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Jane Austen News – Issue 127

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What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Music and Austen and Bath – A Classic Combination

Great Western Railway teamed up with ClassicFM.com this week to promote their summer of adventures – where GWR encourage more people to take train journeys to parts of the UK in order to have ‘adventures’ by exploring cities they’ve never been to before.

The article on ClassicFM.com focuses on exploring Bath and, quite naturally given that Classic FM is primarily a site for fans of classical music, the role which Bath played in developing Jane’s love of music.

The young writer and her friends and family attended a number of balls and tea dances at The Assembly Rooms, as well as concerts at Sydney Gardens and the Old Orchard Street Theatre.

As a keen amateur musician, Austen would have listened to and enjoyed the new, fashionable music on offer throughout the city.

Austen wrote her most famous novels after those years in Bath, but the influence of the city was still there. Bath provided inspiration for two of her six published novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The latter features concerts in the Octagan Room of The Assembly Rooms.

Eight volumes of Jane Austen’s own sheet music collections are still around today. Two of them are written out in her own handwriting… And it was at Bath’s most fashionable events that Austen would have discovered all this great music.

We do hope that the article inspires more people to come to Bath this summer and explore the city.

“Without music, life would be a blank to me.”

Emma

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 127

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Jane Austen News – Issue 97

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

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 


Meet Mr Bennet

Our Mr Bennet, who is almost synonymous with the Jane Austen Centre as he stands at the Centre entrance in all A Mr Bennet interview is the Jane Austen News this week!weathers to greet our visitors with warmth and charm, has been featured in the Bath Chronicle this week.

His article is the first of the Chronicle’s new series ‘Meet the’…, which will be taking a closer look at the personalities who make Bath such an incredible place.

“He’s a great addition to the Jane Austen Centre, everyone knows him and greets him and he knows every street, square and alleyway in Bath.

His local knowledge is unparalleled, he sees everything from his perch on the steps outside the Jane Austen Centre, he even reports misdeeds and fights to the police or council, he misses nothing.”

Some things you might already know about Mr Bennet:

He makes his own period clothes having worked for a gentleman’s outfitter and costume hire company.

“I bought myself a little sewing machine and I do all the research as to what men would have worn during Jane Austen’s time.”

…others might be more surprising…

When Martin’s not working he’s a rock ‘n roll fan and dresses as a Teddy Boy or Elvis and goes to gigs.

He also loves motorbikes and dresses head to toe in leather when out on his beloved Honda 750.

You can read the full interview with our Mr Bennet here.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 97

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Jane Austen News – Issue 76

The Jane Austen News celebrates the bicentenary!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Austen’s Letter Makes A Fortune!   


We mentioned in last week’s Jane Austen News that a letter written by Jane to her niece Anna Lefroy in 1812 was going to auction for the first time. In the letter Jane writes disparagingly of Rachel Hunter’s gothic novel Lady Maclairn, the Victim of Villainy, calling it “most tiresome and prosy” (although both Jane and Anna took great pleasure in reading the melodramatic, sensationalist, clichéd text; it seemed to be a case of the novel being so bad that it was good).

Well the sale took place on July the 11th, and despite the estimation being between £80,000 and £100,000, the price which the letter eventually fetched was £162,000!

Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s specialist in books and manuscripts, had a theory about why the letter did so well. “The vast majority of her surviving letters talk about her day-to-day life, so to have a letter like we do here, that talks specifically about writing and shows her engaging with the popular literature of the day, is hugely significant.”


Celebrating July the 18th in Style! 

