Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, Jul 6 2017 01:00PM

D-Day for Janeites – aka July 18, the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s untimely death – is approaching quickly, and a number of UK outlets are commemorating the occasion in quintessentially British fashion: with a competition.

* Snapping for Austen: Jane Austen 200, the bicentenary organization of Hampshire, the English county where Austen lived for most of her life, is sponsoring a contest for the best Austen-themed photo. (And it doesn’t have to show Hampshire, so we Americans with limited travel budgets can enter.)

Prize: A set of Austen’s novels from the county library system, plus what are enticingly described as “other Jane Austen-themed goodies” from the Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Deadline: August 31

* Baking for Austen: Perton Library, a public library in the West Midlands county of Staffordshire, is sponsoring “The Great Jane Austen Bake-Off.” Aspiring bakers must whip up one of three Georgian-era recipes – miniature jam tarts, tangerine cheesecake, or a fresh strawberry tart – and bring them to the library for judging. A party will follow. And I suspect the refreshments will be fabulous.

Prize: Unclear. Possibly just the glory of victory.

Deadline: July 20

* Reading for Austen: The Folio Society, which publishes beautifully bound and illustrated editions of classic works at higher-than-ordinary price points, has made Austen the theme of its monthly prize drawing. (You may recall that a few months ago, the same company held a contest to choose an illustrator for its upcoming Mansfield Park edition.) All it takes to enter this month’s drawing is name and contact information – though I suspect entrants will soon find themselves on the Folio Society’s mailing list. But there are worse fates.

Prize: Folio editions of two Austen novels (currently, four of the six are available – fans of Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey are out of luck), plus the Folio edition of Austen nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh’s 1869 Memoir of Jane Austen.

Deadline: July 30

By Deborah Yaffe, Feb 16 2017 02:00PM

Earlier this month, Janeites were delighted when the Folio Society publishers and the House of Illustration, a London gallery devoted to the art of illustration, unveiled the list of finalists for the job of illustrating a new edition of Mansfield Park.

I ran across the story via selections available on the website of the Guardian newspaper – but I recently realized that I overlooked the complete set of images on the House of Illustration’s own web site: four images, including a cover, from each of the twenty-three artists.

It’s a fascinating mixture of styles and approaches, from the hyper-realistic to the completely abstract, and it’s going to be very interesting to see which the judges select – and whether their choice matches that of the lay audience, who are invited to cast their own votes for the Visitors’ Choice Award.

By Deborah Yaffe, Oct 15 2015 01:00PM

Just in case – ahem! – you were wondering what to get me for my birthday, a particularly scrumptious set of Jane Austen editions is issuing, with tantalizing slowness, from the Folio Society. London-based Folio is known for producing elegantly printed, beautifully illustrated and crazily expensive hardbacks of works both classic and contemporary.

The Austen editions came to my attention this week, when Folio announced the release of its Sense and Sensibility, with an introduction by the mysterious Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, famous for using a pseudonym so impenetrable that, supposedly, no one knows who she (?) really is.

Turns out that Folio did a Pride and Prejudice last year and an Emma earlier this year, as well as an edition of the 1870 Memoir of Jane Austen by her nephew, J.E. Austen-Leigh. We can only hope that the rest are not far behind.

Judging from the web site pictures I’ve been squinting at, all four of the volumes published so far look delightful. Together, they’ll run you just about $234. Which seems about right for a birthday, don’t you think?

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