• Miscellany

    Major Jane Austen Manuscript Up For Sale

    The only major Jane Austen manuscript still in private hands comes up for auction on July 14th, auction house Sotheby's said on Monday.

    By Paul Casciato, Reuters

    London — The Watsons by the prolific author of Sense and Sensibility is estimated by Sotheby's at 200,000-300,000 pounds ($323,800-$485,700).

    "Probably written in 1804, this heavily corrected draft represents the earliest surviving manuscript for a novel by Jane Austen," Sotheby's said in a statement.

    "The work, which was not published during her lifetime and remains incomplete, provides a fascinating insight into both her writing practices and her development into one of Britain's greatest authors."

    None of the manuscripts of Jane Austen's completed novels survive, with the exception of two draft chapters of Persuasion (at the British Library), Austen's juvenile work Lady Susan (at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York) and the fragment Sanditon (at King's College, Cambridge), the only other autograph novel manuscript of comparable length.

    "This unique manuscript provides scholars with important evidence, not just of how Jane Austen composed and revised her work, but also of how her other manuscripts must have looked before they were edited by her publishers," said Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby's Senior Specialist, Books & Manuscripts Department.

    "The Watsons is quintessential Jane Austen in style and the influence of this novel on her later works can be clearly seen."

    The Watsons centres on a family of four sisters, the daughters of a widowed clergyman. Its heroine is Emma, the youngest, who has been brought up by a wealthy aunt. When her aunt contracts a foolish second marriage, Emma is obliged to return to her father's house and endure the crude husband-hunting of her two 20-something sisters.

    She has, however, a close relationship with her eldest and most responsible sister Elizabeth. The Watsons contains many of Austen's perennial themes and her genius for shrewd social observation.

    The novel is considered to be around a quarter complete. The manuscript comprises 68 hand-trimmed pages, split into 11 loose gatherings penned in Austen's tiny, precise hand and heavily worked through with revisions.

    The novel was written at a time when Austen was not yet a published writer but during a period in her career that is considered to be her mature writing period.

    The work is well known to Austen scholars and has been acclaimed by modern critics, including Margaret Drabble who described it as "a tantalizing, delightful and highly accomplished fragment, which must surely have proved the equal of her other six novels, had she finished it."

    I will not be bidding on the manuscript.

  • Moved to Jane Lit

    Edited by Sylvestrian on 17 Mar 2013, 22:50
  • Moved to Jane Lit

    Edited by Sylvestrian on 17 Mar 2013, 22:51
  • The Enduring Appeal of JA

    This piece in The Guardian explains the historical waxing and waning of Jane Austen's popularity and why she engages 21st-century readers.

    200 years on, why Jane Austen's lovers find new reasons for their passion

    A literary historian argues that the author's genius lies in the way she holds up a mirror to each generation

    By Amanda Vickery

    Her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, came out 200 years ago, but it could have been yesterday for Jane Austen's legions of fans.

    At this year's annual meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, about 800 pilgrims travelled to Fort Worth, Texas, to worship the fiction. A cavalcade of readers, mainly women, mostly in full Regency costume, congregated for a joyous weekend of workshops and lectures, receptions and dinners, a costume parade (past ersatz saloons and Tex-Mex restaurants), crowned by a Regency ball. The bonnets carried all before them.

    Top billing went to the screenwriter Andrew Davies, whose testosterone-fuelled Pride and Prejudice for BBC1 rebooted the franchise in 1995. The buildup to his keynote lecture, Mr Darcy's Wet Shirt and Other Embarrassments, was tremendous. Four cinema screens beamed a montage of climactic moments from his Austen back catalogue to the full-throttle accompaniment of Puccini's Nessun Dorma. Davies, a genial seventysomething, looked stunned by the fervour of his reception. "He's our rock god!" panted one fan. "Do you think he knows what he's done for us?" gasped another.

    The Jane Austen brand has global reach. There are booming Austen societies in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina. Austen's novels have been re-imagined as California high school romcoms, Bollywood extravaganzas and most recently as a comedy zombie shocker. In Britain, Pride and Prejudice is one of the nation's favourite novels (second only to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings in the BBC's Big Read of 2004).

