they extend are different parts of speech (a verb and an article, respectively). When he connected all the dots, he got something that looks like this:

At the Jane Austen News we think his work is absolutely beautiful, so we felt we had to share it with you.

Recommended Reads For Young Adult Austen Fans 

This week Barnes and Noble published a list of their six top books for young adult fans of Jane Austen.

At number one they recommend For Darkness Shows the Stars, Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 54

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Jane Austen News – Issue 43

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

2017 Is The Year Of Literature 

waxwork head and shoulders (low res)Next year is a milestone for quite a few heroes of British literature, and to celebrate VisitEngland has declared it the ‘Year of Literary Heroes’. Among the anniversaries being celebrated are the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and publication anniversaries for Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Enid Blyton. 2017 will be mark the 75th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five, and it will be twenty years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!

As well events surrounding these, there will also be special programmes of events to celebrate the wartime poet Edward Thomas in Petersfield, Hampshire, an exhibition on writer Arnold Bennett, and a festival dedicated to children’s author Arthur Ransome – the writer of Swallows and Amazons.

So it seems 2017 is the year to visit England if you’re a fan of literature. Of course there will be plenty of special events on across the country to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death, and we’ll keep you up to date with what’s set to be going on.

A Christmas Dinner at Chawton Library        

ah-christmas-supperBest-selling author Edward Rutherfurd (his debut novel Sarum, a 10,000-year story set in Salisbury, was on the New York Times Bestseller List for 23 weeks) will add star appeal to the Christmas supper at Chawton House Library next month.

Offering an opportunity to partake of a festive meal in the atmospheric oak-panelled rooms where Jane dined with her family, the black tie event on December 3 will include the viewing of a unique manuscript and rare books. Edward Rutherfurd will talk about the inspiration that characterful 400-year-old houses like Chawton House can provide to the creative imagination, and guests at the Christmas supper will have the opportunity to view the unique ‘Sir Charles Grandison’ manuscript, written in Jane Austen’s own hand, as well as seeing a selection of her first editions.

Proceeds from the tickets (£85 per ticket or £750 for a table of ten) will go towards the library, its maintenance, and the academic work it undertakes.

Introducing Jane Austen to New Audiences (via Zombies) 
Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesIt’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but it has to be said that Seth Graham Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a hit with some readers, and it may have one big distinct benefit; it introduces people to Jane Austen’s work who probably wouldn’t have found her otherwise.

During the course of our Internet perusals this week, we came across a blog by Rebecca Thorne who explained perfectly what drew her to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and from there, onto original Jane Austen novels.

What interested me in the idea of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, is that I’m quite in to fantasy so zombie killing sounded like fun. Additionally, I do love a strong female lead, so the Elizabeth of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a professional zombie slayer with a fearsome reputation was right up my ally. As I also quite like historical fiction, the historical setting iced the cake.


Personally, I think it’s a great idea to experiment with stories and secondly adapting older works may inspire audiences who wouldn’t normally be interesting in them to try them.

It may not be everyone’s thing, but if it leads people to Jane’s work, then surely that’s a positive?

Constable in Brighton   

JConstable Brighton Beach w fishing boat and crew c 1824-28 c. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.jpg
JConstable Brighton Beach w fishing boat and crew c 1824-28 c. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A new exhibition which might be of interest to fellow fans of the Regency period will be running at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery between 8th April and 8th October 2017. It will explore John Constable’s time in the emerging seaside resort of Brighton, where he stayed with his family between 1824 and 1828.

A bit of background: John Constable (1776 – 1837) was an English Romantic painter known principally for his landscape paintings. Qualities associated with his work include a freshness of light and a delicacy of touch; he also saw landscape painting as a scientific as well as a poetic form, and believed the imagination cannot alone produce art comparable with nature. His paintings are so treasured that they hang in galleries such as the British Museum, the Courtauld Gallery, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy, Tate, V&A, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Constable in Brighton will form part of the Royal Pavilion & Museums’ Regency Summer season in 2017, which will also include Jane Austen by the Sea at the Royal Pavilion and Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate at Brighton Museum.

Jane Austen The Secret Radical – A Review     

9781785781162-293x450“Almost everything we think we know about Jane Austen is wrong.” This is the declaration from Helena Kelly, author of Jane Austen, The Secret Radical, an eminently accessible study of Jane Austen’s six major novels.

At the Jane Austen News we’re very excited because Helena will be visiting Bath this week and signing copies of her book for us. They’re available for pre-order here, and will be shipped out next week!

In Jane Austen, The Secret Radical, which is her début book, Helena argues that we’ve started to read the Jane Austen we’ve constructed through adaptations and shared wisdom, rather than Jane as she was. After 200 years she says we have strayed too far from the novels themselves, and Helena herself has been a victim of this: “When I was teaching Austen [she has taught students at Oxford University for the past ten years] I often had to go back to the text to check that what I was remembering was actually there. And I would get students writing essays on scenes that didn’t actually happen in the novels but which they remembered from somewhere else.”

Helena also puts forward the idea that Jane Austen would have expected her readers to pick up on contemporary references to politics, societal values, world events and religion. Going back and looking again at Austen’s novels with all of these things in mind will, explains Helena, reveal a writer who was spirited, opinionated and deeply concerned with the political and social issues of the times in which she lived.

Mrs Dashwood Visits the North Pole!     

The Jane Austen News spots Mrs Claus

The new Christmas adverts have started to appear on TV, and when we at the Jane Austen News watched the new M&S Christmas advert we couldn’t help but think we’d seen Mrs Claus somewhere before. It turns out we had. The actress who plays her is Janet McTeer who played Mrs Dashwood in the BBC’s 2008 production of Sense and Sensibility. So we though we’d share that fact with you in case, like us, you were wracking your brains trying to work out why you recognised her.

Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

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.

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Prussian Blue – A Colourful History

What is Prussian Blue?

Considered the first artificial pigment, Prussian Blue was created in the 1700’s, ironically, by an artist seeking to create a new source for red paint. It rapidly gained popularity as first an artist’s medium, and later as a color fast dye. It is the traditional “blue” in blueprints and is used as an antidote for certain kinds of heavy metal poisoning

A sample of Prussian Blue pigment.
A sample of Prussian Blue pigment.

Prussian blue was probably synthesized for the first time by the paint maker Diesbach in Berlin around the year 1706. Most historical sources do not mention a first name of Diesbach. Only Berger refers to him as Johann Jacob Diesbach. It was named “Preußisch blau” and “Berlinisch Blau” in 1709 by its first trader. The pigment replaced the expensive Lapis lazuli and was an important topic in the letters exchanged between Johann Leonhard Frisch and the president of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, between 1708 and 1716. It is first mentioned in a letter written by Frisch to Leibniz, from March 31, 1708. Not later than 1708, Frisch began to promote and sell the pigment across Europe. By August 1709, the pigment had been termed “Preussisch blau”; by November 1709, the German name “Berlinisch Blau” had been used for the first time by Frisch. Frisch himself is the author of the first known publication of Prussian blue in the paper Notitia Coerulei Berolinensis nuper inventi in 1710, as can be deduced from his letters. Diesbach had been working for Frisch since about 1701.

In 1731, Georg Ernst Stahl published an account of the first synthesis of Prussian blue. The story involves not only Diesbach but also Johann Konrad Dippel. Diesbach was attempting to create a red lake pigment from cochineal but obtained the blue instead as a result of the contaminated potash he was using. He borrowed the potash from Dippel, who had used it to produce his “animal oil”. No other known historical source mentions Dippel in this context. It is therefore difficult to judge the reliability of this story today. In 1724, the recipe was finally published by John Woodward.

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