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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Austen laurels

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

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