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Jane Austen News – Issue 105

A Mr Bennet Interview is the Jane Austen News from Bath this week!

What’s the Jane Austen News from Bath this week? 


Vote For Bath’s Mr Bennet!

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. A Mr Bennet Interview is the Jane Austen News from Bath this week!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.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 104 – Austen and Bath

Bath and Persuasion and Prosecco

What’s the Jane Austen News from Bath this week? 

 


  A New Rom-Com Films in Bath 

It may not be a new Jane Austen adaptation, which is of course what we’d ideally like to see being filmed in the city this year, but exciting news nevertheless as Bath becomes a film set once more.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 104 – Austen and Bath

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Jane Austen News – Issue 103

Jane in Jane Austen the Musical

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

 


Jane In The West End

Some of our readers might remember that the UK was treated to a touring, musical-adaptation of Persuasion last year. Well now, rather than one of her novels, Jane’s life has been adapted into a musical.

Jane Austen the Musical is receiving great reviews as it continues its UK tour, which runs until March this year.

The tour began in October last year and has visited the likes of York, Norwich, and Birmingham. It is currently playing in London and, as London is a theatre hub, the theatre critics have been going to see the show and making their verdicts.

Rob Winlow has fashioned a diverting, grown-up, pleasant (but not without its bite) chamber musical that captures some of the dilemmas faced by the quiet girl who scribbled immortal novels in a Hampshire rectory.

Rob Winlow’s songs are pleasing, especially when the cast sing in harmony, with more than a hint of Gilbert & Sullivan in the patter numbers.

The audience amongst whom I sat were mostly women, though (as both the male director and male writer prove) Austen’s work is universal in its appeal, as all great art must be. See it if you’re a fan and, if you’re not, see it anyway

The highlight of the production is Edith Kirkwood’s assured performance as Jane. She has a charming voice and vivacious presence. Jenni Lea-Jones is enjoyable as Mrs Austen and Thomas Hewitt and Adam Grayson provide game support as the suitors and Rev Austen.

Of course it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and some critics have said that it is too flimsy (“frustratingly thin portrait of an author”), but we thought that if you like musicals and you like Jane, this is a production you might like to know about.

Tour dates for the show are available here.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 103

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Jane Austen News – Issue 102

Next he should read Northanger Abbey

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Bestsellers and Northanger Abbey! 

 


Female Authors Dominate the Bestseller List

Female authors were very definitely in the minority when Jane Austen was writing, but certainly not in 2017! The Bookseller‘s analysis of literary fiction book sales from last year found that there was only one male author on the list of top ten bestselling authors in the UK in 2017.

Topping the list last year was Margaret Atwood, who saw TV adaptations of The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace released last year. Sales of her books last year reached almost £2.8m.

Next on the list was Sarah Perry, the author of the incredible hit The Essex Serpent, with sales of approximately £1.6m. Third was the lately departed Helen Dunmore, whose novel The Birdcage Walk and her poetry collection Inside The Wave were released in 2017.

Also making the list were Italian author Elena Ferrante, and the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Naomi Alderman, whose apocalyptic novel The Power comes highly recommended by us at the Jane Austen News (though it’s nothing like an Austen novel, we have to warn you).

Award-winning author Haruki Murakami, who released his short story collection Men Without Women last year, was the only man to make the top ten. The rest of the top ten were Ali Smith, Zadie Smith (no relation), Maggie O’Farrell and Arundhati Roy.

Sadly, women writers still take up less than half of the slots in the Bookseller’s overall UK top 50 bestselling author of 2017, but nevertheless we can’t help but feel that Jane would be delighted to know just how far the recognition of female authors’ talent has come. Also, how pleased Mary Wollstonecraft might be that there has been such a vindication on the “writes” of woman (sorry, we just couldn’t help ourselves).

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 102

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Jane Austen News – Issue 101

one of the new costume dramas to watch

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Costume Dramas! 

 


Historical Accuracy Vs. Diversity

We love costumes dramas. Some of our favourite recent viewings have been the hit costume dramas shown over Christmas. We had the sumptuous The Miniaturist, we had a new three-part adaptation of Little Women, and we’ve had a Call The Midwife Christmas special. Over the past few years we’ve had Downton Abbey, The Crown, Lark Rise to Candleford, Cranford, War and Peace… We could go on.

However, while we’ve very much enjoyed these, in an interview about being based in Britain, actress Thandie Newton has highlighted a problem about having a dominance of costume dramas in the British entertainment industry.

I can’t work, because I can’t do Downton Abbey, can’t be in Victoria, can’t be in Call The Midwife … there just seems to be a desire for stuff about the royal family, stuff from the past, which is understandable, but it just makes it slim pickings for people of colour.

Part of the problem is that if every costume drama is adapted from a book which only features upper-class white characters, then that’s all there will be on TV. Historical accuracy is one thing, but should it come at the cost of diversity within the acting world? Some within the television and film industry are calling for script writers to write scripts which allow for a more diverse range of actors to be represented within the cast. Afterall, if Maxine Peake can play the male role of Hamlet at the National Theatre, why can’t an actor like Idris Alba play Colonel Brandon?

What are your thoughts?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 101

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Jane Austen News – Issue 100

Austen's books

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Austen’s Books! 

 


Austen’s Books Banned Behind Bars

This week we were surprised to learn that a new program in New York is severely restricting the books which will be available in prisons. This new program, amazingly, has effectively banned, among other classic authors, Jane Austen’s books.

Directive 4911A, as it is known, is currently being applied to three prisons in the state, but it could soon be expanded to every facility in New York. The plan limits packages that incarcerated people in New York state prisons can receive to items purchased from six vendors (with two more expected to be added). The idea is that this will “enhance the safety and security of correctional facilities through a more controlled inmate package program.”

This in itself isn’t a problem, but the range of books on offer is shockingly limited.  The first five vendors combined offered just five romance novels, 14 religious texts, 24 drawing or coloring books, 21 puzzle books, 11 how-to books, one dictionary, and one thesaurus. (A sixth vendor has added some additional books to the list, but the full list will not be available to all prisoners.)

One group, the Books Through Bars collective, has been working to raise red flags about the directive’s unintended consequences (for more than 20 years, Books Through Bars has been sending books to people in prison in 40 states at no charge).

A spokesperson from Books Through Bars has stated the the new directive will mean “no Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou, or other literature that helps people connect with what it means to be human. No texts that help provide skills essential to finding and maintaining work after release from prison. No books about health, about history, about almost anything inside or outside the prison walls. This draconian restriction closes off so much of the world to thousands of people.”

We agree. Surely allowing prisoners to read Jane Austen’s books can only result in good things?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 100

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