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Jane Austen News – Issue 136

The Jane Austen News learns about Colette

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


The Author Behind The Film

In the Jane Austen News last week we mentioned the upcoming film Colette, starring 2005 Lizzy Bennet actress Keira Knightley. Well since then we came across a brilliant TIME article which gave us a bit more background about the author, and we thought that you, as a fan of the pioneering author Jane Austen, might also enjoy reading a bit about another pioneering female author.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was born in 1873 in Burgundy in France. At the age of 20 she fell in love with, and went on to marry, Henry Gauthier-Villars, then aged 34, who was the owner of a ghostwriting enterprise which published novels under the pen name “Willy”. Colette became a member of the ghostwriting team and, when there was a bad case of writer’s block and a lack of money, Henry asked Colette to write about her school days. The result, published in 1900, was the book Claudine at School, which became a huge hit and turned into the first of a best-selling four-book series.

As the books gained even more popularity, Colette and Willy argued about adding her name as an author. Eventually the books were brought out with “Willy and Colette Willy” on the covers as the publishers wouldn’t remove his name from the series until a long time after his death. Although, on the positive side, after the couple separated (following many love affairs on both sides which led to an open marriage) Colette’s talent was better recognised and she became the first female President of the renowned Paris literary society, the Academie Goncourt.

This may not sound like Austen and Colette had much in common, but their books, although very different in tone and primary subject, do have a shared theme; that of inherent human nature:

Her uncanny feminine understanding, hearty physical sympathy for the internal workings of human nerves and glands, make her a writer who cannot avoid being labeled passionate but who never runs any danger of being cheap.

Hopefully you found this brief background on Colette as interesting as we at the Jane Austen News did. The full article on Colette can be found here.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 127

jane austen news

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Music and Austen and Bath – A Classic Combination

Great Western Railway teamed up with ClassicFM.com this week to promote their summer of adventures – where GWR encourage more people to take train journeys to parts of the UK in order to have ‘adventures’ by exploring cities they’ve never been to before.

The article on ClassicFM.com focuses on exploring Bath and, quite naturally given that Classic FM is primarily a site for fans of classical music, the role which Bath played in developing Jane’s love of music.

The young writer and her friends and family attended a number of balls and tea dances at The Assembly Rooms, as well as concerts at Sydney Gardens and the Old Orchard Street Theatre.

As a keen amateur musician, Austen would have listened to and enjoyed the new, fashionable music on offer throughout the city.

Austen wrote her most famous novels after those years in Bath, but the influence of the city was still there. Bath provided inspiration for two of her six published novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The latter features concerts in the Octagan Room of The Assembly Rooms.

Eight volumes of Jane Austen’s own sheet music collections are still around today. Two of them are written out in her own handwriting… And it was at Bath’s most fashionable events that Austen would have discovered all this great music.

We do hope that the article inspires more people to come to Bath this summer and explore the city.

“Without music, life would be a blank to me.”

Emma

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 127

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