    (Full story)

  • Moved to Jane Lit

    Edited by Sylvestrian on 17 Mar 2013, 22:52
  • L'Aimable Jane

    This silhouette, titled L'Aimable Jane, resides in the National Portrait Gallery, London. It was discovered in a second edition copy of Mansfield Park. It is a hollow-cut silhouette created c. 1810-15. Its dimensions are 4 in. x 3 1/8 in. The artist is unknown but might have been Jane Austen's nephew, James Edward Austen Leigh.

  • Moved to Jane Lit

    Edited by Sylvestrian on 17 Mar 2013, 22:55
  • Pride and Prejudice Game

    Europress has announced the development of a new hidden object game for the iPhone, iPad, OS X, and Windows platforms. I'm not a gamer but I believe the idea of the game is to find certain objects hidden in various scenes from Pride and Prejudice. There are also imbedded games known as "Pastimes" throughout the software.

    Reviews of the game say that it's very good of its kind, that it follows the storyline of Pride and Prejudice closely with a narrative-driven plot, good music, and that the artwork is meticulous.

  • Ten questions on Jane Austen

    John Mullan wrote this excellent piece for The Guardian, a British newspaper. His scholarship and insight make for a very interesting article, more suited to readers of JA than to just movie watchers.

    Ten questions on Jane Austen

    The plot of which Austen novel relies on the weather? Where does Wickham have a tryst with Georgiana Darcy? And which character says 'I hate money'? Accuracy is Austen's genius, and asking specific questions about her work reveals its cleverness

    Jane Austen's admirer Virginia Woolf said that "of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness". It is a brilliant insight. The apparent modesty of Austen's dramas is only apparent; the minuteness of design is a bravura achievement. But it cannot be shown by some grand scene or speech. Accuracy is her genius. Noticing minutiae will lead you to the wonderful interconnectedness of her novels, where a small detail of wording or motivation in one place will flare with the recollection of something that happened much earlier. This is one of the reasons they bear such rereading. Every quirk you notice leads you to a design. If you ask very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, you reveal their cleverness. The closer you look, the more you see. Try these 10 questions.

    (Full story)

  • Jane at 13?

    Fresh Evidence About a Divisive Portrait

    Digital analysis has revealed writing on the canvas that says 'Jane Austen', the artist's name and '1789'

    By Emma Reynolds, The Daily Mail

    A portrait of a pretty 13-year-old girl claimed to be Jane Austen has divided art experts for years.

    But exciting new evidence has now emerged that the innocent-looking teenager in the simple white dress may really be the famous author, on a visit to Kent in 1789.

    An analysis of the oil painting using digital photographic tools has revealed writing that seems to back up the case for it being a genuine likeness of the 19th century novelist.

    No other professional portrait of the writer has ever been verified - with only two artworks drawn by amateur hands confirmed as having been produced from life.

    But now, analysts have discovered the name Jane Austen in the top-right corner of a reproduction of a photograph of the portrait of the teenager, taken before the painting was restored, according to The Guardian.

    Beside it, in two places, is the name Ozias Humphry. Mr Humphry was an established portrait painter of the period, a member of the Royal Academy and a friend of several popular artists of the day, including Gainsborough and Romney.

    The words have been digitally enhanced using methods that were independently validated by Stephen Cole of Acume Forensics in Leeds, who has spent more than 20 years analysing photographic evidence in criminal cases.

    (Full story)

  • Moved to Jane Lit

    Edited by Sylvestrian on 17 Mar 2013, 22:58
  • Moved to Jane Lit

    Edited by Sylvestrian on 17 Mar 2013, 23:00
  • Jane Austen Stamps

    Jane Austen stamps go on sale

    All six published novels are included in the Royal Mail stamps issued to mark the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice

    Press Association
    The Guardian, Wednesday 20 February 2013

    A set of stamps featuring illustrations of Jane Austen novels goes on sale today, including newly-commissioned artwork depicting scenes from her books.

    All six published novels are included in the new stamps, which are being issued to mark the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice.

