A look at James Cawthorn, George Austen and the Curious Case of the Schoolboy Who Was Killed by Martin J. Cawthorne
Jane Austen’s father, George Austen has many connections to the city of Bath.
On the 26th April 1764 he married, by special licence, Cassandra Leigh in St Swithin’s, Walcot. The Austen family were regular visitors to Bath and in December 1800, after 35 years ministering in Steventon, George Austen announced his retirement and moved to Bath, where he spent his final years. He died in the city on the 21st January 1805 and is buried at St Swithin’s Church where a memorial to him has been erected.
Jane Austen lived at home with her parents all her life and the Rev George Austen played a significant part in her life. Apart from a brief period at boarding school, Jane was largely educated at home; George also provided writing equipment for her to develop her literary talent. The Rev Austen features in Jane’s correspondence and as a result much is known about his adult life. Very little, however, has been written about George Austen’s early life, before he met and married Cassandra Leigh. It is known that he was orphaned at the age of six before going to school in his home town of Tonbridge, Kent, from where he won a scholarship to study at St John’s College, Oxford. However, very little has been written about these formative early years of his life – until now.
Continue reading The Formative Years of George Austen, Jane’s father
What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 2017 Is The Year Of Literature Next year is a milestone for quite a few heroes of British literature, and to celebrate VisitEngland has declared it the ‘Year of Literary Heroes’. Among the anniversaries being celebrated are the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and publication anniversaries for Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Enid Blyton. 2017 will be mark the 75th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five, and it will be twenty years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! As well events surrounding these, there will also be special programmes of events to celebrate the wartime poet Edward Thomas in Petersfield, Hampshire, an exhibition on writer Arnold Bennett, and a festival dedicated to children’s author Arthur Ransome – the writer of Swallows and Amazons. So it seems 2017 is the year to visit England if you’re a fan of literature. Of course there will be plenty of special events on across the country to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death, and we’ll keep you up to date with what’s set to be going on. A Christmas Dinner at Chawton Library Best-selling author Edward Rutherfurd (his debut novel Sarum, a 10,000-year story set in Salisbury, was on the New York Times Bestseller List for 23 weeks) will add star appeal to the Christmas supper at Chawton House Library next month. Offering an opportunity to partake of a festive meal in the atmospheric oak-panelled rooms where Jane dined with her family, the black (more…)
What’s the Jane Austen News this week? National Library Protests in The UK There was a protest in London on Saturday (5th November) as authors joined hundreds of members of the public (around 1,800) in the first national demonstration to protect library services. The march was held in response to the string of library closures which have been taking place across the UK over the past five years as the government looked to make cuts to local council spending. According to research by the House of Commons library service and the BBC, around one in eight council-run libraries has been closed or passed out of the public sector since 2010. In addition to this, total spending by councils on library services fell by a fifth between 2010 and 2015, and other research also showed that a quarter of all library jobs have been done away with since May 2010; 8,000 jobs in total. To help supplement this 15,500 volunteers have been called upon to take their place. Even this is not enough to stop the library erosion. Alan Gibbons, children’s author and one of the march organisers, had this to say: Libraries are places of learning and opportunity. They are community hubs in areas where there is no other collective meeting place. They provide advice, books, computers, storytelling, information and education. Any government that allows them to close can’t claim to want a literate society. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Are There Too Many Adaptations? (more…)
What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Big Money for New Austen Tenners? On the 13th of September the UK’s new five pound note was released for general use, and they caused a stir for those lucky enough to be given the sought-after low serial number notes. Those given some of the million notes with “AA01” serial numbers soon found that their notes might be worth more than their face value, and soon the ebay listings began popping up. In fact one man who received three of the AA01 notes managed to sell the set for £456! As well as a new polymer design to help the notes to last when in use, the new £5, £10 and £20 notes also feature a fresh set of important figures from UK history. The five pound note features Winston Churchill, the twenty pound note set for release in 2020 will feature JMW Turner, but the ten pound note due for release next year will feature Jane Austen. Three Winstons raised £456, and now at the Jane Austen News we’re wondering what kind of price a set of three “AA01” Austens could command. The Cate Morland Chronicles – By Women, For Women The cast and crew behind The Cate Morland Chronicles, the new web adaptation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, have said that one of the things they feel proudest of when it comes to the series is the fact that the crew is almost entirely made up of women, with the (more…)