Fans all around the world spent July 18th celebrating Jane’s bicentenary, and the Jane Austen Centre was no exception. We hadThe Jane Austen News celebrates the bicentenary! lots of visitors come to celebrate with us on the day, but for those fans who couldn’t be with us, here’s a little bit of what we got up to:
  • Two of the Centre guides, Alice and James, donned their best Regency costumes and headed out with photographer Owen Benson to take some shots around some of Bath’s most iconic backdrops which Jane would have enjoyed (pictures soon!).
  • Martin, one of our experienced costumed guides, conducted free walking tours through the Georgian streets of Bath. These took in the places where Jane walked, shopped and visited, and the places made famous in her novels. The walk also passed the exciting new Jane Austen Floral Display in Bath’s Parade Gardens.
  • At 11a.m. BST we held a minute’s silence to officially mark the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death and to reflect on Jane’s life and works.
  • Just after our minute’s silence, micro-artist Graham Short presented us with a fifth Jane Austen £5 note, which he had engraved especially for the Centre. Graham caused a media storm last year, when he put into circulation four £5 notes which he had engraved with miniature portraits of Jane Austen, each valued at £50,000. His special fifth £5 note is now on display in the Centre.
  • After the presentation, Graham Short and some of the Jane Austen Centre guides popped upstairs to the Regency Tearooms for media interviews. (We’ll share some of our best bits with you in next week’s Jane Austen News).

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 76

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Jane Austen News – Issue 65

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 A Fifth Jane Austen Note Is Coming To The Centre!  

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).


A.A. Milne’s Darcy – More Eeyore Than Phwoar?

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!

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 65

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Jane Austen News – Issue 63

The Jane Austen News is a copycat may be on the loose!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 A Jane Austen Copycat On The Loose 

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?


 Rescuing A Regency Estate to Rival Pemberley 

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.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 63

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Jane Austen news – Issue 62

The Jane Austen News is: a special event will take place here on Saturday 22 July 2017

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

 Jane’s ‘Fake Weddings’  

Jane never married, but that’s not to say that she didn’t think about it. When she was a young girl she had great fun filling in  fictitious entries in the Steventon marriage register, which she had access to because her father, George Austen, was the rector of the parish.

The records which show Jane’s handwritten entries linking her to two separate husbands, will go on display in May as part of the Mysterious Miss Austen exhibition at Winchester’s Discovery Centre.

The little-known document includes a fictitious entry for the publication of banns between Henry Frederic Howard Fitzwilliam of London and Jane Austen of Steventon, while another entry details the marriage of Edmund Arthur William Mortimer of Liverpool and Jane Austen of Steventon.


 A Remembrance Service for Jane 

On July 22nd at 2pm, the Bath and Bristol group of the Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom will be holding a

A special event will take place here on Saturday 22 July 2017

commemoration event to mark 200 years since Jane Austen’s death at St Swithin’s Church, Bath.
This is a special event with a short service in the church, followed by a dancing display and readings. It’s particularly appropriate to hold the service at St. Swithin’s, as this is the church where George Austen and Cassandra Leigh, Jane’s parents, were married in 1764, where the Austen family went to church while in Bath (the Abbey was considered to be too crowded), and where George Austen is buried.
Tickets cost £10 (including tea), and are available from Bath Box Office (01225 463362).

Continue reading Jane Austen news – Issue 62

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Jane Austen News – Issue 48

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

One Austen £5 Note Has Been Found
The Jane Austen News is on the Hunt for Jane fiversOne of the four £5 notes which carry a mini 5mm engraving of Jane Austen has been found.

The note was first paid to staff at the Square Cafe in Blackwood, South Wales, by the engraver Graham Short. Unfortunately no one recognised who he was at the time and staff unwittingly gave the note away in change. When it was announced in the national news that the £5 had been spent at the cafe customers flocked to the cafe and staff checked all to the notes in the till but it was already gone.

The note turned up later in the purse of an elderly art fan who wishes to remain anonymous. She said she is going to give the note to her granddaughter as an investment rather than reaping the reward. The note is said to be worth £50,000. She is one generous grandmother!


Jane Austen Letter Massively Exceeds Estimate  

lot-124-austen-letter-to-cassandraThe recent auction at Sotheby’s, in which a letter written by Jane Austen and early copies of her novels went up for sale, has had some astounding final sale prices. The letter written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra at the age of 25 sold for £150,000 – almost four times the lower estimate that was predicted for its sale (£40,000 – 60,000)!

The letter was a window into the daily life of Jane Austen, and is one of a series of letters written by Jane to Cassandra when Cassandra was away visiting their brother Edward at Godmersham Park House in Kent from October 1800 through to February 1801.

The letter includes an important reference to Harris Bigg-Wither.

Harris seems still in a poor way, from his bad habit of body; his hand bled again a little the other day, & Dr Littlehales has been with him lately.