    The Royal Mail also announced that letters posted in Chawton in Hampshire, where Austen spent her last years, and Steventon, near Basingstoke, where she was born, will have a special postmark for a week, featuring the Pride and Prejudice quote "Do anything rather than marry without affection".

    Two first-class stamps will have illustrations from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, with images from Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion making up the six-stamp set. Royal Mail commissioned the artwork by Angela Barrett.

    Royal Mail stamps spokesman Andrew Hammond said: "When you think of great British authors, Jane Austen inevitably comes to mind. Her novels have contributed immeasurably to British culture over the last two centuries."

    Many events have been planned this year to celebrate the bicentenary of the author's best loved novel. Published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice was Austen's second novel and she described it as her "own darling child".

  • Moved to Jane Lit

    Edited by Sylvestrian on 17 Mar 2013, 23:24
  • New Thread for Reviews

    I've moved book reviews and the like to the Jane Lit discussion topic.

  • Jane Austen: Strictly ballroom

    As I've noted elsewhere in this forum, I think that John Mullan is one of the most insightful commentators on Jane Austen and the Regency period. In this article, he addresses the significance of balls and dancing in Austen's novels and in other classic works.

    Jane Austen: Strictly ballroom

    For Jane Austen's heroines a ball is a rare chance to mingle with the opposite sex. Now a BBC reconstruction of the Netherfield dance reveals the rigid social conventions that governed regency life.

    By John Mullan, The Guardian

    The BBC's Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball. Photograph: Andrew Hayes-Watkins/BBC/Optomen

    In Emma, Jane Austen concedes that it may be just possible to live without dancing. "Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind." But what an empty life! For anyone who still has sap in them, there is nothing like dancing – nothing to rival what Austen calls "the felicities of rapid motion". In Austen's fiction, as in many novels of the 19th century, a ball is the ultimate occasion for a heady kind of courtship – a trying out of partners that is exciting, flirtatious and downright erotic.

    In Pride and Prejudice, the complicated mutual attraction of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy is established through their behaviour towards each other at a succession of balls. They approach and retreat, tease and repel each other, as in an elaborate dance. Among the many media events marking the bicentenary of the publication of Austen's most popular novel, none is more elaborate than BBC2's restaging of the most important of these, the Netherfield ball given by Mr Bingley. It is a gorgeous, telegenic enactment, but also reveals the conventions on which Austen's narrative relies.

    (Full story)

  • BBC Adaptation of "Death Comes to Pemberley"

    Matthew Rhys to Star as Mr. Darcy in BBC’s Death Comes to Pemberley

    Jenna Louise Coleman Swaps Doctor Who For New Period Drama

    Matthew Rhys

    Last month, the BBC announced that it would produce a three-part adaptation of venerable mystery writer P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley. While the sequel novel to Pride and Prejudice set six years after Jane Austen's masterpiece received tepid reviews, the actors so far cast for the adaptation encourage hope for a first-rate production.

    The BBC also announced that the very fine actor Anna Maxwell Martin (Bleak House and Becoming Jane) has been cast as Elizabeth Bennet Darcy. I can't think of a better choice for the role.

    Anna Martin Maxwell

    It was reported yesterday that Jenna Louise Coleman will be leaving the role of Doctor Who's companion Clara to take on the character of Lydia Bennet Wickham in Death Comes to Pemberley. This also seems to be an example of brilliant casting.

    Jenna Louise Coleman

    The adaptation is expected to begin filming this month for airing late this year. No showing date is set for BBC America yet.

    (BBC announcement story)

    (Jenna Louise Coleman announcement)

  • Critical Commentary About the BBC Adaptation of "Death Comes to Pemberley"

    This Pride and Prejudice will never set our pulses racing

    The new adaptation of P D James's Austen-inspired crime novel won't work - not least because it lacks a wet-shirted Colin Firth

    By Amanda Craig, The Telegraph

    The news that we are to get a TV adaptation of P D James’s sequel to Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes to Pemberley, ought to thrill the millions who love both Jane Austen and Dame Phyllis. If the wailing and gnashing of teeth among Austenophiles of my acquaintance are anything to go by, it doesn’t. For one thing, the BBC has failed to nail the obvious thing: instead of casting Colin Firth as Mr Darcy once again, they have got Matthew Rhys in the lead. Rhys is a good actor, but alas he will never, ever set the nation’s pulses racing in a wet, white shirt.

