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Jane Austen News – Issue 153

The Jane Austen News is enjoying Pride and Prejudice and Passports

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

A Surprise Newcomer Beats Pride and Prejudice 

To mark Valentine’s Day, Goodreads have announced their top romance novels of all time, based on the ratings of their 80 million members.

But it wasn’t one of the well-known and much loved romantic tales that came out as number one. Even though Pride and Prejudice regularly tops lists of the best books of all time! The book which took first place as the top romantic novel of all time in this latest poll is Coleen Hoover’s It End With Us, which is a relative newcomer given its release in 2016.

The New York Times bestseller It Ends With Us is all about successful business owner Lily, who meets a neurosurgeon called Ryle. And although the pair are clearly attracted to one another, she’s left flummoxed by his aversion to relationships. Later, thoughts of an old love only confuse Lily more.

It does sound like a good read, but we were amazed to find that Pride and Prejudice only reached number four on the list! Second was Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and in third place was Jojo Moyes bestseller, Me Before You. Having said that, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre fared far worse, only making it to number 13 on the list…

Well, Pride and Prejudice will always be the winner in the eyes of the Jane Austen News!

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 153

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Jane Austen News – Issue 87

the Jane Austen News learns more about JASP

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

A Look At Lizzy Bennet’s Drawers

This week at the Jane Austen News we had great fun reading Bustle‘s piece on underwear in the time of Jane Austen. At the Jane Austen Centre our guides are often asked what the underwear of the era was like, so it was nice to see that we got a mention in Bustle‘s article too.

In brief (sorry, the pun was too good) Melissa Ragsdale explained why, although the screen adaptations may look terribly genteel and elegant, in real life Regency England it wasn’t all tea and cake and comfort.

If you like feel like a lot of women and long to get home at the end of the day and ditch your bra and relax in a nice pair of comfy PJs, well, it would have been much worse back in Jane’s time…

Unlike Victorian corsets which hooked in the front and laced up the back, older corsets only laced up the back in a zigzag fashion using one string—cross lacing would be invented later on—and stiffened in the front with a carved wooden or bone busk which created a straight posture and separated the bosoms for the “heaving” effect, so popular at the time.

Although if you like going commando, you’d have been in luck…

According to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, ‘drawers’ (which were like loose shorts, and often crotchless) were invented in 1806, but it wasn’t common for adult women to wear them until after 1820. Drawers went on to merge into ‘knickers’ and ‘combinations’ during the Victorian era, and modern “panties” didn’t exist until the 1920s.

To see what else Melissa found out about Lizzy Bennet’s underwear drawer you can read the full article here.

Think Jane’s No Longer Relevant? Think Again

For anyone who thinks Jane Austen’s stories are no longer relevant to real life, The Jane Austen Society of Pakistan is out to explain why her words still ring true for them.

Laaleen Sukera, a journalist and the founder of JASP, has been speaking to The Economist in an article published this week, and explaining why Jane Austen is so popular in Pakistan, one of the main reasons being because the etiquette and customs of the Regency are still alive and well in society. A couple of examples:

  • Weddings are the equivalent of the Bath Assembly Rooms – it’s where people go to search for suitable partners.
  • There is still a ‘season’ – three months crammed with parties, weddings and balls where girls put on their best jewels and finery and check out the most eligible suitors on offer.
  • Inheritance laws still heavily favour male heirs.
  • Marrying your daughters to rich men, from good backgrounds, who can take good care of them, is still the main focus of many families.

Austen resonates with us because Regency England is so much like today’s Pakistan. I know her books are 200 years old and set in small English county towns and villages but, really, her themes, her characters, her situations, her plots, they could have been written for us now.

At the Jane Austen News we found it fascinating to read all about the parallels between Regency England and Pakistan, and on Austen’s popularity there. The full article (well worth a read!) can be found here.