Jane accepted and then rejected Harris’ offer of marriage two years after this letter was written.

Jane’s bibliocatch (cup and ball) game, estimated at between £20,000-£30,000, went unsold.


Jane Austen Class so Popular it’s on Pause  

   
hm_jf17_lynch-portrait_0Deidre Lynch, Bernbaum professor of literature since 2014, has found that her class Jane Austen’s Fiction and Fans, is now so popular that she’s had to temporarily stop offering it.

Lynch has been offering the class since 2014, and in the two years since it first began it’s become almost to big to handle anymore. The other issue, apart from its sheer size she says, is that “the materials we use in Houghton Library are getting worn away by the wear and tear.” She asks her students to examine primary evidence—the scrapbooks, commonplace books, and custom-illustrated texts of everyday nineteenth-century readers—to analyze the reading lives of people in Austen’s time: their habits, tastes, quirks, interactions. She also asks her students to create their own “fan art”. One student re-composed the music to a film adaptation; other people have written songs; one person, (with totally charming results says Lynch) made Harriet Smith’s box of favourite treasures.

At the Jane Austen News we’re sad that the class has had to be put on hold, pleased that it was so popular, and jealous that we can’t go and take part ourselves! It sounds like an amazing class!


The Mysteries of Udolpho on the Radio  
If you’ve ever wanted to read The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, one of the books which Jane Austen was satirising The Jane Austen News is looking forward to the Mysteries of Uldolphowhen she wrote Northanger Abbey, but haven’t found the time to open the cover on the 704 page novel (give or take depending on print size), then this might be of interest.
On New Year’s Eve at 2:30pm on Radio 4, the BBC will be broadcasting Hattie Naylor’s one hour adaptation of Ann Radcliffe’s gothic masterpiece. It will also be available online on the BBC’s radio iplayer shortly afterwards. They’re broadcasting it to accompany the episodes of Northanger Abbey which Hattie Naylor has also adapted, and which are being broadcast on weekdays at 10:45am on Radio 4 from December 19th to December 30th (also available online afterwards).
If you want to understand some of the in-jokes that Austen was referencing when she wrote Northanger Abbey, then this adaptation of Udolpho is a good opportunity.
Emily St Aubert is forced to leave France and go and live with her Aunt and her new husband, Count Montoni, in his isolated castle in Italy. Before long Emily discovers that the castle is a place of nightmares and Montoni a desperate man who will stop at nothing to terrorise both his wife and his niece. 
In this dramatisation Hattie Naylor has taken the core of the four volumes of the novel to explore those edicts most at the heart of the Gothic Novel.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley    
image-6A number of Jane Austen fans in the US have been enjoying a festive Jane Austen based production called Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.

In this charmingly imagined sequel to Pride and Prejudice, the ever-dependable Mary Bennet is growing tired of her role as dutiful middle sister in the face of her siblings’ romantic escapades. When the family gathers for Christmas at Pemberley, an unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for independence, an intellectual match, and possibly even love.

In brief: Lady Catherine De Bourgh has died, and her estate, Rosings, has passed into the hands of a distant cousin, Arthur de Bourgh. As Arthur was an old school chum of Mr. Darcy’s, he has taken it upon himself to invite him over for Christmas. When he arrives, it becomes obvious almost immediately that he and Elizabeth’s book-loving sister Mary are a perfect match. Period-appropriate high jinks ensue.

It was all quite funny and touching. The four of us that went all liked it, as did the audience. It was totally sold out for its run, and they even added shows.

Tamara Church, California

A charming idea. We’re somewhat sad at the Jane Austen News that we can’t make it to the show ourselves!


Lizzy and Darcy Do (Rap) Battle    

If you liked Hamilton (the latest Broadway smash-hit musical) you might like this new piece of theatre from a group of actors at New York Public Theater. Now dubbed BARS Medley, the project takes literary classics and puts a contemporary spin on them.

As part of this project, Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice is reworked as a hip-hop rap battle between the two and involves narrators coaching the pair through a boxing ring show down (no punches are thrown). Even if you’re not a fan of rap, you have to admire the work play between the two.

To watch the battle between the two in the video below, skip to 6:33.


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.

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