    However, the second reason why this will fail is that all Austen fan-fiction is doomed. Not that this stops writers and publishers: this summer, we are getting Jo Baker’s Longbourn, about a servant girl in the Bennett family, toiling at laundering the Bennett family’s smelly laundry before finding love of her own. I’m afraid we simply do not want this, any more than we want a version in which the Bennett girls turn out to be zombie hunters, lesbians or time-travellers.

    It is worth reading the entire commentary.


    Amanda Craig is on the mark with all of her assertions except that Colin Firth (and presumably Jennifer Ehle) should have been cast as Darcy and Elizabeth in the upcoming adaptation. True, Firth and Ehle are the best leads of all the Pride and Prejudice adaptations but Death Comes to Pemberley is set six years after P&P. It has been 18 years since Firth and Ehle brought perfection to their roles.

    The 1995 adaptation brought Jane Austen to the screen. It is worth noting that the new adaptation is of P.D. James, not Austen. Anyone expecting the genius of Austen will be disappointed. Even so, I am hopeful that the new adaptation will be good. I think the casting gives it a decent chance of being memorable.

  • A Monied Jane...or a Janed Money?

    Jane Austen favourite to appear on ten-pound notes

    The Mirror

    Novelist Jane Austen is the “lady in waiting” to replace Charles Darwin in the £10 note, Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King revealed today.

    The Governor, who steps down this week, said the author of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion, was “quietly waiting in the wings” to be the next historic figure to grace a banknote.

    His comments came after the Bank was accused of ignoring great women figures in British history when it choose Sir Winston Churchill to be the face of the £5 note in place of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.

    Fry and Florence Nightingale, who previously appeared on the tenner, are the only two women to appear on notes.

    Sir Meryvn told the Commons Treasury select committee that Austen had been picked as the so-called “contingency candidate” to appear on notes.

    “One thing which we are quite determined to avoid is any suggestion that the five pound note in some sense be reserved for women,” he said.

    He added: “I think it is extremely unlikely that we should ever find ourselves in the position where there are no women among the historical figures on our banknotes.

    “Any time we produce a note there are always two notes we have running in parallel - the figure we are actually using and a reserve figure, so if there are technical problems with the first note we can run with the second.

    "That second figure often becomes a figure on the following note.

    “The figure that we’ve been working with for two years, we’ve said already that it’s a woman – I can tell you today it’s Jane Austen.

    "That clearly is a candidate for the £10 note down the road.”

    (Full story)

    Who better on the £10 bill than our Jane?

  • Jane Austen Portrait Sold

    Jane Austen portrait fetches £164,500

    BBC News

    A painting described as the "most famous image" of Jane Austen has sold at auction for £164,500 (US$270,600).

    The James Andrews watercolour was commissioned by the novelist's nephew in 1869 and a version will appear on the new £10 note from 2017.

    Dr Gabriel Heaton of auction house Sotheby's said the painting had been "crucial in transforming her from a novelist into a national figure".

    Sotheby's said it was bought by an anonymous private collector.

    The Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, said it did not bid because it could not raise the funds so soon after buying a ring that belonged to the author for £149,000 in September.

    The painting had a pre-sale estimate of £150,000-£200,000.

    The Reverend James Edward Austen-Leigh, Austen's nephew, asked artist James Andrews to create the painting for a biography.

    It was based on the only confirmed portrait of Austen made before her death in 1817 - a sketch by her sister Cassandra, which is in the National Portrait Gallery.

    He felt the sketch of his aunt did not do her justice, and used Andrews' painting for his book Memoir of Jane Austen.

    Dr Heaton called the painting the "most important likeness of Jane Austen ever likely to appear on the open market".

    "Seeing the most famous image of Jane Austen, for the first time, in a domestic sitting room was an astonishing experience," he said.

    "This delicate watercolour is so much more than a piece of literary portraiture - it is part of our cultural history."

    He said the portrait gave readers "an image with which they could identify and which even seemed to embody the character of her work".

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