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Jane Austen News – Issue 66

The Jane Austen News is a P&P ballet

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 Pride and Prejudice Becomes A Ballet  

Pride and Prejudice has been performed many many times on stage by various companies in plenty of different styles. However, on April 21st it enjoyed its premiere as a ballet. Performed by the American Repertory Ballet at McCarter Theatre Centre in Princeton, New Jersey, Pride and Prejudice has been choreographed by the ARB’s Artistic Director Douglas Martin, and the production features ARB dancers performing to live accompaniment by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor John Devlin.

Douglas Martin, an Austen fan, spent years on this adaptation and it shows in its level of attention to detail. For example, the dancing is set to music by Ignaz Pleyel, a popular composer during Austen’s lifetime who is largely unknown today, and  it takes pains to look at the detailed relationship of four of the Bennet sisters, as well as that between Darcy and Lizzy.

According to Martin it’s not a typical ballet either. The choreography echoes that of some of the popular dances of the time, including the minuet, though Martin has adapted a few moves and made them “more balletic.” It also includes quick set and costume changes (some costume changes have to be completed in 20 seconds!) and the action is driven by acting and not just by dances.

At the Jane Austen News we can see how the romance of Pride and Prejudice would recommend itself to becoming a ballet. We just wish we could have been there to see it!

Unveiling Jane’s £10 Note 

Although it won’t enter general circulation until September this year (just in time for Bath’s Jane Austen Festival!), the official unveiling of the new Jane Austen ten pound note has been announced. It’s due to take place on July the 18th on the anniversary of the date of her death in Winchester Cathedral, where Jane is buried.

Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said in a statement that “Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature. As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and Winston Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”

Below is a video released by the Bank of England which goes into a bit more detail about their decision to put Jane on the banknote.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 66

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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.

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Jane Austen in the Digital Age: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

By Priyanka Chavda

Jane Austen’s influence has continued to grow since her publication in the 19th century, and one of the most loved novels, Pride and Prejudice has seen an array of adaptations from the 1995 BBC adaptation with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle to Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice. The attempt to re-connect with the author and her classic works, and open it to modern audience has taken a new direction.
One such success was made by American video production company Pemberley Digital, who adapt classic works onto new media platforms. Utilising social media – Youtube, Twitter, Tumbler, Pinterest to name a few they open classic literature to a wider audience whilst telling an enriched and innovative story. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, introduces audiences to the well-loved characters from the novel but with a slight twist. Bernie Su and Hank Green, the creators have a wider scope, free from the costumes and Regency setting they are able to modernise Austen’s novel though the world of social media. Rejuvenating the novel whilst remaining faithful to the original the adaptation recaptures Austen and presents Pride and Prejudice in a whole new light.

The cast of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries connected with audiences through Twitter, Blogging and Youtube.
The cast of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries connected with audiences through Twitter, Blogging and Youtube.

Narrated by 24-year old graduate Elizabeth Bennett (played by Ashley Clements) from California, the series is a video diary on her life since completing college and moving back home, her overbearing mother, her relationship with sisters and Mr Darcy. Each 10 minute clip shows Elizabeth telling and re-enacting events such as her first meeting with the socially awkward and pretentious William Darcy to visiting her best friend Charlotte Lu (played by Julia Cho) in San Francisco.

The cast bring the characters to life and even though not all characters such as Mr and Mrs Bennet appear, they are still incorporated within the series through Elizabeth’s re-enactment of her parents and their traits. Lydia (played by Mary Kate Wilkes) almost steals the light from Elizabeth in several episodes with her loud personality whilst Jane (played by Laura Spencer) is quiet and gentle very much like in the novel. Each character even has their own Twitter page with in-character tweets through which they connect to audiences with as well as each other.

You can watch the entire series on Pemberley Digital's website.
You can watch the entire series on Pemberley Digital’s website.

The adaptation brings the novel to modern day audiences and uses it as a basis to create events which are relatable for younger audiences such as Elizabeth not wanting to join Mr Collins’s company instead opting to complete her studies and Mrs Bennet’s eagerness to get her daughters married is a reps one to the possible loss of their home. The series is successful in exploring the events of the novel in the modern day and is most definitely one of the best adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.


With its success the Lizzie Bennet Diaries has won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in 2013, and has gone on to produce two books, one of which solely focuses on Lydia Bennet telling the story from her perspective.

Priyanka is an English Literature graduate, aspiring to be a writer and work in the film industry.

After the success of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Pemberley Digital has given Austen’s Emma and Sanditon similar treatment.