News for Austen Enthusiasts : September 2022
Autumn has such a distinct smell, doesn't it? Especially on those misty mornings when you go out for a brisk walk and someone, somewhere, has got their bonfire started. There is truly nothing better to do as the mercury falls than to cosy up with a good book and a steaming mug of coffee. Grab your pumpkin spice latte and settle in for another round up of the last month's Austen news.
The Jane Austen Festival returns to Bath!
Of course, we have to start with the Jane Austen Festival. Though the events were subdued, some cancelled, due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the festival was still quite the affair. On the Saturday, Austen fans from all over descended on Bath for the Festival Promenade in period dress. It was quite the spectacle! If you have any thoughts you'd like to share about the festival we'd love to hear them - drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Austen Lefroy letter put on display
One of the great mysteries of Austen's life is what exactly happened between her and Tom Lefroy. Frequently dubbed the author's 'Mr Darcy', this fascination has even spawned a film, Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway as Jane and James McAvoy as the charming Mr Lefroy. Well, now you can get a bit more of a glimpse into what went down. A letter from Austen to her sister Cassandra in which she playfully writes 'At length the Day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy' is now on display at Austen's home at Chawton.
Regency foodstuffs puzzled Chinese translators
Obviously, you don't get to Austen's level of literary superstardom without getting translated into pretty much every language. However, something we all love so much about her works - the delightful period detail of domestic life - has given translators an interesting challenge. When Pride and Prejudice first appeared in China, the translators seemed to find it tricky to find translations for some of the more obscure British foods!
Audible Original Explores life after Wickham
Many authors have tried their hand at exploring life beyond Austen's books, and we can't get enough of them - the more the merrier! Sarah Page's Mrs Wickham follows Lydia Wickham (nee Bennet) as she embarks on her new life with the cad Wickham. An Audible Original, this one is only available as a listening experience, but the talent is superb. Lauded actor Jessie Buckley takes up the voice of Lydia, with Johnny Flynn playing the rakish Mr Wickham. Maybe we can get Flynn to try his hand at every Austen man.
The health benefits of rereading Austen
You might remember Dr Ruth Wilson, who last year made headlines for earning her doctorate in her 80s, for a thesis on the work of Jane Austen. Now she's extolling the benefits of rereading Jane Austen's work, claiming that doing so in her later life has given her a new energy and joie de vivre. Now she's bringing out a memoir, The Jane Austen Remedy, exploring her relationship with Austen's work.
Lyme Regis breakwater to be repaired
Jane Austen was fond of Lyme Regis, a popular Regency seaside destination for city dwellers looking to refresh themselves with some sea air. The water front remains popular today, and is still used as a popular filming destination. Unfortunately, the Cobb, which features in Persuasion, is being badly damaged by sea erosion, so requires extensive repairs costing £3mil. Hopefully, these repairs will safeguard this beauty spot for generations of Austen readers to come.
200-year-old pool reopens
Cleveland Pools, the UK's oldest outdoor pool, has been reopened to the public after extensive repair. The pool, which is in Bath, was originally opened in 1815, but closed to the public in the mid-80s due to the rising popularity of indoor heated pools. A brief stint as a trout farm followed, but the site has mostly sat empty and decaying for the last few decades. Works to restore the pool started in 2019 and the pool was finally able to open to swimmers in September of this year. Access is currently limited, but there are plans to open up more fully in 2023.
Hatchard's to open Cheltenham branch
London's oldest bookshop Hatchard's, which has been a mainstay on Piccadilly since 1797, is expanding. The store, which boasts the title of 'Bookseller to the Royal Family', has been visited by many a famous writer through the years, including our own Jane. Now, they're expanding. Just in time for the Cheltenham Book Festival, Hatchard's will open their doors to locals on October 7th.