Diana Lawrenson

— Writer —

Diana Lawrenson Pages to Places Blog

Welcome to my blog that takes you from pages to places. Come and discover some quirky, little-known, or loose-but-relevant links from books to places around the world. You might even like to add a book suggestion of your own to the topic.

30 June 2017 | England, Hampshire & Bath

JANE AUSTEN: COMPLIMENT AND CONTROVERSY

Two hundred years ago, on July 18th, 1817, Jane Austen died. Only four people attended her funeral in Winchester Cathedral where over a thousand can be seated.

So revered is Jane Austen today, a silhouette of her is on a commemorative £2 coin. Furthermore, her portrait is to appear on the £10 polymer notes being introduced in Britain on the bi-centenary of her death. The note is a compliment that’s not without controversy. Jane’s sister, Cassandra (named after their mother), is said to have sketched the only known likeness of her: a rather plain and serious rendition. But on the £10 note Jane has been softened and prettified, and some Austen aficionados are not pleased.

Jane Austen was monetised earlier when news broke of miniscule engravings of her, plus individividual quotes, made on only five £5 polymer notes recently released into circulation. They are said to be worth up to £50,000 each to collectors. So far four have been found…

Jane Austen's house, Chawton UK

The vicarage in Steventon, Hampshire, where she was born and where she wrote Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice has gone. When he retired, Jane’s father, Rev. George Austen, relocated his family to Bath where Jane wrote no novels. But after her father died she picked up her pen again to write Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion at Chawton in Hampshire. Thousands of devotees walk through through this house every year. The flag of St George flutters high on a pole, the grass is emerald and the sun benign on the day we visit.

Pages to Places Jane Austen

Bath

Two months before Jane died, Cassandra took her to Winchester in the hope doctors would be able to cure her. Her diagnosis remains unknown, although several possibilities including Tb and Addison’s Disease have been suggested.

Two hundred years on, in Winchester Cathedral at almost any time, you will find a knot of people surrounding Jane Austen Pages to PlacesJane Austen’s burial site in the flagstone floor. Nearby is a commemorative brass plaque and a stained glass window created in her honour. The romantic novelist who said: ‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading’ is remembered well. That statement, which also appears on the £10 note, has not attracted any controversy.

 

Jane Austen, Pages to Places

 

A SMALL SELECTION OF BOOKS BY, ABOUT OR INSPIRED BY JANE AUSTEN

  • Jane Austen’s Letters ed. Deidre le Faye
  • Sanditon and Other Stories by Jane Austen
  • The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne
  • Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin
  • The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
  1. I heard Paula Byrne speak about her latest book, The Genius of Jane Austen, at the Adelaide Writers Festival. I have not read it yet but I believe it has a lot to do with the ‘theatre’ of her work.

    1. Thanks for this recommendation, Julie.

Would you like to suggest another relevant book to add to the list?

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