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Jane Austen News – Issue 138

The Jane Austen News looks at Darcy

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

Mr Darcy’s Reputation Condemned At Lit Fest

Writer and podcaster Dolly Alderton delivered a controversial judgement on Jane’s most famous romantic hero, Mr Darcy, at Cheltenham Literature Festival this Sunday.

Alderton put forward her opinion that Darcy is a conceited, rude, humourless snob, who has had a dangerous effect on dating culture. She also said that Darcy was probably the first written example of ‘negging’; a phrase which was coined by the American writer Neil Strauss, in his book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists. Negging, in case you (like I) didn’t know, is the act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment, or flirtatious remark, to undermine someone’s confidence and increase the need for approval.

Alderton quoted as one piece of evidence of negging from Pride and Prejudice, the point where Darcy says (in her earshot) that Elizabeth Bennet “is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

When you Google Mr Darcy there are so many female apologists for his behaviour. So many say he is just shy. Women are so, so keen to preserve the romantic mysticism of Mr Darcy.

The idea that a man is there to be cracked or is hard to get or something to be won I think is very, very damaging. It should not be that difficult. Elizabeth is the prize to be won.

Alderton was taking part in a debate about which romantic hero from literature, Darcy or Heathcliff, was the worst. Hopefully Darcy fans will be able to take some comfort therefore in the fact that the audience agreed that Heathcliff, “a man who hanged dogs, beat up old women and imprisoned young women”, was worst.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 110

the jane austen news

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

Emma Changes The Face of Fiction

200 years after it was first published, John Mullan, professor of English at University College London and a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, is arguing that Jane Austen’s Emma belongs alongside the works of Flaubert, Joyce and Woolf as one of the great experimental novels.

Mullan argues that Emma was not revolutionary because of its subject matter, but was revolutionary in its form and technique. “Its heroine is a self-deluded young woman with the leisure and power to meddle in the lives of her neighbours. The narrative was radically experimental because it was designed to share her delusions.”

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Jane Austen News – Issue 69

The Jane Austen News is our new hare!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  You Could Live In Longbourn

 The Jane Austen News is that Longbourn is for sale! 
If you happen to have a spare £9 million lying around then Longbourn, home of the Bennet family, could be yours!

Luckington Court, which was the location used in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice (you know the one – it had Colin Firth and that wet shirt scene in it) to portray the home of the Bennets, is up for sale for the first time in 70 years.

The estate sits beautifully on 156 acres in the small village of Luckington, in Wiltshire, England. The house itself has seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, as well as paddocks and some wonderfully maintained gardens. Though naturally its biggest selling point is probably going to be its filming credentials!  If only we had the money!


 Jane? Is That You?   

There’s been something of a backlash recently against the image of Jane Austen which is set to appear on the new £10 bank note, which will go into general circulation in the UK this September.

The image which will be used on the note was based upon the unfinished portrait of Jane as painted by her sister Cassandra, but never completed as the Austen family said it did not look like her. However complaints have been made that the portrait of Jane which appears on the note has been “given a Disney style touch up”. Paula Byrne, one of Jane’s biographers, said that “they presumably said to the artist, ‘make it look prettier’. It is like doctoring a selfie by a celebrity.”

Three years ago the Jane Austen Centre contacted the Bank of England to offer their own specially-commissioned image of Jane for use on the note. Bath MP Don Foster wrote to the Bank of England on behalf of the Centre and Victoria Cleland, the Bank’s Chief Cashier, wrote back:

We noted with interest the unveiling of the new Jane Austen waxwork: an exciting feature for the… Jane Austen Centre.

However, I am afraid it would be incredibly difficult at this stage to change the image that will be on the £10 banknote.

The Bank gave very careful thought to this selection, considering the available portraits of Jane Austen and consulting a number of experts.

 In a recent statement, Centre spokesman David Lassman added that:

Although we had to accept the Bank of England’s decision, we feel it was a missed opportunity, given the level of criticism their final choice is currently receiving from Austen experts.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 61

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

 Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen  

In the lead up to the publication of her new book about Jane Austen, Jane Austen at Home, published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 18th May 2017, Lucy Worsley has been writing various articles and giving interviews for websites and newspapers exploring aspects of Jane’s life.

Within the latest article, written for The Sunday Times by Sian Griffiths, Lucy Worsley has highlighted come of the suitors which Jane apparently spurned in order to keep writing.

“She turned down four or five proposals of marriage and financial security to have a go at living by her pen. And because it wasn’t socially appropriate for her to be a writer, she had to write in secret, and go on pretending to be a good daughter, aunt and housekeeper.”

