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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe


Austen-influenced crafts come in many forms. There are knitting patterns. There are board games. There are tote bags and jewelry and perfume.

And now there are cookies.

Last year, the Washington Post explains, a young British design historian named Ella Hawkins sent her mother a batch of ornately hand-painted biscuits – that’s cookies to us Americans – as a Valentine’s Day gift. After an enthusiastic response, Hawkins followed up with a set of painted biscuits inspired by William Morris fabrics.

One viral tweet later, Hawkins had a new sideline, creating gorgeous and mouthwatering creations modeled on everything from botanical illustrations to Tiffany lamps to pottery shards. (You can see more on her website and Instagram.) It's almost impossible to believe that Hawkins can create these designs freehand using nothing but royal icing, food coloring gel, and vodka, but she’s got the videos to prove it.

Hawkins’ artistry earned her a gig last fall as artist-in-residence at Jane Austen’s House, and her Austen collection is as beautiful as the rest of her work: She’s modeled biscuits on Alexandra Byrne’s costumes for the 2020 film adaptation of Emma, Cassandra Austen’s portrait of her sister, the quilt stitched by the Austen women, and one of Hugh Thomson’s illustrations for Mansfield Park.

Hawkins’ creations are not the first Jane Austen-inspired patisserie – who can forget the life-size Colin Firth cake, to name just one example? – but they are certainly among the most intricate. And before you ask: They’re not for sale, so you won’t be forced to decide whether they’re too beautiful to eat.

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