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Jane Austen News – Issue 73

The Jane Austen News watches the new display take shape

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Authors On Austen Up For Auction  

Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan, among others, have created revealing handwritten homages about Jane Austen in aid of a charity auction which is being held to raise funds for the Royal Society of Literature.

The auction includes Atwood writing on how Austen’s novels “set a bad example”, a new unpublished story by Hilary Mantel based on Pride & Prejudice, Ian McEwan on the “profound influence” of Northanger Abbey on his novel Atonement, Ian Rankin on disliking “stuffy” Jane Austen, and Sarah Waters turning cartoonist for “a good read”.

The auction also includes original works by other prominent authors (including Bath-born Jacqueline Wilson), and an annotated script by Andrew Davies from the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice TV mini-series.

At the Jane Austen News we’re sure the auction will be a huge success with such amazing items up for sale!

I especially liked the scene in which Elizabeth Bennett [sic] stands down Lady de Bourgh. I longed to do the same to my gym teacher, but occasion never offered.

Margaret Atwood


Austen vs. Austin 

It’s an incredibly common mistake – writing Jane’s last name as “Austin” rather than as it ought to be spelt – Austen with an eand it’s a mistake that even those who knew Jane personally made!

A royalty cheque which was paid to Jane from her publisher John Murray following the success of Jane’s novel Emma has shown that he also spelt her name wrong. However, it seems that either Jane didn’t really mind, or the fact that she was actually being given money for her writing was enough to let her gloss over the mistake, as she also signed the back of the £38 (plus 18 shillings and one pence) cheque as “Jane Austin”. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, the sum would be worth about £3400 ($4385) today. We can see why she might have chosen not to complain!

The cheque is on display as part of the Which Jane Austen? exhibition at the Bodleian Library.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 73

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Jane Austen News – Issue 72

The Jane Austen News is keen to get gardening!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  The Mother of the Modern Novel

Professor Kathryn Sutherland is keen to see Jane Austen praised, not as the queen of romance novels, but rather “as a pioneer — the inventor of the modern novel, the first English novelist to explore the effect of contemporary war on the home front, and a businesswoman prepared to stake all on fame and fortune.”

“Austen’s novels broke new ground in subject matter and style. She saw that everyday events in ordinary places could be the stuff of fiction. But she saw far more. One of her greatest contributions to literature was a way of writing, centred on the heroine, that recognises the longing in each one of us to grow, to change, to become other. Her heroines have inner lives, represented on the page as a kind of conversation with the self.”

Those who say that Jane is just a romance novelist couldn’t be more wrong. It’s easy to forget, this many years down the line, and with so many new genres and novel formats on the shelves, how revolutionary Jane’s novels were; how unique they were in style. Happily Professor Sutherland is hoping to change that with….


A New Book From Kathryn Sutherland

To accompany the new exhibition which Professor Sutherland is curating in Oxford at Weston Library from June 22nd – October 29th  (called Which Jane Austen?) she has released a new book.

Jane Austen: Writer in the World: Novelist in the World is a collection of essays which offer an intimate history of Austen’s art and life – told through objects associated with her personally and with the era in which she lived.

Further on in the book, the exploration of yet more objects – the Regency novel, newspaper articles, naval logbooks, and contemporary political cartoons – reveals Austen’s filiations with wider social and political worlds. These ‘things’ map the threads connecting her (from India to Bath and from North America to Chawton) to those on the international stage during the wars with France that raged through much of her short life.

 

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 72

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