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Jane Austen News - Issue 164

What's the Jane Austen News this week? 

On Beating Writer's Block

Boxed Calligraphy SetIf you long to be a writer like Jane Austen, then the phrase 'writer's block' is one to be feared. However, we came across a fantastic article this week with great tips on how to beat writer's block should it hit you. Tip One: Put on a blindfold Try training your mind by dressing with a blindfold. Doing so will require you to use all of your other senses, actively engaging your imagination as you feel your way through the clothing, using tactile clues to decode your surroundings. After all, the best books don't just focus on what characters can see, but also on sounds, smells, tastes, and emotions. Tip Two: People watch Look outside your window to see the people in the street. Look at how people dress and at their expressions. Try to imagine what has happened in their lives in the moments before you saw them or what might happen to them later that day. Tip Three: Visit an art gallery Head to your local art gallery (or search online for art collections). Look at the pieces and each time you hear yourself think “I don’t like that,” or “I like that one,” ask yourself why or why not. Art is an interpretation of the world each person sees, and as well as spurring new ideas, it can be insight into your own mind and that of the artist. Tip Four: Try free writing Free writing is where you pick a topic and let your imagination run wild. Try not to stop to think. Keep your pen moving. You can write to a prompt, or write as a character. The faster you go, the closer to your natural voice your free writing will get, and it's sure to take you in unexpected directions. (Also, why not try getting yourself an inspiring set of stationery to write with...? As it's stationery week this week, this is the prime time to do it!)

 A Summer of Delight in Sydney Gardens
The Jane Austen News loves Sydney Gardens!Sydney Gardens are the UK’s only surviving Georgian Pleasure Gardens, and they are gardens which Jane Austen knew well - having lived across from them when she first came to live in Bath. Happily, they're also soon going to be restored to an even greater glory than they already are, as a project to restore the gardens will see extensive heritage and wildlife conservation work and areas of the park that are currently closed to the public being reopened. Historic features including the Loggia, Minerva’s Temple and the Edwardian toilets will also be restored, while flower gardens will be replanted and wildlife habitats, and viewpoints will be improved. Sydney Gardens are a wonderful place to visit, whether you live in Bath or whether you're just visiting Bath. They aren't the most well known gardens in Bath though, and so to encourage more people to visit the gardens, a series of free events are being held in Sydney Gardens throughout the summer. A selection of the events: Bird Songs and Calls On Monday 6th May from 8.00am to 10.30am, Lucy Delve (BathNats, RSPB and Friend of Sydney Gardens) will be leading a free canal side stroll from Sydney Gardens to Bathampton and back. Participants will be able to listen to and learn about birdsong and calls. There are fourteen places available on the walk. To book a place go through the link on Tai Chi in the Park Every Sunday between 12th May and 11th August from 12.30pm – 1.30pm, free Tai Chi sessions are being led by teacher Paddy Nisbett. The sessions can accommodate 25 people and are suitable for anyone over the age of 14 (under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult). No experience is needed and newcomers and beginners are welcome. Meet at the park entrance behind the Holburne Museum. Arrive 5 minutes early to register. Friends of Sydney Gardens Community Day Sunday 15th September, 1pm – 4pm. A live iron forge. Stalls, plays, games and activities for all.

 Wilton House Plays Host to A Hollywood Emma

Last week the beautiful Wilton House (located on the outskirts of Salisbury) surprised some visitors with an unexpected event. The house was playing host to a film crew!

When we got there, the number of burly looking security guards and actors dressed in regency costumes suggested the place had been appropriated for other means. Wilton House, it transpired, was being used to film the latest Hollywood version of Jane Austen’s Emma. Rather than clambering on the climbing frames, my daughters sat down, intrigued, to watch how a film was made instead.
Wilton House has a long tradition of being used for Jane Austen film and television adaptations. Previously, scenes from the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility and the 2005 take on Pride and Prejudice were shot there. The new adaptation of Emma has no precise release date as of yet, but the more we hear about it, the more we're looking forward to it! (More news about the upcoming adaptation can be found in issue number 159 of the Jane Austen News)

 A Review of Gentleman Jack
Last week, the HBO network premiered the period piece drama Gentleman Jack, (perhaps partly in the hope that this would keep viewers who aren't such fans of Game of Thrones hooked by a new series). Combining elements of Jane Austen and echoes of Moll Flanders, the series is allegedly based on the diaries of a real-life historical figure named Anne Lister, a landowner and businesswoman whose unapologetic lesbianism created a stir in the social circles of 1830s Halifax.

The most interesting thing about the series is showing people that a woman like this existed 200 years ago, during the Regency period, the same period in which the Jane Austen novels are set. This was a woman who was so transgressive and so unusual and showed us that women didn’t always fit into the neat little places they were expected to inhabit. They could be as bold as we can now, this is one woman who actually was.

Writer, director, and producer of Gentleman Jack, Sally Wainwright
Whether or not it's your kind of show, Gentleman Jack checks off a lot of the boxes which make a period drama a hit, as reviewer Josh Zyber says in a review for the show published on the High Def Digest blog: "It’s a handsomely mounted series with nice photography, costumes, and period production design. The dialogue is clever and sometimes witty, and the heroine is a strong feminist role model who proudly stands up to the sexism of her time in a way modern audiences demand from any story set during this era." Those of us here at the Jane Austen News rather enjoyed it. Did you watch it? What did you think?

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