What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Since his incognito visit to the Jane Austen Centre in March, speculation has been high that micro-engraver Graham Short spent a fifth Jane Austen five pound note (despite the original news that only four had been made and spent last year). Rumours that a fifth note had been spent and was now ‘on the loose’ were fuelled further by the confirmation from Graham’s team that a fifth note had indeed been made.
As Mr Short was not recognised until the end of his visit to the Centre and Regency tearooms, it had been thought that he had spent the five pound note and the Centre had unknowingly given it to a customer in change. However, it has now been revealed that the fifth five pound note is not somewhere in general circulation, but is in fact going to be gifted to the Centre by Mr Short!!
Mr Short told BBC Radio Bristol he would presenting the note to the Jane Austen Centre as a framed gift to mark the 200th anniversary of the author’s death. He will be returning to Bath on the 18th of July with the note, which he has said “will be framed with glass on the back and the front so you can see through it.”
The note, like the other four, has a small portrait of Jane on it, along with a quote from one of her famous novels. The one to be presented to the Centre is from Persuasion and reads: ‘You pierce my soul, I am half agony, half hope.’
At the Jane Austen News we’re delighted and honoured, and greatly looking forward to welcoming Graham back to Bath this July! Plus, in addition to this visit, Mr Short will be back in Bath this September in order to talk about his work at the annual International Jane Austen Festival in Bath (8th – 17th September).
In a new book about Austen’s influence on cinema, details have been given of how Pride and Prejudice came within a whisker of being adapted for the screen by A.A. Milne. Milne hoped his script would become the text for the first film production of the classic novel. However, it was pipped to the post by an American production that Milne did not find out about until the day he finished his own script.
Paula Byrne, the author of the new book called The Genius of Jane Austen, said that Milne’s adaptation, while not so heavily centred on the love story between Darcy and Elizabeth, had a “better understanding of Austen as social satirist, verbal ironist and daughter of the muse of comedy as opposed to sentiment”. The 1940s production (starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier) which was made instead of Milne’s vision, was much more focused on the heartthrob than on the harsh truths of the era. Byrne said that Milne had made his story “not quite so romantic”. In fact, in the final scene of his play Milne had opted for a “touching one between father and daughter, not a romantic union between Elizabeth and Darcy”.
Just imagine how different things might have been for Mr Darcy today had he first been more of a sombre Eeyore than a smouldering Olivier!