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Jane Austen News – Issue 47

The Jane Austen News and a new note

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

Rare Portrait of Jane Austen Goes on Display

The Jane Austen News is - The Rice Portrait went on displayMembers of The Jane Austen Cambridge Group enjoyed a private viewing of an oil painting of Jane Austen, the ‘Rice Portrait’, at Queens’ College on Saturday (December 10) before the group’s annual lunch. They were also treated to a talk on the portrait’s origins and significance by researcher Ellie Bennett.

For the last ten years the group has celebrated Austen’s birthday with an annual lunch or dinner as near to December 16th, Jane Austen’s birthday, as possible. This year they had a special treat when the famous Rice Portrait was brought out of a vault in Switzerland for the occasion by owner Anne Rice and her son John. (Anne’s husband, the late Henry Rice, was a descendent of the Austen family, who died on July 18, 1817 and the portrait was passed down to him from the Austen family as part of the estate.)

There is some controversy around the portrait, as the National Portrait Gallery doesn’t believe the portrait is of Jane Austen, whereas other experts definitely think it is. The portrait was painted by Ozias Humphry in 1788 or 1789, and it is thought to be of Jane Austen at the age of 13.

It’s stunning. When you’re standing in front of it, the twinkle in her left eye. It’s like she’s looking at you. It’s quite incredible, you can’t see it and not be moved by it.

Vicki Smith, joint secretary of The Jane Austen Cambridge Group

Will Spain Have A Jane Austen Street? 

In the UK we at the Jane Austen News were delighted when it was announced that she would be appearing on the £10 bank screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-07-33-53note next year. It was also great news when we heard that a secondary school in Norwich was being named Jane Austen College. Now it seems that a street in León in Spain might be the next thing to be named after the great author.

As part of a widespread initiative across the country to be are replace Franco-era street names with those of influential women, León, in the northern part of the country, has asked the public to choose the new names they would like their streets to have from a list that includes Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, and Jane Austen. At the moment less than 10 percent of Spanish streets currently honour women, and, in Madrid, all but one of those that do are named for the Virgin Mary or a Catholic saint.

Austen Notes Worth Even More Than First Thought  

The Jane Austen News is on the Hunt for Jane fiversIn last week’s Jane Austen News, we said that the four new £5 notes which carry a miniature hidden engraving of Jane Austen on them could be worth, instead of just £5, £20,000! Since then, as more and more people have heard about the engravings, the price tag has more than doubled. The notes are now thought to be worth as much as £50,000!

The Austen engraving is visible to the naked eye but viewers will need a microscope to see it properly. Mr Short, the engraver behind the works, goes to great lengths to create his art on such a minuscule scale. One way he manages to engrave such tiny images is by working late at night – so he can’t hear the rumbling of traffic and be distracted by it. Another even more surprising thing he does in order to make his art, is to wear a stethoscope so he can hear the beating of his own heart. He then works between the beats so he remains perfectly still. Such dedication!

Love & Friendship Seventh Top Film of 2016  

Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman and based on Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan (which she wrote at the age of loveetconly 19!), was released to UK cinemas on May 27th this year, and to cinemas around the world shortly afterwards. The film received rave reviews from film critics and Jane Austen fans alike, and it seems that it’s not only die-hard Austen fans who enjoyed it.

Love & Friendship has been named as the seventh best film of 2016 by the Guardian’s film team. It beat some of the most highly anticipated films of the year to get there, such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (26th on the list), and Deadpool (24th on the list). We at the Jane Austen News were delighted with the end film when we got to see it, and are so pleased that other film fans enjoyed it as much as we did.

Austen in Omaha 

Floral cup and saucerOn Saturday the 10th December, the Nebraska chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America, along with the Friends of Omaha Public Library, saw the 13th annual Jane Austen Tea (which they had sponsored) occur with great success at at W. Dale Clark Library in Omaha. Participants were asked to bring their favourite teacups to the event, and the festivities included “light English fare, tea and a talk by Barbara Trout, author of “Reflections of the Regency Period: Dressing with Accessories”.”

Congratulations to the Jane Austen fans in and around Omaha who made it and had a lovely afternoon of tea, book talk, and Jane Austen.

Jane Austen Day This Friday!    

This Friday (Friday the 16th of December) is Jane Austen’s birthday, and is also Jane Austen Day – a day dedicated to celebrating her life and achievements, and to telling as many people as possible about her amazing works.Jane Austen waxwork

This year marks 241 years since her birth in Steventon in Hampshire in England, and we’d love to hear from you if you’re doing anything to mark Jane Austen day. These are a few of our suggestions:

  • Watch your favourite Austen adaptation.
  • Wear Regency costume for the day (or maybe carry a reticule instead of a handbag for the day?).
  • Go for a long walk in the countryside (weather permitting…).
  • Sit by the fire and drink a glass of wine! This was after all one of Jane’s favourite pastimes.

