News for Austen Enthusiasts : June 2023
You can now view Austen’s parish records
A new partnership between Hampshire County Council and Ancestry means that you can now view the parish birth, marriage and death records of locals such as Jane Austen and Florence Nightingale. Residents of Hampshire will be able to utilise the service for free through their local library service, giving them access to heaps of history and research materials.
Harp with Austen connection restored
Musician and restorer Mike Parker has breathed new life into a harp that once belonged to Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza. Eliza was an interesting character, said to have been the inspiration for Mansfield Park’s Mary Crawford. Parker hunted down the harp, which he discovered was being sold by a descendent of Eliza, in Belgium. The harp was played again for the first time at Chawton.
Mansfield reimagined with all-Black cast
A new production of Mansfield Park has been taking place at Chawton this summer, with an all Black cast reinterpreting the novel for a 21st-century audience. The novel is notable for being one of the few in which Austen acknowledges the existence of the slave trade, and the creative team behind this particular production invite debate and discussion of this particular issue!
Nine-day Jane Austen celebration gets underway
In June, the towns of Alton, Chawton and Selborne got together for a nine-day celebration, Jane Austen Regency Week. The festival opened with Regency Day, which saw Alton High Street closed to traffic so that attendees could avail themselves of all the fun activities that had been set up, including carriage rides.
First look at Bridgerton Season 3
We’ve been eagerly awaiting news of the third season of raunchy Regency drama Bridgerton, the most recent success from the mind of Shonda Rimes. This season will follow Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton’s (Luke Newton) romance, with the first images we’ve seen featuring a wistful Penelope gazing out the window. Her hair looks gorgeous!
Kingsolver scoops Women’s Prize
We finally have a winner! After months of waiting, the winner of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction has been awarded to Barbara Kingsolver for Demon Copperhead, a reimagining of Dickens’ David Copperfield set in Appalachia, following a community in the grip of the Opioid Crisis. The win hardly comes as a surprise, riding a wave of success that has seen the novel also pick up a Pulitzer.
Caffe Nero launch book award
As if we weren’t already spoiled for choice of great book awards, Caffe Nero has now thrown their hat in the ring. Last year, we were devastated to hear that Costa were ending their book awards, so it’s delightful to see an award stepping into the gap. The Neros seem set to fill the same function, with the categories for the inaugural awards being similar - children’s books, debut fiction, fiction and nonfiction. Poetry, sadly, isn’t getting a look in this year. We hope that might change in future iterations. We’ll be keeping you abreast of the updates as we have them.
As always, we would love to know if we have missed anything, as well as all your thoughts on the news!