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Jane Austen News – Issue 47

The Jane Austen News and a new noteWhat’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 (more…)
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The Trafalgar Action

“And who is Admiral Croft?” was Sir Walter’s cold suspicious inquiry…and Anne, after the little pause which followed, added — “He is a rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he was stationed there, I believe, several years.” Persuasion England Expects Every Man will do His Duty The Battle of Trafalgar, fought on 21 October 1805, is part of the War of the Third Coalition assembled by Britain against France. It was the most significant naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars and the pivotal naval battle of the 19th century. A Royal Navy fleet of 27 ships of the line destroyed an allied French and Spanish fleet of 33 ships of the line west of Cape Trafalgar in south-west Spain. The allies lost 22 ships; the British none. The British commander Admiral Lord Nelson died late in the battle, by which time his victory had ensured his place as one of Britain’s greatest military heroes. The British victory put an end to Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain across the English Channel. Once the threat of invasion was removed, British troops could be used to fight on the European continent, which was a major factor in Napoleon’s ultimate fall. After the battle, the Royal Navy remained unchallenged as the world’s foremost naval power until the rise of Imperial Germany prior to the First World War, 100 years later. Strategic background to the Battle In 1805, the First French Empire, (more…)