“The list of potential suitors included Charles Powlett, who wanted to kiss Austen when he was 20; Tom Lefroy; the Reverend Samuel Blackall; Harris Bigg-Wither, who proposed only to be turned down by the writer within 24 hours; the Reverend Edward Bridges; Robert Holt Leigh, an MP who flirted with Austen; and William Seymour, a lawyer.”

However, Deirdre Le Faye, editor of Austen’s letters, said that while she accepted that there were several men in Austen’s life, she did not believe the author spurned them so that she could be a writer, or that she made feminist choices.

“Lucy Worsley enjoys mak­ing history fun,” said Le Faye, “but I do not agree with her argument. There were eligible young men in Jane Austen’s orbit but I do not know of evidence she turned them down so she could carry on writing, but we will never know.”

The full article can be found here.

 Joanna Trollope on Jane Austen and The Austen Project 

Best-selling author Joanna Trollope was one of six authors picked to take part in the Austen project; an initiative begun in 2013 by publisher Harper Collins, which saw top contemporary authors reworking Jane’s six completed novels for a modern audience.

This week Joanna was answering questions via The Guardian website and one of the questions she was asked was:

What is the case for the rewrites of Jane Austen’s books? You have redone Sense and Sensibility while others of the Austen canon have been reworked by others. How would you react if a publisher proposed that your books be rewritten by others?“.

Here’s what she had to say:

The Austen Project was dreamt up by a very clever editor at Harper Collins who is now at Faber. Her idea was to emphasise the timelessness of Jane Austen’s characterisation by taking stories that had been written before 1815 and transposing them to 2013. So the aim was not so much to showcase modern writers, as to display the eternal genius of Jane Austen.

I not only think my novels would be very honoured to be rewritten in 200 years time, I think they would benefit! There is, after all, nothing new to say about the human condition that Sophocles or Shakespeare haven’t brilliantly said already. All writers do is reinterpret or translate those eternal truths about humanity for their own times. I am not of the school of writers who believes that we are inventors, as you will gather! And that explains why, when it came to updating Sense and Sensibility, I not only stuck to Jane’s narrative and characterisation like paint, I also stuck to her treatment of her characters. In Sense and Sensibility there are only two characters she does not tease – one is Elinor Dashwood and the other is Colonel Brandon – and I have treated them in the same way Jane does herself.

I started the project thinking she was a brilliant novelist. I ended the project believing she was a complete genius and nothing that has happened since has caused me to revise that opinion.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 55

The Jane Austen News has a new book on its to read list

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Jane Austen at Home (with Lucy Worsley)    

Some of our guides, and we’re sure other Austen/history fans, have been enjoying watching Lucy Worlsey’s new series British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worlsey, and considering how good Lucy is at uncovering the unusual facts and anecdotes that bring history to life, at the Jane Austen News we were very excited to read that her new book Jane Austen at Home: A Biography, has its official UK release date on May the 18th (US release July 11th).

In this new biography of Jane Austen, Lucy takes a trip back to Jane’s world and the many places she lived. Lucy visits Austen’s childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses – both grand and small – of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Lucy discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a ‘life without incident’. Lucy examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to Jane, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. Lucy shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom – a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

We’re looking forward to getting our hands on a copy!

Welsh Austen Fans: Win Tickets to Pride and Prejudice

Calling Welsh Jane Austen fans!

The Penarth Times newspaper has teamed up with the Wales Millennium Centre to offer one lucky person the chance to win a pair of tickets to see Pride and Prejudice.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s production of Pride and Prejudice, which recently visited Bath (during which time some of the cast came to see us at the centre!), will be at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre from Tuesday, February 21st to Saturday, February 25th. To celebrate the newspaper is offering any reader within its area of publication two tickets for the opening night on February 21st.

To enter you need to answer the question: What is the name of the family with the five unmarried daughters?

 Answers are to be sent with your name, address and telephone number to the Pride and Prejudice web competition, Penarth Times, c/o South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Maesglas, Newport, NP20 3QN, or emailed to putting Pride and Prejudice web competition in the subject box.

Closing date for entries is Monday, February 13.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 49

Jane Austen News is Bath!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   


 Jane Austen’s England – Limited Edition   

Jane Austen Festival 2016American travel company Peregrine Adventures have an excellent Jane Austen literary tour planned for 2017. The limited edition tour is timed to commemorate the 200th year anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and will visit destinations in Southern England significant to Jane Austen’s life (including Bath and the Jane Austen Centre). It will also include towns and cities that inspired her work (such as Lyme Regis), and visit film locations where some of the films based on her novels have been shot. Highlights include a regency dance class with an expert in historical dance, and a talk about regency fashion with a period costume expert. The tour will be led by a Peregrine leader, but there will be various local expert guides at different locations within the tour, some of whom are members of the Jane Austen Society.

