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Mr Bennet In Bath – Charles Nevin

Mr Bennet

MR BENNET IN BATH

Ladies and gentlemen, admirers of Jane and lovers of literature, I give you the true hero of Pride and Prejudice – and of possibly the entire Austen canon – Mr Bennet!

For who else can compare with the Sage Seer of Longbourn, that Witty King of Herts, that most rueful of husbands, fathers and philosophers?

Sometimes in BathNo character from the pen of Miss Austen is a mere cypher or convenient foil. Even the haughty stuff shirts and dissembling charmers have beguiling depths. But for rueful complexities, admirable strengths and regretful weaknesses, Mr Bennet is surely as alone as he likes to be in his library.

I have long been his admirer, mostly for the delicious wit, but it wasn’t until I decided to star him in a short story that I fully appreciated as rounded a character as you will encounter in fiction, portrayed by Jane with an affection that triumphantly survives her beady acknowledgement of his failings.

When the great crisis of Lydia and Wickham erupts it is the Austen wizardry to make his feebleness not only a surprise, but also to make us feel sorry for him. And how much more predictable it would have been to transform him into the hero of the hour! Not for the first time you wonder how close the Reverend George Austen is to Mr Bennet. And how being a father of a certain type yourself fosters your affection.

Whatever, I decided that he could certainly do with a bit more fun, and that there was no finer place to give it to him than Bath, where he has arrived – reluctantly, obviously – for a stay with his wife and daughters.

But first there is my account of his first visit, as a young man, which had at least one highly significant consequence. Among the characters he encounters are Dr Johnson, James Boswell and that notorious Bath highwayman, Sixteen String Jack Rann.

Mr Bennet
Charles Nevin

From there we move to his present day, and an escape from the back window of the house – unsurprisingly in Gay Street – and back down to the famous Pelican inn, which stood where now the Hilton Hotel stands in all its not universally praised modernity.

Obviously I cannot give too much away, but he does have a narrow escape from a fate even worse than having to make small talk with Fitzwilliam Darcy, take tea a deux with Lady Catherine de Bourg, or witness Mr Collins meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I must also confess to another impudence: I have given Mr Bennet a first name! Gordon and Alan had their merits, but in the end I settled on Anthony, for the euphony.

So, apologies all round to all; but I also like to imagine the perceptible uplift of Mrs Bennet’s husband’s eyebrows at these liberties. And Miss Austen’s, together with, I hope, the trace of a smile.

Charles Nevin is an award-winning journalist, national newspaper columnist, author and humorist.

*Get a signed copy of Charles Nevin’s book here.*

 

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Jane Austen News – Issue 168

The Jane Austen News finds news of a rare coin

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 168

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Jane Austen News – Issue 105

A Mr Bennet Interview is the Jane Austen News from Bath this week!

What’s the Jane Austen News from Bath this week? 


Vote For Bath’s Mr Bennet!

If you’ve been to visit us at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, you’ve probably met our famous Mr Bennet, a.k.a Martin. A Mr Bennet Interview is the Jane Austen News from Bath this week!He’s our senior meeter and greeter, and is the most-photographed man in England. He’s been with us for over ten years, and now he’s been nominated for an award.

The national Tourism Superstar Awards 2018 are down to their final top ten finalists, and Martin is one of them. The awards were set up by VisitEngland and Mirror Travel, and the organisers behind the award explained that they’re:

looking for people who far exceed the call of duty to ensure visitors have an amazing experience, whether it’s on a day trip or a holiday.

Martin, they added, is a prime example.

Martin has worked in tourism all his life – at the Pump Rooms in Bath and for the past 11 years at the Jane Austen Centre. He does charitable work, is Father Christmas, teaches dancing and is a keen re-enactor. Online there are lots of images of Martin posing with visitors.

It’s free to vote for your Tourism Superstar (not only that, but by voting you enter into a draw to win an English staycation), and the vote is open until midnight on March the 20th. The winner will be announced at the end of English Tourism Week on March the 24th.

We would be so grateful if you could spare a moment to visit the dedicated page on the Mirror’s website and vote for Martin. He’s a real gentleman and without a doubt a superstar in our minds. If we could all work together to help him win this award it would mean so much to all of us.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 97

A Mr Bennet Interview is the Jane Austen News from Bath this week!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 


Meet Mr Bennet

Our Mr Bennet, who is almost synonymous with the Jane Austen Centre as he stands at the Centre entrance in all A Mr Bennet interview is the Jane Austen News this week!weathers to greet our visitors with warmth and charm, has been featured in the Bath Chronicle this week.

His article is the first of the Chronicle’s new series ‘Meet the’…, which will be taking a closer look at the personalities who make Bath such an incredible place.

“He’s a great addition to the Jane Austen Centre, everyone knows him and greets him and he knows every street, square and alleyway in Bath.

His local knowledge is unparalleled, he sees everything from his perch on the steps outside the Jane Austen Centre, he even reports misdeeds and fights to the police or council, he misses nothing.”

Some things you might already know about Mr Bennet:

He makes his own period clothes having worked for a gentleman’s outfitter and costume hire company.

“I bought myself a little sewing machine and I do all the research as to what men would have worn during Jane Austen’s time.”

…others might be more surprising…

When Martin’s not working he’s a rock ‘n roll fan and dresses as a Teddy Boy or Elvis and goes to gigs.

He also loves motorbikes and dresses head to toe in leather when out on his beloved Honda 750.

You can read the full interview with our Mr Bennet here.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 97

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Meeting Mr Bennet

"for what do we live"

 

“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”

 

Full of wit, humour and lackadaisical nature, Mr Bennet has to be one the most memorable Austen characters of all time.  This week I have been working primarily with Bob (our very own Mr Bennet!) on the last scene between Lizzie and her father. This scene is pretty much the conclusion of the story and moreover it emphasises the close relationship between Mr Bennet and his, lets be honest, favourite daughter.  We blocked the scene several times before adding the smaller, yet significant, details to the section.

Continue reading Meeting Mr Bennet

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Jane Austen News – Issue 59

The Jane Austen News is: Martin Salter

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?   

Mr Bennet With Us For Ten Years!!!    
Our Mr Bennet (A.K.A. Martin, our meeter-greeter who welcomes all our visitors to the Jane Austen Centre) has been with us for ten years! So to celebrate we arranged a little surprise for him…


10 Must-See Locations for Literature Lovers 

The Telegraph recently published their top ten literary tours that literature lovers ought to take this year. Happily, a tour of Jane Austen’s England was on the list…but only at number five! Even though this year is Jane Austen 200 and events are taking place all over the country to celebrate!

So who beat her in the top ten?

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 59

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