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Latest News

This page highlights forthcoming activities or events indirectly related to the Jane Austen Society during the course of the year, together with information on any issues or events not included on other pages of the website.

The links below direct you either to relevant content elsewhere on the website, or to a separate page providing further information.

Transfer of Society's Assets

The Jane Austen Society of the UK (charity number 1040613) hereby gives notice of its intention to transfer outright the ownership of its assets to Jane Austen's House Museum (charity number 1156458), where they are currently on long-term loan, for the preservation and display, in perptuity, of such assets. The transfer will be by Deed of Gift, which will ensure that any restrictions will continue to be complied with and that the receiving charity follows the UK Museums Association Code of Ethics in its care and management of the assets. This in no way alters the Society's registered charitable activities of education and research, nor those of the Museum. Any original donor who thinks they may be affected by this change should, within 3 months from the date of this notice, contact the Society on or telephone 07855 159207.

Sale of Grovehurst

A Grade II listed property in Kent that was in the Austen family for seven generations is on sale for just over £1.5 million. George Austen's great-great-grandfather Francis, a wealthy clothier, purchased the house in 1647 and the last of his direct line died in 1851. Nigel Nicolson describes Grovehurst as 'a superb example of the Wealden hall-house, some say two of them joined by a Tudor wing, and inside there is enough panelling, fireplaces, oak staircases, "priest-holes" and capacious cupboards, with neighbouring rooms on different levels, to satisfy the most pertinacious of archaeologists and the dreamiest inventor of romantic legends.' A number of Jane Austen's forebears are buried at nearby St Margaret's Church at Horsmonden.

Further details from the above link.

Sydney Gardens Restoration

Bath and Northeast Somerset Council has acquired a National Lottery grant of £2.7 million to fund a major restoration of Sydney Gardens in Bath. The project to preserve and develop the UK's sole surviving Georgian pleasure garden will begin in 2020. The Council's plan includes restoring the Loggia and Minerva's Temple, replanting flower beds and providing an outdoor cafe.

More News From Sanditon

Andrew Davies' adaptation of Jane Austen's Sanditon will be shown on ITV later this year in eight one-hour programmes. Filming locations are revealed as Frampton-on-Severn, Clevedon and Brean, near Burnham-on-Sea. The cast includes Rose Williams as Charlotte Heywood, Theo James as Sidney Parker, and Anne Reid as Lady Denham.

Further details from the above link.

Auction of Austen Novels

A set of Jane Austen's novels, given by Fanny Knatchbull to her daughter Louisa, are being auctioned on March 28th. They are expected to sell for £4,000 - £6,000. The auctioneer's initial description reads:

Austen (Jane) Novels, 6 vol. in 5, reprint of first collected edition, engraved frontispiece to each vol. but lacking half-titles and additional engraved vignetter titles, vol. 1 with presentation inscription from F C Knatchbull to her daughter Louisa dated 1856 (in Louisa's hand) and remaining vol. with ownership signature of Louisa to front free endpaper, contemporary half calf, spines gilt with double morocco labels (3 lacking, a few chipped) rubbed, 8vo, Richard Bentley, 1833 [but 1854].

Further details from the above link.

International Birthday Celebrations

Each year, for most of the Branches and Groups of the Jane Austen Society UK, some sort of celebration of our favourite writer’s birthday will appear in the December entry in the Diary of Events. This generally involves a lunch, maybe using period recipes, and is usually followed by some form of entertainment – a musical presentation, readings or an entertaining ‘after-lunch speaker.’

Hazel Jones, of the South West Branch of the UK Society, decided to find out if this tradition was followed in the various International Jane Austen Societies. Here are the results of her enquiries.

From Australia, Susannah Fullerton writes:

'Have you remembered to collect pieces for the patchwork? - we are now at a standstill", Jane Austen wrote to her sister. As all who have visited the Jane Austen Museum will know, that patchwork quilt did get finished and is on display. JASA decided to celebrate that rather different artistic effort of Jane Austen's by inviting Katrina Hadjimichael to come and speak at our December lunch celebrating both Jane Austen's birthday and Christmas. Katrina is an expert quilter-maker and designer, she teaches quilting, and she sells patterns for her quilts to other quilters. Particularly popular are her quilt designed from the quilt Jane and Cassandra made, and from the novels; her quilts 'Pemberley', 'Longbourn', and 'Netherfield' were on display. One called 'Winchester' was based on the fabulous tiles on the floor of Winchester Cathedral.