Having looked at the full programme we’re rather impressed. So if you’re looking for a thorough tour of Jane Austen’s England, but don’t fancy trying to plan your own, this might be of interest as your summer holiday next year? The eight day tour begins on June the 12th, and we’re looking forward to welcoming the Peregrine tour group to the centre on the 16th.

Trend Setter – Mr Darcy and his Christmas Jumper   

Colin Firth was certainly responsible for the wet-shirt obsession which gripped much of the nation following his performance in 636167664517412268-d-bridget-jones-dvd-29-13635165the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, in which (as we needed to remind you), Firth, while playing Mr Darcy, jumps into a lake on Pemberley estate and emerges as a water-drenched heart throb. However, it seems that Mr Firth, while playing another incarnation of Mr Darcy (stuffy lawyer Mark Darcy in 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary) may also be the source of the novelty Christmas jumper trend.

The original sweater went through many designs because it had to be just right. The character of Mr. Darcy is a constipated English prig when we first meet him so we needed something totally ridiculous to pierce that pomposity. And for some reason neither Santas nor X-mas trees nor snowmen worked as well as that red-nosed moose or reindeer we chose. It also had to look home-knit, something his mother knitted for him.

Sharon Maguire, director of all three films in the Bridget Jones franchise.

Mr Darcy – novelty Christmas jumper trend-setter. It’s certainly not a connection we at the Jane Austen News would have automatically made! It’s an interesting thought though.

Lucy Worsley on Jane Austen at Cambridge Arts Theatre

lucyworsleyFor those of you who, like us at the Jane Austen News, have been watching and enjoying the wonderful BBC Television series on Henry VIII’s six wives presented by historian Lucy Worsley, this upcoming event may be of interest. Lucy will be at Cambridge Arts Theatre presenting At Home with Jane Austen on Sunday May 7th 2017, dispelling the myth that she was a cynical, lonely spinster.

During the evening, Lucy will consider what home meant to Jane and tells her story through the rooms, spaces, possessions and places that mattered to her; offering audience members a snapshot of “a witty and passionate woman of her time, who refused to settle for anything less than Mr Darcy.” This event is also a prelude to Lucy’s forthcoming new book, At Home with Jane Austen.

It’s an event that’s a little way in advance it’s true, but it is one that we’re sure will sell out – which is why we’re mentioning it now. (Tickets for anyone wishing to go are available from the Cambridge Arts Theatre website.)

Love & Friendship Tops the Polls Again   

Love & Friendship has triumphed in another top-films-of-the-year

In the Sunday World newspaper’s rundown of the best films of 2016 Love & Friendship has come in at number 10, and beat the likes of X-Men: Apocalypse, Star Trek Beyond, Ghostbusters, and other highly anticipated films. The paper published a few of the reasons why Love & Friendship had had to have a place in the top films:

Austen screen adaptations are generally mined for their sweeping romance, but Stillman parks the heaving bosoms for pure comedy, and the resulting film is a joy.

We are reminded what a witty, socially observational writer Austen was, and how she and Stillman make great collaborators two centuries apart.

Droll, funny and refreshingly unsentimental, Love & Friendship is one of the sharpest and wittiest takes on Austen yet.

Northanger Abbey in Eastbourne  

image-7As part of the celebrations in 2017 to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, an ambitious stage adaptation of Northanger Abbey will be presented from Monday February 20th to Wednesday February 22nd at Devonshire Park Theatre.

The adaptation, by acclaimed Austen specialist Tim Luscombe, has been described as “a delight – witty, fast moving and stylish – and a perfect way to celebrate a great writer.” Previously Tim Luscombe’s version of Mansfield Park was produced and toured in 2012 and 2013. This adaptation of Northanger Abbey will be directed by Artistic Director Karen Simpson with an eight-strong cast and was first produced by York Theatre Royal in 2004, Salisbury Playhouse in 2007 (followed by a tour), and in 2010 at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, and in 2013 in Chicago at the Remy Bumppo Theatre.

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 31

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?


Lucy Worsley Films Jane Austen Documentary      

Lucy WorsleyOn August the 3rd Lucy Worsley, who has presented programmes including The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain and If Walls Could Talk, was filming at Jane’s birthplace and childhood home, Steventon rectory, as part of a BBC2 documentary about Jane Austen’s life which will be aired next year as part of the marking of the bicentenary of Jane’s death.

While the rectory itself is no longer standing as it was flooded (which resulted in the entire village having to move somewhere less damp), an excavation in November 2011 revealed its foundations and the drainage system that failed in 1819.

As well as filming in Steventon, the crew have also been filming in Lyme Regis, Stoneleigh, Kent, Bath, Chawton, and other places which are connected to Jane. We at the Jane Austen News are very much looking forward to seeing the documentary when it airs!