Let us know what you’re up to, and happy Jane Austen Day!

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.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 46

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

Jane Austen’s Mother Not a Fan of All Her Work…     

images-6Mansfield Park is probably Jane’s least popular novel, and it appears that readers of today are not the only ones to hold that opinion. From January 2017 the British Library will put on display Austen’s handwritten notes of what friends, family and correspondents thought of the novel. They’re not all complimentary.

Of the documents on display is one which shows that Jane Austen’s mother Cassandra, thought that Mansfield Park was not as good as Pride & Prejudice and found the heroine, Fanny Price, “insipid”. On the upside, Jane’s sister Cassandra was “fond of Fanny” and “delighted much in Mr Rushworth’s stupidity”.

That’s not the worst review of Mansfield Park on display though. Other writings of Austen’s show that she recorded the thoughts of a lady called Augusta Bramstone, who thought Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice “nonsense … but [she] expected to like M.P. better, & having finished the 1st vol. – flattered herself she had got through the worst”.

Poor Jane! We can’t help but feel at the Jane Austen News that it’s a little ironic, given these reviews, that Mansfield Park was the novel which made her the most money within her lifetime!

 Jane Austen Could Make You £20,000   

There was a lot of buzz around the first batch of the Winston Churchill £5 notes which were released back in September, but jane-austenthey’re out now so it would make sense that the next batch of notes to be released wouldn’t have the same level of excitement surrounding them. However, we at the Jane Austen News are looking forward to the new release of notes more than the last one, because four of the new plastic £5 notes which have just been released into circulation carry a tiny engraving which could make the note worth as much as £20,000. That engraving is of Jane Austen.

World famous “micro engraver” Graham Short, from Birmingham, was commissioned to etch a microscopic image onto four of the polymer notes, and he has carved tiny portraits of Jane Austen onto the special notes, next to the images of Sir Winston Churchill and Big Ben. On some of the notes will also be classic quotes from Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park. We hope we’ll get to see one or two at least; so if you happen to find one do take a photo and show us!


A Kind of Jane Austen Panto  
image-5It’s definitely panto season, and the production from LipService which is currently touring sounds like a great Jane Austen version of a panto. A good one to watch over the next month or two if the opportunity arises.

Mr Darcy Loses the Plot has been reviewed to be a “quirky, side-splitting comedy”, which tells the (alternative) story of Jane writing Pride and Prejudice. Jane is writing but then she hears someone approaching, so she hides her work and goes to see who has come. Now Mr Darcy sees his chance and rewrites his storyline….and it’s rather different from the one Jane had in mind.

Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding of LipService have gained a number of plaudits over the years since their first performance together in 1985. They are now one of the most firmly established touring companies in the UK, and will be visiting Manchester, Lancaster, Leeds and Keswick with Mr Darcy Loses the Plot over the coming weeks.

Persuasion Minus Bonnets   

However, another Jane Austen stage production for those who prefer their Austen to be more true to the original is the persuasionupcoming production of Persuasion, which will be adapted and directed by renowned dramatist Jeff James, and staged at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre from the 25th of May 2017 to the 24th of June 2017.

The theatre had this to say of the production so far; “In 2017, the bicentenary of Persuasion’s publication and of Jane Austen’s death, this bold new adaptation brings all the sharp observation and quick wit of Austen’s novel to the stage, without a bonnet in sight.”

There’s not much information on the production currently available, but the “without a bonnet in sight” statement has certainly got us intrigued…

When Dating Gets You Down…Turn to Austen   
Are Jane Austen's Heroine's Ideal Women?The Jane Austen News found a good reminder this week for why Jane Austen is such an excellent author to read when real life is getting you down. Amy Smith writing for the online magazine Verily told readers why, around Christmas, she as a single girl finds reading the novels of Jane a comfort;
1. Change can come – Just think of Mr Darcy overcoming his pride. “Who among us single gals doesn’t need a reminder that our mistakes don’t define us and that change can often lead to love?”
2. Second chances happen – As shown with Anne and Captain Wentworth in Persuasion.
3. No two are the same – All of Jane’s heroines are distinctly different, but they all get a happy ending that’s right for them.
4. Good trumps games – When doing the wrong thing looks tempting we’re shown that bad guys like Willoughby and John Thorpe get their comeuppance.
5. Hope wins out – Jane’s prayers are especially full of hope and thankfulness.
So if the holiday season gets you down, it’s time to open one of Jane’s novels.

A Visit From Ricky Gervais and Jane Fallon    

When celebrities come to the city to perform at Bath’s Theatre Royal, they sometimes use some of their time in Bath to come and visit us at the Jane Austen Centre. This week we had the pleasure of welcoming the comedian and TV personality Ricky Gervais, and his partner, writer and producer Jane Fallon, to the centre. Ricky was in Bath for a one-night only performance of Ricky Gervais and Guests – Work in Progress.

Here’s Jane meeting our Lizzy Bennet:


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.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop.

