What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Rare Portrait of Jane Austen Goes on Display
Members of The Jane Austen Cambridge Group enjoyed a private viewing of an oil painting of Jane Austen, the ‘Rice Portrait’, at Queens’ College on Saturday (December 10) before the group’s annual lunch. They were also treated to a talk on the portrait’s origins and significance by researcher Ellie Bennett.
For the last ten years the group has celebrated Austen’s birthday with an annual lunch or dinner as near to December 16th, Jane Austen’s birthday, as possible. This year they had a special treat when the famous Rice Portrait was brought out of a vault in Switzerland for the occasion by owner Anne Rice and her son John. (Anne’s husband, the late Henry Rice, was a descendent of the Austen family, who died on July 18, 1817 and the portrait was passed down to him from the Austen family as part of the estate.)
There is some controversy around the portrait, as the National Portrait Gallery doesn’t believe the portrait is of Jane Austen, whereas other experts definitely think it is. The portrait was painted by Ozias Humphry in 1788 or 1789, and it is thought to be of Jane Austen at the age of 13.
It’s stunning. When you’re standing in front of it, the twinkle in her left eye. It’s like she’s looking at you. It’s quite incredible, you can’t see it and not be moved by it.
Vicki Smith, joint secretary of The Jane Austen Cambridge Group
Will Spain Have A Jane Austen Street?
In the UK we at the Jane Austen News were delighted when it was announced that she would be appearing on the £10 bank note next year. It was also great news when we heard that a secondary school in Norwich was being named Jane Austen College. Now it seems that a street in León in Spain might be the next thing to be named after the great author.
As part of a widespread initiative across the country to be are replace Franco-era street names with those of influential women, León, in the northern part of the country, has asked the public to choose the new names they would like their streets to have from a list that includes Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, and Jane Austen. At the moment less than 10 percent of Spanish streets currently honour women, and, in Madrid, all but one of those that do are named for the Virgin Mary or a Catholic saint.
Austen Notes Worth Even More Than First Thought
In last week’s Jane Austen News, we said that the four new £5 notes which carry a miniature hidden engraving of Jane Austen on them could be worth, instead of just £5, £20,000! Since then, as more and more people have heard about the engravings, the price tag has more than doubled. The notes are now thought to be worth as much as £50,000!
The Austen engraving is visible to the naked eye but viewers will need a microscope to see it properly. Mr Short, the engraver behind the works, goes to great lengths to create his art on such a minuscule scale. One way he manages to engrave such tiny images is by working late at night – so he can’t hear the rumbling of traffic and be distracted by it. Another even more surprising thing he does in order to make his art, is to wear a stethoscope so he can hear the beating of his own heart. He then works between the beats so he remains perfectly still. Such dedication!
Love & Friendship Seventh Top Film of 2016
Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman and based on Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan (which she wrote at the age of only 19!), was released to UK cinemas on May 27th this year, and to cinemas around the world shortly afterwards. The film received rave reviews from film critics and Jane Austen fans alike, and it seems that it’s not only die-hard Austen fans who enjoyed it.
Love & Friendship has been named as the seventh best film of 2016 by the Guardian’s film team. It beat some of the most highly anticipated films of the year to get there, such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (26th on the list), and Deadpool (24th on the list). We at the Jane Austen News were delighted with the end film when we got to see it, and are so pleased that other film fans enjoyed it as much as we did.
On Saturday the 10th December, the Nebraska chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America, along with the Friends of Omaha Public Library, saw the 13th annual Jane Austen Tea (which they had sponsored) occur with great success at at W. Dale Clark Library in Omaha. Participants were asked to bring their favourite teacups to the event, and the festivities included “light English fare, tea and a talk by Barbara Trout, author of “Reflections of the Regency Period: Dressing with Accessories”.”
Congratulations to the Jane Austen fans in and around Omaha who made it and had a lovely afternoon of tea, book talk, and Jane Austen.
Jane Austen Day This Friday!
This Friday (Friday the 16th of December) is Jane Austen’s birthday, and is also Jane Austen Day – a day dedicated to celebrating her life and achievements, and to telling as many people as possible about her amazing works.
This year marks 241 years since her birth in Steventon in Hampshire in England, and we’d love to hear from you if you’re doing anything to mark Jane Austen day. These are a few of our suggestions:
- Watch your favourite Austen adaptation.
- Wear Regency costume for the day (or maybe carry a reticule instead of a handbag for the day?).
- Go for a long walk in the countryside (weather permitting…).
- Sit by the fire and drink a glass of wine! This was after all one of Jane’s favourite pastimes.
Let us know what you’re up to, and happy Jane Austen Day!
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