 Online Role-Playing with Jane Austen – A Report

If shoot-em-up adventures or burning-rubber car chases aren’t your kind of thing, but at the same time you’re not completely averse to the whole idea of playing video games, then the latest reviews of a new virtual roleplaying game called Ever, Jane might well be of interest to you. Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 87

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Jane Austen News – Issue 50

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Second Jane Austen Fiver Found 

The Jane Austen News is on the Hunt for Jane fiversThe second of four rare £5 notes which feature a micro-engraved portrait of Jane Austen has been discovered inside a Christmas card in the Scottish Borders.

Mr Huggins-Haig, the micro-engraver behind the images of Jane Austen, spent the note which was to be released in Scotland in Granny Jean’s bakery in Kelso on December the 5th to start the project. This caused a huge surge in custom for the bakery when he revealed the move days later. However, the new owner of the note received it not from the bakery, but in a Christmas card from a relative in the same area who thought it was an ordinary £5. This note is the second of the four Bank of England notes to be found after the first was found in south Wales early in December. Two more of the Austen £5 notes are still ‘on the loose’; one spent in England and one in Northern Ireland (if you’re checking your notes then their serial numbers are AM32 885552 and AM32 885554).

Mr Huggins-Haig said the latest finder wants to remain anonymous but has had the note verified. Both finders of the notes so far want to keep them as art rather than to sell them for the projected £50,000 they’re worth. Mr Huggins-Haig says “they’ve both been found by wonderful people who are very deserving”.

Jane Austen Costume Parade Top Video for 2016   

The Bath Chronicle, the daily newspaper for the city, has been looking back over its most popular videos from 2016, and we at the15436176-large Jane Austen News are very pleased to say that their video of this year’s Grand Regency Costumed Promenade has made their top videos list.

The video shows the promenade coming up Milsom Street and includes Redcoats, Regency ladies in ballgowns, young girls in walking dresses – people in all manor of Regency attire. The promenade set off at 11a.m. from the Assembly Rooms and saw hundreds of Austen fans from all over the world braving the rather miserable weather in their finery to put on a great display for the people of Bath.

The video, which came in at the 8th most watched video of the year for the Chronicle, can be found here.

A Drenched Gent to Rival Mr Darcy? 

The books and recent screen adaptation of Poldark have proved to be quite popular among Austen fans, and not just Austen fans

_93180008_635163ad-7d23-4854-9a02-bfd5a46f6160either; many people who are relatively unfamiliar with period dramas have fallen for the Cornwall-set drama which has the talented Aidan Turner in the title role. In testament to this, a steamy bath scene from the second series of Poldark has topped a poll of the biggest television moments of 2016.

Over 2,000 people took part in the online poll; thus giving Turner the award for the biggest television moment  for the second year in a row (in 2015 his topless scything scene won the poll).

Perhaps Mr Darcy has competition now when it comes to our favourite dripping-wet male?

Checking In With the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan   

At the Jane Austen News we love hearing about what Jane Austen societies around the world have been up to, so we really japs2enjoyed hearing about the latest event which the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP) held.

The society, or at least some of its members (its numbers are growing and now includes members from 45 different countries), meet up once a year for a special tea party in which each attendee picks a character to embody. They get dressed in appropriate attire and then enjoy talking all things Austen over a wonderful tea of scones, sandwiches and cake. This year it was ‘afternoon tea at Netherfield’ and characters included Lady Catharine de Bourgh, Caroline Bingley, and, of course, Lizzy Bennet.

Laaleen Sukhera, founder of the society, explained why she thinks Jane Austen is particularly relevant for women in Pakistan:

It’s always about marriage in our households – the pressure to be well-dressed and respectable, to appear eligible, and to have a male heir. These are familiar pressures, and it’s no wonder that women continue to read Austen with so much investment.

