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Jane Austen News – Issue 160

Jane Austen News

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?


Plans for Jane Austen in Bronze in Bath 

Jane Austen NewsPlans are in the works to honour Jane Austen, perhaps Bath’s most famous resident, with a life-size monument.

The Jane Austen Centre hopes to erect a bronze statue of the famous author at a location in the city later this year. The statue will be based on the Jane Austen waxwork which was unveiled at the Centre to global media interest in July 2014, and which was created through work undertaken by forensic artist Melissa Dring.

The sculptor of the bronze statue will be world-renowned Mark Richards, whose previous work not only includes the Austen waxwork but also Winston Churchill, Prince Philip and The Queen.

The exact location of the bronze statue is currently under discussion.

Not only will it be good to honour Austen the author, it will also be good to go a little way to redress the fact that less than 3% of all statues in the UK are of historical, non-royal women.

Paul Crossey, Jane Austen Centre Managing Director

What do you think? Is there an ideal location for a Jane Austen statue in Bath that springs to mind?

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Jane Austen News – Issue 106

The Jane Austen News is the Watsons and curling

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


The Latest Olympic Sport – Jane Austen Curling

Well here’s one we at the Jane Austen News never thought we’d see!

A theatre company who are currently performing a stage adaptation of Sense and Sensibility at the Arvada Center in Colarado have gone viral with their latest video. Without breaking character, the cast pushes each other in rolling chairs trying to be the one ‘closest to the eligible bachelor’…

The video has been shared over 3,500 times!

 


Controversy Over Church Commemoration

A church in Adlestrop in Gloucestershire, England (Adlestrop being a village which is thought to have inspired features of some of Jane Austen’s works), is currently being met with controversy. Plans are afoot to introduce a new plaque into the church, dedicated to a woman who is not a member of the Leigh family, and who is a “relative newcomer” in the area.

Since the 16th century, the Leigh family, Austen’s wealthy relatives on her mother’s side, had owned Adlestrop Park, the great house which is thought to have inspired Sotherton Court, an estate owned by the character James Rushworth in her novel Mansfield Park. Now it is owned by the Collins family – the relative newcomers.

It has to be said that “relative” is the appropriate term, as the Collins family, whose coat of arms it is that is being proposed as the new addition, have lived in the area since at least 1974. Dominic Collins and his late wife had been in residence at Adlestrop Park itself since the late 1990s. In that time the house has been restored and the family were generous donors to local projects including the refurbishment of the church’s five bells.

The idea to let Dominic Collins install a hatchment (a coat of arms display) in the church in memory of his late wife is opposed by local historian and Austen expert, Victoria Huxley, who has said it is inappropriate to install a memorial to a family who were not the Leighs.

I was very surprised that someone with a relatively short link to the village (compared to the age of the church) should seek to place their coat of arms in the church, and I do not think that most people in the village have been alerted to this request. I feel that only a family which has strong ties over several generations should have such a display.

June Rogers, Chancellor of the diocese of Gloucester, ruled that the plan could go ahead.

The Jane Austen connection does not preserve in aspic this Church. As the Leighs succeeded Evesham Abbey, so the Collins family is now in residence. Another layer has been added to the life and continuity of this village.


A Modern Update – A Mistake?

We mentioned in the Jane Austen news last week that Pride and Prejudice was one of the three classic love stories which the TV channel Drama had taken and rewritten. The idea was to give the novels ‘digital makeovers’ to show the effect that digital devices are having on romance. Researchers from University College London and esteemed Professor John Sutherland were credited as having worked on the project. However, it seems that Professor Sutherland wasn’t as involved in the clever PR initiative as was first suggested.

The Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English has admitted that he hasn’t actually had much to do with the project… and that he didn’t much like the results. “I was glad to be involved with it and pick up a useful penny or two,” he told The Times on 8 February. “Don’t be too harsh on me.”


What Does Jane Austen Have to do with Nuclear Deterrence?

Well according to Freakonomics and Professor Michael Chwe, associate professor of political science at UCLA, more than we might think…

Game theory is the study of strategic interactions between a small number of adversaries, usually two or three competitors. Professor Chwe studies game theory and, as he puts it, “its applications to social movements and macroeconomics and violence”, and more lately, literature. Jane Austen specifically.

Chwe discovered that Austen’s novels are full of strategic thinking, decision analysis, and other tools that would later come to be prized by game theorists. You might have come across his book, published in 2013, called Jane Austen, Game Theorist. In it, Chwe details the excellent examples of game theory used by Austen’s characters, and how these techniques advance the plot. It looks at the similarities between the interplay in Austen’s novels and the same game theory interplay which is used in the modern world. Game theory applies to all sorts of situations — poker, the game Rock/Paper/Scissors, or even two countries on the brink of nuclear armageddon (hence the nuclear deterrence).

So why do we bring this up?