Katrina gave an extremely entertaining talk about her love of both Jane Austen and quilting, invited questions from the audience, and shared quilting experiences afterwards with those members of the audience who also love to quilt. Her website shows examples of her truly beautiful work: Her quilts are a testament to Jane Austen's idea that "a true artist never does anything slovenly".

About 170 people attended the event. There was a toast to Jane Austen; a fabulous selection of Jane Austen-related goods was sold at our Regency Fair; there was a delicious lunch - and a nicely air-conditioned room to protect us all from the heat of a Sydney summer.

Katrina Hadjimichael

Susannah Fullerton

Elena Truan Aguirre, President of the Jane Austen Society of Spain writes:

On Monday the 17th December of 2018, the date chosen for its proximity to Jane Austen’s birthday on the 16th December, the event 'Austen Goes Viral: from Oblivion to Fame' took place in the University of Salamanca.

The event was organized by the Department of English Studies of the university, the masters programme in Advanced English Studies, and the Female Literary Writers and Characters Research Group (GIR Escritoras y personajes femeninos en la literatura), all in close collaboration with the Jane Austen Society España. It consisted of a series of lectures and postgraduate papers, and took place in one of the university buildings, the Juan del Enzina lecture room, at the very heart of the town with one of the most ancient universities in the world. At least 60 attendees were registered.

The event opened with Dr Miriam Borham, (Salamanca University) whose conference Jane’s Fame and the Sisterhood of Women Writers was the first of the day. The postgraduate papers, presented by PhD candidates Laura Requena and Lidia Cuadrado and Masters student Lucía López, provided brilliant prospects for the future of Jane Austen research, and gave deep context concerning the reception of Jane Austen’s works throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, including amusing and interesting analysis of the audio-visual and transmedia adaptations. Dr Miguel Ángel Jordán (Valencia University), Vice-president of the Jane Austen Society Spain, offered the second main lecture, 'Lectura, interpretación, o piratería? Un acercamiento a las adaptaciones audiovisuales de las novelas de Austen.'

The second part of the day gave a twist to the usual Austen conference, with the attendance of Dr Daniel Escandell- Montiel, (Manchester University) and his conference Austen 2.0: 'Ciberperformance e identidad a partir de la autoría literaria', an exciting Q&A with film director Rajshree Ojha, whose Aisha (2010) was based on Austen’s Emma, a screening of the Pride and Prejudice adaptation, Bride and Prejudice (Guninder Chadha, 2004). The conference was closed by Dr Jorge Diego Sánchez and Trans-national narratives: Austen in India. An Afterword.

All in all, an event that proved worthy of such an institution as Salamanca University, which created a solid, productive community of Austen devotees and academics.

From Brazil, the President of JASBra, Adriana Sales writes:

Thank you for this opportunity to share with Janeites around the world our Austen’s birthday celebration here in Brazil.

For 2018, I decided to celebrate Austen’s birthday in Timóteo, a city in the countryside, since the author has many fans around Brazil. So, I planned a 'Tea with Jane Austen' in the afternoon of 14 December. Andréia Magalhães, owner of Dom Henrique Hotel, offered the hotel restaurant as the official place for this event.

More than 50 people attended our celebration, at which I gave a speech about Austen’s life and her books. After that, we had a fantastic tea party, with delicious food, dancing and some artists playing piano, flute and violin. As you can see in the pictures, some of us wore clothes inspired by the Regency world. People asked questions about Austen and, from my point of view, it was a great success because we (JASBRA) could plan a celebration in the countryside, far from big cities. It was a good opportunity to give people a small portrait about Jane Austen and encourage them to read her books.

Usually we do an annual meeting, with people from all over Brazil, but this year, due the fact I was finishing my thesis about the digital fandom of Jane Austen, I couldn’t organize a large party.

(PS. JASBra is going to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year!)