Before the Fall = Pride and Prejudice? Does it?  

before-the-fall-slideBefore the Fall is a film due to be released in 2017. Currently it’s touring film festivals and receiving accolades as it goes. Many of these are from LGBT groups and advocates as Before The Fall is Pride and Prejudice from a gay perspective. Elizabeth Bennet is now Ben Bennett, a wealthy lawyer, and Mr Darcy is Lee Darcy, a factory worker.

Set in modern day West Virginia, Ben Bennett is an affluent but seemingly arrogant attorney who unknowingly insults Lee Darcy, a detached factory worker wrongly charged with domestic abuse. Both men form an immediate dislike for each other which becomes a significant problem when Ben falls in love with Lee.

To say that Before The Fall takes a fairly liberal approach to the original plot is a bit of an understatement. The main aspects that remain seem to be the surnames and the main characters’ dislike of one another. Despite the fact that it’s barely recognisable as Pride and Prejudice, it looks like an interesting film in its own right.

Welcoming in the New Year with Jane  

There’s a saying that you should welcome in the New Year in the way in which you hope to continue for the rest of the year. Well Printwe certainly hope that’s what the South Coast Folk Society had in mind when they scheduled a celebratory afternoon tea dance for Saturday 31st December.

The dance was open to all and no experience or partner was needed to enjoy the dance. Costumes were welcome and a delightful time was had by all.

We thoroughly approve of this as a New Year’s celebration. Well done South Coast Folk Society!

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 32

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?


Amazing Librarians Up For Award       
Girl reading at the libraryLibraries are wonderful, magical places, and one of the things that helps the to be such is their dedicated librarians. So, in order to honour the work of these fantastic people who work in school libraries and help children to become lovers of books from an early age, the School Librarian of the Year Award was set up. We have to say, this year’s honour list, from which an overall winner will be announced in a ceremony at Covent Gardens in London on October 3rd, has some truly amazing examples of librarians who go above and beyond in their jobs.

Amy McKay, librarian at Corby Business Academy in Northamptonshire, has hosted barbecues, sleepovers, a comic-con event, a zombie-apocalypse and staff-pupil battles of the books to introduce pupils to different genres and authors.

Lauren Thow of Portobello High School in Edinburgh has research lessons for pupils, in which she occasionally dresses as Sir Alan Sugar and has established a Portobello High literature festival.

Sophie Chalmers library at Southbrook School in Devon is housed inside a double-decker bus (how wonderful is that?) and she has established a reading-buddy scheme, connecting her own special school with the local mainstream secondary.

Alison Tarrant helped to establish her library at Cambourne Village College in Cambridgeshire, and this involved the donning of  hard hats and high-visibility jackets as the build began.

But the one that really caught our eye was Rachel Knight, who is a librarian at the independent Sherborne Girls’ School in Dorset. She has dressed up in a white coat and dug out her stethoscope to act as the school’s “book doctor”, but she’s also hosted a dinner party with Mr Darcy for her pupils! Clearly a librarian after our own hearts!

A Regency Request 

90c7c3e9abee3428a09cce7ee729f3a5The guides at the Jane Austen Centre have an unusual request for actor Dominic Cooper, who played Willoughby in the 2008 BBC production of Sense and Sensibility.

After noticing that Mr Cooper was set to appear in The Libertine at Bath Theatre Royal while the annual Jane Austen Festival would be on two of the guides penned a letter with quill and ink, and using Jane’s tone of voice and references to her work, asking whether he might visit the Jane Austen Centre for complimentary afternoon tea, donate a signature for the centre’s signature wall, and perhaps read a passage of Sense and Sensibility during the festival.

For the past 16 years, the Jane Austen Centre has welcomed many a famous face from the Austen film adaptations through their doors, including Rosamund Pyke, Anne Hathaway, and Matthew MacFadyen, and as the film adaptations play such a huge part in the Austenite fan base, we always endeavour to get our hands hands on a signed photograph to add to our wall of fame if we can.

Lauren Thompson, Duty Manager

The guides at the centre and all of us at the Jane Austen News are keeping their fingers crossed that he accepts.

