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Jane Austen News – Issue 99

The Jane Austen News is a very rare fan

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  


A Fan of Bath’s First Assembly Rooms comes to Bath

Although the Assembly Rooms built in 1771, and still to be found in all their glory at Bennett Street, are the ones most people think of when they think of Bath’s Assembly Rooms, they weren’t actually Bath’s first Assembly Rooms. Bath’s first assembly rooms were known as Harrison’s Rooms and were built for an entrepreneur in 1708 at the urging of Beau Nash – one of the first Masters of Ceremonies at Bath. Harrison’s Rooms became less popular as the ‘Upper Assembly Rooms’ (as they were then known) at Bennett Street grew in popularity, but Harrison’s Rooms were nevertheless still quite the landmark when Jane Austen came to Bath.

We mention all this because a hand-painted fan showing a long-lost view of Harrison’s Rooms as Jane would have known them has been acquired by Bath’s Holburne Museum, where it will go on display for the first time.

The rare fan, which had been in a private collection, shows elegantly dressed people strolling in Harrison’s Walk, a tree-lined riverside walk kept exclusive by paid subscription. The building in the background is Harrison’s Rooms.

The fan was painted around 1750 by Thomas Loggon, a renowned fan painter with dwarfism who ran a teahouse and china shop under the sign of The Little Fanmaker. As well as the fashionable group chatting with Nash, Loggon included himself in the scene (the slight figure towards the right).

Harrison’s Rooms burned down in 1820, and the view shown on the fan is now completely different to the view as Jane knew it (the area where Harrison’s Rooms once stood is beside the Parade Gardens). So if you’re coming to Bath it might be a nice thing to go and see after visiting the Jane Austen Centre.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 99

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Jane Austen News – Issue 79

The Jane Austen News in the future?!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

A New Pride and Prejudice is Coming!

Big news!!! Set to air twenty-five years after Colin Firth first set hearts racing while playing Mr Darcy in the BBC’s 1995 series, is a new TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Mammoth Screen, the makers of the hit series Poldark and Victoria, are currently working on a TV adaption of Pride and Prejudice for ITV. The production firm has said that they’ll focus on “the darker tones” of the novel and have commissioned playwright Nina Raine to adapt the book, though the cast is yet to be confirmed. Raine is an interesting writer to choose for the job as she hasn’t adapted novels for TV before, but her play, Consent, which opened at the National Theatre earlier this year has gained strong reviews. She’s keen to show Austen’s “dark intelligence” and prove that Pride and Prejudice was “actually a very adult book; much less bonnet-y than people assume”.

Damien Timmer, the managing director of Mammoth, told Radio Times: “In this age of the box set – with audiences loving to binge on complex, serialised dramas – it feels absolutely right to reassess the great classics. Every generation needs its own adaptation of this perfect novel.”

Jane Is A Big Favourite Worldwide

Pride and Prejudice has won first place in many different polls looking to find the nation’s favourite book, but it’s not just the UK that loves Austen. New Zealanders are also big Austen fans – with Pride and Prejudice coming in the top 15 of the country’s favourite books, alongside the likes of the Lord of the Rings and 1984.

What really struck us here at the Jane Austen News however were the reading statistics that came out just before the new list of the country’s top 100 books. It shows that New Zealanders read an average of 20 (20.6 to be exact) books a year! Although it also showed that around 394,000 New Zealanders didn’t read a single book during 2016.

How do your reading habits compare?

Win A Signed Pullman With Pride and Prejudice Yoga!

If you’re quick you might just have time to enter this great competition…

Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Joanna Trollope, Lamn Sissay and Joanne Harris are all taking part in a five-day yoga challenge organised by The Society of Authors in order to raise awareness of how important it is for writers to look after themselves and each other.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 79

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Jane Austen News – Issue 77

The Jane Austen News is...she's alive?!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Anger at Austen £10 Note Quote  

We’re delighted that the new £10 note is going to pay homage to Jane Austen. However, the choice of quote which the Bank of England have selected to go alongside her (some say “airbrushed”) portrait is causing outrage to some.

“I declare after all that there is no enjoyment like reading!” — is the quote. Which is lovely. Except that the character who utters these words is Caroline Bingley, who doesn’t mean them at all and is saying them only to impress Mr Darcy. She is “as much engaged in watching Mr Darcy’s progress through his book, as in reading her own,” Austen wrote.

Twitter users have taken to the web criticise the Bank of England for their apparent lack of research/poor choice of quote:

“I find the #janeausten200 saga extremely telling. In their haste to get a woman on the banknote they chose a quote that’s utterly tone-deaf”  @Madz_Grant


“Dear news:that J Austen”quote”about joy of reading on the new tenner is uttered by 1 of her most obnoxious characters-Ironically it’s ironic” @SamiraAhmedUK

There are so many quotes from Jane to choose from! Did they make the right choice? had a few alternative suggestions for what the quote could have been.

  1. “Everything is to be got with money.” Mansfield Park
  2. “What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?” Sense and Sensibility
  3. “People always live for ever when there is any annuity to be paid them.” Sense and Sensibility
  4. “A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.” Mansfield Park
  5. “Money can only give happiness when there is nothing else to give it.” Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen “Greatest Living Author” 

Another Jane Austen topic which caused a flurry on Twitter this week was Andrea Leadsom’s announcement in parliament that Jane Austen is “one of our greatest living authors”.

The Conservative MP was making a speech on the subject of the new £10 note mentioned above. The speech was being made just days after the bicentenary of the author’s 1817 death.

Ms Leadsom’s gaffe made sure that her name was mentioned in over 17,000 tweets!  These were some of our favourites:

“We are currently moving all our Jane Austen stock from Classics into Greatest Living Authors” – Waterstones


“Andrea Leadsom thinking that Jane Austen is still alive explains why Tory policies seem like they’re from the 1700s.” – Chris McPhail


“Enough is enough. Andrea Leadsom has admitted to her Jane Austen error, and has apologised to her PM William Pitt the younger.” – ‘Wolfie.’

The “Definitive” Ranking of Jane Austen

Michelle Garrett Bulsiewicz may also have ruffled a few feathers of Austen fans this week. Writing on, she has honoured Austen’s bicentenary by compiling her  “official, completely objective ranking of the movies based on her books” (she stated, very much tongue-in-cheek).
Unusually, the BBC 1995 mini series of Pride and Prejudice was not in the top spot! Heresy some will say! Instead her list goes thus:
1. Sense and Sensibility, 1995
“I’m not at all worried about ranking this as the best of them all, because it just is.”
2.Persuasion, 1995
“A film that is peaceful, quiet and blissful to get wrapped up in.”
3. Pride & Prejudice, 2005
“I can hear the angry mobs now. I know to many it’s near blasphemy to rank this movie…higher than the BBC version, but I have to be honest: I like it better.”
Do you agree? Disagree? Michelle’s full list, with the reasons for her choices, can be read here.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 77

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