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Carlton House Table & Chair

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts was an illustrated, British periodical published from 1809-1829 by Rudolph Ackermann. Although commonly called Ackermann’s Repository, or, simply Ackerman’s, the formal title of the journal was Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions, and politics, and it did, indeed cover all of these fields.In its day, it had great influence on English taste in fashion, architecture, and literature. The following excerpt from the April, 1814 edition displays a table and chair set designed for the Prince of Wales‘ Carlton House.

 An early 19th century sketch of the entrance front of Carlton House in London.
An early 19th century sketch of the entrance front of Carlton House in London.

Though no where near as extravagant as the the Royal Palace at Brighton, Carlton House remained an icon of the Prince’s particular sense of style. The glowing terms in the following passage can only be seen as ironic in light of Jane Austen’s own personal struggle with the Prince. In 1815, she would be “invited” to dedicate her upcoming novel, Emma, to him, a figure whom she claimed to loathe. Along with this “invitation” came the opportunity for a personal tour of Carlton House, guided by none other than the Prince’s own librarian, James Stanier Clarke.

This began a series of correspondence between Austen and Clarke. He appeared fascinated by his brush with fame (possibly even painting her portrait) while she later lampooned his topical suggestions for her future novels in her “Plan of a Novel, According to Hints from Various Quarters”.

Fashionable Furniture
We know that a people become enlightened by the cultivation of  the arts, and that they become great in the progress of that cultivation. That a just knowledge of the useful and a correct taste for the ornamental go hand in hand with this general improvement, the dullest observer may be satisfied by looking around him. We now acknowledge, that it is alone the pencil of the artist which can trace the universal hieroglyphic; understood alike by all, his enthusiasm communicates itself to all alike, and prepares the mind for cultivation. A national improvement is thus produced by the arts, and the arts are supported in their respectability by the calls which the improving public taste makes for their assistance; they are inseparable in their progress, and mutually depend on each other for support. In the construction of the domestic furniture of our dwellings we see and feel the benefit of all this. To the credit of our higher classes who encourage, and of our manufacturing artists who produce, we now universally quit the overcharged magnificence of former ages, and seek the purer models of simplicity and tasteful ornament in every article of daily call. Continue reading Carlton House Table & Chair

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Kate Greenaway: Regency Revivalist

Catherine Greenaway (17 March 1846 – 6 November 1901), known as Kate Greenaway, was an English children’s book illustrator and writer. Although she lived and worked in the Victorian era, her many paintings, portraits and prints of Georgian and Regency children make her one of the most prolific painters of an idealized Regency childhood. The pictures she created, for a long running series of children’s literature, are some of the images most commonly brought to mind when thinking of the children of that era, and influenced a generation of mothers to create a mini “Regency Revival”.

Although her work is not technically set in Jane Austen’s lifetime, her art most definitely is, and remains an inspiring…if sanitized homage to the Regency era, Austen inhabited.

Susan Blue, from Greenaway's book, Marigold GardenMarigold Garden: Pictures and Rhymes, London, Routledge, 188

Greenaway spent much of her childhood at Rolleston, Nottinghamshire. She studied at what is now the Royal College of Art in London, which at that time had a separate section for women, and was headed by Richard Burchett. Her first book, Under the Window (1879), a collection of simple, perfectly idyllic verses about children, was a bestseller.

Greenaway’s paintings were reproduced by chromoxylography, by which the colours were printed from hand-engraved wood blocks by the firm of Edmund Evans. Through the 1880s and 1890s, her only rivals in popularity in children’s book illustration were Walter Crane and Randolph Caldecott.

“Kate Greenaway” children, all of them little girls and boys too young to be put in trousers, according to the conventions of the time, were dressed in her own versions of late eighteenth century and Regency fashions: smock-frocks and skeleton suits for boys, high-waisted pinafores and dresses with mobcaps and straw bonnets for girls. The influence of children’s clothes in portraits by British painter John Hoppner (1758–1810) may have provided her some inspiration. Liberty of London adapted Kate Greenaway’s drawings as designs for actual children’s clothes. A full generation of mothers in the liberal-minded “artistic” British circles who called themselves “The Souls” and embraced the Arts and Crafts movement dressed their daughters in Kate Greenaway pantaloons and bonnets in the 1880s and 1890s.

Greenaway was elected to membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1889. She lived in an Arts and Crafts style house she commissioned from Richard Norman Shaw in Frognal, London, although she spent summers in Rolleston, near Southwell.

Greenaway was also a skilled portrait artist.

Greenaway averaged 3 books a year at her height and illustrated over 60 titles. She died of breast cancer in 1901 at the age of 55. She is buried in Hampstead Cemetery, London. The Kate Greenaway Medal, established in her honour in 1955, is awarded annually by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK to an illustrator of children’s books.

From Kate Greenaway's Birthday Book, London, George Routledge, 1880

Historical information from