From JASNA, Metropolitan Kansas City Region, Regional Coordinator Leah Wilson writes:

On 15 December 2018, we held our Jane Austen Birthday Tea celebration in one of the elegant dining rooms at Webster House, one of Kansas City's most unique destinations. Located inside a restored Romanesque-style public school building, Webster House offers a distinctive shopping and dining experience. The oldest remaining public school building in Kansas City was opened in 1885 and closed in 1932. One hundred years later, it was carefully restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Our speaker was Dr Sheryl Craig; her topic was Women’s Rights in Georgian England.

From Netherlands, Monique Christiaan writes:

We, The Jane Austen Society of the Netherlands, celebrated Jane's Birthday with music and dance, two things she dearly loved! We have a Jane Austen Dance Workshop every month in Amsterdam and Sunday the 16th of December was the last one before the Christmas Holiday, so another reason for a party. Everyone was invited to come and dance in their Regency attire to make it extra festive. At lunchbreak we had sweet and savoury delicacies, supervised by a portrait of Jane Austen and a Christmas tree. And all those nice things to eat didn't hinder us at working very hard at the workshop - we learned six dances and we danced without any fatigue. Jane would be proud!

Silvia Ogier, president and co-founder of the Jane Austen Society of Italy writes:

On Saturday 15 December 2018, the Jane Austen Society of Italy (JASIT) invited members and friends for an afternoon tea to celebrate Jane Austen's birthday. The location of the meeting was the majestic Salone delle Feste of Palazzo Maccaferri (now Hotel I Portici) in Bologna, where members and friends of JASIT enjoyed their tea and in the meanwhile listened to actress Daniela Fini reading some excerpts from Austen's letters. In particular, the passages chosen were taken from the correspondence with Cassandra and James Stanier Clarke, whereas the final one was an excerpt from a letter to James Edward Austen Leigh, written on Jane's last birthday: here we can find Austen's famous definition of her own writing as 'two inches of ivory' (after which JASIT has named its annual journal, 'Due pollici d'avorio').

This meeting has been a delightful occasion for JASIT members to meet and exchange opinions about Austen, while enjoying an aspect of her writing (the letters) not as well-known as her novels, but equally worth reading.

You can find pictures and videos on our facebook page:

It’s wonderful to know that we in the UK are not alone in appreciating and celebrating the genius, the works and the times of Jane Austen.

Photograph Album of Jane Austen's Nephews and Nieces Sold on Ebay

A number of intriguing images of Jane Austen's nieces and nephews have surfaced in a Victorian photograph album, previously owned by Lord George Hill's family in Ireland. Karen Levers bought it on ebay for £780, without realising at the time its significance to wider Austen biography.

The photographs feature a lavish wedding in 1865 at Chawton House, and images of Marianne, Louisa, Charles and Edward Knight junior in later life. The photograph identified as Fanny Knight in the link is, of course, not Jane Austen's neice.

The album is now with historians and Austen experts.

New Ambassador for Jane Austen's House Museum

David Baddiel, comedian, author, TV presenter, and champion of Jane Austen's literary excellence, is JAHM's Ambassador for 2019.

Free Online Course at Southampton University

Drs Gillian Dow and Kim Simpson are teaching a free, three-week course on Jane Austen: Myth, Reality and Global Celebrity. Enrolment opens on January 14th. Further details from the above link.

Unveiling of Jane Austen Plaque in Southampton : Sunday 18 November

Towards the end of World War I, an impressive stone plaque dedicated to Jane Austen was erected in the old Central Library on the corner of Cumberland Place and London Road to mark the 100th anniversary of Jane's death. She had lived in Southampton between 1806 and 1809.

Unfortunately, the whole library and the plaque were destroyed by bombing in World War II.

To mark the 200th anniversary of her death in 2017, the City of Southampton Society approached the Nuffield Theatre Company to ascertain whether they would welcome a replacement plaque in their new theatre in the city centre. They did, but the construction schedule for the theatre was delayed and the opening night was in February this year, featuring 'The Shadow Factory', Southampton's Spitfire story.

The City of Southampton Society are delighted that the replacement pictorial plaque was unveiled at 3.00 pm on Sunday 18 November. The sculptor is Chris Cudlip, a local member of the Artists Union England. The plaque unveiling was performed by the Sarah Siddons Fan Club in the presence of the mayor and invited guests.

