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Jane Austen News – Issue 80

The Jane Austen News needs female friends

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

Where Are All The Fictional Female Friends?

The Jane Austen News needs female friendsGrazia have been asking this week where all of the female friends in film have gone.

“Epic bromances have always been familiar turf when it comes to our favourite films and TV shows. ‘Boy and his beloved male sidekick’ is a formula that plays out in everything from Starsky & Hutch to Top Gun, Batman, The Hangover and Wedding Crashers.”

This is true, we can think of lots of recent ‘bromance’ films, but not too many that are all about similarly strong, uncomplicated female friendships.

“The mantle of female friendship is all too often sacrificed for entertainment in cinema. Think the competitive spite of Mean Girls, Bride Wars, The Devil Wears Prada and even – at its most extreme – Single White Female.

But why? asks Grazia. After all:

The same chemistry is very much alive and kicking between women in real life. We rely on one another; we laugh, cry and argue together, and spend more time than is healthy propping up each other’s floundering self-esteem.

Yet, for some reason, this delicious and effervescent dynamic is hard to come by in the realm of fiction.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why we love Austen so much; so many of her female characters have a strong, loving and healthy relationship with other female characters (we admit there are exceptions like Caroline Bingley). 

The full article can be found here.


Lone Female Authors Also Seek Friends…

Further to the news piece above, an article by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney asks what’s happened to all of the friends of the female fiction writers, as opposed to the female friends written in fiction.

They argue that friendships between great literary men have become the stuff of legend: William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge tramping the Lakeland fells for example. However the most famous female authors are remembered as solitary eccentrics; Jane Austen being a prime example.

This didn’t feel right to them, so they did some research and discovered that there are actually many examples of famous female writers having writing friends, but not ones that are widely known about.

Jane Austen, they found while looking through old documents, letters, and two hitherto unknown Austen family papers had a close literary friend, a woman named Anne Sharp. Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 80

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Jane Austen News – Issue 71

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  A Writer With Friends? Heaven Forbid! 

Authors Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have recently seen their new book A Secret Sisterhood: The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf published, and to go alongside the book they wrote an article for the Times newspaper which threw a little more light on why female authors so often have their female friends ‘airbrushed’ out of their lives by their family and society. When it came to Jane, they focused on her dear friend and fellow writer Anne Sharp, whom Jane, when in ailing health in 1817, proclaimed herself forever “attached” to.

So why do we hear so little about Anne who Emily and Emma say Jane had such a strong bond with?

Such a friendship flouted the social norms of the time. By keeping it out of official versions of Austen’s life, the family could create a false image of the famous author as a conservative maiden aunt, devoted above all else to kith and kin. As a result, the close bond she shared with Anne, who wrote plays in between teaching lessons, has become one of literature’s most enduring secrets.

Even today, as in Jane Austen’s time, it can be difficult to overcome the notion that a close, platonic female bond somehow threatens the allegiance a woman owes to her family. And while the opening up of professional roles during the 20th century has brought new opportunities for collaboration between women, the stereotype of the ambitious woman who jealously guards her place at the top continues to pervade.

This goes some way to explaining why the important friendships of female writers have failed to make it into literary lore.

At the Jane Austen News we found this to be a most interesting idea, and not one we’d really thought about before.


 Mr Bennet Gets Brewing!

A team from the Jane Austen Centre, including our Mr Bennet (Martin) and Jane Austen Festival director Jackie Herring, had a lovely day out this week at the Bath Brew House, where they helped to create a special Jane Austen beer.

The new beer is being created to celebrate Jane’s bicentenary year and will be an “Earl Grey, Red Ale”. It’s rather an appropriate tribute to Jane, given that she was a master brewer of Spruce beer herself.

The new tipple is due to be ready on July the 1st (just in time for the Jane Austen Summer Ball in Bath), and all of us at the Jane Austen News are very keen for a sample (or two)!

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 71