What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
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?
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.