This week saw the popular podcast series Freakonomics re-upload their podcast episode: Jane Austen, Game Theorist. It originally came out in 2013, but we’d forgotten just what an interesting listen it is and thought that you might also appreciate revisiting it. Both for its analysis of Jane’s novels, and also for its pertinent thoughts on game theory in our modern lives.


Performing An Unfinished Austen

Jane Austen wrote six completed novels, but she also wrote two incomplete novels. One is Sanditon, the other, begun while Jane Austen was living in Bath but never completed, is called The Watsons. Austen wrote just under 18,000 words of the story before she stopped. In those 18,000 words the beginnings of a complex story are laid down. However, after the five brief chapters which encompass the whole of the text the novel comes to an abrupt halt. That hasn’t stopped playwright Laura Wade from creating a stage adaptation of The Watsons though.

The play follows nineteen-year-old Emma Watson as she searches for a suitor. She’s been cut off by her rich aunt and has had to return to the family home. Emma and her sisters must marry, fast. If not, they face poverty, spinsterhood, or worse; an eternity with their boorish brother and his awful wife. (Sound familiar? It’s quite close to circumstances which Jane and Cassandra Austen were facing in their own lives after the death of their father).

Luckily for Emma, there are plenty of potential suitors to dance with, from flirtatious Tom Musgrave to castle-owning Lord Osborne, who’s as awkward as he is rich.

But there’s a problem: Jane Austen didn’t finish the story. So who, asks Laura, will write Emma’s happy ending now?

Based on the incomplete novel, this adaptation of The Watsons looks under the bonnet of Jane Austen and asks: what can characters do when their author abandons them?

It is being performed at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester from the 3rd of November to the 1st of December, and it sounds like it will be a most interesting performance.

 


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to 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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Two Austen fans podcasting to tell the story of Georgette Heyer today

Heyer Today recording

By Sara-Mae Tuson

Exactly one year ago this week my friend Beth and I were having tea and cake in the Victoria and Albert Museum, when I asked her if she fancied joining me in setting up a boutique podcast company. So ‘Fable Gazers’ was born – a podcast company which aims to produce narrative podcasts with our own special twist.

With literary-themed podcasts in their infancy, there’s still room for new voices. Our ambitions are vast: we want to produce the next podcast obsession. With audio content (according to Oliver Deane, Director of Commercial Digital at DAX)  set to make up 30% of advertising revenue it looked like a promising proposition. But it wasn’t the prospect of making money that inspired us to create Fable Gazers. It was two passion projects, one started by a friend’s shocking revelation to me, and the other created because of a need to find a podcast about two of my favourite writers.

I thought it might be possible to keep creating beautiful audio stories, not as a one-off, but as a proper company. With books being a passion of mine, particularly those of a certain famous author who died far too young, after shaping my young mind with such classics as Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and more, I wanted to do something that covered an area of Austen’s world which hasn’t been done to death – and it hit me, what about the intersection between her work and the Regency romance novels of Georgette Heyer?

So, I began work on Heyer Today. Like The West Wing Weekly, in which Hrishikesh Hirway and Josh Malina discuss every episode of The West Wing with celebrity guests, our second season, Heyer Today, will have us discussing fourteen of Georgette Heyer’s books with someone who has never read one, attempting to ‘convert’ them to her work, as well as comparing them to Austen’s six classic novels as we go along. For many of us who adore Jane Austen’s work, Heyer is the closest thing we can find to our favourite literary heroine.

There were several revelations for me in the course of researching Heyer Today, and I’ve come to admire her even more than I did before beginning the process. For instance, she wrote almost two books a year throughout her career, supported her family with her work, and has never been out of print!

Continue reading Two Austen fans podcasting to tell the story of Georgette Heyer today

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Jane Austen News – Issue 93

The Jane Austen News looks at economics!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 


Economics Needs Austen

Gary Saul Morson, the Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of the Arts and Humanities at Northwestern University, and Morton Schapiro, a professor of economics and the president of Northwestern University have put forward an interesting question: could reading Tolstoy and Austen improve economic forecasting?

In their book, Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities, they argue that, while taking literature seriously will not completely transform the field of economics it will provide a real boost to accuracy and general understanding of why seemingly unlikely events are more likely than first assumed (recessions being a prime example). They believe that learning from literature, philosophy and the other humanities, along with history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science, religion and the like, may lead economists to develop more realistic models of human behavior, increase the accuracy of their predictions, and come up with policies that are more effective and more just.

They particularly recommend reading some of the classic literary greats:

There is no better source of ethical insight than the novels of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, George Eliot, Jane Austen, Henry James, and the other great realists. Their stories distill the complexity of ethical questions that are too important to be entrusted to an overarching theory – questions that call for good judgment.

We wonder what Jane would make of this!

An essay going into more depth on the importance of literature and the humanities in economics can be read here.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 93

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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.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 69

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