Should Minor Characters Remain Minor…?

There’s a big market for new books based on Jane’s novels. There are the modern retellings of her novels (The Austen Project), follow-on novels about what happened next to the likes of Lizzy and Mr Darcy and Marianne and Colonel Brandon, and there’s also a big trend for writing books based on Jane’s more minor characters. Lydia Bennet is a popular character to write about, as are Mary and Kitty. However, this week Charlotte Jones writing for the Guardian has asked whether these characters should keep in their place – in the background.

As much as we enjoy modern stories based on Jane’s original works, we have to admit that Charlotte has a point. She argues that part of the reason we love Jane’s heroines, especially Lizzy Bennet, relies on the fact that they are shown to be so remarkable when in contrast with those around them. “Lizzy only has space in the book for a remarkable interior life because her sisters do not.” In some of Jane’s novels, especially Emma, if minor character’s voices were to be heard the strength of our affinity with the heroine may well be weakened. She also says that, in some cases, the character’s minor status is what makes them so effective as a comment on the portion of society who the represent.

The poignancy of Mary’s situation, for example, resides precisely in her effacement: neglected by her parents and unmarriageable, her silent and futile presence haunting the shadows of Pride and Prejudice is to me the best testament possible to the ranks of unremarkable women she stands for.

An interesting argument indeed for leaving Mary in the background. Having said that, we’re still looking forward to reading all the new novels about Mary, Kitty and Lydia that are due out soon!

…No They Should Not!  

Talulah Riley as Mary Bennet, 2005.
Talking of Mary, Megan Garber writing for The Atlantic has written an article arguing the case for rather than against giving Mary her own voice in new novels.

Megan says that the many novels based on Mary “assume something that Pride and Prejudice, via its narrator, refused to believe: that someone like Mary could have a rich interior life.” This new love of Mary is part of the trend for novels which are being written about supporting characters in lots of well-known stories – Wicked, which gives background to the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, being one example of a run-away hit.

In that sense, the current renaissance of Mary Bennet is literary revisionism that suggests a more sweeping ethical project—one that celebrates the dignity of the marginalized.

It’s wonderful to read arguments for and against telling the story of Mary. Megan’s article can be found here.      

Contemporary Recommendations Based On Austen Couples    

67d52150-0fae-0134-e761-0a315da82319Now from novels based on minor characters, to novel recommendations based on Austen pairings. One writer for Bustle has written a list of what contemporary Austen fans might enjoy based on who their favourite Jane Austen couple is.

For Emma and Mr Knightley the recommendation is Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes, whose heroine knows she is getting married thanks to a psychic, but she doesn’t know who to.

For Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy the recommendation is The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, a workplace rom-com about the fine line between love and hate.

For fans of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth there is Lip Service by Susan Mallery , whose heroine Skye Titan, has a real hangup about pleasing her family — which is why she leaves Mitch Cassidy at the altar and marries a man hand-picked by her father. Now, nine years later, she’s widowed with an eight-year-old daughter and Mitch is back.

Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon lovers have Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas. Liberty Jones the heroine, like Marianne, falls hard for a man who isn’t really there for her, but then a Texas oil baron comes along who takes her under his wing. The trouble starts when her old flame returns.

If you’d like to read the full article and other recommendations based on other Austen couples click here.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies…And Historical Accuracy  

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies FilmWhile browsing through the programme for the upcoming Jane Austen Festival that will be held in Bath this September, we noticed something which we’d missed before.

The Regency etiquette workshop, a popular workshop in which you’re taught how to correctly act in a wide variety of common Regency social situations, is returning and includes anecdotes from John White. What we did not realise at first is that John White was the Historical Adviser on the film of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. This has left us very curious to know what questions of historical accuracy came up on a set full of zombies… Which we’re sure aren’t particularly historically accurate themselves!

So, any questions you may have for John on marrying a set full of zombies with accuracy, and on what did and didn’t need to be historically correct, let us know in the comments below and the Jane Austen News will do it’s best to find out the answers when John comes to Bath.

My First Jane Austen Dance 

017f47582jane-austen-2016-221-jpgWe came across a lovely blog post this week from a young lady who has attended her first Regency dance.

She wasn’t too familiar with the costumes, music or etiquette before she went, so it’s a dance from the eyes of a relative newcomer to the world of English country dancing. We loved the way she looked at the dance from a modern viewpoint, and with plenty of humour!

Maybe Mr. Darcy, or at least a tall, eligible bachelor with an income of a kajillion pounds per year, or Colin Firth in a wet shirt would show up and whisk me away to a country manor in England. A girl can dream, anyway.

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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