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Jane Austen News - Issue 134

What's the Jane Austen News this week? 

A Georgian Estate For £13.50? If you've always dreamed of owning your own Pemberley, but lack Mr Darcy's £10,000 a year (more like £800,000 a year these days due to inflation), then the following quirky competition may be of interest. A couple has decided that, following disappointment as they failed to sell their pricey estate through normal channels, instead of marketing their their luxury six-bedroom mansion through estate agents, they'll raffle it off. Located on the edge of North London in Hertfordshire, Dancers Hill House is a Georgian grade II listed property, built in 1760 and worth more than £5.25m - but it could be someone's for only £13.50. The current owners, Nigel and Melanie Walsh, who have lived in the house with their family for over 25 years, decided on a raffle after realising that the difficult property market was making it near-impossible to sell the home. In addition to six bedrooms, the 7,500 square feet offers two lounges, a cinema room, a gym, a wine room, four acres of grounds,  and a one-and-a-half acre lake stocked with more than 2,000 fish (sadly no Darcy in a wet shirt).
There is just the two of us now - 7,500 square feet for two people - I mean it is funny, but it is crazy, we just don’t fill it anymore. I just got the feeling the house needed a new family, a new chapter. It has had a fantastic life.

Melanie Walsh

To enter the competition, interested parties need to answer a question then purchase a ticket. The closing date for the competition is December 16, though the couple have said that it may end earlier if all 600,000 tickets are sold before that date, or the closing date may be extended by up to a maximum of six months if not all the tickets are sold by the 16th of December. When the tickets are sold, the draw will then be done at random, and the winner will have a Georgian mansion all of their own - no stamp duty or extra hidden fees. Well that's certainly going to be a tale of rags to riches for someone. (The raffle website can be found here along with more pictures of the mansion.)

In Defence of the Ordinary Heroine The Jane Austen News came across an excellent defence of Catherine Morland from Jane's Northanger Abbey this week. As part of Hillsdale College's free online course on Jane Austen, Lorraine Murphy, an English professor at the college, explained why Jane had the perfect idea when she chose to make an ordinary girl the heroine of her novel. Bre Payton, a writer at the The Federalist, went into greater detail: While Catherine is not naturally beautiful, or blessed with vast wealth, or is overly accomplished, she is loved by her friends and family and goes on to have a happy ending. The novels of the day at the time when Austen was writing Northanger Abbey were filled with heroines who were naturally mature and distinguished and beautiful. Austen uses Northanger Abbey to show that anyone can be a heroine.
By using an ordinary girl as the heroine, Austen suggests that ordinary girls coming of age and growing up are the heroines of their own stories. A woman doesn’t need to be impossibly beautiful or virtuous in order to overcome challenges like a protagonist in a novel.
An excellent thing to keep in mind when you're not having a great day. You are good enough; you can be a heroine - and don't let anyone (or any novel) tell you otherwise! (Hillsdale College's course can be found here. Bre's article can be found here.)
Obscure Sub-Genres The question of how to correctly categorise books is a toughie. For example, do you file Mary Shelley's Frankenstein under Horror, Science Fiction, or Classics? All three if truth be told. One solution to this kind of categorising dilemma - create a sub-genre for it. This week the Jane Austen News came across a list of sub-genres on Bustle, some of which we were aware of (though hadn't given a name to), and some of which we'd never have thought of. The list included:
  • Sky Pirates - "A descendant of Steampunk fiction, which in turn is an offshoot of Sci-Fi (basically, what if Victorian-era steam technology was way cooler and everyone had airships?)."
  • Cashier Memoirs - "the sub-genre of the Cashier Memoir explores the frustration (and, at times, straight up cruelty) that most cashiers deal with on the daily."
  • Bangsian Fantasy - "a Bangsian book will explore a person's adventures as they wander around the afterlife, usually (but not always) with a humorous slant."
  • Mannerpunk - "a genre that mashes up fantasy and manner-based comedy. Stories take place in an elaborate social structure, battling primarily with wits instead of monsters, even though the world around them might include magic and mayhem of every kind." (Think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...)
  • Mr Darcy POV Books - "the sub-genre of books that more or less tell Jane Austen's original story from Mr. Darcy's perspective."
Of course, this got us to thinking of just how many sub-genres there are within the broader Jane Austen based fiction genre. Perhaps "Minor Character Memoirs" or "Bennet Backstories"? Any other potentials?
Streaming Emma We've come across a fair few musical adaptations of Austen's works, and a number of online-only adaptations of Jane's novels too (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved to name but two). However, what we've not heard of before is an online-only musical adaptation... The company, Streaming Musicals, is a group of Artists who aim to make it easier for people to enjoy the magic of theatre by filming their stage productions with an at-home audience specifically in mind. Apart from the fact that this is a lovely thing to do, we mention them because their latest production is a musical adaptation of Jane's Emma.
A Soundstage Musical is a hybrid between a film and a stage musical. We stage the show in a theatre or on a soundstage but we shoot it like a film, with 3 cameras and no audience. The actors sing live but most of the orchestra and underscore are filled in later.
[embed][/embed] The musical is due to stream on October 3rd.
This Week's Recommended Read This week's recommended read is written by the fantastic journalist, author and broadcaster Dame Jenni Murray. If you (like us) read as many Austen-related books as you can - however tenuous the link may be, you may have read her book, A History of Britain in 21 Women, which includes Jane Austen as one of the twenty-one featured women (how could it not!). Now Murray has brought out her new book which is, A History of the World in 21 Women, - just released in hardback on September 6th. As A History of Britain in 21 Women was such a good book, and did such an excellent job of championing some amazing women from history, we're delighted that Dame Murray has brought out a book highlighting yet more amazing women from the past.
Women have played just as great a role in the story of humankind, only for their own tales to be marginalised, censored and forgotten. Their names should be shouted from the rooftops. They ruled empires, they led nations. They were pioneers in the arts and geniuses of science. They led while others followed, spoke truth to power and fought for change. All left behind an indelible mark.

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