Was Austen More Financially Savvy Than Modern Women?   

53_mrs_bennet_Pride_and_PrejudiceJane Caro, writing for the online magazine Women’s Agenda, has proposed the idea that women today are still somewhat stuck in the era of Austen when it comes to money matters and she has come to the defence of Mrs Bennet’s obsession with marriage. In her opinion Mrs Bennet should be applauded not derided. Shame on Mr Bennet who sat back and trusted that it would all somehow work out for his daughters, and well done Mrs Bennet for knowing that marrying her daughters off was the best thing she could do to protect their future and actively pursuing it.

However, the main aim of Caro’s article is to propose that, while in Jane’s time marrying a man was a good financial plan, too many women today are still thinking that looking after the finances is a man’s responsibility.”Research from the Financial Planning Association indicates that only 20% of Australian women aged between 18 and 55 have sought professional financial advice, which means a terrifying 80% of us have not.”

It’s an interesting point. Although a lot of our attitudes about life have changed (for one thing our life’s entire aim is no longer just to get married) what ideas from the 1700s and 1800s do we still have that desperately need an update? Is the idea that finances are mainly a man’s domain still one of them?

Austen Set In Pakistan = Austenistan    


14046127_1153777414682485_3260289516705750342_nLaaleen Khan, a British Pakistani media professional who is also the founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP), has an exciting new project in progress which she hopes will be published next year. That project is Austenistan – a new Jane Austen-inspired anthology set among Pakistani society.

Laaleen has asked writers to contribute short stories to this new anthology which she hopes will be “unabashedly mainstream commercial fiction for global readership and relatable for women everywhere.” She hopes that the combination of Austen and Pakistani culture will  “reveal an authenticity about Pakistani society that is seldom explored internationally to generate a new appreciation about metropolitan lifestyles here.”

Austenistan is an engrossing anthology of more than 15 short stories. I’m the editor and one of its contributors. Earlier this year, I invited an array of brilliant women, who are also members of JASP, to contribute stories inspired by Jane Austen’s characters or storylines, and set in Pakistani society. It’s already created a flutter among international publishing circles, which is so encouraging.

The Cate Morland Chronicles  

A few years ago The Lizzie Bennet Diaries were published on YouTube. For those readers who have not come across the Lizzie Bennet Diaries before, they tell a modernised version of the story of Pride and Prejudice through a series of vlogs made by Lizzie and Charlotte. They were the work of “Pemberley Digital”  who also filmed other classic books in the same way, including Emma Approved, Frankenstein MD, Welcome to Sanditon, and The March Family Letters.

Now the latest Austen book to get its own online series is Northanger Abbey. Though not published through Pemberley Digital, but rather created by Apple Juice Productions, The Cate Morland Chronicles follows a similar format to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Through a number of vlogs we meet and learn about Cate Morland and see the story of Northanger Abbey play out. But while in Northanger Abbey Catherine Morland has a deep love for Gothic novels, in the vlogs this love becomes a general love for genre fiction in all its shapes and sizes – anime, Star Trek etc.

The full series being uploaded to YouTube over the next few months, with episodes 1-10 already live.

Voting On Bromley’s Mr Darcy Almost Closed 

A little while ago the Jane Austen News came across a story which announced that Bromley was looking for its own Mr Darcy. The public were asked to find and nominate Bromley’s own Mr Darcy and give him the rewards he deserves which included a pair of tickets to Pride and Prejudice at the Churchill Theatre and an overnight stay for two at Bromley Court Hotel. Well the nominations are in and it was lovely to read about all of the wonderful things the nominees had done.

One finalist was nominated by his partner because he had supported her so fully after she had recently had major spinal surgery, and one nominee was a son nominated by his mother because he “holds all the old family values”.

The finalists will be announced on August 31st following an online public vote. (If you wish to vote the link is here.)

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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