"London has become a literary playground:
a project by the National Literacy Trust has scattered 50 book-shaped benches across the capital for the whole summer, each dedicated to an iconic London-related author or character." (The Guardian
). The BBC report
about the literary benches; the full list of benches
from the Books about Town website. CNN has a slideshow that includes a nice photo of the Paddington Bear bench in use.
The enigma of Mona Lisa's smile? Who cares? The mystery of Dido Belle is much more intriguing. The double portrait Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray, once attributed to Johann Zoffany and now hanging in Scone Palace in Perth, depicts two elegant 18th-century women in silks and pearls at Kenwood House in London. Beyond them, you can just glimpse St Paul's and the rest of the Georgian cityscape. Nothing unusual about any of that, but for one detail – Dido is mixed race.
Belle is about slavery and follows on the heels of Steve McQueen's Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave. An impossible act to follow, you might suppose. Yet the two films could hardly be more different. "I wouldn't want audiences to come to Belle and think they were about to see '12 Years a Slave Mark 2'," Asante says. Based in Britain and rooted in fact, Belle is an extraordinary story, she tells me: Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761-1804) was the daughter of John Lindsay, a British admiral, and an African slave. She grew up in Kenwood House, Hampstead, under the guardianship of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield.
One delicately speculative Guardian article about a painting and its context leads to a fascinating portait of a Ghanaian/British filmmaker and the circumstances that formed her. Asante has always had an "extra eye" and sees herself as an insider and outsider (all directors, she believes, need to be emotionally ambidextrous).
Mark Twain famously derided Jane Austen (who would have had her 238th birthday yesterday), saying (among other things) that he could not read her prose even if paid a salary to do so. But what did Twain really think about Austen's work?
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a MMO to play Mr Darcy in
. Ever Jane, the massive multiplayer Jane Austen game has been funded and the prototype game can now be downloaded from the Kickstarter page
On May 24th, 1813, Jane Austen visited a blockbuster art exhibition--the first major retrospective of Sir Joshua Reynolds
, the premier English portraitist of the 18th century. Debuting 200 years to the day later, What Jane Saw
is a room-by-room virtual recreation of the exhibition, based on the original catalog of the paintings and contemporary depictions of the building where it was held.
Post & Prejudice: [guardian.co.uk]
"The Royal Mail is joining in the celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice with the release of a series of stamps featuring all six of Jane Austen's novels. Royal Mail commissioned the artwork by Angela Barrett." [Slideshow]
Miss Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of her burial was signed by the clergywoman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Miss Scrooge signed it: and Miss Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything she chose to put her hand to. Old Miss Marley was as dead as a door-nail.Genderswitching the Classics
is a project by Kate Harrad where she takes classic works of literature and changes everyone's gender. So far she's done A Christmas Carol
Sherlock Holmes stories
, a Father Brown tale
and, most ambitiously, Pride and Prejudice
(first seven chapters are here
). Harrad is now at work on James Eyre. She wrote about her project
for The Guardian.
Jane Austen 'died from arsenic poisoning'. [The Guardian]
Crime writer Lindsay Ashford bases claim on reading of author's letters and claims murder cannot be ruled out. Almost 200 years after she died, Jane Austen's early death at the age of just 41 has been attributed to many things, from cancer to Addison's disease. Now sleuthing from a crime novelist has uncovered a new possibility: arsenic poisoning.
"I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me."
VS Naipaul, no stranger to literary spats and rows, has done it again. This time, the winner of the Nobel prize for literature has lashed out at female authors, saying there is no woman writer whom he considers his equal – and singling out Jane Austen for particular criticism.
It's trivial. It's silly. I grinned.
"It seems like a really original and interesting read."
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the first line of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is one of literature's most famous, wittily kicking off one of the most beloved of all classics. And yet, 17 British publishers failed to recognize it and rejected the manuscript when Jane's name and the title were changed. What happens when the gatekeepers of literature are illiterate?