Godmersham Park Library Goes Digital

I am now alone in the Library, Mistress of all I survey', wrote Jane Austen to her sister on 24th September 1813. Over 200 years later, we too can immerse ourselves in the collection of books amassed by Edward Knight, catalogued from 1818 onwards.

The virtual library (see link below), created by Chawton House and The Burney Centre at McGill University in Montreal, under the direction of Professor Peter Sabor, allows visitors to view the texts arranged on the shelves as Jane Austen might have seen them, to access images and information about individual books and to find links to online editions.

In 2019, Peter Sabor will be speaking on 'Reading Austen at Godmersham Park' at the Society's Study Day at Senate House, London, on February 9th. Booking is now open.

Bank of England Archives

In the process of researching Jane Austen's tax affairs, Dr John Avery Jones CBE, a retired tax judge and member of the Society, located several items in the Bank of England Archives. The relevant ledgers and stock books (not available on line) are listed as:

AC27/5232 Stock Ledger: Navy £5% Annuities, A, 5 July 1807 - 5 July 1814
AC27/5288 Stock Ledger: Navy £5% Annuities, A, 5 July 1818 - 5 July 1822
AC28/19407 Stock Book Transfers: Navy £5% Annuities, 29 Jan 1813 - 25 Aug 1813
AC28/19672 Stock Book Transfers: Navy £5% Annuities, 9 May 1815 - 23 Jan 1816

Dr Avery Jones's article on Austen's income tax will appear in the Annual Report for 2018 (published 2019). Meanwhile, here is a link to his Conference Paper on tax and Austen's characters.

Courtesy Bank of England

Flying High with Jane Austen

A recent Society News Letter carried a review of Jane Austen Speaks Norwegian, an investigation into the challenges that writers from that country faced, and continue to face, when translating Austen's novels into a meaningful read (No 51, pp 13-14). Now Norway has honoured the author in a very different way. Many thanks to Steve Tilbury, who spotted an image of Jane Austen on the tail fin of a Norwegian Airlines Dreamliner and sent the photograph above with the following comment:

'This airline has a wide range of historical figures represented on its aircraft, but this is one of the few that has a British figure, so it is satisfying that Jane has been chosen to be one of this select group. I wonder what she would have made of this - beyond even her wonderful imagination I would think!'

Norwegian Airline's website has more information.

Sanditon Snippet

Andrew Davies, as we could have guessed, promises 'quite a bit of nude bathing'in his upcoming tv adaptation of Sanditon. Given that he threatened us with a naked Mr Darcy back in the 1990s, his present nudges and winks should perhaps be taken with a large pinch of seasalt. Filming is due to begin next spring with only one named actor to date, Charlotte Rampling, who will presumably play Lady Denham. Whether Davies will follow Marie Dobbs' well-known completion of the novel beyond Jane Austen's twelve chapters (for some reason many internet sites specify only eleven) or resolve the plot to his own satisfaction, skinny dipping apart, is not yet known. Equally mysterious is the chosen location for the struggling seaside resort. Watch this space...

Pride and Passion: Jane Austen Novels the Brazilian Way

Sex and violence make it into Jane Austen's plotlines as the novelist gets the Brazilian soap treatment. (Full details from the above link.)

Austenistan launched at the Dorchester

Inspired by Jane Austen and set in contemporary Pakistan, Austenistan is a collection of seven short stories, edited by Laaleen Sukhera, founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP). Published by Bloomsbury India in December 2017, the book was launched in the UK on 4 November 2018 at The Dorchester Hotel, Mayfair, courtesy of Developments in Literacy UK (DIL).

The occasion, filmed by the BBC, featured an opening speech by the author Rebecca Smith, writer in residence at Jane Austen's House Museum 2009-2010; readings from the Austen-inspired short story collection by two of the contributors, Laaleen Sukhera and Nida Elley, and insightful commentary on Pakistani women's writing and contemporary society by Faiza Sultan Khan of Bloomsbury Publishing, and Melissa van der Klugt, who wrote 'Meet the Lizzie Bennets of Lahore' in November 2017 for The Times.

From left to right: Georgina Godwin of the British Arts Council, Rebecca Smith, Laaleen Sukhera, Nida Elley, Faiza Sultan Khan, and Melissa van der Klugt.