by Marc DeSantis A Rural England Though Jane Austen’s life of forty-one years was lamentably short, her time on earth, 1775 to 1817, was nonetheless one of great and momentous change. England was still largely rural in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the rhythm of its country life was tied to the seasonal needs of agriculture. The population of Britain at the dawn of the nineteenth century was nine million, with four-fifths of this total living in the country. Fully one-third of the population of England was employed in agriculture. Like farmers in all times and places, the rural folk of Jane’s English countryside were at the mercy of the weather, which was especially fickle in the late eighteenth century. The winters were often very cold, and the springs very wet and late in arriving. Summers could be either very dry or cold and wet. Crops and livestock could be devastated by too much cold or not enough rain. Poor weather also encouraged the spread of blights and rots. When the wheat harvest was bad, the price of bread shot up, making it hard for the poor to feed themselves, and riots over food would sometimes erupt among the rural hungry. Life in the country had other hardships. There were highwaymen on the roads ready to waylay travelers, groups of gypsies robbed countryfolk as well, and thieves stole horses and other valuables. On some occasions there were even murders, particularly when it was thought that a vulnerable (more…)
What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Colin Firth Doesn’t Think Mr Darcy Is Attractive Colin Firth has confessed that he doesn’t understand why Mr Darcy is so popular. In fact he said that he took the role not to be a heart-throb but because he “thought it would be quite fun and liberating to play someone who was completely and utterly dislikeable, unsympathetic, judgemental and snobbish.” While speaking to the Daily Mail he also said; I didn’t have to think about bringing charm to the role – the way I saw it, I just had to stand there and make everyone hate me … then this weird thing happened where people liked him, which wasn’t what I was expecting at all! We’re 20 years on and I still don’t understand it. He may not understand how it happened, but he most definitely did make Mr Darcy a success. And Adrain Lukis Doesn’t Think Mr Wickham Is That Bad From one actor with an unusual take on his character to another. Many would consider Mr Wickham, with his attempted, and later successful, elopements and his constant lying, to be the villain of Pride and Prejudice. However, Adrian Lukis who played him in the 1995 BBC production doesn’t see him that way. While speaking to reporter Flora Thompson he said I do not see Wickham as an out-and-out villain. People are not meant to see him as that – he is an adventurer, he doesn’t have any money – (more…)
What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Bath One of the Best Literary Breaks in the UK According to Travel Weekly Bath is one of the top ten UK cities to visit for a literary break. While many authors have lived and visited Bath over the years, including Charles Dickens and Mary Shelley, the focus of Travel Weekly‘s literary break in Bath was, of course, Jane Austen. We were delighted to see that one of their recommended highlights of Jane Austen’s Bath including visiting the Jane Austen Centre, and also staying during September for the Jane Austen Festival. Other destinations which made the top ten were Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury, Sherlock Holme’s London, Beatrix Potter’s Lake District and Brontë Country (Haworth/Top Withens/Thornton). Writing Women Onto The Stage Via Jane Austen Kate Hamill was fed up with the lack of female roles onstage, so she decided to do something about it. The result was her award-winning adaptation of adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. “I had been an actor for many years,” Hamill said, “and was frustrated because oftentimes when you’re a woman, you’re competing with 400 other actresses to play someone’s wife… girlfriend… prostitute.” She explained the lack of strong, complicated heroines, such as those created by Austen, on stage: “most adapters are not young women.” As such she became an adapter herself. This spirit of creating the stories (or in this case creating the roles) which you want to read (or play) is very much in the spirit of Jane (more…)
When the final credits roll on an Austen film, whether you’ve loved it or not, it’s often fun to find out more. What were relationships like on and off the set? Where did they film these great houses? Who designed the costumes? Was the final product true to the script? Were there any extra scenes that were cut? Fortunately for us, many of the movies do have additional information available. Pride and Prejudice (1995) boasts a “Making Of” feature on the newest DVD version and the book The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin answers just about any question interested fans might have. Sense and Sensibility won Emma Thompson an Oscar for best screenplay when it was released in 1995. During the filming of the movie, Thompson kept a detailed diary of life on and off the set. Both the script and the diary are available in individual and combined formats. Also produced in 1995, Persuasion’s script by Nick Dear was printed in book format and is occasionally available from used book sellers. That year’s other Austen offering, Clueless, is an updated version of Emma, set in California. The special edition DVD boasts cast interviews and “making of” information. Scripts were also published of both Douglas McGrath’s 1996 script for the Gwyneth Patrow version of Emma , and for Andrew Davies’s version for TV. That script, along with cast and behind the scenes information was published as The Making of Jane Austen’s Emma by Sue (more…)