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Jane Austen News – Issue 73

The Jane Austen News watches the new display take shape

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Authors On Austen Up For Auction  

Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan, among others, have created revealing handwritten homages about Jane Austen in aid of a charity auction which is being held to raise funds for the Royal Society of Literature.

The auction includes Atwood writing on how Austen’s novels “set a bad example”, a new unpublished story by Hilary Mantel based on Pride & Prejudice, Ian McEwan on the “profound influence” of Northanger Abbey on his novel Atonement, Ian Rankin on disliking “stuffy” Jane Austen, and Sarah Waters turning cartoonist for “a good read”.

The auction also includes original works by other prominent authors (including Bath-born Jacqueline Wilson), and an annotated script by Andrew Davies from the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice TV mini-series.

At the Jane Austen News we’re sure the auction will be a huge success with such amazing items up for sale!

I especially liked the scene in which Elizabeth Bennett [sic] stands down Lady de Bourgh. I longed to do the same to my gym teacher, but occasion never offered.

Margaret Atwood


Austen vs. Austin 

It’s an incredibly common mistake – writing Jane’s last name as “Austin” rather than as it ought to be spelt – Austen with an eand it’s a mistake that even those who knew Jane personally made!

A royalty cheque which was paid to Jane from her publisher John Murray following the success of Jane’s novel Emma has shown that he also spelt her name wrong. However, it seems that either Jane didn’t really mind, or the fact that she was actually being given money for her writing was enough to let her gloss over the mistake, as she also signed the back of the £38 (plus 18 shillings and one pence) cheque as “Jane Austin”. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, the sum would be worth about £3400 ($4385) today. We can see why she might have chosen not to complain!

The cheque is on display as part of the Which Jane Austen? exhibition at the Bodleian Library.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 73

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The new Jane Austen Portrait by Melissa Dring

New Jane Austen portraitThe New Jane Austen Portrait using source material and forensic methods Introduction: Forensic Artist Melissa Dring In 2001, Melissa Dring* was commissioned by David Baldock, the Director of the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, to produce a new portrait of the author, as she might have appeared during her time in Bath, 1801-06. Combining the insights of the professional portrait painter with those of the police forensic artist, Melissa was uniquely qualified to accept this challenge. David Baldock had heard of her work on a speculative likeness of the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi. A film producer, wanting a likeness to use as a casting aid for a proposed film biography of the composer, and feeling it was a job for a forensic artist, had approached Scotland Yard, who recommended Melissa. The difficulty with both commissions was their shared lack of reliable contemporary portraiture, although a wealth of written eye-witness accounts survive in both cases. Melissa Takes up the story… My new speculative likeness of Jane Austen fills the gap left by the paucity of authenticated representations of the author. As I hope it will come to be accepted as a good portrait of her, despite being made 185 years after her death, I will describe the research and working methods I used, so that it can be seen how it is based almost entirely on solid fact, and how little guesswork was needed. There is a tiny pencil and watercolour sketch of her, in the National Portrait Gallery in London, by (more…)
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Jane Austin information from the Jane Austen Centre

Jane Austen by Melissa DringJane Austin is a common mis-spelling of Jane Austen Jane Austin was born in 1775 at Steveton in Hampshire. She was the youngest of seven children, her father was the Reverend George Austen, her mother, Cassandra Austen. Her Brothers James and Henry eventually became clergymen like her father. Her other brothers Frank and Charles joined the Navy and became successful admirals. Jane Austin has another brother named George who had an unknown disability and was taken care of by a relation of her mother near the Austin household.  Her last brother, Edward was adopted by the Austen’s rich relations, the Knight family and raised as the heir to their vast fortune.  Jane Austin was very close to her only sister, Cassandra. They shared a room their whole life and wrote letters to each other back and forth, some of which still survive today. Jane Austin had a brief flirtation as a young woman, with an Irish gentleman named Tom Lefroy. They spent a good deal of time together until he was taken away by his relations. She was also engaged for one night to a man named Harris Bigg-Wither who would inherit a large estate. However she had second thoughts and after tossing and turning all night, she realized could not marry someone she did not love. In her lifetime Jane Austin completed six novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. She also wrote a few short stories including The Watsons, written in (more…)
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