Celebrating Jane Austen - even the quote on the new tenner is causing controversy
In this 200th anniversary of her sadly premature death, Jane Austen is everywhere. Magazine articles, documentaries and dramatisations of her books celebrate the life and work of the woman who for many was England’s greatest novelist.
Next month she will receive that ultimate accolade when she appears on the new ten pound note replacing Charles Darwin who has been in situ for the past 25 years.
Think Austen fans are happy? Don’t be daft. They’re up in arms over the quote that the Bank of England has chosen to use on the already controversial polymer note.
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading”. Sounds innocuous enough doesn’t it? Written by Austen and seemingly a celebration of the joys of literature. What could possibly go wrong?
Well readers are furious that the line, taken from Pride and Prejudice, is actually spoken by the dreadful Caroline Bingley, a character who is mean, conniving and petty, has absolutely no interest in books and is merely trying to impress Mr Darcy.
I suppose the mere fact that a couple of centuries on people are annoyed that the line has been taken out of context is a measure of the high regard in which Austen’s novels are held.
No surprise then that our touring show Jane Austen at Home is doing brisk business. It finds top TV historian Lucy Worsley discussing her new Austen biography, also called Jane Austen at Home, which examines the novelist’s life by considering what ‘home’ meant to Jane and tells her story through the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her most. It dispels the myth of the lonely spinster and instead offers us a witty and passionate woman. Great stuff!
Lucy Worsley - Jane Austen at Home is at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester on Friday 18th August. For more info go to www.mercurytheatre.co.uk